Tag Archives: New French Extremity

Anatomy of Hell (2004) Movie Review

This review of Catherine Breillat’s Anatomy of Hell is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

In Anatomy of Hell, a woman (Amira Casar) pays a homosexual man (Rocco Siffredi) to watch her in her bedroom. This is after she saunters through a gay bar, committing herself to the tragic isolation of none of them wanting anything to do with her, and slits her wrist in the bathroom.

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The things she has him experience in her room are sexual, to a degree. They are pornographic only insofar as they extend to Continue reading Anatomy of Hell (2004) Movie Review

The Pack (2010) Movie Review

This review of Franck Richard’s The Pack is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

Charlotte Massot (Emilie Dequenne) is running away from something. Her car is packed full, and she is driving until she runs out of CDs to listen to. Along the way, she picks up a hitchhiker (Benjamin Biolay) and they wind up at an off-road bar. When the hitchhiker disappears, Charlotte is too curious not to investigate the bar further.

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Too bad for her, as she gets conked on the head and winds up in a Continue reading The Pack (2010) Movie Review

Them (2007) Movie Review

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.

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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

Martyrs (2008) & Martyrs (2016) Movie Review

This review of Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs and its 2016 remake is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

Note: This review goes into spoilers for both films. You’ve been warned.

Pascal Laugier’s 2008 film Martyrs is perhaps the crowning achievement of the New French Extremity, as it ties together the disparate themes and generic components of the movement in the most cohesive and intriguing way.

The American remake of the film, directed by Kevin and Michael Goetz and distributed in part by Blumhouse, is not in conversation with the films and filmmakers of the New French Extremity. It is entirely removed. As such, it is merely an exploitation film.

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Now, Laugier’s Martyrs is no walk in the park when it comes to excessively violent subject matter. But for most of its running time it doesn’t feel like an exploitation film. It is a film about Continue reading Martyrs (2008) & Martyrs (2016) Movie Review

Demonlover (2002) Movie Review

This review of Olivier Assayas’ Demonlover is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

The premise of Olivier Assayas’ 2002 film Demonlover sounds like that of a sleazy exploitation film: business suits battle over the corporate control of violent online pornography, some animated and some far too real. It is a similar premise to the 2008 American thriller Untraceable. One could call Gregory Hoblit’s film a remake if the cold-hearted white collar types where replaced with agents of the law.

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But Demonlover is much more fascinating without the white hat of the law. In the film, the law is so far removed that it feels as though these executives could do whatever they needed to Continue reading Demonlover (2002) Movie Review

Criminal Lovers (2000) Movie Review

This review of Francois Ozon’s Criminal Lovers is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

Francois Ozon’s Criminal Lovers begins as a Bonnie & Clyde narrative, where two kids of 17 kill a man in passion and go on the lam, robbing jewelry stores and convenience stores to get by as they make their way into the countryside. Then, it becomes something more akin to a Hansel & Gretel tale of survival.

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Alice (Natacha Regnier) convinces Luc (Jeremie Renier) to help her kill Continue reading Criminal Lovers (2000) Movie Review

Sheitan (2006) Movie Review

This review of Kim Chapiron’s Sheitan is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

The abrupt open to Sheitan is an utter delight. The first image is a closeup on a man’s shocked face. He asks if we’re ready. There is indistinct noise, perhaps in protest, from outside of the frame. He asks again. Then, he begins scratching a turntable, and we are introduced to a rowdy night club that presents us with the energy of the film. Text appears on the screen that reads: “Do not forgive them, for they know what they do.”

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In this night club are three men who are quickly thrown out for one of their transgressions against patrons. The transgressor, Bart (Olivier Barthelemy), has some issues with anger and sexual aggression toward women (and apparently bad breath).

Before being kicked out, however, they meet Eve (Roxane Mesquida), who invites the three men and Yasmine (Leila Bekhti) to her eccentric home in the country, which is filled with Continue reading Sheitan (2006) Movie Review

Calvaire (The Ordeal) (2005) Movie Review

This review of Fabrice du Welz’ Calvaire is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas) is a singer. He wows crowds at retirement homes, but he wants to make it big. On the road to a big Christmas gig, his car breaks down in the woods. A man (Jean-Luc Couchard) in search for his dog leads Marc to an isolated inn run by a man named Bartel (Jackie Berroyer).

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Bartel appears an honest, genial innkeeper. In the morning, he tows Marc’s van to the inn and helps to repair it. But he also Continue reading Calvaire (The Ordeal) (2005) Movie Review

Twentynine Palms (2003) 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.

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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

Sombre (1998) 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.

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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