Les Demoiselles de Rochefort

Delphine and Solange

As is often the case with sequels, “the same but different” is the big idea in the musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort), the 1967 follow-up to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg). Largely it’s the same production team as on the 1964 movie – writer/director Jacques Demy, composer Michel Legrand, producer Mag Bodard, costume designer Jacqueline Moreau and production designer Bernard Evein. They gussie up this film in much the same way as they did the previous one. Bright lights, bold colours, big sets, grand camera movements, and locations tweaked till they squeak with pastel excess. Catherine Deneuve is the only key cast member to survive … Read more

Un Flic

One of the gang with Coleman

A Cop – the title is just as bald in French, Un Flic, and in opening scenes featuring a bank job carried out by clichéd robbers in trench coats and wearing hats, the writer/director Jean-Pierre Melville appears to be having a bit of a laugh, possibly at his own expense. Who, in 1972, was still wearing a hat? Why are three men who are trying to appear as if they don’t know each other all dressed the same way? Who, planning a bank job in a small town in Northern France, decides a big wallowy American car is the ideal getaway vehicle? The bank job goes wrong. A teller is killed. One of … Read more

Dancer in the Dark

Björk and Catherine Deneuve in Dancer in the Dark

Is it “Unique” (CNN), “Heartbreaking” (The Independent), “Riveting” (Radio Times)? Or, perhaps, “Ludicrous” (Daily Mail), “Numbing” (Salon.com) or “Grim” (TV Guide)? Lars Von Trier’s low-rent, grainy tale of the Czech immigrant in the USA who is losing her sight, made according to the minimalist Dogme manifesto, won the Palme D’Or at the 2000 Cannes film festival. And even there fighting almost broke out in the audience. What got everyone’s goat was Von Trier’s decision to couple his muddy shakeycam style to the most velour of Hollywood genres – the musical – and to cast the coolest of Euro sophisticats, Catherine Deneuve, as a factory worker. Adding to this deliberate provocation is the singing … Read more