Mia Hansen Løve (#110 of 12)

Berlinale 2016 Things to Come

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Berlinale 2016: Things to Come

Sundance Selects

Berlinale 2016: Things to Come

Mia Hansen-Løve's Things to Come offers the most distinctly French pleasures. These include apartment walls entirely filled with books, casual intellectual conversations, a nonchalant attitude toward unfaithfulness, and, most notably, Isabelle Huppert, who plays a resilient philosophy teacher at a high school in Paris. How not to love a film in which all characters seem to have read Arthur Schopenhauer and whose main character is a woman who needs Hannah Arendt more than she needs a man?

Such is Nathalie's (Huppert) non-plight: a journey into her erudite self-sufficiency. In the film's most Bergman-esque moment, her husband, Heinz (André Marcon), of 25 years announces, and matter of factly, that he's met someone and will live with her. Nathalie is disappointed, but hardly crushed—like someone who hears about the death of a distant relative who was ill for a long time. She has other passions after all. Her marriage isn't contingent to her satisfaction, but more of a defaulted décor to her bourgeois existence. When the husband leaves, she's most shaken by the gaps left in the living room's bookshelves. He's less of a bastard for exchanging her for a younger woman than he is for having taken her copy of Emmanuel Levinas.

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Eden, Rosewater, & Jauja

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Toronto International Film Festival 2014: Eden, Rosewater, & Jauja
Toronto International Film Festival 2014: Eden, Rosewater, & Jauja

Filled with retro house cuts, Eden insists upon a good time whenever Paul (Félix de Givry) or his DJ peers spin in various house parties and clubs, yet the prevailing atmosphere of Mia Hansen-Løve's film is melancholic. One of the more sensitive contemporary directors of youth, Hansen-Løve flips the dynamic of Goodbye, First Love, a film in which the passage of time is keenly felt in the protagonist's maturation and regression occurs from the reintroduction of outside elements. In this film, it's everything around Paul that changes and outpaces him while he remains resolutely, depressingly, the same person at 34 that he was at 20.

Venice Film Festival 2012: Something in the Air

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Venice Film Festival 2012: <em>Something in the Air</em>
Venice Film Festival 2012: <em>Something in the Air</em>

You have to feel sorry for the wave of French youngsters born just too late to have been part of the Paris student riots of 1968, because they really missed out on a party. Something in the Air, the new film by Olivier Assayas, who was only 13 during that fateful year of striking, is a wry tribute to the idealistic kids forced to follow in some mighty big footsteps.

We open in 1971 with a bang, and a baton to the head, as a group of naïve revolutionaries wearing crash helmets and tie-dye t-shirts square up to Paris's riot gear-clad police force. These high school anarchists, finely played by mop-haired teenage greenhorns, are out of their depth, but you have to admire their spirit. They feverishly read leftist magazines with firebrand names like J'Accused and Rogue, and publish their own left-wing rag that's so radical the Trotskyists that run the printing press have to shut them down. When they fail miserably to take back the streets, they take on their high school, festooning its façade in a riot of iconoclastic posters and revolutionary slogans.

New York Film Festival 2011: Martha Marcy May Marlene and Goodbye First Love

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New York Film Festival 2011: <em>Martha Marcy May Marlene</em> and <em>Goodbye First Love</em>
New York Film Festival 2011: <em>Martha Marcy May Marlene</em> and <em>Goodbye First Love</em>

Is it possible for a cinematographer to be considered an auteur even more than the directors for which he works? On the basis of his work on films as disparate in subject matter, style and tone as Afterschool, Tiny Furniture, and now Martha Marcy May Marlene, one could make such a case for Jody Lee Lipes, the phenomenally talented 29-year-old cinematographer who shot all three of them.

The stylistic tics are remarkably similar in all of those films: prolonged takes, carefully worked out mise-en-scène, a penchant for wide shots within a 2.35:1 frame. Obviously, each director uses these signatures for their own purposes, psychological dread in the case of Afterschool and Martha Marcy May Marlene, wistful deadpan comedy in Tiny Furniture, but the style is so consistent that, in some ways, all three films can be considered just as much Lipes's as they can their directors'. At the very least, one can't help but wonder what subsequent films by Antonio Campos, Lena Dunham, and Sean Durkin, respectively, will look like if they choose not to work with Lipes.