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Review: Bertrand Tavernier is an expert guide for ‘My Journey Through French Cinema’

Maurice Ronet, as Julien Tavernier in Louis Malle’s “Elevator to the Gallows.” (1961) Credit: Rialt
The 1961 film “Elevator to the Gallows,” with Maurice Ronet, is featured in the documentary “My Journey Through French Cinema.”
(Rialto Pictures)
Film Critic

Few people know as much about French film as 76-year-old Bertrand Tavernier, now a celebrated director but previously a critic, a publicist and a lifelong devotee of the art. So it stands to reason that his new film, “My Journey Through French Cinema,” is not to be missed.

This is a passionate, opinionated, drop-dead fascinating documentary essay about his country’s film history put together by a clear-eyed enthusiast who was born to tell the tale.

Focused, articulate, fairly bristling with information and insights, Tavernier not only has everyone’s work at his fingertips, his fervor is infectious, making you want to revisit those films you know and investigate those that are unfamiliar.

With himself as narrator and including clips from dozens and dozens of films from 25 different directors, plus archival interviews, Tavernier has no trouble filling “Journey’s” 3¼-hour running time. Final week at the Laemmle Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, (310) 478-0401. www.laemmle.com

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kenneth.turan@latimes.com

@KennethTuran

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