Cocteau was briefly prolific as a filmmaker after the war and Beauty and the Beast – this came out a couple months after The Two-Headed Eagle, then Orpheus premiered just over a year later. It’s got smooth camera and nice lighting, if that’s what you’re looking for, but feels too stagy.

Belle and the Beast are back, human and in love, but his overprotective parents are out to stop their marriage. Marais’s dad (Marcel André) is having an affair with his own son’s belle, to teach them a lesson or something, worrier mom (Yvonne de Bray of Eagle) has health problems, and aunt Leo (fashion icon Gabrielle Dorziat) is either helping or fouling everything up. Everybody’s overdoing it until mom can’t take it anymore and does herself in.

The Most Manipulative Family of All Time:

The two sides of Aunt Leo:

A movie of distractions – appears to be a superhero story, but nothing actually happens. The Tobacco Force gets introduced destroying a turtle guy and soaking some bystanders in turtle gore. Then they take some time off and tell stories – about a woman with a isolation helmet stuck over her head, and a guy reduced to a sentient bucket of blood from a severe workplace accident – while their lizard-faced enemy is off blowing up the world. Dupieux’s things tend to be short and absurd, definitely worth watching every year or two.

Adèle Exarchopoulos is the other woman in the helmet story, Blanche Gardin (producer of France) is the bucket carrier, and going way back, the director/star of Man Bites Dog plays Lizardin. Our five cigarette-themed superheroes, who claim they do not promote smoking, include Vincent Lacoste (lead detective of Irma Vep Remake) and Anaïs Demoustier (maid of Bird People).

Brigitte Bardot has absurdly great hair in this movie, and likes to sunbathe nude in the garden, so all the boys are after her, to the disapproval of her foster parents. Land baron Curd Jurgens (Richard Burton’s rival in Bitter Victory) is feuding with holdout landowner Christian Marquand (Flight of the Phoenix), and both think they’ve got a chance with Brigitte, but when she’s threatened with losing her home, wallflower J-L Trintignant steps up and marries her. Marriage isn’t much of an impediment to the other two guys, and J-L (beaten up by the local ruffian minutes after his wedding) isn’t strong enough to hold onto her, so people get shot and boats get burned up. Good-looking at least, from Clouzot’s usual guy. Not exactly a vital cinema classic, but in the early days of Criterion DVDs, we took whatever we could get.

A change in mood from my last French movie, the actors perfect little models through the supernatural events Рnobody cries, while L̩a Seydoux rarely stopped.

Trying to watch this again with Katy, if she’ll agree. A short and straightforward pandemic project with just a few actors – but writing a story that depends on the performance of identical eight year-olds seems risky, and damn, they pulled it off.

Courtney Duckworth’s Cinema Scope writeup is the one.

Lovely French movie about life being complicated, starring the great Léa Seydoux, whose Blue Is the Warmest Color co-star I saw last night in The Five Devils. She’s a professional translator whose philosopher dad (Rohmer and Assayas regular Pascal Greggory) is losing his memory and stability and vision and needs to go into a home. The movie’s about heavy things but it moves beautifully.

Léa meets Melvil Poupaud, a cosmo-chemist who studies meteorites like in that Herzog movie, but he’s married, and goes back and forth with his intentions, as her dad gets moved to worse and then better facilities… it’s more like one fine year (the film is named after the dad’s unfinished autobiography).

Jordan Cronk in Cinema Scope: “In a year with no shortage of similarly themed French films (see Claire Denis’ [Both Sides of the Blade] and Emmanuel Mouret’s Chronique d’une liaison passagère), One Fine Morning makes a case for itself not by upending conventions, but by applying them with care and consideration.” Key review by Vadim Rizov, who liked it not as much.

