The Dreamers

One of the themes of The Dreamers is the passion and folly of youth, not just youth as a universal aspect of the human condition, but youth in Paris in the spring of 1968, one of those enchanted historical dawns when, to quote Wordsworth, “to be young was very heaven.”

It begins as an American exchange student falls under the spell first of the Cinemathque Française and then of two of the cinephiles he meets there, twin brother and sister, Louis Garrel (Theo) and Eva Green (Isabelle). The Dreamers is well suited to Mr. Bertolucci’s chief preoccupations. He has long been fascinated by the unwitting or reluctant participation of flawed, passive individuals in grand political and social dramas, from Italian Fascism (The Conformist; 1900) to Chinese Communism (The Last Emperor). 

The Dreamers, which is disarmingly sweet and completely enchanting, fuses sexual discovery with political tumult by means of a heady, heedless romanticism that nearly obscures the film’s patient, skeptical intelligence. A.O Scott  New York Times

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After May (Apres Mai)

‘In contemporary French and European cinema, the events of May 1968 live stubbornly on – intensely debated and treasured and re-mythologised. A whiff of tear gas is a madeleine. For wasn’t it cinema itself, and the attempted sacking of the Cinématheque Française chief Henri Langlois, that helped spark the Paris uprising?

The action takes place in 1971 when the revolutionary spirit is still present, but beginning to be coloured by lassitude, anger, violence and a nagging sense that livings have to be earned and careers built. This is a great-looking movie with a sure sense of time and place; it is obviously a personal, and in fact, autobiographical work about Assayas’s own youth. ’ The Guardian.

An enthralling look at the post-60s disconnect between art, politics, and love.

Winner Best Director and Best Screenplay Venice FF 2012.

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Daisies

Daisies is a touchstone of the Czech New Wave that could perhaps best be described as a feminist, psychedelic, surreal Eastern European answer film to Howard Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Jonathan Rosenbaum is typically right on the money when he calls it “one of the most exhilarating stylistic and psychedelic eruptions of the ’60s.”

It follows the absurdist attitude of two hotheaded women who try to break the propriety of society by engaging in a comedic series of pranks where nothing is off limits. The movie’s visual bedazzlement is a riot of shifting colour filters, animated flash-frames and all manner of other visual effects. On the other hand Adrian Turner for Time Out canned the depiction of the girls who spend ‘an entire movie causing havoc in restaurants and nightclubs, ripping off unsuspecting men and generally eating and behaving like pigs.” You decide.

 

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May Fools (Milou en Mai)

Although this gentle country-house comedy is farcical in structure (with the various members of the Vieuzac family lapsing into indiscretion and conflict as they strive to sort out the estate after the death of the mother of Piccoli’s sexagenarian aristocrat), genuine black humour is held at bay by Malle’s refusal simply to condemn his characters’ wealth, blinkered conservatism or selfishness.

His huge, unsentimental affection for both bucolic milieu and characters is perhaps surprising given that the time is May 1968. Stranded by strikes and unable to hold a proper funeral for the corpse, the clan philander, the family fall out, and finally flee for the hills in absurd fear of Commie atrocities. It’s less political satire, though, than a partly nostalgic evocation of an era; The Rules of the Game (Renoir) and Weekend (Godard )may be ancestors, but the tone is more akin to Goretta or Truffaut.  Time Out.

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If….

‘Although it openly lifts the plot and symbolism of Jean Vigo’s 1933 Zero de Conduit, a film that was considered so incendiary that the French authorities banned it until 1945, “If…” is a true British classic.

“If…” taps into the revolutionary spirit of the late 60s. Each frame burns with an anger that can only be satisfied by imagining the apocalyptic overthrow of everything that middle class Britain holds dear.

Malcolm McDowell heads the cast as Mick, a teenage schoolboy who leads his classmates in a revolution against the stifling conformism of his boarding school.

Winner of Palme d’Or, Cannes, 1968.

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Monterey Pop

Fifty years on, what Monterey Pop offers contemporary audiences is a powerful reminder of a largely absent world, a glimpse into an era that begat one of the last collective gasps of romantic utopianism of our time.

The first true rock-doc and arguably the best, Monterey Pop preserved a number of remarkable performances by a stellar roster of British and Bay Area bands (namely the Animals, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Country Joe and the Fish, Jefferson Airplane, and the Who (featuring Keith Moon going apeshit in the chaotic midst of A Quick One While He’s Away). Even greater breakthrough revelations were supplied by soul singer Otis Redding and, setting his guitar on fire in the course of performing Wild Thing, Jimi Hendrix. This last spectacle flummoxes Pennebaker enough that he makes a non-sequitur cut to Mama Cass serenely crooning a ballad.

 

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The Firemen’s Ball

The Firemen’s Ball was banned “permanently and forever” by the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia in 1968, as Soviet troops marched in to suppress a popular uprising. It was said to be a veiled attack on the Soviet system and its bureaucracy, a charge Forman, (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus) who died in April this year, prudently denied at the time but later happily agreed with. Telling a seductively mild and humorous story about a retirement fete for an elderly fireman, the movie pokes fun at citizens’ committees, the culture of thievery and solutions that surrender to problems. Restored film courtesy of Czech National Film Archive.

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China is Near (La Cina E Vicina)

A pair of working class lovers – a secretary and an accountant, scheme to marry into the rich landed gentry. Their targets are a professor, Vittorio Gordini Malvezzi, who is running for municipal office as a Socialist candidate, and his sister Elena, a great lady who lets every man in town climb on top of her but won’t marry because socially they’re all beneath her.

China is Near was Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio’s second feature film. The director and the film’s lead actress Elda Tattoli wrote the script for this smart scathing satire on modern-day sex and politics.

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