Monday, April 24, 2017

15 Must-See French Films at COLCOA 2017

By José Alberto Hermosillo
The 21st COLCOA French Film Festival presented by The Franco-American Cultural Fund is premiering a record number of 82 films in 9 days, from April 24th to May 2nd of 2017, at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles.
DGA Main Entrance Photo by Jose A. Hermosillo Copyrights  Festival in LA 2017
This yearly event will screen French productions and co-productions with Canada, Italy, Egypt, Tunisia, Russia, and Belgium among others. 
COLCOA is the largest French theme film festival in the World. Many of these films won awards at Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, and Venice.
Air ThaitiNui, sponsor of COLCOA, Photo: Jose Hermosillo, Copyrights Festival in LA 2017
The festival has an important section dedicated to the Classics. This year COLCOA (City of Lights - City of Angels) screens "Playtime" by Jacques Tati. Plus the festival is having a tribute to Jean-Pierre Melville's 100th anniversary with the short “A Day In a Clown's Life” and the restored version of the artistic crime thriller “Le Cercle Rouge” with Alain Delon.

The program includes films from renowned filmmakers like Bruno Dumont, Marco Bellocchio, Hugo Gelin, and Claude Lelouch.

Also, COLCOA will showcase shorts, plus four documentaries in competition: “Latest News from the Cosmos,” “Little Gems,” “The Paris Opera” and “Why Do They Hate Us.”
COLCOA lobby Photo by Jose A. Hermosillo. Copyrights Festival in LA 2017.
For the second year, COLCOA will continue promoting the Television Dramas and Series.

COLCOA has a new web-series competition, plus a virtual reality exhibit.
A Bag of Marbles © Gaumont resources
25,000 students of Los Angeles will be exposed to the wonders of French Cinema. They will have a screening of a marvelous film about two Jewish children fleeing Paris from the Nazis, “A Bag of Marbles/Un sac de billes.” This effort is presented in conjunction with the nonprofit organization ELMA (European Languages & Movies in America).
Everyone's Life, directed by Claude Lelouch © Valerie Perrin
This French language festival opens with an audacious romantic-comedy “Everyone’s Life/Chacun sa vie” directed by an Academy® Award winner, director Claude Lelouch (“A Man and a Woman”). Lelouch teams up again with Oscar© winner Jean Dujardin and a whole A-Class French ensemble cast, just to make people laugh and have fun. 

This year, Festival in LA has selected some of the Must See films in COLCOA. 

We hope you'll enjoy watching our selection:
1.  “Slack Bay/Ma Loute.” 
Directed by Bruno Dumont (“Humanité,” “Flanders”). 
Exquisite, marvelous and surreal. 
A satire that mixes Buñuel and Dupieux in the Dumont’s very personal style. 
The grandiose cast includes Oscar© winner Juliette Binoche as a member of a family that goes on vacation to the Northern crystalline part of France, in 1910. The Côte d’Opale is a beautiful and bizarre place where people enjoy their leisure time among the locals. Suddenly, the police are investigating the mysterious disappearances of a few tourists.
2. "A Bag of Marbles/
Un sac de billes 
Directed by Christian Duguay ("Jappeloup," "Coco Chanel"). 
 A gorgeous time-period war-drama set during the Nazi era when Germany invaded France. This true story is vividly recalled from the point-of-view of two Jewish children fleeing Paris, as they are trying to save their lives. Gripping and heartfelt, 'A Bag of Marbles' will make you pull out your handkerchiefs.
3.  “The Paris Opera/L’Opéra.” 
Directed by Jean-Stéphane Bron. 
This eye-opening documentary follows the struggle of the talent, singers, and dancers as they rehearse, also the people behind the curtains responsible for producing the plays and concerts from one of the best opera houses in the world. It took two years to make this fantastic film.
4.   “Dalida.” 
Directed by Lisa Azuelos (“Quantum Love”). 
The 'Dalida' movie will make you feel like dancing.
A  biopic of one of the most successful female pop singers in the World, 
who sold more than 170 million albums. 
Rising from her oppressive birth place in Egypt, 
Dalida (Sveva Alviti) emigrates to France to feel emotionally liberated.
The film faithfully displays her private life and her tragic moments,
and some of her most memorable performances.
Directed by Angelin Preljocaj, Valérie Müller-Preljocaj. 
A terrific coming-of-age story about dance, courage, passion, and love. “Polina” chronicles the early years of an aspiring ballerina who will leave the Bolshoi Ballet to find her true self. From Russia to Paris, she will experience a few steps back to a full understanding of her life and her bright future. 
6.  “Mr. & Mrs. Adelman/
Monsieur et Madame Adelman.” 
Directed by Nicolas Bedos. 
This is a delightful comedy about couplehood. 
In this story, Doria Tillier plays the wife of a celebrated author, Victor Adelman (Nicolas Bedos). She recollects to a journalist, her personal life and her intimate moments of her deceased husband
- how they met, their children, their moments. 
He fell in love with her and her Jewish parents. 
He reached more fame when he took his wife’s last name because it was a Jewish last name. 
This story, full of ironies gets crazier, compelling and intellectually funny. 
   
