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Case Number 19742: Small Claims Court

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L'Origine De La Tendresse And Other Tales

UniFrance // 1999 // 97 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // September 23rd, 2010

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All Rise...

Next time he takes a subway, Appellate Judge James A. Stewart will be underlining words in a book.

The Charge

"The selection reflects the diversity of the visions of contemporary French filmmakers and the people of France."

The Case

You might not be able to get anywhere near a croque monsieur, but The World According to Shorts, a short film DVD series, went to France and brought you back a T-shirt. No, actually they found six short films from French directors for their latest collection, L'Origine de la Tendresse and Other Tales:

Penpusher (Gatte-Papier)
On the Metro, he underlines words in a book and she watches. Are they communicating? This short dialogue-free film is amusing. (8 minutes)

My Mother, Story of an Immigration (Ma mére, histoire d'une immigration)
The film is simple, black-and-white photos with narration, but Felipe Canales' portrait of her mother, an immigrant from Algiers, is rich with detail, such as the way her mother used chickpeas as a tool to get to the right Metro stop. This one is the only full-frame short in the collection. (15 minutes)

One Voice, One Vote (Je Suis Une Voix)
In animation, Martine tells how a strike was the key to her political activism while Arnaud notes that "the songs had little meaning for me" at protests. It's oddly reminiscent of Creature Comforts, but it's not edited for laughs. It's an interesting peek at the French zeitgeist before their 2007 presidential election. (13 minutes)

The Last Day (La Dernière Journée)
The last three blacksmiths on a power hammer at Brest talk about their work and how they came to it. It's an interesting, slightly sad, slice of French life. (12 minutes)

L'Origine de la Tendresse
It's a portrait of a lonely woman, albeit one that includes a one-night stand and the occasional chance to connect. There's a tendency to linger on the details of her unexciting life, as when she slowly pushes spaghetti into a pot or the water drips when she washes dishes. You'll quickly recognize that the routine tasks of modern life are captured well, but it's up to you to decide whether that's a good thing. It's the main feature in this collection, and it's the weakest. (32 minutes)

If you have the right twisted sense of humor, you'll leave this collection with a laugh. The live lobsters a wife brings home for dinner have the run of the house until she gets really desperate and violent, complete with a touch of horror-movie imagery with a lighted candle. (14 minutes)

The picture and sound quality is fairly good, considering the low budgets of the shorts. There are no extras; text features or other background on the directors would have been helpful.

If you're interested in world film samplers, this is worth a rental. I was ambivalent about L'Origine de la Tendresse, but the rest of the collection makes up for that.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 86

Perp Profile

Studio: UniFrance
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
• English
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Foreign
• Independent
• Short Films

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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