L’atelier [The Workshop] (2017)

L’atelier
Director: Laurent Cantet
Writer: Robin Campillo, Laurent Cantet
Cast: Marina Foïs, Matthieu Lucci, Florian Beaujean, Mamadou Doumbia, Mélissa Guilbert, Warda Rammach, Julien Souve, Issam Talbi
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2018
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Plot:
Olivia (Marina Foïs) is a respected novelist who is participating as a teacher in a summer class for underprivileged kids. The seven participants are supposed to write a story together but one of them, Antoine (Matthieu Lucci) won’t play along. His writing is filled with violence and empathy for the perpetrators of it. His behavior in class is antagonistic, racist and shows him sympathizing with neo-nazis and fascism. Olivia struggles with the situation in a class where most of her students aren’t white. But she’s also intrigued by Antoine’s obvious intelligence and tries to find out more about him.

L’atelier could have been interesting if it had been the film I was hoping to see and not yet another story that asks us to please empathize with the neonazi. Maybe if the film hadn’t been made by white people, it would have been good.

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120 battements par minute [BPM (Beats Per Minute)] (2017)

120 battements par minute
Director: Robin Campillo
Writer: Robin Campillo, Philippe Mangeot
Cast: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel , Antoine Reinartz, Félix Maritaud, Ariel Borenstein, Aloïse Sauvage
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 23.10.2017
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Plot:
It’s the early 1990s and HIV/AIDS has already claimed many lives, but little is done to combat it. Advocacy Group ACT UP is trying to change that, planning several different interventions. Nathan (Arnaud Valois) has just joined the group and is swept up in their relentless energy. Or is he more swept off his feet by Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) who seems to live for the activism?

120 BPM is not perfect, but it is a strong film, a love letter to activism and an emotional journey that will leave you breathless.

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Planetarium (2016)

Planetarium
Director: Rebecca Zlotowski
Writer: Rebecca Zlotowski, Robin Campillo
Cast: Natalie Portman, Lily-Rose Depp, Emmanuel Salinger, Amira Casar, Pierre Salvadori, Louis Garrel, David Bennent, Damien Chapelle
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2016

Plot:
Kate (Lily-Rose Depp) and Laura (Natalie Portman) are sisters who make their living with performances of psychic readings, with Kate’s youthful innocence convincing people of her talents as a seer, while Laura controls the show. The two don’t just perform for big audiences, they also do private séances. One of these brings them to film producer André Korben (Emmanuel Salinger) who lost his wife. Korben takes to the two women, wanting to use them for his filming business. But his interest becomes more and more obsessive.

Planetarium has promise but unfortunately it’s too messy and unfocused to really deliver on that promise. Ultimately it starts to drag and simply left me unsatisfied.

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Les revenants [They Came Back] (2004)

Les revenants
Director: Robin Campillo
Writer: Robin Campillo, Brigitte Tijou
Cast: Géraldine Pailhas, Jonathan Zaccaï, Frédéric Pierrot, Victor Garrivier, Catherine Samie, Djemel Barek, Marie Matheron, Saady Delas
Seen on: 07.04.2015

Plot:
One day the dead start returning to a small town, without any apparent cause. A constant stream of previously deceased people makes their way through town from the cemetery, walking back to their homes and loved ones. This puts the town’s inhabitants in an awkward position between joy and bewilderment, dragging up old sadnesses without really resolving them. As society tries to integrate the formerly dead again, things become weirder and weirder.

Les revenants is quite unusual for a film where the dead come back to life – so much so that I hesitate to call it a zombie film, even if there are some parallels. But the very particular feel of it didn’t quite work for me.

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