News Column

Movie spotlight: "La Maison de la Radio

October 31, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 31--This might just be the ultimate cine-snob movie: a documentary about French public broadcasting. Death by ennui, right? Maybe not. The movie (??? out of four stars, unrated, in subtitled French) shows us the workaday realities that go into putting all those delicately cadenced voices on the air. Nicolas Philbert's film drops us into a day in the life of Radio France, the Paris-based counterpart of NPR or the BBC. Even without the benefit of recognizing the presumably well-known personalities on view, the film serves up some delightful episodes. There's an author interview with a female novelist who is clearly infatuated with the ruggedly handsome, intellectually astute host. A newsroom huddle grapples with how to explain the Justin Bieber phenomenon. Awkward silence. They decide to ask a sociologist, "a left-wing one," which someone notes is redundant. There are classical music rehearsals, a broadcast by a blind host reading her script in Braille, hip-hop battles, a rip-roaring xylophone trio, news reports of serious import and daffy time-fillers. If you've ever wondered how the day's top stories are chosen at your favorite news source, check out the sequence of two editors cracking up over the funny ways people died that day. This is a portrait of a group of people happy in their work. That in itself makes the film a treat. (Lagoon.)

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(c)2013 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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