Toujours Auteur

The French Connection Sidebar

Once it ruled the art house, or so it seemed. This was the
French film, from Renoir to Resnais: movies that seemed uniformly
aesthetic, handsome men and iconic female beauties in adult
situations worthy of a nation that spawned Flaubert, Folies
Bergère, and Emile Zola — yet riddled with contrasts. The
astringent sting of Godard’s poetic theory cohabitating a world
that launched François Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel and silly
franchises of American copycat fervor, The Toy, La Cage Aux Folles,
and The Tall Blond Man with One Red Shoe. And then? Not exactly
silence, but from le déluge to un soufflé.

“Actually it was Roger’s idea,” explained a bleary-eyed,
overworked Cevin Cathell, Film Fest programmer, speaking of the
ubiquitous SBIFF Creative Director Roger Durling. “And we thought
we would go after classic French films. But when we started
looking, there was so much,” she said and rolled her bleary eyes in
a kind of Mon Dieu pantomime. If there were an overriding theme for
all this, it looks like post-colonial issues and American pomp are
trump. Free Zone (Amos Gitai) deals with an American woman and an
Israeli fiancé; Heading South (Laurent Cantet), which is not the
Jack Nicholson pic, concerns itself with sex tourism in Haiti; Live
and Become (Radu Mihaileanu) examines the rites of passage of a
young Ethiopian Jew transplanted in Israel.

More conventional-sounding plots of domestic splendor come from
the great Bertrand Tavernier — Le Coup de Torchon and ’Round
Midnight — in Holy Lola! He tells of lovers seeking to adopt with
all its precarious aspects, including success. And a film that
reeks of classic in the Amélie age, Christian Carion’s Joyeux Noël,
about the Christmas night in WWI when all the soldiers came out for
a drink. The award for wacky comedy goes to Brice de Nice (James
Huth), which was last year’s hit film in France, about a wacky rich
French Riviera surfer who worships Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) in Point
Break. This film will also show in Isla Vista at the Magic Lantern,
ground zero of rich California surfers, and — full disclosure — my
other gig.

But while these are particularly bien, word also has it that a
coupla Francophonic films from Canada are also hot, and especially
C.R.A.Z.Y. “I won’t tell you what that stands for,” said my
informant. “But the film is amazingly beautiful.” And that’s what
we expected from our Film Festival and our comrades, who, like us,
think George Bush is wrong to be in Iraq.


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