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Serge Bozon (#110 of 2)

Locarno Film Festival 2017 Mrs. Fang, Mrs. Hyde, 3/4, & The Wandering Soap Opera

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Locarno Film Festival 2017: Mrs. Fang, Mrs. Hyde, 3/4, & The Wandering Soap Opera

Locarno Film Festival

Locarno Film Festival 2017: Mrs. Fang, Mrs. Hyde, 3/4, & The Wandering Soap Opera

Albert Serra’s recent The Death of Louis XIV feels like a fictional cousin to Mrs. Fang, winner of the Golden Leopard at this year’s Locarno Film Festival, as Wang Bing’s latest similarly maps out the process by which the glow of a human life is dimmed. Mrs. Fang, a sixtysomething former farmer from rural southeast China, has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for several years. Wang visits her modest family home on two separate occasions: in 2015, when she’s already unable to speak or leave her bed and her family discusses her funeral, and a year later, in the days before her death. Throughout these visits, Wang employs his by-now familiar mode of calm, unadorned observation, moving smoothly between the conversations conducted around Mrs. Fang’s bed, forays outside the cramped home to follow discussions on the street and villagers on fishing trips, and tight close-ups of Mrs. Fang’s face on the pillow—the latter of which suffused with an intimacy so intense that it makes the surroundings disappear and time stand still for a while, despite their only making up a comparatively small part of the film.

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2014: Tip Top

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Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2014: <em>Tip Top</em>
Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2014: <em>Tip Top</em>

Though the French New Wave is said to have receded by the end of the 1960s, that freewheeling spirit seen in the films of such iconoclasts as Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut can still thankfully be glimpsed here and there in contemporary French cinema. Case in point: Tip Top, the latest beguiling genre-scrambling wonder from Serge Bozon. At the beginning of the film, an Algerian police informant living in a French suburb is found dead; internal-affairs investigator Esther Lafarge (Isabelle Huppert) is appointed to look into the case, and she in turns brings a recent addition to the department, Sally Marinelli (Sandrine Kiberlain), to accompany her. Judging by that setup, one might understandably assume that the film will shape up to be a standard-issue detective procedural. That, however, isn’t at all how Bozon’s film shakes down.