Daddy Nostalgie

Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Gainsbourg

Dirk Bogarde’s final film, Daddy Nostalgie (released as Daddy Nostalgia in the UK and These Foolish Things in the US), is also, arguably, Jane Birkin’s best one and a reminder (writing this just days after she died) how good she could be away from the shadow cast by Serge Gainsbourg. It’s a small-scale, almost subterranean drama, played out on the sunny Cote d’Azur, where retiree Tony (Bogarde) is recovering from a serious operation. The op might not have worked and Tony might not have long for this world. Time to get his affairs in order, settle things with wife Miche (Odette Laure) and daughter Caroline (Birkin) before the grim reaper turns up. And … Read more

Coup de Torchon

Cordier puts a move on Rose Marcaillou

Bertrand Tavernier’s 1981 movie Coup de Torchon is a bizarre adaptation of Jim Thompson’s novel Pop. 1280. Bizarre not because Tavernier and his co-writer Jean Aurenche have moved the action from Texas to West Africa. Nothing wrong with that. It’s the way they’ve excised Thompson’s black humour and inserted French farce in its place, draining the story of power as they do so. It’s 1938 and we’re in Senegal, where the white colonial French lord it over the black locals. They’re a mixed bunch, the whites, most of whom wouldn’t amount to much back home but have a status and lifestyle out here that, Tavernier makes clear, is really rather lovely. They drink, … Read more

Captain Conan

Captain Conan and Norbert argue

The French writer/director Bertrand Tavernier died earlier this year (2021), like François Truffaut another of that band of movie critics who went on to prove that they could make great films as well as write about them. Captain Conan (Capitaine Conan) might not be the most shining example of Tavernier at his best, but it is a great example of what he was good at – sidestepping genre, effortless (almost invisible) technique, humane performances. It stars the effortlessly charming Philippe Torreton as the titular captain, a rough and ready officer in charge of a team of guerrilla-style fighters who specialise in quick in-and-out sorties and sabotage. They’re what we’d now call a SWAT … Read more