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.
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.  


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Copyright © 2017 Festival in LA 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cezanne and I: An Extraordinary Journey of Art and Friendship

By José Alberto Hermosillo
“Cezanne et moi” is a highly accomplished time-period film about art, love, and the friendship between two of the most significant French artists of the 19th century who reached everlasting fame, Paul Cezanne, the neglected painter, and Emile Zola, the celebrated author.
The exquisite
French production develops into an intimate biopic that recalls the lives and camaraderie of the two legendary artists. 

The nonlinear story goes back and forth from the present time to their childhood, adolescence, and the various stages of their adulthood.
The friendship between the writer and the painter begins when Emile Zola, bullied by his classmates for being a fatherless son of an Italian immigrant, meets Cezanne, the rich boy who defends him in a catholic school located in a small province of France.

Their ambitions motivated them to move from Aix-en-Provence’s quiet Mediterranean hillside town to Paris. In Montmartre and Batignolles, Inglewood, they met other emerging and well-established artists such as Monet, Renoir, Bazille, Morisot, and Cassatt.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Zola and Cezanne become roommates. They slept with the same women and fell in love with many dubious reputations. In those difficult times, the artists struggled to the brink of starvation.

Zola’s background was not French, but his writings were eloquent and descriptive. 

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

Cezanne hated himself so much that he destroyed some of his most valuable artwork. He was not alone; his unique, groundbreaking Impressionist style sparked negative reviews from other classic artists regardless of the approval chord struck among young art lovers.

Guillaume Gallienne (Cezanne). Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

This feature film perfectly depicts how the two friends lived in their opposite worlds, with their trials and failures. The artist followed their true passions.

Frustrated for being ignored by the Academy of Arts, Cezanne hit rock bottom. Yet, Zola always cared for his friend.

Cezanne lucidly expresses his emotions to Zola
, “I would like to paint as well as you write.” And continues, “If I live with a man I love, I should live with a woman who hates me, yes?” Then, when their friendship gets tiresome, he finishes with a sentimental note: “I can’t remember why you love me so much.”

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

The prestigious Academy of Arts rated Zola’s “Germinal” and “Nana” books as vulgar and obscene. French readers had a big appetite for those stories regardless of the scandal, so his success was imminent.

Guillaume Canet (Zola). Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

The film does not depict Zola’s experiences in brothels, as he transcribes those into his controversial novels. A brief juxtaposition of Zola’s bacchanals illustrates the writer’s controversial life. That could be one of the reasons why this ambitious biopic got such mixed reviews in France. 

On the other hand, showing 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 remarkably directed and written by Daniele Thomson (“Avenue Montaigne,” “It Happened in Saint-Tropez/Des Gens Qui s’embrassent”). Mrs. Thomson’s years of experience in filmmaking deliver an essential and transcendental film about the lives of two of the most celebrated artists in French history.

Daniele Thomson’s style for writing comedy is subtle, sharp, and elegant. Mrs. Thomson 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 actors’ proper emotions to the audience.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

The lavish photography is evocative and utterly beautiful. Legendary French cinematographer Jean-Marie Dreujou (“Two Brothers,” “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress”) did incredible work, bringing to light those amazing visuals that vividly relate to the contrasting lives of the writer and the painter.
 Erik Neveux (film composer). Photo by Jose Hermosillo. Copyright © Festival in LA
The original music composed by Erik Neveux (Intimacy, The Attack) is exquisite and extraordinary. The violins, cellos, guitars, and flutes reverberate flawlessly, enhancing the mood according to the story.

The music has plenty of natural and evocative sounds that create the appropriate ambiance of the period with grace, harmony, and elegance. 

Viewers will experience a gorgeous film full of art, passion, and those beautiful moments accompanying a lifetime friendship.
The “Cezanne and I” soundtrack
Photo by Jose Alberto Hermosillo. 
Copyright © Festival in LA
Erik Neveux (film composer) and film critic Jose Alberto Hermosillo. Copyright © Festival in LA

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 Copyright © 2017 Festival in LA 

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.

When humanity creates monsters who destroy cities and kill innocents, heroes must rise to fight 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, owner of a bar who pretends to care for her by offering a job waiting tables, just because he still has a crush on her since elementary school. In their nonexistent love story, jealousy and bad memories become their greatest enemy.

Sudeikis is terrific playing the insane!
Colossal scene. Copyright © Neon
Anne Hathaway is remarkable as a comedian, and her clumsiness raises the bar for this performance. At that time, she was five months pregnant when the production started.
As Gloria tries to sober up, she realizes she has control over 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, becoming a monster. The eternal battle between god and evil - women and men begins.

Nacho Vigalondo. Photo by Jose Hermosillo.
Copyright © Festival in LA
After the big international hit of “Cronocrimes/Los Cronocrimenes” in 2007, visionary Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, in “Colossal,” intelligently mixes 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 who changes the game’s rules by altering the stereotypes of odd characters and unbelievable situations by resourcefully twisting every scene’s outcome. And above all, Vigalondo  “tiene mucho corazón.”

Furthermore, he is very passionate about his craft. For example, the monsters in his film are creatures with no gender, and he is changing the signals sent by that kind of movie.
Nacho Vigalondo. Photo by Jose Hermosillo.
Copyright © Festival in LA

The production level and budget in “Colossal” were significant for the standards he worked on in his previous projects. He was surprised that the producers of this ambitious film wanted more special effects and 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 set part of his narrative in South Korea because the two stories have to be as divergent and far away as possible.  
“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 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 the 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 to fill 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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