COMA – Review by Diane Carson

Motivated by the pandemic isolation, French writer/director Bertrand Bonello’s Coma explores the dreams and fears, hopes and anxieties of an unnamed eighteen-year-old. Through live action and animation, the journey chaotically glides through a myriad of current issues, skipping from one to another: the environment, social media influencers, cheating on and breaking up with romantic partners, and psychological entrapment.

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JUST THE TWO OF US – Review by Leslie Combemale

Just the Two of Us is a sort of no bullshit, very French profile of one woman’s trauma that brings to mind that slick 90s US studio release Sleeping With the Enemy, which starred Julia Roberts. This new film features an actress who could be arguably labeled the Julia Roberts of France, Virginie Efira. Her character Blanche goes down the rabbit hole of self-doubt, fear, and shame many women suffering abuse go through, and being a French release, it’s not at all certain audiences will get the same kind of slick studio ending, or even whether she’ll survive.

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CONTEMPT (LE MEPRIS) – Review by Diane Carson

Iconic French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard needs no introduction, but reminders of his cinematic genius are delightful and welcome. Such is the case with the 4K restoration of his 1963 Contempt/Le Mépris, charting the unraveling of an already fragile marriage as screenwriter Paul and wife Camille circle each other guardedly, engaging and retreating. Now accessible in it’s new 4K restoration, this is a good to become reacquainted with Godard in this legendary film that he described as “about a woman, a man, Italy, and cinema.”

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JEANNE DU BARRY – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Maiwenn’s Jeanne du Barry is visually stunning, packed with lavish, eye candy costumes and all the splendor and opulence of Versailles itself. The director, who also stars as the title character, has crafted a film about the last mistress of King Louis XV (Johnny Depp) that is gorgeous to watch and, ultimately, surprisingly poignant. Maiwenn’s Jeanne is a fascinating character, full of life and unwilling to live it on anyone’s terms but her own. That there is no gratuitous sex or nudity adds to the movie – and I doubt a male director would have had that restraint. It’s proof that a scene can be sexy without being graphic and it keeps us focused on Jeanne as a whole person, not just a body.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, FEBRUARY 9, 2024: THE TASTE OF THINGS

Food is truly the love language of the main characters in writer-director Anh Hung Tran’s luscious romantic drama The Taste of Things, which he adapted from Marcel Rouff’s novel. Starring Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel as gourmet collaborators in late-1800s France whose chemistry is powerful in the kitchen and beyond, it’s one of those movies that will leave you utterly dissatisfied with your own pantry and longing for a 5-star French menu.

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THE TASTE OF THINGS – Review by Loren King

The Taste of Things features elaborately prepared meals that will send a hungry viewer running to the fridge or the concession stand. But of course the film is about much more than food. It’s about chefs as artists who lovingly and painstakingly prepare their creations and about memories evoked by even the simplest dishes. It’s about the passage of time; the change of the seasons; the quest for perfection; about love, beauty and the light the fills the 19th century French farmhouse kitchen in the Pays de la Loire region of France.

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DRIVING MADELEINE – Review by Amber Wilkinson

A cab ride takes us across Paris and into the past in Christian Carion’s moving drama that will, by journey’s end, have motored its way to your heart and, most likely, your tear ducts. Charles (Dany Boon) is a stressed-out cabbie who is two points away from losing his license when he is offered a bumper fare to drive a passenger from one side of the city to the other. His pick-up is Madeleine (veteran star Line Renaud) and the lingering glance Carion shows her giving her house is enough for us to know that this is a one-way trip.

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THE TASTE OF THINGS – Review by Sherin Nicole

Written and directed by Trân Anh Hùng (from the novel La Vie et la Passion de Dodin-Bouffant, Gourmet), The Taste of Things centers on chef Doudin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel) and his partnership with his cook, Eugénie (Juliette Binoche). The pair live and work in the countryside of 19th-century France, where they are famous for their culinary symphonies. Hùng turns their cooking into love letters, passed back and forth in the silence of the unspoken. Food is the couple’s love language, and The Taste of Things is an epicurean epistle.

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THE TASTE OF THINGS – Review by Beth Accomando

Not since Babette’s Feast have I wished I could smell and taste a film as much as this one. Vietnamese-born French director Trần Anh Hùng used Vietnamese food to flavor his debut feature The Scent of Green Papaya. Now he returns to the kitchen for some elaborate French cuisine in The Taste of Things, based on Marcel Rouff’s novel. Set in 1885, the film depicts the relationship between Eugenie (Juliette Binoche), an exquisitely talented cook, and Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel), the gourmet she has worked for that past 20 years.

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LAST SUMMER (NYFF 2023) – Review by Margaret Barton Fumo

Rife with tension, ambiguous morals and sexual taboos, Catherine Breillat is back with her first film in a decade, the unexpectedly thrilling Last Summer. The film occupies familiar territory for Breillat–that of doomed relationships–with a focus on Anne, a successful lawyer in her early fifties who engages in a torrid affair with her 17-year-old stepson Théo. And while culturally, things are indeed “different in France,” (Théo drinks alcohol legally and has been smoking with his parents since the age of 12, for example), Breillat treats their relationship as something far more damaging than a mere sexual indiscretion.

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