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The French Are Coming, The French Are Coming

Thursday, October 12----New Yorkers have long had a love affair with French cinema. Each year for the past 44, the New York Film Festival has peppered its program with intriguing films from French talents, old and new. This year, the love affair continues with four films in the main section, as well as seven film classics in the 50 YEARS OF JANUS FILMS retrospective sidebar.

As the Festival enters its final weekend, lovers of French cinema still have an opportunity to sample some tasty hors d'oeuvres. POISON FRIENDS by director Emmanuel Bourdieu is a psychological thriller that combines intrigue with interpersonal relations....a French specialty. Two university friends are intrigued when they meet Andre, a good looking and impossibly brilliant new student. Before too long, Andre is dominating their every move, telling them what to think and how to live. One day, Andre disappears and just as suddenly as he has appeared, the two students' lives are now in complete disarray.

Poison Friends

Andre is brilliantly played by sexy newcomer Thibault Vincon, who has a long career ahead of him as the kind of French seducer who charms both men and women. In only his second film, director Bourdieu has created an intriguing film that has a central character who is both a monster and a charmer rolled into one.

Thibault Vincon

The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Critics Week Prize. It has been praised for its compelling script, its superlative acting and its razor sharp exploration of the pretentiousness of the Paris literary scene. The film has been picked up by arthouse distributor Strand Releasing, a company that specializes in homoerotic cinema, and will be released to theaters later this year. POISON FRIENDS screens on Friday at 6:00pm and again on Saturday at 9:00pm at Alice Tully Hall.

The themes inherent in POISON FRIENDS are modern interpretations of some of the classic themes of earlier French masterworks....love, envy, obsession, sexual tension, mental anguish and the power of emotions. Discriminating filmgoers have an opportunity to see some of these classics of world cinema on the big screen where they belong, as part of the Festival's 50 YEARS OF JANUS FILMS retrospective sidebar.

The film that started it all and launched the New Wave in the 1950s will have a rare big screen presentation in a pristine 35mm film print. Even if you have seen Francois Truffaut's THE 400 BLOWS (1959) on television or on dvd, nothing quite prepares you for the film's power when seen on a large screen. Truffaut's story of a Parisian youth is one of the most cherished films of all time, and has influenced every coming-of-art drama ever since. THE 400 BLOWS has its final screening tonight at 6:15pm at the Walter Reade Theater.

Another landmark New Wave film from the pioneering director Agnes Varda will be shown this weekend. CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (1962) is the story of Cleo, a French singer, who is afraid of getting her medical results from her doctor. She is convinced that she has cancer and is certain she will die of it. So we follow her for two hours, as she meanders through Paris, finally meeting up with a soldier who is en route to the war in Algeria. The expressionistic study was chosen as Best Film of its year by the French Syndicate of Film Critics. New York audiences can rediscover it anew when it screens on Saturday at 2:00pm at the Walter Reade Theater.

Although it is not a French film (at all), the decadence of 18th century France is captured as never before in Sofia Coppola's controversial MARIE ANTOINETTE, a modern interpretation of the "let-them-eat-cake" doomed queen. The detail of life at the court of Versailles, in all its roccoco glory, is magnificently brought to life by art director Anne Seibel and costume designer Milena Canonero (expect Oscar nominations for both).

Kirsten Dunst plays the misunderstood Queen, who was brought to court at a young age from her native Austria and who moves from being an unsure innocent to an egotistical coquette, as her protected world crumbles amidst the passion for revenge of the French Revolution.

Coppola's unconventional decision to include contemporary music on the film's soundtrack, as well as her off-kilter take on court gossip as a precursor to the contemporary cult of celebrity (Paris Hilton as Marie Antoinette?), the film is certain to have its supporters and detractors.

Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette

Decide for yourself when MARIE ANTOINETTE makes its royal debut at the New York Film Festival this weekend, with screenings on Friday at 9:00pm and a repeat showing on Saturday at 3:00pm at Alice Tully Hall.


Sandy Mandelberger
Festivals Editor

Comments (1)

The French really are

The French really are coming...what a token to desipher...the French ARE really coming...don't kill the headless horsemean!!!!!!

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New York Film Festival
Online Dailies coverage of the 44th NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL September 29 – October 15, 2006

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