DVD Review: 8 Femmes

“Un homme? Pourquoi un homme?”

Having recently seen Isabelle Huppert on stage and Fanny Ardant at a film festival, I was reminded that I hadn’t watched François Ozon’s 8 Femmes for some time and I took great pleasure in reacquainting myself with a film I love dearly. If I believed in guilty pleasures this would be up there but for me, there’s no guilt at all, purely pleasure. Adapted by Ozon from the play by Robert Thomas, 8 Femmes is a retro delight, a technicolour musical version of an Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery, beautifully spoofing the overblown Hollywood style.

It also boasts quite the roll-call of cross-generational French acting talent in the eight women it gathers in a snowbound country mansion to celebrate Christmas with the single man of the piece Marcel. There’s his wife Gaby (Catherine Deneuve), his mother-in-law Mamy (Danielle Darrieux), his sister-in-law Augustine (Isabelle Huppert), his daughters Catherine (Ludivine Sagnier) and Suzon (Virginie Ledoyen), his sister Pierette (Franny Ardant) and his household staff Madame Chanel (Firmine Richard) and Louise (Emmanelle Béart).

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DVD Review: Persepolis

“Je me souviens à cette époque je menais une vie tranquille et sans histoire, une vie de petite fille.”

There’s something a little depressing in finding out that people were right all along – my natural (and completely irrational, I know that) antipathy towards animated films means that it takes a lot to get me to watch them and so this is actually the first time I have actually watched Persepolis, the Cannes Grand Jury prize winner from 2007. An English version has been made which replaces some of the actors but as I wanted to listen to Danielle Darrieux as Grandmother, I opted for the original French (with subtitles natch). 

France’s own Judi Dench and Finty Williams, Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni star (and interestingly, both also appear in the English version) in this coming of age tale of a young Iranian woman, set against the overthrow of the Shah and the rise of Islamic fundamentalist rule. Mastroianni plays Marji, through whose eyes we see the whole thing – the optimism of change as revolution kicks in, the excitement of being involved in a family full of activists, the fear at the realisation of what has actually been implemented by the new regime.  Continue reading “DVD Review: Persepolis”

DVD Review: The Rage of Paris (1938)

 “Are you French?
‘Yes, but the accent won’t show on the photo’”

For reasons I am not entirely sure why, I don’t really watch black and white films at all, I have to be made to watch them even though I know that many of them are excellent. So it was with a little trepidation that I started the 1938 Danielle Darrieux film The Rage of Paris, directed by Henry Koster, and naturally, within minutes I was completely hooked by this utterly delightful screwball comedy and Darrieux’s brilliant performance as the duplicitous Nicole de Cortillon.

Stuck in New York with no job and owing several weeks rent, Nicole decides that the only solution is to find herself a rich husband. Together with her wisecracking friend Gloria and a somewhat dipsy maître’d at a posh hotel, they scheme to ensnare a handsome millionaire Bill Duncan who is staying in the hotel. Her natural charm means that she soon has him wrapped around her little finger with an engagement ring on her third but Bill’s friend Jim threatens the whole plan as it turns out he’s met Nicole before… Continue reading “DVD Review: The Rage of Paris (1938)”