7.  “Everyone’s Life/
Chacun sa vie.” 
Directed by Claude Lelouch (“A Man and a Woman,” “Un + Une”).
Set in a small town in the Burgundy region of France, this romantic-comedy playfully deconstructs many of the ideological and political values of its inhabitants. Lelouch has the ingredients to make out of “Everyone’s Life” a delightful comedy.
8.  “The Confession/La Confession.” 
Directed by Nicolas Boukhrief (“Made in France”). 
A woman named Barny (Marine Vacth), upon dying wishes to confess her love story to a priest (Romain Duris). This gripping drama set during the WWII based on the novel by Beatrix Beck, ‘Léon Morin, Pretre’ is about a forbidden romance between a beautiful married woman and a local priest.
     Not-to-be-missed. 
9. “The Odyssey/L’Odyssée.” 
Directed by Jérôme Salle (“The Tourist,” “Zulu,” “9 Months Stretch”). A spectacular under-the-sea adventure featuring the biopic of the most prominent French explorer, a national treasure, Jacques Cousteau
   
10.  “Hedi/
Hedi, un vent de liberté.” 
Winner of Best First Feature at the 2016 Berlinale,
This drama takes place in Tunisia, where we meet a young car salesman named Hedi portrayed by Majd Mastoura (winner of the Silver Bear in Berlin for Best Actor). Hedi will follow his passion and challenge the local traditions by striving to marry the woman he loves rather than the one his mother chooses. 
The importance of this film is to know if he will be able to liberate himself from his oppression.
11.   “A Kid/
Les Fils de Jean.” 
Directed by Philippe Lioret (“Stranger by the Lake”). 
An intricate and fascinating story about a French divorcee named Mathieu terrifically played by
Pierre Deladonchamps. 
He travels to Canada for the funeral of the father he never met. 
The story gets complicated when he learns his father died in a boat accident, and his body was not found. There will be no certificate of death and no inheritance until the body is found. 
This feels good movie focuses on the importance of keeping the family together regardless if they live in different continents.
12.  “Sweet Dreams/
Fais de beaux rêves.” 
Marco Bellocchio (“Fist in His Pocket,” “In the Name of the Father,” “Blood of My Blood”). 
An intense drama co-produced between France and Italy. 
The journey Massimo (Valerio Mastandrea), a man who suffers panic attacks caused by the loss of his mother at a young age. 
Doctor Elisa (Oscar© nominee Bérénice Bejo), will help him to overcome his trauma.
   13.   Two is a Family/
Demain tout commence.”
Directed by Hugo Gélin (“Like Brothers”). 
The French remake of the Mexican hit
 “Instructions Not Included” has now another international star, Omar Sy 
("The Intouchables, "Samba," "Chocolate"). 
He is playing a party animal who out of the blue has to take care of a daughter he had with a woman from a one night stand. The “modern family” drama starts as a sweet romantic comedy to end up as a “rolling tears” flick. 

14.  “The Eavesdropper/
Le Mécanique de l’ombre.” 
Directed by Thomas Kruithof (“A Perfect Man”). 
A traditional French Spy-movie with tension and suspense, paranoia and politics. The story is set in the era of analog espionage. Everybody would find 'The Eavesdropper' irresistible
15.  “Tour de France.” 
Directed by Rachid Djaïdani (“Hold Back”). 
A generational clash between artists and styles, race and religion. 
The story recounts the trip of a young Muslim rap artist and an old painter. 
The rapper has to flee Paris. His producer sends him to work as a driver for an old painter 
Serge (Gérard Depardieu). 
Serge has to fulfill the promise he made to his deceased wife, to recreate the paintings of an important artist of the 18th Century.
The problem in this story is that the painter is a reactionary racist who hates rap music. The contrast between both men makes the film exceptional.  

