Monthly Archives: August 2011

Giving it all up for Love and Passion

Theatrical Poster

Leaving (French: Partir) is a 2009 French film directed by Catherine Corsini.

Kristin Scott Thomas give a brilliant performance in this fiercely emotional film, where she plays Suzanne, an English-born woman married to prosperous and socially well-connected doctor, Samuel (Yvan Attal), living in the south of France. With her children now teenagers, she decides to go back to work as a physiotherapist. Her husband reluctantly agrees to fix up their storage room to use as her office. When Suzanne and the man hired to do the building meet, the mutual attraction is sudden and powerful. After a time of sneaking around, Suzanne decides to give up everything to live with her lover in an all-encompassing, intensely passionate affair.

The affair triggers an explosion of hate from her obnoxious husband, who will do anything to get her to come back home. Scott Thomas gives an arrestingly transparent performance, with a very powerful take-it-or-leave-it presence in the movie.

Cast
Kristin Scott Thomas
Sergi López
Yvan Attal
Bernard Blancan
Anne Marlange
Alexandre Vidal
Daisy Broom

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La Femme Nikita

American Theatrical Poster

Nikita (1990) is a French thriller film released in the US as La Femme Nikita. The film is about a young criminal who is recruited to work for French intelligence.

Anne Parillaud plays Nikita, a teenage junkie who is involved with robbing a pharmacy. The crime goes awry, erupting into a gunfight with the police, during which her cohorts are killed. Suffering severe withdrawal symptoms, she murders a policeman. Nikita is arrested, tried, and convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

While in prison, she is drugged to simulate an overdose and awakens later to find that she has been officially declared dead and buried after suicide by overdose; however, she is actually in the custody of the Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE), the French intelligence agency. She is given a choice of becoming an assassin or actually occupying “row 7, plot 30” (her fake grave). After some resistance, she finally chooses to cooperate and proves to be a talented killer. One of her trainers, Amande (a criminal who was also recruited and trained by the DGSE), transforms her from a degenerate drug addict to a femme fatale.

After her initial mission – killing a diplomat in a crowded restaurant and escaping back to the Centre – she graduates and begins life as a sleeper agent in Paris. She meets a man in a supermarket and with an immediate attraction they become involved, and eventually move in together. He, of course, knows nothing of her real profession.

Her career as an assassin goes well until a document-theft in an embassy goes awry, requiring the ruthless Victor “The Cleaner” to destroy the mission’s evidence and all corpses. Victor is wounded and dies; and Nikita abandons the DGSE, Paris, and her boyfriend.

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because in 1993 Warner Bros remade Nikita in English as Point of No Return, directed by John Badham and starring Bridget Fonda. Nikita also inspired the 1991 Hong Kong action film Black Cat, which closely follows the original film’s storyline.

Written and Directed by
Luc Besson

Starring
Anne Parillaud
Jean-Hugues Anglade
Tchéky Kary

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French Lessons: la Salle de Bain

la Salle de Bain

la Salle de Bain
the Bathroom

la baignoire
bathtub

la brosse à dents
toothbrush

le dentifrice
toothpaste

la douche
shower

le lavabo
sink


le miroir

mirror

le savon
soap

la serviette
towel

les toilettes
toilet

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French Lessons: Around the House

French Country Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALARM CLOCK
le réveil

ARMCHAIR
le fauteuil

BASKET
le panier

BATHROOM
la salle de bain; W.C.

BED
le lit

BENCH
le banc

BROOM
le balai

BULB
l’ampoule

CANDLE
la bougie

CARPET
le tapis

CHAIR
la chaise

CHIMNEY
la cheminée

CLOCK
l’horloge, la pendule

COUCH
le divan

CUPBOARD
l’armoire

CURTAIN
le rideau

DOGHOUSE
la niche

DOLLHOUSE
maison de poupée

DOOR
la porte

DRAPES
la draperie

ENTRANCE
l’entrée

FAN
le ventilateur

FENCE
la clôture

FIREPLACE
la cheminée

FREEZER
le congélateur

FURNITURE
le mobilier

GARBAGE CAN
la poubelle

GARDEN
le jardin

GATE
le portail 

HAMMOCK
le hamac

HOME
la maison

HOUSE
la maison

IRON
le fer à repasser

KEY
la clé

LAMP
la lampe

LAWN
la pelouse

LIGHTBULB
l’ampoule

LIVING ROOM
le salon

MAT
paillasson

MICROWAVE OVEN
le micro-ondes, le four à micro-onde

MIRROR
le miroir

MOP
le balai laveur

OVEN
le four

PHOTOGRAPH
la photographie

PILLOW
l’oreiller

QUILT
l’édredon

RADIO
la radio

REFRIGERATOR
le réfrigérateur

REMOTE CONTROL
la télécommande

ROOF
le toit

ROOM
la salle

RUG
le tapis

SOFA
le canapé

STOOL
le tabouret

STOVE
la cuisinière

TABLE
la table

TELEPHONE
le téléphone

TELEVISION
la télévision

TRUNK
la malle

TV
la télé

URN
l’urne

VACUUM CLEANER
l’aspirateur

VASE
le vase

WALL
le mur

WASTEBASKET
la corbeille à papier

WELCOME MAT
la paillasson

WINDOW
la fenêtre

YARD
le cour

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Trois Couleurs: Rouge

Theatrical Poster

Trois Couleurs : Rouge | Three Colors: Red (Polish: Trzy kolory. Czerwony) (1994) is the final and most haunting of the Three Colors Trilogy, which is co-written, produced, and directed by Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski; this film is preceded by Blue and White.

