The Children of Paradise: a sumptuous melodrama rich in character, the complexities of human nature and the grandeur of life

Marcel Carné, “The Children of Paradise / Les Enfants du Paradis” (1945) Made under difficult conditions in Vichy France, this sumptuous film is rich in character study and encompasses pantomime, melodrama, comedy, crime-and-passion thriller and tragedy. It purports to be a snapshot of Parisian urban working-class culture set in the mid-nineteenth century, in the days before …

That Obscure Object of Desire: a tale of sexual obsession in a society falling apart through its hypocrisy and violence

Luis Buñuel, “That Obscure Object of Desire” (1977) Between two full buckets of cold water that the main characters dump on each other unfolds (for the entertainment of a small group of breathless train passengers) a tale of sexual obsession taken to extremes, to the point where the outside world becomes irrelevant until it rudely …

A trite plot and character stereotyping can’t lift “Paris 2054: Renaissance” from bland SF thriller genre

Christian Volckman, “Paris 2054: Renaissance” (2006) A glossy animated style of minimal black-and-white presentation, emphasising detail, mood and atmosphere in a future Paris governed by corporations through panopticon-style surveillance made possible by hologram and other future cyber-technologies, ultimately proves inadequate to save this film from tired character stereotyping, a dull formulaic plot and shallow treatment …

Supervenus: a 3-minute critique on Western standards of female pulchritude and the damage they cause

Frédéric Doazan, “Supervenus” (2013) This 3-minute debut effort for writer / director Frédéric Doazan is a devastatingly critical comment on modern standards of female beauty as they have changed over time. Using Photoshop, a home-made green screen to film his hands and Adobe After Effects, Doazan cuts out a picture of a woman from an old anatomy …

In the Beginning: interplay of social realism and individual psychologies results in a film of self-renewal and fulfillment

Xavier Giannoli, “À l’Origine” / “In the Beginning” (2009) It’s rather too long by 30 minutes and a couple of sub-plots, one involving Gérard Depardieu sleepwalking through his part, go nowhere but otherwise this tale of a con-man who takes on a scam job bigger than he can chew and ends up bringing new life to …

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie: mocking the middle classes for their hypocrisy, sense of entitlement and shallow values

Luis Buñuel, “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie / Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie” (1972) This comedy-of-manners film about six people who constantly make arrangements to have dinner together but never really succeed in doing so thanks to random coincidences, misunderstandings and their own faults and misdeeds is a vehicle for director Buñuel to mock the …