In a boys’ boarding school in provincial France a bullying and domineering headmaster, Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse) is loathed by the boys’, the teaching staff, and his wife Christina (Vera Clouzot). The science and maths teacher is Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret) who until recently has been having an affair with Michel. The fragile wife and willful mistress form an alliance and hatch an elaborate plan to murder Michel and get rid of his body. But then things start to appear and disappear and nothing is as it seems – are they going mad?
In 2018 I asked my daughter for a list of films that she thought everyone should see, it was a lovely eclectic list that covered different genres, nationalities and decades. I learnt a lot about cinema and watched some films I would never have chosen myself. This year she’s given me a list of 12 films, each chosen for its specific month:
January: Diabolique (France, 1955)
A psychological horror/thriller directed by Henri-Georges Clouzet
February: The Arbor (UK, 2010)
A documentary with fictional elements that tells the story of playwright Andrea Dunbar and her life growing up on a Bradford housing estate. Directed by Clio Barnard.
March: Paris, Texas (USA, 1984)
Directed by Wim Wenders, ‘A tale of loss, redemption and the ties that bind a family together.’
April: Our Little Sister (Japan, 2015)
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian calls this ‘A touching but unsentimental take on sisterly love.’
May: Cleo From 5 to 7 (France, 1962)
What to do when you have 2 hours to spare in Paris. Directed by Agnès Varda.
June: Elephant (USA, 2003)
A drama that chronicles the events surrounding a school shooting directed by Gus Van Sant.
July: Persepolis (Iran, 2007)
Written and directed by Marjane Satrapi, this animated film is based on her autobiographical graphic novel.
August: Do The Right Thing (USA 1989)
A comedy drama produced, written and directed by Spike Lee, following one scorchingly hot day in Brooklyn.
September: The Headless Woman (Argentina, 2008)
Psychological thriller directed and written by Lucrecia Martel.
October: Poetry (South Korea, 2010)
Written and directed by Lee Chang-dong, a women in her 60’s develops an interest in poetry while struggling with Alzheimers and her grandson.
November: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie (France/Spain 1972)
A surrealist fantasy drama directed by Luis Buñuel.
December: The Big City (India, 1963)
Directed by Satyajit Ray, life changes for a middle-class women from a conservative family in Calcutta when she starts working as a saleswomen.
At first glance the one I’m most looking forward to is Our Little Sister, because the Japanese film I watched in the previous list Late Spring, was so beautiful. But who knows, a real surprise of 2018’s list was M, Fritz-Lang’s 1931 film about the hunt for a serial child killer. . .