Arabesque animated fable offers a feline’s take on Middle Eastern religion
By Devin D. O’Leary
From the very first frames, viewers can tell the adult-oriented French cartoon The Rabbi’s Cat is going to feature some lovely, bright animation and an exotic setting. That’s almost but not quite enough to leaven a muddled story that requires a bit too much contemplation. The film is based on the work of French comic book artist Joann Sfar, who wrote and directed the lavishly animated, mostly successful biopic Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life. Sfar co-writes and co-directs The Rabbi’s Cat, ensuring the artist’s vision is, for better or worse, fully preserved.
A whale bit my legs off and all I got was sex with a musclebound Belgian
By Devin D. O’Leary
It’s possible the ailments afflicting the French drama Rust and Bone are not the result of anything culturally specific. They could simply be the the sole artistic bias of writer-director Jacques Audiard, with no reflection on his fellow, Sorbonne-educated countrymen. But damned if—in their dark, existential, ennui-riddled self-importance—they don’t feel oh-so-French.
Visually quirky French drama finds love, humor and drama in a child’s battle for life
By Devin D. O’Leary
A young mother holds her son’s hand as he’s fed into an MRI machine. The camera zooms in on her eye. As the mournful orb begins to fill the screen, the image is intercut with shots of a loud house party. The mother, even younger, hangs out in a crowded living room—a beer in her hand, raucous punk rock blaring around her. You wouldn’t think a despondent drama about a terminally ill child would be an excuse to make with the visual razzle-dazzle. But writer-director-actress Valérie Donzelli takes a number of unexpected paths with her involving feature, Declaration of War.
Cast: Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis, Julie Ferrier, François Damiens, Helena Noguerra, Andrew Lincoln, Jacques Frantz, Amandine Dewasmes
Romain Duris (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) and Vanessa Paradis (The Girl on the Bridge) star in director Pascal Chaumeil's feature directorial debut. Alex (Duris), an indebted con artist who breaks couples up for a living, is hired by a rich entrepreneur to prevent his daughter Juliette (Paradis) from marrying her fiance. The expert heartbreaker then struggles through the hardest challenge of his career, as he slowly realizes that he has already fallen in love with his subject. Not just your regular chick-flick, Heartbreaker features an original story and compelling performances from the leads. Duris' gentlemanly mojo perfectly complements Paradis' independent spirit. The scenes are also cleverly written and shot, with stylish lines and catchy sequencing. But most exceptionally, Heartbreaker isn't showered with generous amounts of cliché and cheesiness. That's like lifetime achievement for a rom-com. In French with English subtitles. HD Available.
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Cécile De France, Gérard Depardieu, Gilles Lellouche, Roy Dupuis, Elena Anaya, Florence Thomassin, Michel Duchaussoy, Myriam Boyer, Ludivine Sagnier
This is the first film in the epic, two-part Gallic gangster saga Mesrine. Vincent Cassel (Irreversible, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Black Swan) stars as a middle-class French soldier who returns home to the neon glamor of '60s Paris and is soon mentored by a criminal kingpin (Frenchy superstar Gérard Depardieu). Jacques Mesrine was a real dude whose life in crime became the stuff of legend. Like Scarface but real. And with an accent. I mean, a French accent. In French with English subtitles. HD Available.
One chilly Parisian night, a young girl (Frenchy pop star Vanessa Paradis) contemplates suicide on a dark bridge. Out of the night comes a stranger (Daniel Auteuil) who offers her a second chance. He is a once great, now-faded circus performer, a knife-thrower in need of a partner. Together these two lost souls form a deep, telepathic bond. This hypnotic modern fairy tale comes from director Patrice Leconte (Ridicule, Monsieur Hire). Bring a date!
We just purchased a half a pound—each—of fresh chanterelles (it is fall, people!). But in a bout of lunch-box paranoia, Evan feared that the mushrooms would shrivel in the fridge and miss their peak. So we minced the beauties and made a mushroom duxelles (say “duke-sell”)—a classic French dish of mushrooms roasted with shallots, fat and wine. Nearly a tapenade, the stuff is versatile enough to work on vegan bruschetta or dress up leftovers.