‘Petite Maman’ review: The best family movie you’ll see in a while

Identical twin sisters play a pair of mysterious playmates in Petite Maman, an enchanting film that achieves an emotional depth that eludes many movies twice its length.

Source: ‘Petite Maman’ review: The best family movie you’ll see in a while : NPR

The writer and director Céline Sciamma makes beautiful movies about girls and young women navigating the complexities of gender and sexual identity. You can tell as much from their titles: TomboyGirlhoodPortrait of a Lady on Fire.

Her wonderful new film, Petite Maman, is no less focused on the inner lives of its female characters. But it’s also something of a departure: This is Sciamma’s first work to earn a PG rating, and it’s both the best family movie and the best movie about a family that I’ve seen in some time.

It tells the gently surreal story of Nelly, an 8-year-old girl played by the remarkable young Joséphine Sanz, who has long brown hair and a sharp, perceptive gaze. Nelly’s just lost her maternal grandmother after a long illness. Now, she watches as her parents go about the solemn task of packing up Grandma’s house — the very house where Nelly’s mother, Marion, grew up years earlier. To pass the time, Nelly plays in the woods surrounding the house. It’s there that she meets another 8-year-old girl, who also happens to be named Marion. She’s played by Gabrielle Sanz, Joséphine’s identical twin sister.

This eerie encounter naturally raises a lot of questions: Who is Marion, and why does she look so much like Nelly? Is this forest the backdrop for a modern-day fairy tale, or have we slipped through a hole in the space-time continuum? Sciamma is in no hurry to provide the answers. The title Petite Maman — which translates literally as “Little Mom” — provides a bit of a clue. But one of the pleasures of this movie is the way it casually introduces a series of strange events as if there were nothing strange about them at all.

At times the movie feels like a live-action version of Hayao Miyazaki’s anime fantasies like Ponyo or My Neighbor Totoro: full of childlike wonderment, but also very matter-of-fact in its approach to magic. Rather than being puzzled by the situation, Nelly and Marion simply accept it and become fast friends. You accept it, too, mainly because the Sanz sisters have such a sweet and funny rapport onscreen.

Sciamma’s camera follows the girls as they run around the woods, gathering leaves and branches to build a hut. Eventually Marion invites Nelly over to her house, which looks an awful lot like Nelly’s grandmother’s house. There, the girls giggle as they cook up a messy pancake breakfast and act out a hilariously elaborate murder mystery. Few recent movies have so effortlessly captured the joy and creativity of children at play.

Petite Maman itself plays a kind of game with the audience, and you figure out the rules as you watch. You learn to tell the girls apart based on slight differences in hairstyle and the colors that they wear. You also get to know a few of the adult characters hovering on the periphery: At one point, Nelly introduces her father to her new best friend, and if he thinks there’s anything weird about this, he doesn’t show it. Meanwhile, Nelly’s mother — the older Marion — has temporarily left the house, needing some time to herself to grieve her mother’s death.

And without a hint of didacticism, Petite Maman reveals itself as very much a movie about grief, about how a child learns to cope with sudden loss and inevitable change. It’s also about how hard it is to really know who your parents were before they became your parents. But in this movie, Nelly gets the rare chance to see or perhaps imagine her mother as the sweet, sensitive, independent-minded young girl she used to be.

Although Petite Maman is decidedly different from Sciamma’s art-house touchstone Portrait of a Lady on Fire, they’re structured in similar ways: In both films, two female characters are granted a brief, even utopian retreat from the outside world and something mysterious and beautiful transpires. If that’s not enough of an enticement, you should know that Petite Maman runs a tight 72 minutes and achieves an emotional depth that eludes many movies twice its length. It’s funny, sad, full of enchanting possibilities and over far too soon — sort of like childhood itself.

Interview with Isabelle Adjani (1977)

At 22, the young actress is an international star thanks to her role in “Adèle H” by François Truffaut and has just shot her first film in the United States, “The Driver”.

