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Stuart Staples (#110 of 3)

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Claire Denis’s Let the Sunshine In

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Cannes Film Review: Let the Sunshine In

Sundance Selects

Cannes Film Review: Let the Sunshine In

Claire Denis’s Let the Sunshine In is an exquisite romantic comedy whose laughs are sad and whose sadness is funny. Denis isn’t a filmmaker who lets the complexity of the human emotions that she either captures physically or insinuates psychologically settle into easy interpretation and understanding, and Let the Sunshine In, her lightest film to date, shades its relationship dynamics with existential panic, insecurities, unabashed biases of class, and, of course, an intimate understanding of the sexual politic.

Juliette Binoche provides the perfect gateway drug for Denis into the realm of the rom-com. In both body and mind, the actress’s Isabelle—a divorced Parisian artist who flits rather fickly from one romantic partner to the next—always commands the audience’s attention and curiosity. And Denis meets her star’s quixotic, swooning screen presence with subtle adaptations of her filmmaking to this new genre form. A scene of escalating banter between Isabelle and the rude, married business man that she’s been hate-fucking offers a variation of the shot-reverse-shot grammar that the actors’ blocking would typically call for, as Denis opts for a single take that floats back and forth in dreamy fashion but also with a sense of needling anxiety.

New York Film Festival 2013: Bastards Review

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New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Bastards</em> Review
New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Bastards</em> Review

There’s no shortage of bastards in this tale about the destructive power of a deeply dysfunctional family, but if the men inflict most of the violence, the women bear their share of the blame for the damage done. In the Q&A after the press screening, Claire Denis said: “They [women] are victims, for sure, often. But I don’t want a film to give them pity always. I prefer to be fierce with them.” Her story keeps circling back to questions of guilt and personal responsibility, each turn revealing more complications in her characters and their actions.

The beautiful young Justine (Lola Creton), who we see at the beginning and end of the film, and many times in between, in situations of great psychological and physical peril, isn’t just a victim but a wounded warrior who chooses her own fate, at least to some degree (in describing the drugs, alcohol, and rough sex that have landed her in the hospital, a doctor says Justine, “Didn’t spare herself anything”). Her father, who commits suicide at the start of the film, is no passive victim of the family’s pathology, but one of its main perpetrators. Her uncle, Marco (Vincent Lindon), a sea captain, comes home to avenge his family in classic action-hero style only to become a victim himself. And Justine’s mother, Sandra (Julie Bataille), whose emotional torment we initially pity, can also seem monstrous, willing to sacrifice everyone else to satisfy her need to feel blameless.

The Tindersticks Live…and a Chat with Organist/Pianist David Boulter

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The Tindersticks Live…and a Chat with Organist/Pianist David Boulter

Michelle Lee

The Tindersticks Live…and a Chat with Organist/Pianist David Boulter

The Tindersticks’ mini-tour for their new box set of soundtrack work for Claire Denis films graced Los Angeles Saturday night for a show at the little-known Luckman Fine Arts Complex. The band will be completing the tour tonight at the 54th San Francisco International Film Festival. I was able to catch the show and keyboardist David Boulter earlier in their tour for an interview.