This review of David Moreau and Xavier Palud’s Them is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.
The premise of Them is exceeding simple: a couple (Olivia Bonamy and Michael Cohen) is trapped inside their isolated home in the country when unseen assailants torment them from the outside.
And that’s it. The short, not-quite-80-minutes-long film comprises this one conceit (and a cold open that accomplishes the exact same conceit but in a well-paced, taut nine minute span). The tension of this home invasion plot is Continue reading Them (2007) Movie Review →
This review of Bruno Dumont’s Twentynine Palms is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.
Bruno Dumont’s Twentynine Palms begins unassuming and unsuspecting, with two lovers (David Wissack and Katerina Golubeva) riding down the California highway. It then continues unassuming for the next hour.
He is an American photographer, and she is a Russian immigrant. They speak different languages, yet they seem to Continue reading Twentynine Palms (2003) Movie Review →
This review of Philippe Grandrieux’s Sombre is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.
Sombre is a film that is best described as “rattled.”
The film returns most often to two locations: the home where Jean (Marc Barbe) brings women to kill them and the car that he takes to either dump their bodies or watch the Tour de France.
In both locations the camera is often bouncing around on tight shots of the action. The camera is so tight and frantically moving, in fact, that it is often impossible to discern exactly what act is being carried out and to whom.
This process of understanding what is happening is not helped by scenes that appear to be shot with natural light at night (at the very least, there is the absence of a three-point lighting system), making these scenes hard to Continue reading Sombre (1998) Movie Review →
This review of Gaspar Noe’s I Stand Alone is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.
Rage is a palpable force in I Stand Alone, the first feature film from Gaspar Noe. It is a rage against French society. Philippe Nahon’s The Butcher displaces this rage, his inner monologue tearing apart anyone in his path. What results is a protagonist that comes off as sexist, racist, homophobic, and overall nihilistic.
But The Butcher is also a sad man. All he wants is to Continue reading I Stand Alone (1998) Movie Review →
This review of Xavier Gens’ Frontier(s) is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.
Xavier Gens’ Frontier(s) begins similarly to Mathieu Kassovitz’ 1995 drama La Haine. Both begin by mixing real and documentary footage of riots in the streets of France. In both cases they are riots over an intense distrust of the government. For Frontier(s) it is a distrust over a newly elected right-wing government.
In a way, it feels like Gens is trying to pick up where Kassovitz left off, beginning with an Continue reading Frontier(s) (2008) Movie Review →
This review of Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.
Trouble Every Day, the cannibal love story from Claire Denis, has perhaps the quietest opening to a film about cannibals ever. Core (Beatrice Dalle) is picked up on the side of the road by a truck driver, her grateful face soon fading into a fearful desire as she looks at him. We then cut to a man, Leo (Alex Descas), coming across the body of the driver in a field. He sees Core, crouched in fetal position in the underbrush with blood smeared across her mouth, and approaches her. They embrace silently.
And this film belongs to the same movement as Irreversible and High Tension. Who knew?
Trouble Every Day is depicted as a story of Continue reading Trouble Every Day (2001) Movie Review →
This review of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s Inside is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.
Inside begins, as its title suggests, in utero, with the image of a fetus that is about to be ruptured by an unseen car wreck. Four months later, the survivors Sarah (Alysson Paradis) and her unborn child are ready for the impending birth. It is Christmas Eve, and the newly widowed Sarah is despondent about the prospect of her first baby.
An understandable apathy, to be certain. The cruelty of having one of the Continue reading Inside (2007) Movie Review →