Red is the warmest of all three films, which stems from the main theme of the colour red of the French flag– fraternity (or friendship). Although I enjoyed all the films in the Trilogy, Red was my favorite of the three.

Irene Jacob brings a wide-eyed innocence to her role as Valentine, a student and part-time model. She is in love with an emotionally distant man, Michel, who is residing in England. He is constantly suspicious of her, and tries to control her actions, for instance, telling her when to go to sleep.

Valentine lives across the street from a young law student studying to be a judge, Auguste, who is in love with a woman who provides personalized weather forecasts over the telephone. Throughout the film, Valentine and Auguste are shown in the same location, yet never meet in a string of missed opportunities.

One night, while Valentine is driving home she accidentally runs over a German Shepherd named Rita. She discovers the dog belongs to a retired court judge named Kerm, an elderly man who is a natural cynic and proves that the world is not what it seems by tapping into this neighbors telephone conversations. Valentine and Kerm set forth on an intense journey finally concluding that we are all connected in a world of disorder and confusion.

Irène Jacob as Valentine

As in the previous two films (Blue and White), a single color dominates the film. Many objects in the film are bright red, including the huge advertising banner featuring Valentine’s facial profile. Several images recur throughout the film. Characters are often placed side by side on different physical levels. The scenes between Valentine and Kerm at his house never show the characters on the same level: Valentine either stands above him or sits below him. When Karin searches for Auguste, he hides on a walkway below her. During the climactic scene in the theater, Valentine stands on the stage, towering over Kerm who is in the pit below. Telephone communication is important throughout, and so is broken glass (when Kern reveals his eavesdropping, his neighbors throw rocks through his windows, and the end of the film Kern watches Valentine and Auguste on the news while watching the outside world through broken glass). Also, when Valentine is bowling, the camera moves down the line to where there sits a broken glass next to a packet of Marlboro cigarettes, which is the brand that Auguste smokes.*

Each films’ ending scene is of a character crying. In Blue, Julie de Courcy cries looking into space. In White, Karol Karol cries as he looks at his wife. In Red, the judge Kerm cries as he looks through his broken window out at the camera.

Side note: Kieślowski had announced that this would be his final film, which unfortunately proved true with the director’s sudden death in 1996.

Awards and Recognition
Nominated for three Academy Awards:
Directing
Best Cinematography
Best Original Screenplay

Cannes Film Festival, Palme d’Or (nominated)
National Board of Review, Best Foreign Language Film
New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Best Foreign Language Film
National Society of Film Critics Awards, Best Foreign Language Film
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Best Foreign Film
Zbigniew Preisner won the César Award for Best Music.
César Award nominations: Best Film
Best Actor: Jean-Louis Trintignant
Best Actress: Irene Jacob
Best Director: Krzysztof Kieślowski
Best Writing: Krzysztof Kieślowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz

Red was selected by the New York Times as one of “The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.”

Cast
Irene Jacob: Valentine Dussaut
Jean-Louis Trintignant: Joseph Kern
Jean-Pierre Lorit: Auguste Bruner
Frederique Feder: Karin

* Information extracted from Wikipedia

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Trois Couleurs: Blanc

Theatrical Poster

Trois Couleurs: Blanc | Three Colors: White (Polish: Trzy kolory. Biały) is a 1994 Polish-film co-written, produced, and directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski.

White is the second in The Three Colors Trilogy, themed on the French Revolutionary ideals, following Blue and preceding Red.

This film illustrates the second theme of the Three Colors trilogy, equality, through the two desires of the protagonist Karol Karol: improving his station in life, and revenge.

In contrast to the introspective, melancholy, and eventually hopeful stories of Blue and Red, White is a black comedy.

The story begins in a Paris divorce court where Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), a Polish immigrant, is pleading with the judge to save his marriage. (Side note: this is the same legal proceedings that Juliette Binoche’s character briefly stumbled upon in the film Blue.)

The grounds for divorce are humiliating: Karol was unable to consummate the marriage. Along with his wife, he loses his means of support (a beauty salon they jointly owned), his legal residency in France, and the rest of his cash in a series of sad mishaps. Soon he tries performing songs in the Paris Metro station to earn spare change. It is here where Karol meets and is befriended by another Pole, Mikołaj (Janusz Gajos). While Karol has lost his wife and his property, Mikołaj is married and successful.

Mikołaj helps Karol return to Poland and he goes back  to working as a hairdresser with his brother. Eventually, Karol takes a job as a bodyguard in a seemingly innocent cash exchange office, and using his position as a deceptively foolish bodyguard, Karol spies on his bosses and discovers their scheme to purchase different pieces of land that they knew were going to be targeted by big companies for development and resell for large profits.

Karol beats them to it, and with the money he gained from this scheme and with money from Mikołaj, the two go into business together. Karol becomes ruthlessly ambitious, focusing his energies on money-making schemes while learning French and brooding over his wife’s abandonment.

He uses his new financial influence in a world where, as several characters observe, “you can buy anything” to execute a complex scheme to first win back Dominique, and then destroy her life by faking his own death after which she is imprisoned for his ‘murder’.

Julie Delpy as Karol's estranged wife Dominique

Like Blue, the film’s cinematography makes heavy use of the title colour: the sky is almost always white, and a scene in Poland is filmed in a white snowscape. An explosion of white is also the colour of the long-awaited orgasm.

White has been interpreted as an anti-comedy, in parallel with Blue being an anti-tragedy, and Red being an anti-romance.

Co-written, produced, and directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski

Starring:
Zbigniew Zamachowski
Julie Delpy
Janusz Gajos
Jerzy Stuhr

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