La nuit de Varennes (1982, Ettore Scola)

screened Thursday, January 18, 2007 on VHS in Brooklyn, NY IMDbHanna Schygulla's lascivious looks were pretty much the highlight for me in this stuffy, overdressed take on the French Revolution. Director Ettore Scola carries a fair amount of the humanist warmth he stoked in A Special Day, though on a less intimate scale -- a carriageful of aristocrats flees Paris following the exiled King and Queen through an elaborate fresco of 18th century period sets. Marcello Mastroianni caters to contemporary middlebrow tastes making an appearance as an aged, mellowed out Casanova, whose regales of sexual exploits past lets the audience indulge in a modicum vicarious perversity not unlike Casanova's fellow passengers. At least that's more interesting than the extended conversation about the pros and cons of monarchy and revolution written through a 20th century filter. It all feels pretty predetermined, but it's handsomely mounted and fairly harmless.