Thursday, June 26, 2014

In NYC this July, FIAF celebrates that fine French actor, Vincent Lindon, with a mini-retrospective

He's the French "everyman," or one of 'em, anyway. Over the years I've used this phrase to describe a few different actors, but it fits, I think, Vincent Lindon best of all. Middle-aged and usually playing middle-class or working-class, this talented fellow with a mug you don't forget has often been compared to the likes of Jean Gabin (my choice for comparison) or Lino Ventura of a generation past. When I interviewed M. Lindon back in May of 2010, I found him to be the most interesting, talkative and genuine actor with whom I've ever spoken. He was a delight to spend time with. That interview can be found here and here -- separated to coincide with the opening of two of his films that year: Welcome and Mademoiselle Chabon, both of which are part of FIAF's CinéSalon mini-retrospective on the actor, A Salute to Vincent Lindon, which begins this coming Tuesday, July 1.

The actor has now worked with a bevy of directors including Claude Chabrol, Benoît Jacquot, Diane Kurys and Claire Denis, yet some of his finest performances (I have yet to see him give anything but a very good one) has come via directors less known over here, such as Stéphane Brizé, two of whose films are included in this month's series. Another thing: though I've seen almost 30 of Lindon's 66 film appearances, I've haven't found an out-and-out lemon in the bunch. Some are better than others, of course, but I think this fellow has a knack for knowing in which projects he should appear and with which directors he wants to work. I suspect that he also possesses that brand of intelligence that understands how to read and choose a script.

Audiences here in NYC will have the opportunity to see what I mean, as seven of Lindon's movies come to FIAF's Florence Gould Hall this July:

Augustine, directed by Alice Winocour, Tuesday, July 1, at 4 & 7:30pm.

TrustMovies covered this unusual tale -- of a famous French patient and the doctor who "serves" her -- when the film opened theatrically; you can find my review here. For FIAF's info on the film, click on the title, above.

Mademoiselle Chambon, directed by Stéphane Brizé,
Tuesday, July 8 at 4pm.

This is one of my favorite of Lindon's performances, and also one of the finest adult love stories/character studies I can recall. My original take on the film, along with an interview with M. Lindon, can be found here; for FIAF's description, click on the title, above.

Pater, directed by Alain Cavalier, Tuesday, July 8 at 7:30pm

When I saw this clever, comical/satirical take on French politics and filmmaking (among, I think, other subjects, too: ego, fashion sense and food), I missed the first few minutes and so I am going to try to view this one again. My original take is here; for FIAF's, click on the title, above.

New York Premiere!
Anything for Her, directed by Fred Cavayé, Tuesday, July 15 at 4 & 7:30pm.

It is little wonder that we never got to see the original version of this film at the time of its release. It took Britain by storm, but probably because of the overwrought and bloated American remake, The Next Three Days, that Paul Haggis adapted and directed, and which did not succeed theatrically, Cavayé's version was never shown here. Now we know why. So much leaner and more propulsive (96 minutes against Haggis' attenuated 133), Anything for Her (Pour elle), tells us only what we need to know and grabs us for keeps from the first frame onwards. Lindon (who is much better and far less showy than was Russell Crowe in the remake) is the perfect "every-husband" who must find resources inside himself that he had no hint of before events force him into this, while Diane Kruger does a fine job as his unjustly accused and imprisoned wife who lapses into depression. Cavayé's original is so good, in fact, that it practically wipes away any memory of that other dog, so even if you have already seen The Next Three Days, give this one a shot. FIAF's two showings may be the only chance you'll get.

Welcome, directed by Philippe Lioret, Tuesday, July 22 at 4pm.

This beautifully composed and comprised film about immigration and the possibility of change features fine performances and the kind of reality that often slides out of movies that tackle the immigrant experience vis-a-vis those who already live in this "foreign" land. You can read my review of the film (along with an interview with M. Lindon) here; FIAF's description can be found by clicking the title link, above.

Friday Night, directed by Claire Denis, Tuesday, July 22 at 7:30pm.

It's been at least a decade since I've seen Denis' movie (prior to my blogging), and I still think of it as one of her most mainstream and accessible (for the other end of her work, try The Intruder). This tale of a woman, about to make a fateful life decision, who literally and metaphorically opens the door to something new, was also something new for Denis. Lindon is formidable, as ever, and the movie is fun, hot, thoughtful, surprising and, in many ways, so un-Denis that if you haven't seen it, you probably should. For the FIAF description, click on the title link, above.

New York Premiere!
A Few Hours of Spring, directed by Stéphane Brizé, Tuesday, July 29 at 4 & 7:30pm. 

In my interview with M. Lindon, the actor told me that he preferred roles in which he didn't have to talk too much. Well, he's found another one in this second film in FIAF's series directed by Stéphane Brizé.  In it, Lindon plays a man just released from prison, who returns to the home of his mother (Hélène Vincent, on poster, right, and at bottom). Neither have had much to say to each other over the years (she didn't visit him prison), and when they talk now, it's likely to lead to an argument. The same goes for the woman he meets in the local bowling alley (Emmanuelle Seigner, below), and even to some extent with his old friend and neighbor (Olivier Perrier): little talk with the latter, but at least there's no argument.

The theme of the film is the end of life for the terminally ill, and what happens when you choose to end your life, rather than simply allowing it to end you. While the lack of much dialog is believable enough, this does not make for an easy entry into character. The actors are all first-rate, but Brizé keeps us at more of a distance than he needs to, I think -- which was not at all the case with his Mlle. Chambon (see above). How the tale plays out is undeniably moving and also important for us to observe and consider, seeing as how so many of us will be faced with exactly this time to come.

It's a shame that A Few Hours of Spring was never given U.S. distribution. ("Too downbeat!" someone must have said/) So FIAF's screenings are doubly appreciated. Try to catch it while you have the opportunity. Perhaps Netflix could make arrangements to stream it in the near future.


About CinéSalon: In the spirit of French ciné-clubs and literary salons, FIAF’s new CinéSalon pairs an engaging film with a post-screening wine reception. Films are shown Tuesdays at 4 and 7:30pm, and every screening is followed by a get-together with a complimentary glass of wine. Each 7:30 screening will be thoughtfully introduced by a high-profile personality in the arts.

All films will be shown at FIAF's Florence Gould Hall in Manhattan. For tickets and other information, click here and start browsing...

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