‘Samba’ reminds viewers what it means to be human

From left, actor Omar Sy and directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano discuss a scene on the set of "Samba." (Broad Green Pictures/David Koskas)

While illegal immigration grabs political headlines in the United States, it is a major global human and social concern for those caught between borders while escaping war and poverty to seek a better life. The 2013 U.S. film "A Better Life" took a sensitive look at a Mexican father and son in Los Angeles. Now, French filmmakers turn a light on their county's reality in the thoroughly engaging film "Samba."Samba (Omar Sy) is an undocumented immigrant from Senegal who lives with his uncle in … [Read more...]

‘Diplomacy’ and the artist’s imagination


It is August 1944. The aging Nazi Général von Choltitz (Niels Arestrup) has been posted to Paris after rising through the ranks during the war and killing thousands of Jews in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The Allies have landed on the French coast and are a couple of days away from Paris. Hitler has commanded von Choltitz to destroy the city. Bombs crash in the distance. Alone in his luxurious hotel room, von Choltitz is shocked when a man appears out of nowhere and uses a secret passage the Nazis never d … [Read more...]

There’s Something in the Air (“Après mai”)


This French film won Best Screenplay at the 2012 Venice Film Festival, but I am not quite sure why. It tells the personal story of the filmmaker Olivier Assayas, a kind of semi-autobiography. It starts off well enough in a high school classroom in Paris 1971, when a teacher reads from Blaise Pascal: "Between us and Heaven or Hell there is only life, which is the frailest thing in the world."From then on, the film follows the main character, Gilles (Clément Métayer), an aspiring artist who w … [Read more...]