Daily Archives: April 22, 2005

Graduate First

This 1979 film by Maurice Pialat treats youthful sex as the only activity worth pursuing in the provinces, and the major obstacle to escaping from them. 85 min. In French with subtitles. (JR)… Read more »

The Mouth Agape

The Mouth Agape (1974, 82 min.), my favorite film by Maurice Pialat, concerns a middle-aged woman dying of cancer and how her illness affects her husband and son; its details about sex as well as death are recognizable, embarrassing, moving, and occasionally funny. In French with subtitles. (JR)… Read more »

We Will Not Grow Old Together

Maurice Pialat adapted his own autobiographical novel for We Will Not Grow Old Together (1972, 107 min.), a devastating chronicle of a long-term affair that can neither survive nor end, powerfully played by Jean Yanne and Marlene Jobert. In French with subtitles. (JR)… Read more »

Naked Childhood

A volatile realist who’s often been compared to John Cassavetes, Maurice Pialat started out as a painter and a documentary filmmaker, though in contrast to most realist works (as well as most paintings) his movies are too intimate to date very much. He was 43 when he made his first feature, Naked Childhood (1968, 82 min.), a nonjudgmental and unsentimental look at a troubled, abandoned ten-year-old boy who’s shuttled between foster parents. (Francois Truffaut served as coproducer, though Pialat was a sworn enemy of the New Wave.) In French with subtitles. (JR)… Read more »

The Interpreter

It’s a bad sign when a sizable portion of a preview audience starts lurching for the exit before the final fade-out. This thriller involving a plot to assassinate a genocidal African dictator has Nicole Kidman in the title role as a UN interpreter and Sean Penn as a Secret Service agent. I suppose the absence of heat between them could be taken as a sign of the movie’s seriousness, but without a spark to ignite the proceedings even the actors’ craft and Sydney Pollack’s direction don’t count for much. Five people worked on the script; if there was ever any inspiration behind it, there isn’t now. PG-13, 128 min. (JR)… Read more »

A Lot Like Love

Amanda Peet and Ashton Kutcher meet cute by having offscreen sex in an airplane lavatory as they’re flying from Los Angeles to New York. After that it’s all downhill, for them and for us. This interminable contest between two narcissists, stretched out over many miles and years, is supposed to have something to do with romance. Nigel Cole, the British director, also helmed Calendar Girls, but in that case he had a better cast and script to work with. With Kathryn Hahn and Kal Penn; written by Colin Patrick Lynch. PG-13, 107 min. (JR)… Read more »

Look At Me

French writer-actress Agnes Jaoui has a keen sense of middle-class aspirations and cultural self-consciousness, and though her work may be decidedly middlebrow, its verve and sensitivity make it entirely honorable. This follow-up to her 2000 debut, The Taste of Others, delves into the milieu of a well-known, self-centered author suffering from writer’s block (well played by Jean-Pierre Bacri, Jaoui’s writing partner and former husband) and his chubby grown daughter (Marilou Berry), who’s frustrated by his inattention. Jaoui plays the daughter’s voice teacher, and the movie is acute in its observation of how she and other characters are bent out of shape by their deference to the famous monster. The French title is Comme une image (like an image), but Tennessee Williams’s phrase the catastrophe of success seems more appropriate. In French with subtitles. PG-13, 110 min. (JR)… Read more »

Every Man for Himself: The Films of Maurice Pialat

The work of director Maurice Pialat (1925-2003) is sufficiently celebrated in France to have generated an exhaustive Web site (www.maurice-pialat.net) and two DVD box sets. But his name is far from familiar here, and this complete retrospective of his dramatic features–running Friday, April 22, through Tuesday, May 3, at Facets Cinematheque–is long overdue. Some fans prefer Pialat’s more mannerist late work, but I’d give the edge to his 70s output, covered this week. All films are in French with subtitles; for more information and a complete schedule visit www.facets.org.

A volatile realist who’s often been compared to John Cassavetes, Pialat started out as a painter and a documentary filmmaker, though in contrast to most realist works (as well as most paintings) his movies are too intimate to date very much. He was 43 when he made his first feature, Naked Childhood (1968, 82 min.), a nonjudgmental and unsentimental look at a troubled, abandoned ten-year-old boy who’s shuttled between foster parents. (Francois Truffaut served as coproducer, though Pialat was a sworn enemy of the New Wave.) Pialat adapted his own autobiographical novel for We Will Not Grow Old Together (1972, 107 min.), a devastating chronicle of a long-term affair that can neither survive nor end, powerfully played by Jean Yanne and Marlene Jobert.… Read more »