Public EnemySeptember was supposed to be the second and concluding month of the Wellington Film Society season of French films that “got away”.

But two of the scheduled films did just that and we have had to find replacements. FORGET ME has been replaced by another French film from the same source, NIGHT SHIFT, but for UN AIR DE FAMILLE we have rescheduled THE PUBLIC ENEMY, which was in the draft schedule for about this time but replaced when the strong programme of French films was made available through the French Embassy.

All films this month are for members only and screen at the Paramount at 6.15pm on Monday nights.
Now to the details.

First up on Monday 5 is THOSE WHO LOVE ME CAN TAKE THE TRAIN (1988). Director Patrice Chereau follows an ill-matched group of mourners travelling by train from Paris to Limoges for the funeral of painter, Jean-Baptiste Emmerich. It’s a trip the brilliant, charming and tyrannical painter specified before he died, saying in effect that those who cared most about him would be willing to undergo the considerable inconvenience of a long journey to pay tbeir respects. The ensemble dynamics concentrate on the sundered relationships around the Emmerich family and the competing claims of friends and kin over the memory of the dead painter.

The following week, Monday 12 September, the first replacement, NIGHT SHIFT (2001). Writer-director Phillipe Le Guay takes up the subject of bullying – not at school which gets most public attention – but in the workplace. In a small French town the pleasant, reserved Pierre takes a night job on the production
line at a small bottling factory. On his first night a burly co-worker needles him over his prudery in removing his predecessor’s nude photographs from his locker door. Over the weeks the provocations escalate. In Pierre’s troubled world going to work becomes hell.
He can’t explain things to his preoccupied wife and is discouraged by his colleagues from bringing his bosses into the affair. A taut, economical film.

On Monday 19 September, an unscheduled break from French films as we turn to the American classic THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931). William Wellman’s film is one of the earliest and best of the gangster films from Warner Bros. in the thirties. James Cagney portrays the lead character as a sexually magnetic, cocky, completely amoral, emotionally brutal, ruthless and terribly lethal individual. However he begins his life, not as a hardened criminal, but as a young mischievous boy in pre-Prohibition city streets, whose early environment clearly contributes to the evolving development of his life of adult crime and his inevitable gruesome death. The film examines the social forces and roots of crime in a serious way.

The final film of the month on Monday 26 September is also the final of the French season. POSSIBILITIES (1996). In her “comédie dépressive” filmmaker Pascale Ferran, one of France’s most promising auteurs, confronts what it means to be in your early twenties as the end of the century nears. Working with ten actors studying at the National Theater of Strasbourg, Ferran created a script that explores the feelings of both anticipation and dread in the lives of young people who are struggling to write graduate theses or stuck in stagnant service jobs or frustrated in unfulfilling relationships. In a series of short, realistic vignettes, culminating in a revelatory party that brings everyone together, the film uncovers the interlocking passions and fears of Gallic twentysomethings who must decide who and what they want to become. Equally charming and philosophical.

That’s it for September. But don’t stop reading yet – there are several film festivals that deserve your attention.

On the Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month, the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and France is being celebrated at the Film Archive’s mediatheatre with a season called “Polar en tous genres (Whodunits of all Sorts)“.

Commencing on Friday 2 September, the films include: GARDE A VUE (The Inquisitor)(Claude Miller, 1981), VIVEMENT DIMANCHE (Confidentially Yours!) (Francois Truffaut, 1983), INSPECTEUR LAVARDIN (Claude Chabrol, 1986), L627 (Bertrand Tavernier, 1991), REGARD LES HOMMES TOMBER (See How They Fall) (Jacques Audiard, 1994), LE COUSIN (The Informer) (Alain Corneau, 1997) and L’AFFAIRE MARCORELLE (Serge Le Peron, 2000).

For further details of these and other Mediaplex events check the Archive’s events calendar

The Date Palm Film Festival runs at the Paramount from 8 – 14 September. Bookings are now open. The films are: A MAN IN OUR HOUSE, an Egyptian classic from 1961 set prior to the 1952 revolution and starring Omar
Sharif. IN CASABLANCA, THE ANGELS DON’T FLY (Morocco, 2004), director Mohamed Asli’s imaginative look at the
dream for a better life and the sacrifices necessary to achieve it. Italian director Saverio Costanzo’s PRIVATE (Italy/Palestine, 2004), winner of the Golden Leopard, the top award at the Locarno Film Festival. MAMA’s GUEST (Dariush Mehrjui, Iran 2004), a comedy about a poor family’s attempts to pull off a traditional banquet with the help of their neighbours.
ALI ZAOUA: PRINCE OF THE STREETS (Nabil Ayouch, Morocco 2000), which chronicles the efforts of a trio
of friends to give their murdered companion a decent burial. As well there are three strong documentaries which give insight into the current situations in Iraq and Palestine/Israel.

Check details here.

New Zealand’s First International Documentary Film Festival runs in Auckland 15-28 September, with a “best of” selection screening at the Paramount in Wellington 29 September – 5 October. The “Life Unscripted” brochure describing all the films is available at the Paramount now.

The website is not of much help!

And keep supporting the Paramount by attending their regular screenings. All three screens are now operating. Coming up:

YOUNG ADAM (UK 2003). Two men and a woman on a barge. No one who has seen Jean Vigo’s famous film “L’Atalante” (1934) can watch “Young Adam” without feeling its resonance. There cannot be peace unless the woman or one of the men leaves. In the Vigo film, newlyweds make the barge their occupation and home, and the bride feels pushed aside by the crusty old deckhand. In “Young Adam,” the chemistry is more lethal. Opens 1 September.

Also starting 1 September is FESTIVAL EXPRESS (USA 2003). This last great rockumentary was kept out of sight by 30 years of legal wrangling. The surviving footage has been cut into fine shape by Bob Smeaton. It was in the 2004 Wellington Film Festival and also in this year’s World Cinema Showcase. Now it gets the season it deserves. Once again catch the train as Janis Joplin, The Band, the Greatful Dead and others gig and party across Canada in a rented train.

Another musical documentary opens on 22 September. DIG! (USA, 2004) traces the parallel fortunes of two prominent indie bands, The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. The two bands start as mutual supporters, then drift apart as they strike different deals with the system. From this year’s Wellington Film Festival.

Again from this years Film Festival is KEKEXILI: MOUNTAIN PATROL (China/Hong Kong 2004) which also opens on 22 September. This superbly photographed ecological manhunt movie has a spartan granduer that is thrilling. Director Lu Chuan creates an aesthetic so powerful and stark, so aware of human impotence, that he actually transcends the obvious moral dichotomy between poachers and patrolmen.

There are still three New Zealand films to go in Lindsay Shelton’s selection, screening at the Film Archive, to mark the publication of his book “The Selling of New Zealand Movies“. All are at 6.30pm on Wednesday nights.

On 7 September: THE GOVERNOR, Episode One of the controversial TV series.

On 14 September: OTHER HALVES (John Laing, 1984)

On 21 September: KING PIN (Mike Walker, 1985), the story of life inside a Social Welfare Boys’ Home.

As usual, check the Archive’s events calendar

Thanks to Wgtn Film Society President David Lindsay for supplying the details.