Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner Reportedly Blocked Jon Hamm From Starring In David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner Reportedly Blocked Jon Hamm From Starring In David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Why Is It Suddenly Not OK To Have Been Gripped By 'The Jinx'? Why Is It Suddenly Not OK To Have Been Gripped By 'The Jinx'? New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Watch: Explore The Loneliness Of Sofia Coppola's Films With This Supercut Watch: Explore The Loneliness Of Sofia Coppola's Films With This Supercut 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

The Films Of Claire Denis: A Retrospective

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist November 19, 2010 at 5:56AM

The IFC Center in New York City recently ran a retrospective of French director Claire Denis’s laudable films—the most expansive retrospective of her work that NYC has ever seen—to commemorate the theatrical release of “White Material” this Friday. On the occasion, we have also decided to look back at some of her most noteworthy features.
3

Friday Night” (2003)
It's easy to look at "Vendredi Soir" and mistake it for a slight piece of work, and after the lush tragedy of "Beau Travail" and the dark cannibalism of "Trouble Every Day," it's undeniably a change of pace, and possibly Denis' lightest, funniest work to date. But in this case, 'light' doesn't necessarily mean 'frothy.' It follows Laure (a wonderful Valerie Lemercier), who's about to move in with her boyfriend, but gets stuck in traffic during a transport strike. She picks up a hitchhiker (Vincent Lindon, the lead in "Pour Elle," the original version of this week's Paul Haggis thriller "The Next Three Days"), and the two almost immediately develop a very, very deep connection. What's particularly impressive (and what separates it from the likes of "Before Sunrise," which is essentially dialogue-driven) is how little is said in the course of the film -- it's an almost impossibly intimate, detailed film, revolving around little gestures and snatched images familiar to anyone who's had the kind of one-night-only connection shown here, the kind that you never quite forget. It's got to be one of the all-time great city movies too, capturing a Paris that's as suffocating as it is vibrant. Denis and regular DoP Agnes Godard (who, as strong as Yves Cape is, was much missed on "White Material") shoot the hell out of it, and the score's gorgeous as well. It might be a minor work, but if every director's minor-key films were as good as this, it'd be a wonderful thing. [A-]

“White Material” (2010) A thorny picture that is as imperfect as it is enthralling, Denis’ first cinematic trip back to Africa in its racial/geopolitical vagueness is frustrating yet engrossing. Isabelle Huppert plays a haughty, stubborn French coffee plantation owner who refuses to leave her home despite a raging civil war upending the unnamed African country in which they reside. With the country in chaos crumbling around them, her ex-husband (Christopher Lambert) tries to sell her plantation behind her back and meanwhile she’s harboring a deposed African revolutionary (Isaach De Bankolé) now wanted very much dead. After an encounter with some child rebels on the wrong end of a machete, her humiliated son (Nicolas Duvauchelle) shaves his head and begins to lose his mind while Huppert’s Maria Vial white goddess character refuses to budge or change her way of life. While clearly a picture about a white landowner hiding a black fugitive in the middle of a African uprising is allegorical of something, what that something is exactly remains almost irritatingly elusive. To her credit, Denis is clearly more interested in character than she is in context, but the picture’s refusal to comment on its framework -- not mention a confounding violent conclusion -- does sometimes feel like a dubious proposition. While it doesn’t all add up, “White Material” is still very much moody and disquieting film. [B]

--Sam Mac, Gabe Toro, Oliver Lyttelton & Rodrigo Perez

This article is related to: Foreign Films, Feature, Foreign Directors, White Material, Claire Denis, Retrospective


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates