Cinephile alert: 'Rendezvous with French Cinema'

The Film Society of Lincoln Center turns its attention to France this week, as the Walter Reade Theater and IFC Center are taken over by the annual “Rendezvous with French Cinema” overview of the best in current Gallic fare, which runs through Sunday. For adventurous filmgoers, here are a few of our picks:

Farewell: Director Christian Carion’s rendition of a little known, major espionage case involving a KGB officer and a French engineer in the Soviet Union circa the early '80s is filled with the twists, turns and grand scale of epics like “Reds,” the sort Hollywood rarely makes anymore. With a story that spans continents — incorporating Fred Ward as a bemused Ronald Reagan — a compelling rendition of Cold War iconography and solid, grounded performances from vets Emir Kusturica and Guillaume Canet as the leads, the film works as an old-fashioned entertainment in the best sense.

Rapt: Writer-director Lucas Belvaux’s drama stars Yvan Attal as a wealthy CEO kidnapped and subjected to physical and psychological torture as his family and colleagues weigh paying a gargantuan ransom. It’s smart, tight filmmaking without gross sensationalizing, a clearheaded depiction of the ways such a trauma could actually unfold and the personal revelations that might be formed out of it.

OSS 117: Lost in Rio: The second film in director Michel Hazanavicius’ revival of the “OSS 117” series — which depicts the continuing misadventures of a French “Austin Powers” — “Lost in Rio” enthusiastically resurrects a wealth of clichés and cinematic archetypes to tell the story of secret agent Hubert Bonissuer de La Bath’s misadventures in Brazil, circa 1967. It’s fun and wholly inconsequential, a nice change of pace imbued with some big laughs.
 

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