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Claire Denis' "35 Shots of Rum"

\, The Cinema Guild

Spotlight: Claire Denis retrospective

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT
  • Star Tribune
  • October 26, 2012 - 8:46 AM

French director Claire Denis has won an ardent coterie of admirers for moving gracefully between formats and among, or outside of, established genres (from family drama to angst-ridden horror, crime story to politically tinged romance). An elastic, almost unclassifiable filmmaker, Denis' portraits of a modern, multicultural France reflect her African upbringing as the child of a French diplomat. With her multi-ethnic stock company of actors and minimal reliance on traditional exposition, Denis has created a world all her own. She's the subject of a seven-film retrospective and Regis Dialogue at Walker Art Center beginning Wednesday. A personal favorite is "35 Shots of Rum" (★★★, in subtitled French, presented free, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2). It's a calm celebration of the kind of life we rarely see in feature films: the normal kind. Denis focuses on a quartet of attractive characters living in a pleasant apartment block near Paris. Between them, they experience love in all its varieties: parent-child, unrequited, flirtatious, the deep bond between colleagues, yearning for distant and deceased relations. Without much plot or dialogue, Denis tells us volumes about her characters. Agnes Godard's stunning cinematography gives the deceptively simple tale a luscious gloss. Film journalist Kent Jones interviews Denis at 8 p.m. on Nov. 17 ($15-$20.) (Oct 30-Nov. 18, $7-$9 for single films, $45 for the entire series and dialogue, Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-375-7600, walkerart.org.)

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