DAILY | Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2013

“The 18th Edition of this New York tradition, Rendez-Vous with French Cinema unveils perhaps their most diverse line-up in years,” begins Dustin Chang at the top of his overview at Twitch. “This range includes grand and engaging entertainments such as Régis Roinsard’s Populaire (Opening Night film with its stars Romain Duris and Deborah François attending), uncompromising auteurs such as Jean-Claude Brisseau and Damien Odoul, rising independent voices including Héléna Klotz and Shalimar Preuss, and master filmmakers François Ozon, Patrice Leconte, Raymond Depardon, Nicolas Philibert and the late Claude Miller.”

The Voice’s Scott Foundas opens his survey with Ozon’s In the House, “a remarkable movie about how writers transform reality into fiction, as knowing in its way as Adaptation or The Shining, with a splendid performance by [Fabrice] Luchini (at the very acme of his ‘French Woody Allen’-ness) and a revelatory one by [Ernst] Umhauer, who blazes with the adolescent fire of the young Jean-Pierre Léaud. Elsewhere in its first edition overseen by the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s newly appointed director of programming, former Variety critic Robert Koehler, the 22-film Rendez-vous lineup offers no shortage of the arthouse catnip Francophile audiences have come to expect from this long-running showcase… But upon closer inspection, a few stealthy subversions emerge—movies by iconoclastic filmmakers working far from the French cinema mainstream (and unlikely to see American distribution). They include Damien Odoul’s Rich is the Wolf, a haunting memory film constructed from the director’s own home movies and a loose narrative about a wife’s attempt to unravel the mystery of her husband’s disappearance; Atomic Age, an intoxicating debut film from director Héléna Klotz set over one long, Joycean night in the throbbing world of Paris techno clubs; and Jean-Claude Brisseau’s The Girl From Nowhere, a delightful curlicue from the enfant terrible director of the erotically charged Secret Things and The Exterminating Angels.”

The New York TimesStephen Holden begins with Gilles Bourdos’s “lush, sun-dappled cinematic reverie, Renoir. Set in 1915 on the Côte d’Azur, where Renoir (Michel Bouquet), crippled with arthritic pain, lived out his final years, the gorgeous film visualizes the world as observed by an enfeebled artist who is kept alive by his obsession with how the skin of a beautiful woman absorbs light…. Renoir is the conceptual springboard for this year’s series, which honors the films of the great filmmaker Jean Renoir, the second of the painter’s three sons and the author of a 1962 biography of his father. Three of the son’s masterworks are being shown: his first color film, The River (1951), in a restored print; a digital restoration of his satire Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932); and The Rules of the Game (1939), a perennial contender on critics’ polls for the finest film ever made.”

Updates, 3/1: Via Indiewire, the subtitled trailer for Ozon’s In the House:

“Often enervating, The Girl From Nowhere‘s peculiar groping for transcendence—signaled with an overlooped, beatific snatch of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony—deserves a sincere slow clap,” writes Vadim Rizov for Filmmaker. “Raymond Depardon’s Journal de France is another presentation of self. Briefly, for the unfamiliar: Depardon is a legendary French photojournalist who seems to have taken footage of every significant geopolitical crisis zone of the late ’60s, then moved on to a wide, varied, mostly documentary filmography. Journal de France is a career overview along the lines of Agnes Varda’s The Beaches of Agnes or Chantal Akerman on Chantal Akerman, allowing a filmmaker to reflect on their life and work through their own footage, and it would make a fine introduction for the uninitiated.”

David D’Arcy recommends it as well before moving on to Patrice Leconte’s “uncharacteristic animated 3-D fable” The Suicide Shop, set in “a store where a family business sells the depressed and dejected the means to kill themselves. If this isn’t enough for a palette to vent a director’s inner Tim Burton and Sweeney Todd, there is also gray Paris, which here is a monochrome of accumulated grime and constructed ugliness.”

At the House Next Door, Eric Henderson revisits Renoir’s “uproarious social satire, Boudu Saved from Drowning.”

In his overview of the series for Cineuropa, Fabien Lemercier notes that “eight of these titles will be screened in over 40 American cities, simultaneously with the New York screenings.”

Updates, 3/3: First, a few words from the series’ programmer Robert Koehler:

“Jean Renoir’s The River demonstrates with intoxicating lyricism the confluence of apparent contraries: past and present, innocence and experience, permanence and change—even Hinduism and Christianity.” Budd Wilkins: “Based on the novel by Rumer Godden, who co-scripted, Renoir’s film plays to strengths that are quite dissimilar to those evident in the adaptation of Godden’s Black Narcissus by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Black Narcissus exudes a morbid atmosphere of repressed sexuality that finally erupts in almost demoniacal hysterics. The River is equally concerned with delineating the disruptions of desire, but here its effects are viewed with Renoir’s typically nonjudgmental gaze.”

Also at the House Next Door, Chuck Bowen revisits Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, which “has been part of the film canon for so long that it’s valuable to remind audiences how gloriously alive and just plain fun it is. Low comedy walks hand and hand with tragedy and beauty throughout; the film is frothy one minute, nearly apocalyptic the next, and so you’re never fully allowed to gather your bearings. The Rules of the Game has a tone that could be symbolized by the escalating merry-go-round that prominently plays into the climax of Strangers on a Train—up and down, all around and seemingly totally out of control. The film, as Paul Schrader says in the Criterion edition’s liner notes, represents all of cinema’s possibilities in 106 minutes.”

For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @KeyframeDaily on Twitter and/or the RSS feed. Get Keyframe Daily in your inbox by signing in at

Did you like this article?
Give it a vote for a Golden Bowtie


Keyframe is always looking for contributors.

"Writer? Video Essayist? Movie Fan Extraordinaire?

Fandor is streaming on Amazon Prime

Love to discover new films? Browse our exceptional library of hand-picked cinema on the Fandor Amazon Prime Channel.