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The Farewell Party

High drama and lowbrow, morbid humor get stitched together in this successful tragicomedy about terminal patients and assisted suicide. Works better than expected.

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Sunshine Superman

I found Jean Boenish’s philosophical musings less than persuasive. And I don’t think my fear of heights was the reason for my bias.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Eric Rohmer's Perceval le Gallois: A knight on a soundstage

I just wanted an excuse to publish a frame-grab from one of my favorite Rohmer movies, "Perceval." There's never been anything like it. I once double-billed it with its stylistic opposite, Robert Bresson's earthy "Lancelot du lac" (1974), but I'd also like to show it with a similarly soundstage-stylized biography of innocence, Alain Cavalier's "Thérèse" (1986), about St. Theresa of Lisieux.

"Rohmer's adaptation of Chrétien de Troyes 12th century Arthurian poem is a unique film, combining cinema, theatre, medieval music, iconography, mime and verse to create a stylised and surprisingly coherent spectacle: shot totally in the studio, its sets alone are worth the price of a ticket. But more astonishing, perhaps, is the way in which Rohmer translates the text into a moral investigation which frequently resembles his contemporary comedies as selfish young innocent Perceval, whose very naiveté literally disarms his enemies, undergoes a sentimental education in the codes of Chivalry, Courtship, and Faith. His odyssey is observed with ironic wit and revealing distance; not surprisingly for Rohmer, a key stage in his development occurs when he learns the dangers of talking too much or too little..." -- Geoff Andrew, Time Out

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