films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


La Bête Humaine

1938 / 100m - France
Thriller, Crime
La Bête Humaine poster

The film didn't start off too bad, but like too many films from the 30s, the narrative and dialogue get in the way of a decent watch. The cinematography is interesting and expressive, the narrative is pretty boring and the bland dialogues just slow things down even further. Not the worst of its kind though.

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When Roubaud hears Séverine, his wife, is sleeping with her boss, he simply can't stand the idea, and he forces his wife to join his murderous plans. Their mission is a success, except that there is a witness who saw Séverine kill the man. To make sure he doesn't talk, she also starts an amorous relationship with the witness.

The stark black and white cinematography is nice enough, and it's clear that Renoir made an effort to elevate it. Sadly, the plot is boring, so are the characters, and the soundtrack feels terribly out of place. The film starts off pretty decent, but once the noir elements find their way into the film, the quality takes a dip.

French Cancan

1955 / 102m - France
Comedy, Musical
French Cancan poster

A little history lesson on French Cancan (what's in a name). I will say, I've always had a different idea of what places like Moulin Rouge were about. Somehow I figured they were classier establishments, instead, this film shows the equivalent of a drunken wedding or cheesy apres-ski party. Not my scene.

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Henri Danglard owns a bar, but he has trouble keeping his head above water. When one day he visits Montmartre, he notices that the cancan dance is still in fashion there. He meets up with a dancer and asks her to come dance in his café, hoping this may bring people back to his bar.

French Cancan is a very loud and opulent film. That is fine if you like the music and setting, it's a bit more challenging when this type of oompapa music isn't quite your thing. Renoir thoroughly focuses on the song and dance here, which I quickly grew tired of. Not my kind of film, but if you love to wave around napkins at weddings, give it a shot.

The Rules of the Game

La Règle du Jeu
1939 / 110m - France
Comedy, Drama
The Rules of the Game poster

The Grand Illusion

La Grande Illusion
1937 / 113m - France
Drama, War
The Grand Illusion poster


1935 / 84m - France
Drama, Crime
Toni poster

An early Renoir. While in many ways very different from its US contemporaries, sound also steered French cinema towards dialogue-heavy films in the 30s. Rather than quippy romance though, the French quickly defaulted to poverty porn and drearier dramas. Point in case: Toni.

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Toni is a young Italian who moves to France to find work. He ends up working in a quarry and lands a roof over his head with Marie. Marie falls in love with him, but Toni has his eyes set on Josepha. His love dies out when she is raped and married off to her rapist to avoid a big scandal.

There's a ton of dialogue to wade through, especially during the first half of the film, which is a bother since the performances aren't great. The cinematography is dreary too, the drama is predictable and uninteresting and the few songs in between are terrible. Not a great film, cinema struggled in the 30s.

La Chienne

1931 / 95m - France
Drama, Crime
La Chienne poster

Early Renoir. Like most of these early 30s films, the ability to record sound shifted the focus from visual storytelling to dialogue-heavy stories. And so we get a film where characters are endlessly blabbering and chattering away, with a camera that mostly just registers people talking.

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Maurice is a simple guy who married the wrong woman. He isn't happy in his marriage and when Lulu, a young and seductive woman, comes along, he falls for her charms immediately. Lulu isn't too interested in Maurice, but to please her pimp Dédé, she hooks up with him anyway.

The performances aren't great, the cinematography is pretty dull and the plot is basic and predictable. Looking at the history of cinema it's obvious why and how this was made, but watching the film now it's hard to derive any fun from it. I'm not a big Renoir fan to begin with, this one certainly didn't help.

A Day in the Country

Partie de Campagne
1946 / 40m - France
A Day in the Country poster

Not sure what to make of this. Could be a romance, but is one rapey kiss really enough? Could be a love letter to the countryside, but was the grim black and white cinematography truly the best choice for that? And what about the farcical performances? At least it's short, but that's hardly a consolation when the rest of the film is beyond redemption.