I second Phil's warning
J. W. Hickey | Manhattan area | 08/13/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Amazon continues to promote vendor who sells Collection with two disk twos and no disk one. Only recourse offered is refund, which absolutely does not assure that reordering the item won't amount to a GROUND HOG DAY redundancy. If Amazon wants our business during an economic period when DVDs are a luxury easily dispensed with, it should monitor vendors it endorses about whom repeated complaints of this kind accrue."
A wonderful introduction to a cinematic master
C. H. Walters | Somerset West, South Africa | 09/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The only Techiné film I've seen before is "Wild Reeds". I've been trying to buy it on DVD, which proved either virtually impossible or cripplingly expensive. Then I saw the listing for this compilation, which was not only cheaper than other copies of the film, but contained four films in total!
In addition to giving a broad idea of Techiné's career, the collection allows one to see the wonderful Catherine Deneuve twice (in "Hotel America" and "My favourite season"), as well as other familiar French actors, like Daniel Auteuil ("My favourite season") and Philippe Noiret ("I don't kiss").
"Hotel America" shows how obsessive love can construct and destruct lives. As the film is understated in the European way, it is useful to see it more than once to begin sensing the attraction of the protagonists to each other.
"I don't kiss" portrays the life journey of a young man who has fallen out with his family and works hard to rebuild his life in the seedy underworld of Paris. The young Marcel Blanc was awarded a César as Most Promising Actor for his role.
In "My favourite season" an estranged brother and sister (Auteuil and Deneuve) have to decide what is best for their ageing mother. The subtle complexities and interplay of interpersonal relationships are wonderfully depicted.
"Wild reeds" is often regarded as Techiné's masterpiece, and the intricate complications of young people coming of age, especially within a difficult period of French history (the years just before Algeria's independence), make this tale particularly enjoyable. Interesting to see the young Gael Morel as an actor - he became a strong director in his own right, making searing and violent films like "The Clan". His co-stars in "Wild reeds", Stephane Rideau and Elodie Bouchez, have made good careers for themselves and have later acted opposite each other for Morel. The film shows some scenes which most people would be able to identify with: unrequited love, the loss of a family member, attraction despite ideological differences, the tension before exam results are published. The scene with Serge(Rideau) and Francois (Morel) on the motorcycle is one that has haunted me for years now.
This collection is surely a solid introduction to Techiné's cinematic tales. Like the best directors he shows us stories that are familiar and strange at the same time, forcing us to identify, evaluate and grow.
The set is presented well, with the first two films on one DVD. The three discs are tightly packed in a container of the same size as an ordinary DVD holder.
A final tongue-in-cheek comment: I wonder when European movies, especially films from France, are going to reflect the new vogue of curtailing smoking. Has there ever been a French film with a main character who doesn't smoke?!"
One of my favorite movies...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 12/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Take two of my favorite foreign actors (Deneuve and Auteuil), place them in one of my favorite film genres (the family drama) and hand them a script that is fully capable of fleshing out everything that great about both facets and you have `Ma Saison Preferee', a stunning and beautifully intoxicating look at sibling relationships and what we make of them.
Auteuil and Deneuve play Antoine and Emilie respectively, siblings who have drifted apart yet are brought together through mutual care for their ailing mother. Emilie is trapped in a marriage of convenience, one that tests her patience and sends her riling into the arms of her brother Antoine, a jealous and emotionally drained man who has yet to find anyone who can reach him quite like his sister. As Emilie struggles to find a newfound balance, one that will allot her a freedom yet not negate her responsibilities, she finds that sorting out her life is going to be more difficult than she expected; and with Antoine's sudden resurface everything gets a little more complicated.
The film is a very profound and moving look at the bond that forms between siblings, a bond that can be hard to sever (impossible really) and one that is tested through all sorts of stormy weather. One theme that I found very poignant here, but one that may not be directly addressed, is that of incest. I don't mean that in the overtly literal sense of the word, but at least a mental form of incest, as both Emilie and (especially) Antoine find themselves entwined within one another in ways of less than amenable fashions.
Don't let that idea turn you off, because it is not a overly expressed idea here, but it is one that can be raised (emotional incest maybe) and one that should be explored in order to appreciate the depth of character in this film.
The performances are all stellar, but it is Daniel Auteuil that really steals my heart and my attention here. There is a charismatic subtleness to his performance (this may be his finest hour, or at least one of his finest) that just draws me in to each frame. The way he is consumed by his relationship with Emilie, the way it attacks him in varying ways (excitement, frustration, depression, aggression) is just stunning, and he plays with his character's emotions flawlessly. Catherine Deneuve is stunning here, and effectively stunted in scenes (complaints have been made to her emotionally inexpressive performance, but I found that it was the perfect counterbalance to Auteuil's unraveling). I loved them both, but Auteuil truly steals this film for me.
With an elegant and sensual backdrop like Southern France dripping from every frame, `Ma Saison Preferee' is a beautiful and intoxicating film that will leave you with plenty to contemplate and remember. If you are not moved by brooding character studies, or if you lack the willingness to delve into the unconventional depths of a film like this, then you should probably stay away, for `Ma Saison Preferee' will come across as boring and aimless to you; but if you can bring yourself to the places this film wants to take you then you will find satisfaction in every single word."
When the ending is the beginning
Arnold Cusmariu | 01/16/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Poses some interesting questions, to which the answers are revealed in the last scene. Maybe the director intended to make a sequel, though I'm inclined to think we can guess the rest of the story so there's no real need.
Okay, guys, imgine your only sibling is a sister a few years older and she happens to be none other than ... Catherine Deneuve (who in real life only had sisters). What must it have been like for a boy to grow up with her, she who would turn out to be one of the world's most beautiful women, someone all men desired and all women admired? How would this shape your character and expectations, knowing it would be unlikely that you will ever meet a woman who comes anywhere near your own sister; that you will, in effect, have to settle for second best?
Good one, yes? No wonder brother Antoine, brilliantly portrayed by Daniel Auteuil, never married, never got over his sister, turned to science so he wouldn't be a complete wreck but is a neurotic mess anyway, waiting and hoping against hope that his sister Emilie will come around. Obstacles include her tough-guy husband, two maladjusted kids, and an elderly parent. One by one, the obstacles are removed. When the last domino falls, Emilie can at last see clearly what she really needs to be happy, and says so in poetic form, looking directly at her brother. The camera pauses on his face as he takes all this in, and FADE OUT.
Very clever and very French, i.e., introspective and analytical -- Descartes' legacy. Bravo."