This collection of films directed by the phenomenally talented Claire Denis serve as a showcase of her decade-spanning, award-winning career, beginning with her international breakthrough Chocolat and carrying through to her most recent work White Material. Brave, challenging and frequently controversial, Claire Denis is one of the most important French filmmakers of her generation and is the most critically acclaimed female director working in the world today. Also includes Beau Travail and Nnette et Boni.
An art house movie that asks questions about the morality of art both on and off screen, The Pornographer is a hard-hitting yet strangely unmoving film. Very much a product of the French school of intellectual cinema, the filmmaker of the title is Jacques Laurent (played by Jean Pierre Leaud), a one-time director of adult films who, finding himself down on his luck, is forced to return to his old medium. Far from being a gaudy Boogie Nights style exposé of an unknown world, the film focuses on Laurent's inner turmoil and his rapidly disintegrating relationship with his wife, as well as his restored one with his son Joseph (Jeremie Renier). Director Betrend Bonello handles this material well, if overdoing the art house clichés a little, but the problem with the film (or for some its strong point) comes with the fairly hardcore sex scenes, presented as part of Laurent's movie. While intended to reflect the emptiness of the character's soul, it is hard to see past them as just an attention-grabbing device. Then again, can a film about pornography legitimately not feature sex? One suspects that this debate will run and run and, in its way, The Pornographer has much to say on the subject. On the DVD: The Pornographer's intended release fell foul of the BBFC, who objected to one particularly explicit scene, a continuing argument that provides much of the material for the DVD's extra features. There is a reproduction of the BFFC ruling, a statement in reply from Bonello (which demonstrate the similarities he shares with his fictional counterpart, certainly when it comes to a vision of erotica) and an excellent essay from critic Pierre Perrene. In addition there are biographies, the cinematic trailer and an option to view the film with or without English subtitles. Whatever the moral questions involved, Bonello's film is a visual treat and his stylish eye is well represented by this format. --Phil Udell
19-year-old Boni is a sex-starved factory worker who combats loneliness by conjuring vivid fantasies involving the baker's wife. Nenette, his estranged 15-year-old sister, is trapped in a boarding school and is pregnant with a child she doesn't want. When their mother dies and fate brings them back together the two warily embark on a journey that will help them heal each other in a most unpredictable yet compelling fashion. A dazzling, mesmerising and deeply moving study of adolescent desire, directed by one of the world's leading contemporary auteur, Clarie Denis.
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