Today marks the opening night of the San Francisco Film Society‘s annual French Cinema Now series, with the purpose of featuring “the most significant new work from international francophone cinema to discerning Bay Area audiences.” The series runs from Thursday, October 27 through Wednesday, November 2, with many of the screenings taking place at the Film Society’s new home at the Film Society | New People Cinema.
In its coverage of recent international film festivals, Keyframe has reviewed three of the films playing; a quick take from each review is provided below. If you’re not able to be in San Francisco this weekend, Fandor has included some recent French-language titles that can be watched from home!
Kid with a Bike (dirs. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
“The Kid with a Bike remains formally consistent with the Dardennes’ previous triumphs, from La Promesse onward, its handheld camera moving quickly, but frequently not quickly enough to capture crucial events or acts of violence. The milieu remains the same, as does the on-the-margins, desperate atmosphere… The film is awash with extraordinary moments, as it never ceases to amaze me how films of such seemingly, deliberately limited means could express a wide, varied spectrum of emotions.”
-From “The Personal Velocity of the Dardennes Brothers: The Kid with a Bike“ by Jaime N. Christley
The Kid with a Bike screens on Saturday October 28 at 7:00pm, and Sunday, October 30 at 4:30pm. Both showings take place at the Film Society | New People Cinema.
Goodbye First Love (Un amour de jeunesse) (dir. Mia Hansen-Løve)
“While this is only Mia Hansen-Løve’s third feature film, Goodbye First Love still indicates a point of departure for her, a new style of symbolic, nostalgic storytelling. Here she’s taken a large step toward combining her most personal experiences with ambitious cinematic goals, sweeping through summer and winter, city and country, youth and age. With Goodbye First Love, she reveals the constrained life of a shy girl to actually be a courageous, elemental narrative.”
-From “Bonjour Tristesse: Goodbye First Love“ by Anna Bak-Kvapil
“Whether her original love is unassailable becomes a narrative concern, though Hansen-Løve treats it all less like a hot coal and more like a fedora lost in the breeze (the Proustian object that comes to our attention but never lyrically returns to Camille). Herein lies the quiet force of the film, in its evocation of a parallel slipstream of time that may even be indifferent to its heroine, who seems to mature hazardously, wondrously before our very eyes… Goodbye First Love plays like an old Françoise Hardy song, its lachrymose-by-numbers shape belying an ineffable sorrow of time passing, of love’s un-return.”
-From Jay Kuehner‘s coverage of the Telluride Film Festival
Goodbye First Love screens on Thursday, October 27 at 6:15pm at the Landmark Embarcadero Center Cinema and Sunday, October 30 at 9:00pm at the Film Society | New People Cinema.
Le Havre (dir. Aki Kaurismaki)
“Though this film isn’t quite a masterpiece, Kaurismaki deserves the title of a master. Long graduated from days cribbing from Robert Bresson and Yasujiro Ozu, he makes the world of this film thoroughly his own, with its uniformly poker-faced cast slouching their way through life’s bittersweetness. Here a bohemian shoeshiner harbors an illegal child migrant from Africa in search of his parents. The film wears its social liberalism on its sleeve, turning its story into a fantasy of secular salvation populated by an irresistibly ragtag ensemble. Dangerously close to humanist pandering, Kaurismaki earns his keep simply in the way he films people, juxtaposing harsh lighting that suggests a world of perpetual Sunday morning melancholy with rigid profiles of faces resilient. Even everyday objects like drinking glasses on a bar seem to shimmer with life’s ebullience.”
-From Kevin B. Lee‘s coverage of the Toronto Film Festival
Le Havre screens on Wednesday, November 2 at 7:00pm at the Film Society | New People Cinema.
If you’re not in San Francisco this weekend, you can hold your own French Cinema Now series by checking out recent French-language films available on Fandor!