Posted in Uncategorized, tagged A prophet, A Self Made Hero, Audiard, Auteur theory, cinema, De Battre Mon Coeur S'est Arrêté, Film, France, Francofile, francofile.wordpress.com, Francois Truffaut, French, French cinema, French film, Jacques Audiard, La Nouvelle Vague, la septième art, The Beat that My Heart Skipped, thriller, Un héros très discret, Un prophète on January 11, 2010|
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Like every other francophile and film buff in town I’m getting excited in the run up to the UK release of Jacques Audiard’s new film, Un prophète (A Prophet).
To my mind – and many others – Audiard is France’s best filmmaker in modern times. His work first came to my attention when I was at school. We were studying the Nazi occupation of France and our teacher made us watch Un héros très discret (A Self Made Hero).
Audiard’s screenplay about a nobody who passes himself off as a WWII Resistance hero had me captivated all the way to the tense end. His cinematography taught me that cinema truly was le septième art and that it was an art form that didn’t necessarily need a titanic budget (it was Leo and Kate’s love story that dominated screens that year) to impress.
Later I was spellbound by his De battre mon coeur s’est arrêté (The Beat that My Heart Skipped), a thriller about a musical prodigy who gets caught up in the murky world of real estate. It was one of those films that stayed with you a long time after leaving the cinema. Certain images were etched in my mind but above all I couldn’t stop thinking about the main character.
It is Audiard’s heroes – or, I should say, anti-heroes – that make his films so compelling. Yes, his films are stylishly shot. Yes, the plot grabs you and doesn’t let you go. But it is as psychological portraits that his films become masterpieces.
Perhaps it is because Audiard is both screenwriter and director that he is able to create such powerful characters. Taking up the mantle of director/auteur from Truffaut and the rest of the Nouvelle Vague, he brings together visual and script to explore the identity of someone on the edge of society, an outsider whose inner flaws will bring about their own downfall.
Telling the story of an illiterate young arab’s transformation in a tough French prison, A Prophet promises to be equally hard-hitting and equally memorable. It’s won a bucket of awards (including a Grand Prix at Cannes and Best Film at the London Film Festival) and huge amounts of praise from the critics. (It’s got an amazing 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.)
I’m hoping to catch an advance preview this Wednesday at the BFI (I think there’s still tickets), where it’s being screened as part of an Audiard and French thriller season this month. I’ll let you know if it lives up to expectations.
Also on show as part of the season are A Self Made Hero (January 15) and The Beat that My Heart Skipped (January 11 & 20), which I thoroughly recommend. For a full list of the BFI’s programme click here.
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Posted in French film, tagged A bout de souffle, Agnes Varda, BFI, Cine Lumiere, Claude Chabrol, Film, Francofile, francofile.wordpress.com, Francois Truffaut, French, French cinema, French film, Jean-Luc Godard, La Nouvelle Vague, La Pointe Courte, Les Quatre Cents Coups, New Wave, Season at the Barbican on March 13, 2009|
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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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