Five Devils is unfortunately just the name of a sports complex where Adele Exarchopoulos works with her disfigured ex-friend Nadine – the movie isn’t about devils, but a girl with an incredible sense of smell. Her mom Adele tends the pool, and her dad Jimmy’s a fireman, so fire and water. Dad’s sister Julia comes to stay, after spending time in jail for the fire that messed up Nadine, so everyone’s on edge.

The girl Vicky makes jars of special scents, which cause her to black out and visit past events from before she was born – invisible to all except Young Julia, who panics whenever the girl appears. After the fire ruptures the two young couples (Adele and Julia, Jimmy and Nadine), mom and dad end up together, so V wouldn’t have been born if she hadn’t (passively) prompted the fire.

Fun movie to think about, and to watch – despite its three different “Total Eclipse of the Heart” scenes. Nadine also starred in Nimic with Matt Dillon. Hugo Dillon plays a fireman here, apparently no relation.

Mike D’Angelo:

I kinda loved it, perhaps because I’d given up hope of ever again being caught off guard by what I think of as the “La Jetée”/Twelve Monkeys theory of time travel, in which visiting the past means that you were always present there. Mysius and her co-screenwriter, Paul Guilhaume, deploy their eternalism in a unique fashion (homemade perfume as proxy-Proustian time machine, with a silent, watchful Vicky visible only to her future aunt) and for singularly perverse ends—this is basically a dual tragic love story rooted in kids’ inadvertently destructive power, acknowledging that their mere existence in the world (crucially, Vicky never actually does anything during her visitations) can fuck up adults’ lives, and leaving startlingly open the question of whether or not parents’ deep, abiding love for them is worth it.

Tahar from A Prophet misses Virginie from Benedetta after their almost-wedding and becomes very sad, returns to his theater career where he keeps seeing her as different characters around town, then the actual Virginie arrives to act in his show. Nice-looking sophisticated movie full of song and dance, so I feel bad that I remember so little of it.

A movie of people standing very still and talking, named after the town where the crime took place in late 2015. Subtly cinephiliac movie – Rama is teaching a lesson on Duras, shows the shaved-head scene from Hiroshima Mon Amour in class – all the white actors in this movie have been in Resnais films. Rama is weird and closed-off around family, never mentions she’s leaving town to witness a murder trial.

The judge was in Mon oncle d’Amérique as a kid:

Laurence is the accused, is quoted as having said that she killed her baby to “make life easier” but pleads innocent: “I don’t think I’m the responsible party.” The judge questions the much-older, married boyfriend, a real shithead, then asks for L’s whole life story. Meanwhile Rama has lunch with the accused’s mom, reveals that Rama is pregnant, and at the hotel she frames through Pasolini’s Medea.

Laurence’s mom: Salimata Kamate of Intouchables

Movie ends, having made its point(s), without wrapping up the trial. But it’s based on an actual trial, which Diop attended in 2016 in the same courtroom where they filmed, and which ended in a 20-year sentence.

Leila Latif for BFI:

The acting is uniformly superb, even when it’s simply dispassionate testimony that’s being dispatched. [Kayije] Kagame plays Rama in a state of continual displacement, ill at ease at dinner with her mother, uncomfortable on the streets of Saint-Omer and conspicuous in the courtroom; [Guslagie] Malanda evokes profound pain through the tiniest cracks in her expressions and voices as she revisits traumatic memories.

My second Peebles after Watermelon Man, building up gradually to the big one. Harry Baird (The Oblong Box) has three days of leave, attempts to have the best time possible (accomplished) and not fuck up his brand-new promotion (ummm). Different versions of himself appear in mirrors and fantasies, and characters speaking to him look directly into camera, placing us in his head. The whole thing is electric and alive, and self-consciously French-new-wavey. The white girl who falls in love with him is even Nicole Berger of Shoot the Piano Player.

Baird flies into a rage when a Spanish restaurant singer calls him negrito, he’s spotted by other soldiers outside the range they’re supposed to travel, and after his lockup for breaking the rules, the girl is gone.