COLCOA FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL - A WEEK OF FRENCH FILM PREMIERES IN HOLLYWOOD. APRIL 24- MAY 2, 2017.





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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

“Cezanne and I” An Extraordinary Journey of Art and Friendship

By José Alberto Hermosillo
Artistic and beautiful, “Cezanne et moi” is a highly accomplished time-period film about art, love, and the struggle of two good friends who reached everlasting fame.

The biopic recalls the intimate lives of the legendary artists of the 19th century, Paul Cezanne, and Emile Zola A neglected painter and a celebrated author.

The nonlinear story goes back and forth from their present time to their childhood, through their adolescence, and then their adulthood.

In a Catholic School in a small province of France, we meet Emile Zola, bullied by his classmates for being a foreigner and fatherless, he and his mother immigrated from Italy.
Cezanne, the rich boy, defended him. That was the beginning of a lifetime friendship. 

Their ambitions made them move from the Mediterranean hillside town of Aix-en-Provence to Paris.

In Montmartre and Batignolles, Inglewood, they met many of the emerging and established artists of their time such as Monet, Renoir, Bazille, Morisot, and Cassatt.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
Zola and Cezanne become roommates. They even slept with the same women and fell in love with many of dubious reputation.

Those were difficult times; they struggled on the brink of starvation.

Zola was not French, but he was eloquent in his writings. 


Fame and fortune came first for the writer, while the painter wrestled his demons until the end. 

Cezanne hated himself so much that he destroyed some of his artwork. He was not alone; no one could understand his unique, groundbreaking Impressionist style that struck a chord with young art lovers of the day but was not liked by the classics.

This feature film perfectly depicts how two friends live their own lives in their own worlds with their trials and failures as they follow their passion for the arts.
Guillaume Gallienne (Cezanne). Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
Frustrated for been ignored by the Academy of Arts, Cezanne hit rock bottom. Yet, Zola always cared for his friend.

In a lucid moment, Cezanne says to Zola, “I would like to paint as well as you write.” Later he continues, “If I live with a man I love, I should live with a woman who hates me, yes?” And he finishes with a sentimental note: “I can't remember why you love me so much.”

At one point, their friendship gets tiresome. 

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
The prestigious Academy of Arts qualified Zola's books “Germinal” and “Nana” as vulgar and obscene. Regardless of the scandal, French readers had a big appetite for those types of stories. His success was imminent.
Guillaume Canet (Zola). Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
Zola's experiences in brothels are not in the film. Maybe that was one of the reasons this movie got such mixed reviews in France. 

On the other hand, to show the downside of the Parisian night scene would take away much of the film's central theme, the friendship between two great artists. 
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
Actors Guillaume Gallienne (Cezanne) and Guillaume Canet (Zola) are magnificent in their respective characters; their performances are outstanding. 
 Director Daniele Thomson. Photo by Jose Hermosillo. Copyright © Festival in LA
The film is directed and wonderfully written by Daniele Thomson ("Avenue Montaigne," "It Happened in Saint-Tropez/Des Gens qui s'embrassent"). Her years of experience in movie-making can tell us she knows her craft.

Daniele Thomson's style to write fine comedy is sharp and elegant, and she is the Woody Allen of French Cinema. 
Director Daniele Thomson and film critic Jose Hermosillo. Copyright © Festival in LA
Ms. Thomson's writing style is delectable. She works on the dynamics of conversations and enlarges the dialogue to transmit the proper emotions from the actors to the audience.

The cinematography by Jean-Marie Dreujou is evocative and utterly beautiful.
Music composer Erik Neveux. Photo by Jose Hermosillo. Copyright © Festival in LA
The original music composed by Erik Neveux (Intimacy, The Attack) is extraordinary. The violins, cellos, guitars, and flutes reverberate flawlessly, enhancing the mood according to the story.
"Cezanne and I" soundtrack
Photo by Jose Hermosillo. 
Copyright © Festival in LA
The music has plenty of natural sounds that evocate the ambiance of the time-period of the story with grace and perfect harmony. 
Music composer Erik Neveux and film critic Jose Hermosillo. Copyright © Festival in LA
Viewers will experience a gorgeous film full of art, passion and those beautiful moments that go along with a lifetime Friendship.


