Tag Archives: Le Havre

Road to nowhere in Marcel Carné’s ‘Port of Shadows’

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Apparently, there’s something about Le Havre. In 2011, I reviewed Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre, a quirky and colorful drama set in the aforementioned French port city, and last year I wrote about Jean Renoir’s La Bête Humaine, a tragedy in which murder is committed on a train bound for the very same burg.

Now it’s 2013, and – entirely by coincidence – it’s time once again to pay a cinematic visit to this foggy coastal town. Our tour guides this time are director Marcel Carné and screenwriter (and poet) Jacques Prévert; the vehicle, their 1938 feature Port of Shadows (Le Quai des Brumes), screening at Pacific Film Archive at 6:30 p.m. on Sat., July 6 as part of the current series “A Theater Near You.” … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: The Fairy

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Apparently, there’s something about Le Havre. Previously the star of Aki Kaurismaki’s eponymous shaggy dog tale, the spotlight is once again on this French port town in The Fairy (La fée), a delightfully absurd comedy opening Friday, May 4 at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas.

Dom (writer-director Dominique Abel, a scrawny string-bean who could easily pass for the love child of Steve Buscemi and Roberto Benigni) is night manager at a slightly seedy harborside hotel. He commutes to work on a rickety old bike, wears plastic bags to protect himself from the rain, and spends his shift camped in front of the telly with a tasty snack. Dom enjoys the simple things and evenings, apparently, are not very busy.

This evening, however, will prove to be different. Tourist John L’anglais (John Cleese lookalike Philippe Martz), a typically clueless Englishman who communicates via phrase book, wishes to stay the night with his pooch pal Mimi. When Dom informs him that dogs aren’t allowed in the hotel, John stashes Mimi in his plaid Gladstone bag — and, this being an absurdist comedy, Dom doesn’t cotton on to the ruse. The wily John checks in successfully and his remarkably mobile luggage walks itself upstairs. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Le Havre & El Bulli

Le Havre
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It’s fairly obvious from the get-go where Aki Kaurismaki’s new film Le Havre (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas this Friday) is going — viewers conversant in the language of cinema will probably divine its narrative direction before the end of the second reel. That doesn’t mean the journey isn’t worth taking, however: for all its predictability, Kaurismaki’s latest feature is a near flawless example of how to tell a story on film.

Marcel Marx (Andre Wilm) and wife Arletty (Kaurismaki regular Kati Outinen) are residents of the titular port city. Marcel ekes out a living shining shoes; Arletty feeds the two of them on onions and purloined baguettes. So inured to life’s hardships is Marcel that even the death of a customer barely fazes him: as he drily points out, “at least he had time to pay” before getting hit by a car. … Continue reading »

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