DONKEY SKIN
PEAU D’ÂNE
1970, Janus Films, 90 min, France, Dir: Jacques Demy

Jacques Demy's strange, lovely film tells the story of a devoted king (Jean Marais) who promises his dying wife (Catherine Deneuve, a Demy favorite) that his new queen will be equal to her in beauty. Of course, no one can compare to Deneuve, which leaves the queen’s daughter (also played by Deneuve) as the sole contender. Heeding the advice of a bizarre fairy godmother (Delphine Seyrig), the princess delays her father's incestuous advances using a series of impossible dressmaking challenges. In French with English subtitles.


THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG
LES PARAPLUIES DE CHERBOURG
1964, Janus Films, 91 min, France, Dir: Jacques Demy

Auto mechanic Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) gets girlfriend Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve) pregnant just before he leaves to fight in the Algerian war; they swear eternal allegiance to one another, but circumstances force Genevieve to marry another man and move to Paris. Jacques Demy tells this story entirely through music and lyrics, yet his musical is no fantasy - as critic Jonathan Rosenbaum has pointed out, it's an accurate portrayal of Paris that uses style to "exalt the ordinary." It's a one-of-a-kind film opera: a movie that is entirely artificial and stylized yet tough, complex and unsentimental - and more deeply moving than a dozen more conventional melodramas. In French with English subtitles.


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