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french film | John McDonald

french film

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Alliance Française French Film Festival 2018

February 23, 2018

Every year at the opening of the Alliance Française French Film Festival we gasp with excitement at the news that this is the biggest festival of French films in the world, outside of France. Unless we think of Cannes as a “French Film Festival” this probably means it’s the biggest in the world. Australia’s love … More


Happy End

February 10, 2018

When Michael Haneke calls a film Happy End, one anticipates a thoroughly miserable experience for everyone concerned. Forewarned is forearmed. If you go into this movie expecting a withering indictment of the cold-hearted French bourgeoisie you might even squeeze out a snicker or two at the sheer awfulness of the dramatis personae. It’s to be … More


The Innocents & Things to Come

April 29, 2017

There’s no category in contemporary cinema more demeaning than the ‘chick flick’. It suggests a sloppy romance of the Barbara Cartland variety, or a superficial, feel-good movie with a ‘girl power’ theme. Either way the term eliminates one half of the human race as a willing audience, and patronises the other. This week two very … More


Folies Bergère

December 13, 2014

Isabelle Huppert has the rare ability to conjure up a character while remaining almost completely impassive. Some actors undergo an expressive transformation from one role to the next, but Huppert’s style is that of a minimalist. The straight face gives an impression of hidden depths, and this may be why – although far from conventionally … More


Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2013

March 9, 2013

“Gwynplaine we are made for each other. The monster you are outside, I am inside.” Where do you get to hear – or at least read – lines like that? Only at the 24th Alliance Francaise French Film Festival, or until a featured item gets an Australian release. From an exceptionally strong program last year … More


Paris-Manhattan & Quartet

December 22, 2012

“Heartwarming” must be the most overused word in the film critic’s lexicon. It suggests we enter the cinema as  cold-hearted types and are transformed by the power of a movie. When the lights go back on we are more sensitive, more optimistic; we believe in the essential goodness of human beings and the necessity of … More


You Will be My Son

November 10, 2012

Blood may be thicker than water but it runs a distant second to fine wines. At least that seems to be the way, vigneron, Paul De Merseul, views the world. Paul, played by veteran actor, Niels Arestrup, is the stern patriarch in Gilles Legrand’s You Will be My Son, a taut, lean story of tensions … More


The Intouchables

October 27, 2012

Although it should be the most depressing subject in the world there is something strangely inspiring about films that deal with disability. The Miracle Worker (1962) was a smash hit in its day, making Helen Keller into the most famous deaf and blind person in history, although she has since been overtaken by several cricket … More


Holy Motors

August 25, 2012

It has been an excellent year for French cinema, but Holy Motors brings back memories of the brittle, self-consciously ‘poetic’ malaise that has infected so many gallic directors of the past. How alarming for all red-blooded Aussies that Our Kylie should be embedded in this piece of Parisian pastry. Kylie Minogue’s appearance comes at the … More


And If We All Lived Together?

July 28, 2012

Having watched two films about old age over the past month, I’m beginning to wonder if this is the start of a trend: perhaps a reaction to all those movies about comic book heroes. In these geriatric sagas there are no super powers on display – it’s enough if characters can keep their faculties intact … More


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