A Burning Hot Summer (2011) ✭✭✭
This is a Philippe Garrel film. It’s French, French, Lord Have Mercy French. All about jealously, betrayal, adultery and existential malaise. Unpasteurized camembert oozes from its sprocket holes. Pampered, privileged folks who have life by the testicules go around creating their own unnecessary personal misery. Monica Bellucci gets naked, but it’s in service to artistry. Or perhaps it’s its own sort of artistry. At any rate I’m not complaining. More coq au vin anyone?
Goodbye First Love (2011) ✭✭✭✭
All about the abiding influence of first love, and how we never quite get over it. Lola Créton --who would have made a superb protagonist for Eric Rohmer-- is quite good as a young woman who ventures on despite being unceremoniously dumped by the love of her life. When he suddenly reappears several years later, the film, like Créton, throws cool-headedness to the wind. Director Mia Hansen-Love is quietly building an impressive portfolio of well-made films that deal with strong emotions, but she wisely focuses on the practical rather than pathos.
Ruby Sparks (2012) ✭✭1/2
The follow-up from the team that brought you Little Miss Sunshine and somehow it took them six years to come up with this drivel. Uninspired, unoriginal and too cute for its own good. If Paul Dano gets any more precious I really don’t know what we’re going to do.
The Well Digger’s Daughter (2011) ✭✭✭✭
Four stars is probably pushing it a touch, but fans of Daniel Auteuil and sunny provencal vistas will enjoy this simple morality play set in the early days of WWI. Nothing new or inventive here, but a well executed rural drama, laced with sentiment and elements of class struggle. If you liked Jean de Florette or My Mother’s Castle, you’ll find this a pleasant and enjoyable diversion.