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COLCOA 2014 Film Festival: Five films to catch

"For a Woman" ("Pour one femme")
"For a Woman" ("Pour one femme")
Photo: David Koskas (© 2012 ALEXANDRE FILMS – RISE FILMS – France 3 CINEMA – RHONE ALPES CINEMA – NEW LIGHT FILMS )

The City of Lights, City of Angels (COLCOA) French Film Festival opened last night with the performance pleasing, “We Love You, You Bastard” co-written and directed by legendary French filmmaker Claude Lelouch. A bang-up start to the biggest French Film Festival outside of France, COLCOA runs through Monday, April 28 at the DGA Theatres in Hollywood. There are plenty of terrific French movies screening all week. Here are five films of note:

"For a Woman" ("Pour one femme")
"For a Woman" ("Pour one femme") Photo: David Koskas (© 2012 ALEXANDRE FILMS – RISE FILMS – France 3 CINEMA – RHONE ALPES CINEMA – NEW LIGHT FILMS )

"For a Woman" ("Pour one femme")

Ever since I had the good fortune of seeing Diane Kurys’ “Entre Nous” which starred Isabelle Huppert and Miou-Miou and was nominated for Best Foreign Film in 1983, I have been a Kurys fan.  In her twelfth feature, “For a Woman,” Kurys re-visits her family’s life, but this time it’s through her father’s past as novelist Anne finds a mysterious photo amongst her recently deceased mother’s items.  (“For a Woman” screens Tuesday, April 22.)

"Chinese Puzzle" ("Casse-Tete chinois")
"Chinese Puzzle" ("Casse-Tete chinois") Chinese Puzzle © Cohen Media Group

"Chinese Puzzle" ("Casse-Tete chinois")

Writer/director Cedric Klapisch brings his latest installment of what he calls “The Trilogy of Xavier’s Travels” to COLCOA with “Chinese Puzzle.”  In this third film, Xavier finds himself moving to New York City to be closer to his two young children who have moved from Paris with their mother.  The film stars Romain Duris as Xavier, and Audrey Tautou, Cecile De France, and Kelly Reilly as the women who Xavier loves.   As an added treat, the first film in the trilogy, “L’Auberge Espagnole” also screens as part of COLCOA Classics.  (Both “L’Auberge Espagnole” and “Chinese Puzzle” screen Thursday, April 24.)

"Venus in Fur" ("La Venus a la Fourrure")
"Venus in Fur" ("La Venus a la Fourrure") Venus in Fur - Courtesy of Guy Ferrandis. A Sundance Selects Release.

"Venus in Fur" ("La Venus a la Fourrure")

Roman Polanski has a field day with “Venus in Fur.”  Based on a novel, adapted into a Broadway play, and now a film co-written by playwright David Ives and Polanski, “Venus in Fur” is a cutting exploration of manipulation and domination.  Set on a French stage, director Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) is frustrated that he cannot find a suitable actress to play “Vanda,” the character of a Victorian dominatrix.  Enter the nutty, older actress, who is actually named Vanda (a terrific Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s wife).  Let the psychosexual games begin.  (“Venus in Fur” screens Friday, April 25.)

"Beauty and the Beast"
"Beauty and the Beast" BEAUTY & THE BEAST © SNC (Groupe M6)/Comité Cocteau. Crédits Photo : G.R. Aldo

"Beauty and the Beast"

As part of the COLCOA Classics sidebar, Jean Cocteau’s masterpiece, “Beauty and the Beast” (1946) is celebrated with a fully restored print that “Empire Magazine” ranks 26th among the 100 Best Films of the World Cinema.  This fairytale is definitely for adults, and the black and white photography and costumes are stunning.  (“Beauty and the Beast” screens Saturday, April 26.)

"Me, Myself and Mom" ("Les Garcons et Guillaume, a table!")
"Me, Myself and Mom" ("Les Garcons et Guillaume, a table!") Me, Myself and Mom © 2012 Photo : Thierry Valletoux / Gaumont - Rectangle Productions - LGM CinTma

"Me, Myself and Mom" ("Les Garcons et Guillaume, a table!")

Winning five Cesar Awards in 2014 for Best Picture, Best First Feature, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing, writer/director Guillaume Gallienne’s personal memoir is a uniquely drawn tale that describes his growing up as if he were a girl (“the daughter his mother never had”).  Gallienne plays both himself and his mother in this poignant, yet deeply humorous film based on his one-man theater piece.  (“Me, Myself and Mom” screens Saturday, April 26.)