En Fançais

A 22 ans, la jeune actrice est une star internationale grâce à son rôle dans “Adèle H” de François Truffaut et vient de tourner son premier film aux Etats-Unis, “The Driver”. Avec maturité, éloquence, et naturel, Isabelle Adjani se confie à Christian Defaye sur ses débuts dans “Le petit bougnat”, son passage à la Comédie-Française, les rôles qui l’ont marquée, son travail de comédienne. Cet entretien événement fut exceptionnellement diffusé à 20h20, avant le film de la soirée, le 13 décembre 1977 dans Spécial Cinéma.

10 (very beautiful) French author films from the 2010s on Netflix

The life of Adèle

Three memories of my youth by Arnaud Desplechin (2015)

As Paul Dédalus leaves Tajikistan to return to Paris, memories of his childhood in Roubaix, of his trip to the USSR when he was a teenager and, above all, of his love for Esther, come back. Paul, whom we follow as a little boy, teenager and adult, never ceases in Three memories of my youth to remember his past, his three bodies – and the story – then becoming one.

His adventures, which oscillate from humor to tragedy, thrill the viewer, constantly brought back, by a game of mirror, to his own previous life. Rewarded at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2015 as well as at the César the following year, Desplechin takes us through his art of dialogues and his staging, transfiguring our own memories to make it a labyrinth, between fascination and destruction.

Un amour de jeunesse by Mia Hansen-Løve (2011) and Eden (2014)

Still on the theme of torments of youth, Netflix offers two films by director Mia Hansen-Løve: Eden and Un amour de jeunesse . The second succeeds, through its delicacy and restraint, in telling a love affair, from adolescence to the edge of adulthood, all without ever falling into pompous emotional scenes. Eden , him, signs the virtuoso portrait of a DJ brought to the summit of success in the middle of the French Touch period, a musical movement which, for him, will only be fleeting.

>> Read also: Jean-Baptiste Morain’s criticism

The unknown from Alain Guiraudie’s lake (2013)

Considered a “masterpiece” by the Inrocks , L’inconnu du lac  by Alain Guiraudie is an open-air camera, surrounded by love, sex and death. It is therefore impossible to miss this jewel of French auteur cinema, which, beyond its brilliant staging, explores all possible themes, registers and metaphors.

The recipe is clear and modest: “A lake, a beach, groves, parking, an R25, a few nudist men and three characters” (including Pierre Deladonchamps, wonderful). And if that still does not seem convincing to you, here is the trailer below.

>> Read also: Serge Kaganski’s criticism

The life of Adèle by Abdellatif Kechiche (2013)

Palme d’Or at the Cannes Festival in 2013, La vie d’Adèle , adapted from the comic strip Blue is a warm color  by Julie Maroh. At 15, Adèle is a serious student who questions her sexuality when she first meets the eyes of Emma, ​​a mysterious young woman with blue hair.  A great work of the seventh art, bringing to life the idea that literature can lead to self-acceptance, La Vie d’Adèle , a sensual film which borrows all the codes of the learning novel, is part of it ( despite the controversies surrounding its shooting ) of the most beautiful films of French author cinema of the decade.

>> Read also: Jean-Marc Lalanne’s criticism

Continue reading “10 (very beautiful) French author films from the 2010s on Netflix”

French independent film hopes for Oscars glory

French film, Les Miserables, is nominated in Best International Feature Film category.

The 92nd Academy Awards are set to be held in Hollywood this weekend.

Among the favourites for Best Film Editing is South Korean thriller Parasite, and the first world war epic 1917. Parasite has also been nominated in the Best International Feature Film category where it will be up against, among others, Les Miserables, a French film about life in the poor suburbs of Paris made by an untrained filmmaker with a cast of mainly non-professional actors

Source: French independent film hopes for Oscars glory | France News | Al Jazeera

Rare Film of Monet, Renoir, Rodin and Degas

Monet

Fine art enthusiasts will appreciate these fascinating 100-year-old film clips of four of the most celebrated artists in history; Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, and Edgar Degas. In 1915, with the newly innovated film camera, a young Russian-born, French actor named Sacha Guitry captured some of France’s greatest artists and authors.

View at: Rare Film of Monet, Renoir, Rodin and Degas

Pierre Lhomme, Legendary French Cinematographer, Dies at 89

He was behind the look of films like Jean-Pierre Melville’s ‘Army of Shadows’ and Jean Eustache’s ‘The Mother and the Whore.’

