'The films of Philippe Grandrieux pulsate. They pulsate microcosmically: in the images, the camera trembles and flickers so violently that, even within a single, continuous shot, no photogram resembles another. And they pulsate macrocosmically: the soundtrack is constructed globally upon unidentifiable, layered, synthesised, ambient noises of breath or wind, sucked in and expelled, which underlie the entire film and constitute its disturbed heartbeat, returning to our ear when all other sounds have disappeared. In the very beginnings and endings of his films, over the credits, there is nothing but this strangely bodily sound.' -- Adrian Martin, Kinoeye
'There is something profoundly new about Grandrieux's plastic exploration of violence, but also something very contemporary. His approach is not based on such editing and framing effects one finds and admires in Hitchcock and Ray, nor in an exploration of excess as in Tarantino. He works on the inside of an image, on the special relation between the luminous content and the vibrant and fragmentary representation.' -- Christa Bluminger, Parachute
'Grandieux's films carefully try to understand the exact inner-working of one’s psychic, and more especially the part that deals with desire and transformation. How does desire work? What are the elements that this energy-matter is using to expand its empire? What are the social repressions that desire has to face? Unlike Pasolini who is really interested in the way that society is theatrically transforming the ceremony of predating into a show, there is here an experimental cinema; it is true; that is trying to register, thanks to the camera, what humans eyes would never be able to see in order to deconstruct and analyze reality. Grandrieux’s films are analytical films, like a microscope, that give the viewer the possibility to see more accurately what is movement, emotion, sensation, colour, darkness and the emergence of the image (either material or thought). What is the process that enables something to become an image in the dark? Why can this process only be seen as a threat?' -- Jean-Claude Polack
* Philippe Grandieux Official Website
* PG @ Wikipedia
* PG interviewed by Nicole Brenez
* Magick Mike on PG's 'Sombre' @ EEP
* PG's 'Un Lac' reviewed @ Screener
* PG @ Facebook
* PG @ the Harmony Korine Website Forum
* Video: PG interviewed (in French)
* PG Torrent Search
* Buy PG's 'Sombre' DVD
'How to sum up Un Lac? It’s no easier than with Sombre or La Vie nouvelle, the two last films by Philippe Grandrieux. Suffice to say that Grandrieux has been hotly acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic as one of Europe’s most innovative and uncompromising filmmakers, his visionary films testing the very limits of screen language. This minimalist new work is at once Grandrieux’s most accessible film and his most abstract. The vestigial narrative takes place in a frosty Northern landscape of forests and mountains, where young woodchopper Alexis lives with his sister, their blind mother and a younger brother. Then one day a younger man arrives on the scene... Grandrieux doesn’t make events easy for us to follow, often shooting in near-darkness, with sparse dialogue sometimes pitched barely above a whisper.
'But narrative apart, the film is distinctive for the unique, self-enclosed world that Grandrieux creates with a palette reduced almost to monochrome: a world of stillness and near-silence, of forbidding yet alluring landscapes whose affinities are as much with the Romantic paintings of Caspar David Friedrich, as with the cinematic ilk of Alexandr Sokurov, Bela Tarr and Fred Kelemen.' -- Jonathan Romney
'Since its premiere screenings in late 2002, Philippe Grandrieux's second feature La Vie nouvelle (The New Life) has been a cause célèbre. On its theatrical release in France, it was savaged by a large number of prominent newspaper and magazine reviewers. But the film has many passionate defenders. Grandrieux's work plunges us into every kind of obscurity: moral ambiguity, narrative enigma, literal darkness. La Vie Nouvelle presents four characters in a severely depressed Sarajevo who are caught in a mysterious, death-driven web: the feckless American Seymour (Zach Knighton), his mysterious companion (lover? friend? brother? father?) Roscoe (Marc Barbé), the demonic Mafioso Boyan (Zsolt Nagy), and the prostitute-showgirl who is the exchange-token in all their relationships, Mélania (Anna Mouglalis).
'Eric Vuillard's poetically conceived script takes us to the very heart of this darkness where sex, violence, betrayal and obsession mingle and decay. Grandrieux feels freer than ever to explore the radical extremes of film form: in his lighting and compositions and impulsive camera movements; in the bold mix of speech, noise and techno/ambient music (by the celebrated experimental group Etant Donnés); and in the frame-by-frame onslaught of sensations and affects.' -- Adrian Martin, Kinoeye
'Philippe Grandrieux’s first full length cinema film has unleashed a storm of controversy since its showing at the Locarno initernational film festival in 1998. It had critics solidly divided into two camps – those who regard it as an obscene, unwatchable mess, and others who rate it as a sublime masterpiece of the psychosexual thriller genre. It is clearly a film which is acceptable only to certain tastes, and many will find the film very hard to stomach.
'Certainly, Grandrieux’s extremely minimalist photography, much of which involves jerky camera movements and hazy out-of-focus images shot in virtual pitch-blackness, makes few concessions to traditional cinema audiences. To his credit, this unusual - and frankly disorientating – cinematography serves the film well, heightening the menace in the killer and the brutality of his murders by showing little and prompting us to imagine much more than we see. The idea presumably is to show the world as the obsessed killer sees it, through a darkened filter with periodic loss of focus.' -- James Travers, filmsdefrance
the entire film
'Philippe Grandrieux's work has often invoked the world of Francis Bacon, but in this almost purely experimental piece it is even more pronounced, as he takes Bacon's fascination with the triptych and the body and insists on utilising only the middle section of the frame.
'Here are bodies in primordial states, fully formed as muscle and flesh, but as if unformed in the nature of their desires and subsequently somehow closer to nature. Utilising a dense soundtrack that both suggests the internal organs (lungs, larynx and heart) and the extended sounds of the forest, Grandrieux has made a film that isn't easy to watch but equally not easy to forget. It is a strategy that has worked wonderfully well for him in the past with moments from Sombre (for example, the Punch and Judy contest), La vie nouvelle (the scenes filmed with a thermo camera) and the misty lake in Un Lac all examples of the cinematically unforgettable. Perhaps the images here are too abstract and sculptural to fascinate us fully, without that soupçon of story that can make Grandrieux's work maddeningly suggestive, but this is is still a film by a modern master.' -- List Film
'This tribute to the radical Japanese writer-director Masao Adachi is the first in a series of documentaries that Philippe Grandrieux wants to dedicate to deeply political filmmakers. For decades, the eccentric Adachi was a member of the extremist Japanese Red Army.
'French director Philippe Grandrieux (Sombre, 1999; A Lake, 2009) wants to make a series of portraits of politically committed filmmakers. His film about Japanese avant-gardist Masao Adachi (1939) is the first in this series.
'In the 1960s and 1970s, Adachi was a prominent film critic and underground filmmaker, with experimental films such as Sain (1963) to his name. He often collaborated with his contemporary and ally Nagisa Oshima, wrote scripts for Koji Wakamatsu and made films in the pink genre.
'Disappointment with the political direction of Japan made him join the the extreme left-wing Japanese Red Army in the early 1970s and he started making films in Beirut.
'Grandieux engages in sometimes cryptic conversations with him about film, art and politics and films him in his characteristic style: sometimes out of focus, sometimes under or over- exposed. With a few clips from Adachi’s work, such as The Red Army/PFLP: Declaration of World War from 1971.' -- IFFR
Hey. Today the superb French filmsmith Philippe Grandieux holds sway here in this slightly tweaked and updated version of a post from a few years ago. Give it your best, please, thank you. I'm away in the Loire Valley working on something. Hopefully it's going as well as I thought it would when I wrote this sentence and preprogrammed this post to launch on the day before I left.