Saturday, March 3, 2012

38 Witnesses and Pater launch my 12-movie run at Rendez-Vous with French Cinema

My friend and I had planned to just see 38 Witnesses but it was Friday night in NYC and we're movie people, so it seemed unreasonable not to add another film (Pater) to our slate.

38 Witnesses starts with the grizzly murder of a beautiful 20-year old student in Le Havre, the French port city.  It begins with all of the citizens living in nearby flats standing firm on having nothing to report about the murder.  I learned just before the movie started that it was based on the Kitty Genovese murder in Brooklyn in 1964, although I see now only loosely based.    This one dealt mostly with a married couple - he dealing with the complex feelings of guilt around what he heard and did or didn't do, and she trying to reconcile her judgement of him.

This movie was sooooome kind of melodrama.  I liked how sparsely it was shot, with beautiful imagery surrounding the gigantic shops coming in and out of the port, etc.  But the writing carried with it a heavy-handedness that seemed about double the severity needed.  I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend this movie.

Next we watched Pater, which we knew nothing about going in. (Which to me is one of the most exciting things to me about film festivals.)  Thankfully, the lead actor was there to introduce the film and he explained it was made with one or two little cameras, just him and the director, after ten years of him convincing the (apparently quite prominent) director to work with him.  The two shot it in the director's house, and the premise was that one was the President and one was the Prime Minister.

My friend and I agreed the movie felt like one gigantic inside joke.  We laughed a couple of times. I wondered if I'm maybe not smart enough or maybe not French enough to understand or have enjoyed it further.   The actor said it was nominated for Cesar awards.   So... it must... be good? It sort of felt like The Trip, but a little more experimental and less funny.   And that isn't even to mention the woman behind us who deemed it acceptable to comment regularly at full volume about the movie as it played.  Real question - are some people physically incapable of whispering?

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