Monday, September 10, 2007

ACMI Focus on François Ozon

François Ozon first came to my attention in 2002 with his minimalist film Under the Sand (Sous le sable, 2000) featuring frequent collaborator Charlotte Rampling. While I find it hard to define my favourite French film as I tend somewhat to consider the body of French film as a whole, this film is of a style that has really endeared French cinema to me. Contemplative and intelligent, it trusts the audience to 'get' it without making a big splash (and for those who have seen the film, no pun intended).

When Swimming Pool was released, I learnt that Charlotte Rampling was not French but British, but had been attracted to France for perhaps some of the same reasons that draw me. I believe her French-speaking skills are immaculate (and she has lived in France for many years). I thought Swimming Pool (2003) was a more showy, mainstream film than Under the Sand, perhaps a little derivative of films by the likes of David Lynch or even David Fincher's Fight Club.

8 femmes (8 Women, 2002) was a comedic melodrama, and not really my thing. However, it was interesting to see the range of Ozon, while Time to Leave (Le temps qui reste, 2005) was a return to Under the Sand territory - a serious contemplation of death, redemption and letting go. I have seen five Ozon films to date, and the first (Under the Sand) remains my favourite.

ACMI screened the fabulous Focus on Isabelle Huppert earlier this year, and I managed to catch 13 of the 20 films screened. Soon there will be a Focus for each of both François Ozon and Catherine Breillat (director of challenging and controversial films such as Anatomie de l'enfer, À ma soeur and Romance). For Francophiles such as myself, this is cinema heaven!

The Breillat Focus starts 25 October and I will post more details closer to that date. The Ozon Focus marks the release of his latest film, Angel, (on November 1 by Dendy Films), his first English language film, starring Romala Garai, Charlotte Rampling, Sam Neill (yes, the Kiwi we like to call our own) and Michael Fassbender. The film is an adaptation of an Elizabeth Taylor novel.

The Focus on François Ozon starts Thursday 5 October and runs to Sunday 14 October. Angel will be screening as well as all his previous features and several of his shorts. As with some of the ACMI Focuses, a number of films personally selected by the director for this season will also be screened. Quoting from the ACMI media release:

Four of Ozon’s films will screen as double bills, each being teamed with a feature personally selected by Ozon himself as an inspiration or ideal screening companion.

Water Drops on Burning Rocks (Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes, 2000) will screen with Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Fear Eats the Soul (1973)

8 Women will screen with Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life (1959)

Swimming Pool will screen with Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (1966)

5 x 2 (2004) will screen with brand new imported print of Luis Buñuel’s Belle De Jour (1967) starring Catherine Deneuve

Focus on François Ozon will give fans an opportunity to view the director’s rarely seen earlier work including his first two features Sitcom (1998), a black comedy that takes the family sitcom to its darkest (and campest) extreme; Criminal Lovers (Les amants criminels, 1999) a sexy thriller that is part Blair Witch and part Hansel and Gretel, and a selection of Ozon’s early shorts including Action Verite (1994), Summer Dress (1996), Le petite morte (1995), Bed Scenes (1994), as well as Ozon’s unforgettable featurette of menace, See The Sea (1998).

Watch the ACMI website for further details (which are not yet posted).

Photos: François Ozon, press image for Angel


Phillip Kelly said...

I did enjoy "Swimming Pool" and keep hearing his name pop up, I'll have to check out some of these other titles. I've wanted to write a piece on Haneke...I'll get around to it one of these days.

Paul Martin said...

Phil, Swimming Pool was a fairly mainstream film by Ozon, who seems drawn to female stories (except for Time to Leave). I prefer his more minimalist human dramas, but he's very versatile. He's done comedy, melodrama and I look forward to discovering his earlier works.

Incidentally, I watched Haneke's Funny Games the other day for the first time. Brilliant stuff, and I could see the ideas further explored in Hidden and Time of the Wolf. I have a lot of respect for this film-maker as well.