Category Archives: French cinema

Natan – Part 1

MostlyFilm regular Paul Duane, who has written about his films Barbaric Genius and Very Extremely Dangerous in these pages, has teamed up with the most excellent David Cairns to make an acclaimed documentary about the once-notorious, now obscure, Bernard Natan, which will receive its English premiere this weekend. In this 2-part essay (the 2nd part will be published tomorrow), David recounts the whole strange story.


  Continue reading Natan – Part 1

London Film Festival 2013: Early Doors

The LFF opens to the public on Wednesday. Gareth Negus introduces a few films showing in the first week

The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears

Written and directed by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, this, like their debut Amer, is an art film that plays with the imagery of the giallo – the Italian horror sub-genre whose best known exponent is Dario Argento. If you’re unfamiliar with the form, this film may well be a bit baffling.  If you are, then … it might still be a bit baffling.

The apparent plot centres on Dan Kristensen (Klaus Tange), who returns home to find his wife missing. His efforts to find her lead him to a room on the seventh floor, where a mysterious woman tells him this is not the first disappearance in the building. Things get progressively weirder, involving childhood flashbacks, and numerous murders.

The apartment building with hidden secrets recalls the sinister complexes of Argento’s Inferno; I also spotted visual and narrative references to The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Deep Red and Tenebrae (those better versed in Italian horror can doubtless list many more). But while many Argento films have a loose grip on such trivia as logic and character motive, they do have actual plots behind their elaborate murders and lavish images; Strange Colour seems uninterested in such things. Cattet and Forzani frequently cut abruptly between scenes, often with a character waking up in a manner to suggest the preceding events could have been a dream. (Indeed, the film starts with the camera closing in on Kristensen’s closed eyes, as though to suggest the whole film may be taking place inside his head). As a lead character, he is frustratingly blank; it is impossible for the audience to feel much empathy, or even interest, in his bizarre plight.

Clearly, narrative is not the point in a film like this; it’s purely an art film, a visual and auditory experience that isn’t designed to be watched for the story. I don’t mind being baffled by a film, but by the halfway point I reluctantly concluded that I was also really quite bored. It is stunning to look at, beautifully designed and lit, and the directors come up with numerous images as impressively wince-inducing as anything in Argento’s back catalogue; but it feels like little more than a clever, elaborate tribute act.

The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears screens on Friday 11, Sunday 13 and Sunday 20 October. Continue reading London Film Festival 2013: Early Doors

Blue is the Warmest Colour

‘Ron Swanson’ reports from the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

cannes poster

The 66th Cannes Film Festival ended just less than a week ago. In that time, I’ve attempted to clarify my feelings about what I thought, as I left France, was the strongest festival I’ve attended so far. It turns out that I agree with my younger self. This year saw three absolutely exceptional films, as well as a handful of other superb efforts. To clarify, the three best films I saw, The Past, The Great Beauty and Blue is the Warmest Colour elicited the strongest reaction from me since A Separation, which I believe is the best film of the past ten years or so.

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Partners in Crime


by Susan Patterson

Partners in Crime (Associés Contre le Crime... ) (2012) is Pascal Thomas’ third adaptation featuring Agatha Christie’s detective duo Tommy, renamed Bélisaire for a French audience, and Tuppence, going by her full name of Prudence.  Christie’s introduced the couple in 1922 in the Secret Adversary.  They were a frothy, cheerful couple, who reappeared in Partners in Crime in 1929, a collection of  short stories, and a further three novels, the couple ageing with the time passed between the books.

Continue reading Partners in Crime