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1996, Janus Films, 97 min, France, Dir: Olivier Assayas

Olivier Assayas’ live-wire international breakthrough stars a magnetic Maggie Cheung as a version of herself: a Hong Kong action-movie star who arrives in Paris to play the latex-clad lead in a remake of Louis Feuillade’s classic 1915 crime serial LES VAMPIRES. What she finds is a behind-the-scenes tangle of barely controlled chaos as egos clash, romantic attractions simmer and an obsessive director (a cannily cast Jean-Pierre Léaud) drives himself to the brink to realize his vision. Blending blasts of silent cinema, martial arts flicks and the music of Sonic Youth and Ali Farka Touré into a hallucinatory swirl of postmodern cool, Assayas composes a witty reflection on the 1990s French film industry and the eternal tension between art and commercial entertainment.

2001, The Film Desk, 101 min, France/Germany/Japan, Dir: Claire Denis

What if love was a sickness? Or even worse, a cannibalistic impulse that can only be satisfied via utter consumption? Claire Denis follows these questions to their gruesome conclusions in this visceral portrayal of an all-consuming desire. When newlyweds Shane (Vincent Gallo) and June (Tricia Vessey) honeymoon in Paris, the new husband secretly pursues a renowned neuroscientist conducting studies on the human libido. Becoming more involved with Dr. Sémeneau (Alex Descas) and his tests, Shane learns of the doctor’s wife, Coré (Béatrice Dalle), whose strange illness requires her to be quarantined at all times. But all hell breaks loose when Coré escapes and unleashes a sickness deadlier than anyone could have imagined.

1996, Strand Releasing, 103 min, France, Dir: Claire Denis

Directing with the same delicacy that infused her films of the early 1990s, Claire Denis takes on the subject of broken families in this thoughtful tale of a sibling reunion. When Boni’s (Grégoire Colin) mother dies, he wastes no time moving his friends into her now-vacant house and focusing on his job baking pizzas for an eccentric couple. His plans are upended by a sudden visit from his estranged younger sister, Nénette (Alice Houri), who had run away from boarding school after their parents' divorce. To make matters worse, Nénette is pregnant, a fact that neither sibling is prepared to deal with. Co-starring Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Vincent Gallo and featuring an original soundtrack by Denis’ frequent collaborators, Tindersticks.

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