Abdellatif Kechiche's The Secret and the Grain
The fact that this masterful work is little known in this country sums up the devastated state for the current American cinephile. To seek out a film like this in 2015 is to be so incredibly marginalized, so alone in your interest and passion, to survive you might have to focus on the positive of having been able to have somehow spotted Kechiche's achievement among the overwhelwing wreckage. Kechiche's cinema is up to so much all at once. Formally it is a unique mixing of Dardenne's ingredients (non-actors, industrial locations, faded colors, lack of Hollywood coverage) with Cassavetes' nervy, documentary-type editing. Emotionally it is an odd pairing of Scorsese's visceral moments of discomfort coupled with Rossellini's mystic humanism. It is a much different film than the only other film I have seen so far from Kechiche, Blue is the Warmest Color, and yet another modern day classic. Kechiche is one of the greats, regardless whether our culture even knows who he is.
Penelope Spheeris' The Decline of Western Civilization
Very interesting look, for its access and intimacy, at the height of the LA punk scene. Two words - Darby Crash.
Christophe Honore's Love Songs
Less seemingly interested in Demy's bourgeois milieu and more in sync with the angst and edge of early Carax, Honore is so very French. While he has some of the early New Wave's playfulness and Desplechin's interest in the twenty set, his sensibility veers off into a strange terrain of gothic and poetic alienation.
Maurice Pialat's Nous ne viellirons pas ensemble
One of the last of the Pialat features I had never seen, Pialat impresses again by his strong, uncompromising approach to the medium A French friend of mine once mentioned how revered Pialat was for his editing. I had never paid much attention to that aspect of his work until now but here it is remarkable - forceful, edgy, propulsive and completely a piece with the rest of Pialat's form. Also Pialat draws Jean as a character with such unpredictable rage that the final minutes shimmer and vibrate with such potential violence. But Pialat runs counter to the catharsis Scorsese offers Bickle and through great restraint trails off into a very soft and wistful coda of extraordinary power.