The Intruder (L’Intrus) (2004)

CLAIRE DENIS Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5.  France, 2004.  Ognon Pictures, Arte France Cinema, Conseil Régional de Franche-Comté, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Pusan Film Commission.  Screenplay by Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau, based on the novel by Jean-Luc Nancy.  Cinematography by Agnes Godard.  Produced by Humbert Balsan, Jerome Clement, Michel Reilhac.  Music by Stuart Staples.  Production Design by Arnaud de Moleron.  Costume Design by…

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Merry-Go-Round

BBBB (out of 5) Brooklyn native Joe Dallesandro shows up in France after getting a note from his estranged girlfriend to meet him at a particular time and place.  He doesn’t find her when he gets there, but instead runs into her sister (Maria Schneider) who has received the same invitation.  When they finally find their…

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Noroît

BBB.5 (out of 5) Jacques Rivette’s companion piece to Duelle is as visual splendid though not as invigorating.  Loosely inspired by (and including pieces of) The Revenger’s Tragedy by Cyril Tourneur, it stars Geraldine Chaplin as a woman who plans to get revenge on a witch (Bernadette Lafont) who killed her brother.  Lafont is the leader of a gang of…

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Frequent Death (Frequence Meurtre)

BB.5 (out of 5) Routine thriller that only has life because of the wonderful work by star Catherine Deneuve. She plays a psychoanalyst who hosts a radio show and begins to worry when strange things begin happening to her. Somebody breaks into her home, a mysterious voice begins calling into her show and threats against…

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The Proprietor

BB (out of 5) There are about six or seven different stories interwoven together in this Merchant Ivory disaster, and separately they might have made for six or seven good films. When put together, however, they make for a terrible mess that director Ismail Merchant has no idea what to do with. Jeanne Moreau plays…

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Swann In Love (Un Amour De Swann)

BBB.5 (out of 5) Sometimes flat but often engrossing adaptation of Marcel Proust’s novel, directed by Academy Award-winner Volker Schlondorff (The Tin Drum). Jeremy Irons plays an aristocrat in 19th-century Paris who won’t let go of his first consuming love for a famous courtesan (Ornella Muti). Though she does conduct an affair with him, she makes…

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Quartet (1981)

BB (out of 5) As in all Merchant Ivory films, the physical qualities of this production are top notch: the sets and costumes are gorgeous, the music beautifully scored, and the quality of the period (in this case, jazz-age Paris) recreated with authentic perfection. Unfortunately, the story is not up to snuff and the overall…

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Jefferson In Paris

B (out of 5) Low point for Merchant Ivory, this completely brainless period epic examines the years when Thomas Jefferson (Nick Nolte) was American minister to France, entertaining a romance with a married aristocrat (Greta Scacchi). Also starring a just pre-fame Gwyneth Paltrow, the film suffers from a terrible screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala that has…

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Le Divorce

BB.5 (out of 5) In this latest offering from the team of Merchant Ivory, a young American woman (Kate Hudson) arrives in Paris to be with her newly pregnant sister (Naomi Watts), a poet who lives in the fair city with her French painter husband.  Hudson’s arrival is greeted with the husband’s departure when he…

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Loulou

BBBB (out of 5) Gerard Depardieu is once again the reckless wanderer who messes up people’s lives in this excellent, erotically charged drama by Maurice Pialat. Depardieu has a one-night stand with a wealthy, unhappily married woman (Isabelle Huppert), and the two of them enjoy each other’s company so much they decide to move in together….

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