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Sunday, April 2, 2017

“Colossal” Not Your Typical “Godzilla” Movie

By José Alberto Hermosillo
Fantastic, bizarre and surprisingly funny!

“Colossal” departs from a love story to a disaster movie with fateful consequences in other latitudes - Seoul, South Korea for instance.

When humanity creates monsters who destroy cities and kill innocents, heroes must rise to fight the supernatural evil.
Colossal scene. Copyright © Neon
Anne Hathaway, out of her memorable Oscar©-winning performance in “Les Misérables” and away from the glamour of “The Devil Wears Prada” is unrecognizable. She transforms herself now into this crazy alcoholic New Yorker.

Fired from her job and dumped by her immature boyfriend, Dan Stevens ("Downtown Abby" and “Beauty and the Beast”), Gloria seeks refuge in her small hometown located in the middle of nowhere.
Colossal scene. Copyright © Neon
In there, she is going to be rescued by a mature guy named Oscar, wonderfully played by Jason Sudeikis (“Horrible Bosses,” “Drinking Buddies”).

Jason’s character starts as the likable guy, the owner of a bar who offers her a job as a waitress and who cares for her. All because he still has a crush on her since elementary school.

Jealousy and bad memories become their greatest enemy in their nonexistent love story.  

Sudeikis is terrific playing the insane!
Colossal scene. Copyright © Neon
Anne Hathaway is remarkable as a comedienne. Her clumsiness raises the bar for this performance. In actuality, she was five months pregnant when the production started.

As Gloria tries to sober herself up, she realizes that she has control of another being bigger than herself - far away from her tiny, little, crazy universe. 

Gloria must put herself together to save the World!

When Oscar learns Gloria's secret, he gets mad and loses control of himself by becoming another monster. The eternal battle between women and men begins.
Nacho Vigalondo. Photo by Jose Hermosillo.
Copyright © Festival in LA
After “Cronocrimes/Los Cronocrimenes (2007)” turned into a big hit in the international festival circuit, the visionary Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, in “Colossal,” intelligently mixed adventure, drama, disaster, science-fiction, and a monster movie with dark comedy.

Coincidentally, this independent production continues in the same genre as Jeff Nichols’ “Midnight Special,” J.A. Bayona’s “A Monster Calls” or even Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim.”

Funny, humble and unconventional, Vigalondo is a creative director. He changes the rules of the game by altering the stereotypes of his odd characters. He is resourcefully twisting the outcome of every scene. 

Above all, the Spanish director “tiene mucho corazón.”

Furthermore, he is very passionate about his craft. For example, the monsters in his film are creatures with no gender. He is changing the signals send by that kind of movies.
Nacho Vigalondo. Photo by Jose Hermosillo.
Copyright © Festival in LA
The level of production and budget in “Colossal” was significant for the standards he was usually worked with. Yet, he was surprised that his producers wanted more special effects and more action sequences with no worries about money. He was given total creative freedom for his first film in English lingo.
Nacho, politically correct, said, "This movie is open to interpretation, and it doesn’t push any particular agenda." He feels that movies are a product of their time.

In this film, he chose to set part of his narrative in South Korea because the two stories have to be as divergent and as far away as possible from each other. 


“An explosion in Paris is more dramatic than in Syria because humanity tends to minimize one culture over another,” he said.

Technically, “Colossal” contains odd moments, dark cinematography, and rough transitions that can confuse the audience, but all is good. People will wonder about whether the human species will be destroyed or triumph over the evil forces as in a tragicomedy.
Nacho Vigalondo and film critic Jose Alberto Hermosillo 
In a rare appearance at USC School of Cinematic Arts, Nacho spoke about the film-writing process: “Write what you like, something that you are passionate about, something amazing. Do not write two or three bad transition scenes just to fill up the page; it won't work. Create something fantastic, no matter if it has continuity or not. For, you see, the sky is ‘Colossal.’ ”

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