New Orleans is stilly groggily recovering from this year’s Mardi Gras mayhem right now, but there truly is no rest for the wicked (or the festive, apparently). The 23rd annual New Orleans French Festival is here to shake us out of the Ash Wednesday fog and back into the routine of watching challenging Art Films in public, even though this period of post-Mardi Gras sloth seems better suited for binge-watching Trash TV on the couch. Wake up that Carnival-addled brain of yours before you get lost forever in an endless flood of Love is Blind episodes . . .
There are over a dozen titles screening at The Prytania in the coming week for the New Orleans French Film Festival (and tracking any goings on beyond that event sounds absolutely exhausting), so we’re going to keep this week’s local screenings round-up as simple as possible. Here are some recommendations for movies to see at one the city’s most consistently rewarding film fests, with blurbs lifted from the New Orleans Film Society‘s own listings for the lineup.
French Film Fest Screenings at The Prytania
Children of Paradise (1945) – “Poetic realism reached sublime heights with Children of Paradise, widely considered one of the greatest French films of all time. This nimble depiction of 19th-century Paris’s theatrical demimonde, filmed during World War II, follows a mysterious woman (Arletty) loved by four different men (all based on historical figures): an actor, a criminal, a count, and, most poignantly, a mime (Jean-Louis Barrault, in a performance for the ages). Thanks to a major new restoration, this iconic classic looks and sounds richer and more detailed than ever.” Friday, Feb 28, 2:15 pm
Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) – “Demy’s 1964 masterpiece of music and romance stars Catherine Deneuve as an umbrella shopkeeper who is separated from her mechanic boyfriend (Nino Castelnuevo) when he is called for military service. The film was fully restored in breathtaking color in 1992 under the supervision of Demy’s widow, filmmaker Agnès Varda. Umbrellas won the Grand Prize at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for five Academy Awards. The restored soundtrack features Michel Legrand’s unforgettable score remixed in stereo.” Sunday March 1 & Wednesday March 4, 10:00 am
Mr. Klein (1976) – “In Occupied France, Mr. Klein (played with perfection by Alain Delon) exploits the situation of the Jews by buying and selling their works of art. When a Jewish man of the same name surfaces in Paris, Klein comes under suspicion and experiences the persecution of his countrymen firsthand. Also starring Jeanne Moreau, this rare and celebrated film from 1976 was blacklisted American director Joseph Losey’s first film in French, and it won the coveted César Awards for Best Film and Best Director. This restored version has finally arrived in theaters to ecstatic praise from major critics.” Sunday March 1 & Monday March 2, 12pm
Varda by Agnès (2019) – “The final film from the late, beloved Agnès Varda is a characteristically playful, profound, and personal summation of the director’s own brilliant career. At once impish and wise, she acts as our spirit guide on a free-associative tour through her six-decade artistic journey, shedding new light on her films, photography, and recent installation works while offering her one-of-a-kind reflections on everything from filmmaking to cats to feminism to aging. A warmly human, touchingly bittersweet parting gift from one of cinema’s most luminous talents.” Sunday March 1, 5pm + Wednesday March 4, 12pm
Deerskin (2020) – “The latest from Quentin Dupieux (the brains behind the delightfully outrageous Rubber, about a sentient tire on a killing spree), Deerskin follows amateur filmmaker Georges, who becomes obsessed with his new deerskin jacket. Convinced that his jacket must be the only one in the world, Georges is led down a Tarantino-esque path to rid the world of all competition. Played with total commitment by Academy Award® winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist), the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and also stars Adèle Haenel (Portrait of a Lady on Fire).” Saturday, Feb 29, 8:30 pm
Sybil (2020) – “Premiered at the most recent Cannes Film Festival, French director Justine Triet’s Sybil brings together an all-star cast with Virginie Efira (Elle, Victoria), Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is The Warmest Color), and Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann).” Thursday Feb 27, 7:45pm + Tuesday March 3, 12pm
Matthias & Maxime (2020) – “The latest feature from the 30-year-old French-Canadian auteur Xavier Dolan, who premiered six films in Cannes and received too many jury awards and prizes to mention. Matthias and Maxime stars Dolan and Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas in the lead roles, with longtime Dolan muse Anne Dorval playing his ailing mother.” Wednesday, March 4, 7:45 pm