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Posts Tagged ‘BFI’

 

When it comes to lavish dramas in historical French settings, I’m easy to please. I have to reserve special praise though for Chéri, which I had the pleasure to indulge in at the British Film Institute last Thursday. This masterful adaptation of Colette’s Belle Époque novel sees the reunion of Dangerous Liaisons director-writer duo Stephen Frears and Christopher Hampton.

With the same skill they applied to Laclos’ tale of sex, love and deception, they draw out the best moments of badinage, tension and tenderness from Colette’s rich text. They magic the world of Chéri on to the big screen – the sumptuous art nouveau world of Paris before the First World War where ageing courtesan Léa (Michelle Pfeiffer) falls for Chéri (Rupert Friend), the 19-year old son of another courtesan.

The froth and frills Consolata Boyle’s set and costumes captivate but it is Pfieffer’s subtle portrayal of a beautiful woman who knows age is catching her up that makes this film so utterly charming.

I was equally charmed by Frears himself. His wit shone in the talk he gave after the show at the BFI on Thursday. No artistic bullshit for him. Asked, for example, why Colette was less frequently adapted than Jane Austen, he quipped: “Because she wrote in French.”

Well, good job that didn’t put him off. The Frears/Hampton/Pfeiffer team have become expert adaptors of French novels. Here’s hoping they try their hand at Balzac next.

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The iconoclastic French cinematic movement known as La Nouvelle Vague turns 50 this year. To celebrate cinemas across the UK, working in partnership with the BFI, will screen the works of its directors, including François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and Jean-Luc Godard from mid-March until mid-May.

These titans of le 7eme art transformed French cinema and made it what it is today. For this alone their films would be worth seeing. But they are also very enjoyable to watch. If you want to swot up a bit before going to see a Nouvelle Vague film, read this post from La Plume et l’Image or if you prefer to read something in English try this post from Blue Grass Film Society.

The Nouvelle Vague festival kicks off with a two day conference this weekend at Ciné lumière in South Kensington. Tomorrow night, Bernadette Lafont, star of Truffaut’s court métrage, Les Mistons, is guest of honour and will hold a Q&A after the film screening. For more information about the talk see Ciné lumiere’s website.

Truffaut will take centre stage at Barbican with eight of his films shown there from April 10 to May 31. Meanwhile, BFI South Bank is showcasing a wide range of Nouvelle Vague oeuvres throughout April including Godard’s seminal À bout de souffle and lesser known films, such as Agnès Varda’s boldly experimental La Pointe courte.

The festival isn’t just confined to London. Audiences in Belfast, Bristol, Edinburg, Sheffield and Liverpool will be treated to screenings of Les Quatre cents Coups and Pierrot le fou. For more information see BFI New Wave.

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