Pierre Lhomme, the French cinematographer behind such films as Army of ShadowsThe Mother and the WhoreCamille Claudel and Cyrano de Bergerac, has died. He was 89.

Lhomme died July 4 in Arles, France, the French Society of Cinematographers told The Hollywood Reporter.

Lhomme received a César award in 1989 for his work on Camille Claudel, which was directed by former cameraman Bruno Nuytten. He received a second César in 1991 for Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s Cyrano de Bergerac, which also won a technical prize at Cannes.

Among his 60-odd credits are films by Chris Marker (Le Joli Mai, which Lhomme co-directed, and A bientôt, j’espère), Robert Bresson (Four Nights of a Dreamer), Marguerite Duras (Les Mains NégativesLe Navire Night), Claude Miller (This Sweet SicknessDeadly Circuit) and Alain Cavalier (Le combat dans l’îlePillaged).

Lhomme also shot several Merchant-Ivory features, including the James Ivory-directed QuartetMauriceJefferson in Paris and Le Divorce, and Ismail Merchant’s Cotton Mary. His last feature credit was on Le Divorce, which he lensed in 2003.

Born in Boulogne-Billancourt on April 5, 1930, Lhomme studied briefly in the U.S. before trying to make it as a jazz musician in Paris in the late 1940s and early ’50s. He was then accepted into the prestigious École nationale supérieure Louis-Lumière, a highly technical film school whose alumni includes fellow cinematographers Henri Decaë (The 400 Blows), William Lubtchansky (Shoah) and Philippe Rousselot (A River Runs Through ItBig Fish) and directors like Gaspar Noé and Jean-Jacques Annaud.

Lhomme graduated from Louis-Lumière in 1953 and began working as an assistant cameraman and camera operator on films like Philippe de Broca’s The Love Game and Jean Becker’s Man Called Rocca. He also befriended several directors of the budding French New Wave, working as an operator on Eric Rohmer’s first feature, The Sign of the Lion, and co-directing Marker’s 1962 Paris-set documentary, Le Joli Mai.

His first feature credit as a cinematographer was on Robert Darène’s 1958 pirate adventure The Amorous Corporal, for which he was co-credited with Marcel Weiss.

Lhomme went on to shoot dozens of features from the 1960s up to the late 1990s. One of his most memorable early collaborations was on Jean Eustache’s sprawling 220-minute drama The Mother and the Whore, which he shot in high-contrast 16mm black-and-white.

Starring Jean-Pierre Léaud, Bernadette Lafont and Françoise Lebrun, the film was made on a tiny budget and became a minor sensation in France during the post-May ’68 years. Lhomme worked again with Eustache on the hybrid fiction-documentary A Dirty Story, starring Michael Lonsdale and Jean-Noël Picq and released theatrically in 1977.

Lhomme’s most renowned work was on Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 French Resistance epic Army of Shadows, starring Lino Ventura and Simone Signoret. Shot in monochrome color tones that channeled the somber, stifling atmosphere of Vichy France during the World War II, the film was a hit at home but wasn’t released in the U.S. until 2006, where it grossed more than $700,000 in theaters and was widely hailed as a masterpiece.

“It was only after Army of Shadows that I felt like a real cinematographer,” Lhomme told the French-Canadian newspaper Le Devoir in 2007. “Melville asked me to do things I’d never tried before. I remember when I messed up a shot that came out so dark, you couldn’t see anything. Melville said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll put some nice music there.’”

Along with his César awards, Lhomme received a Prix Premio Gianni di Venanzo, named after the Italian cinematographer of , in 2005, and a lifetime achievement prize at the Camerimage festival in Poland in 2008. He was also crowned an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters and a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in France.

During a 12-hour interview that Lhomme gave with students at the French film school La Fémis in 2014, he summed up his approach to cinematography this way: “I never had a fixed or preconceived idea about cinema … One of the main skills of a good cameraman is to be able to pass from one director to another and adapt to their different worlds. What I loved above all else was working with talented people.”

Source: Pierre Lhomme, Legendary French Cinematographer, Dies at 89