Showing posts with label cinema. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cinema. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Movie I won't need to watch

I'm always pleased to hear about a movie that I won't need to watch. News of that kind saves me time and money, and enables me to stay in my delightful home in the hills, instead of feeling obliged to take a trip into the city. Over recent years, I've rarely felt obliged to step into town to see a movie... and I've surely missed next to nothing. The most reassuring situation is when in-depth TV shows prove beyond beyond all possible doubt that I'm perfectly free to avoid such-and-such a movie, with no feelings whatsoever of shame. That is exactly what has happened in the case of a new movie featuring Jean Dujardin and Virginie Efira: Un homme à la hauteur (An Elevated Gentleman).

It's a fashionable girl-meets-boy film with a small hitch: the girl discovers that her nice fellow is a dwarf. The entire movie, if I understand correctly, is a startling demonstration of all the ingenious cinematographic tricks that enable the lady and her gentleman to coexist as if they were an ordinary couple, with a certain difference in size. You should know now that this movie will surely thrill you... provided that you're generally thrilled by that kind of movie.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bluegrass music in Belgian movie

The Texan singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt [1944-1997] gave the world a fabulous song, If I needed you, which used to be sung by Joan Baez.

It is presented here by the Flemish singer/actress Veerle Baetans accompanied by the writer/actor Johan Heldenbergh.

If I needed you
Would you come to me,
Would you come to me,
And ease my pain? 
If you needed me
I would come to you
I'd swim the seas
For to ease your pain

In the night forlorn
The morning's born
And the morning shines
With the lights of love
You will miss sunrise
If you close your eyes
That would break
My heart in two

The lady's with me now
Since I showed her how
To lay her lily
Hand in mine
Loop and lil agree
She's a sight to see
And a treasure for
The poor to find

Bluegrass music played a central role in the splendid movie whose English title is The Broken Circle Breakdown (in French, Alabama Monroe], directed by the Flemish producer/screenwriter Felix Van Groeningen.

I've often expressed my admiration of the great Belgian singer Jacques Brel [1929-1978], whom I've always looked upon as one of the major vocal artists of all time. In the case of the Flemish-speaking individuals behind the Alabama Monroe phenomenon, I'm astounded by the extent to which they've successfully assimilated and then beautifully enhanced a musical culture that would appear to be so different to that of their "flat country".

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rich role

At first sight, this sounds a bit like a joke. A rich joke. In a future movie, the role of the aging French female billionaire Liliane Bettencourt would be played by the great male actor Jean Rochefort.

Superficially, I can't see how this could be done convincingly, since Madame Bettencourt has a protruding broad and short lower face like a Cro-Magnon, whereas Rochefort looks like a lean-faced British lord. But makeup (with Oréal products, of course) might do the trick in creating an illusion of similarity. Ever since James Cameron's Avatar, we know that anything is possible.

BREAKING NEWS: The French legal system has just announced that it intends to examine a request by Françoise Meyers-Bettencourt to have her mother placed in the care and supervision of a guardian. Jeez, I wish I had so much money that my daughter would seek to take out a court order preventing me from spending it on wine, women and song… or rather—as they say nowadays—on beer and sex and drugs and rock-and-roll. No, I'm joking. I prefer by far being penniless yet sufficiently lucid to have found a nasty way of describing (above) the lovely face of that nice old lady. It goes without saying that, if the future caretaker of Madame Oréal were to ask me to remove my Cro-Magnon remark, I would gladly do so immediately... without even insisting upon a small cash fee (which could be paid into my account out in Australia).

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Something tells me that this US movie mess is likely to be a gigantic success in Australia this summer.

The final scene in the trailer—where the monster snaps up a bikini-clad bungee-jumper—is superb. It reminded me of fly-fishing for trout here on the Bourne.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I've always imagined naively that the great Isabelle Adjani would be the ideal French actress to play the role of Abelone in my recently-completed movie adaptation of a celebrated novel of Rainer Maria Rilke: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. That's to say, I've been duped deliciously into thinking that this 54-year-old lady could indeed play the role of an Abelone who's more like half that age. That's the magic of Adjani: she's ageless... like the Germanic nymph Ondine in the play by Jean Giraudoux, in which the presence of Adjani mesmerized me back in 1974.

A year ago, I started a second blog, French Leaves, focussed upon French literary themes. Lazily, I got no further than an article about Adjani playing the role of a distraught school teacher [display]. This role has just earned her the César award for best actress.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Making a movie about a poet

For ages, I've imagined the idea of creating a movie adaptation of an enigmatic and beautiful book by Rainer Maria Rilke with a curious title: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. In my article of 19 June 2009 entitled Work in progress [display], I described my project in this domain. Since the end of summer, when I finally got around to completing a French-language movie script, I have imagined naively that I would rapidly encounter individuals who would be delighted to collaborate with me on this project, or to at least encourage me in various ways. Sadly, this has not been the case. Certainly, Christine has helped me greatly with the technical task of producing decent French, but she remains essentially opposed, I believe (for reasons that I can vaguely fathom), to the very idea that Rilke's novel should or could be brought to the screen.

I was reassured to learn that the New Zealand Academy Award winning cinéaste Jane Campion has created a movie about the English poet John Keats [1795-1821].

Here's the trailer:

Jane Campion explained to a journalist: "When I was blocked by such-and-such a situation, I asked my fifteen-year-old daughter Alice for advice. She is sensitive and intelligent, and she's not afraid of expressing her emotions and her sentiments. That spontaneity, that freshness and that naturalness were most useful for me."

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to develop my script on Malte in such a sympathetic environment. And yet I'm persuaded that Rilke and his hero Malte are vastly more interesting personages than Keats, particularly from a cinematographic viewpoint. I remain confident. We'll see...

French Lady Chatterley

I spent the evening of January 1 watching, on TV, the full-length version (2 hours 40 minutes) of a splendid French movie produced in 2006: Lady Chatterley and the Man in the Woods. It's a cinematographic adaptation, by the French director Pascale Ferran, of the second version of D H Lawrence's famous novel, whose third version is better known as Lady Chatterley's Lover.

The role of Lady Chatterley is played exquisitely by Marina Hands, daughter of the British stage director Terry Hands and the French actress Ludmila Mikaël.

A little-known French stage actor, Jean-Louis Coulloc'h, plays the role of Parkin, the virile man in the woods. His performance is perfectly solemn and low-key, as befits this solitary personage who says little but senses profoundly everything around him.

As soon as the relationship between the lady and the lord's employee started to warm up physically, I wondered how Pascale Ferran was going to handle the explicit sexual scenes and language that had once shocked prudish English society in Lawrence's notorious novel. Well, I soon discovered that everything has been handled superbly, in a style of Garden-of-Eden innocence. And, when heavy rain pours down upon Eden, Adam and Eve are not afraid of getting wet.

When the movie first came out, in 2006, a critic said: "Every frame of the film seems alive with a sensuality that is both wild and intelligent." For a movie based upon the work of an English novelist, I would say that Pascale Ferran's film is astoundingly French. But was D H Lawrence really a typical English novelist? Of course not. He was a sensitive author of the world in the style of James Joyce and Lawrence Durrell. Nevertheless, the harsh class-conscious sentiments expressed by Lord Chatterley reflect faithfully the political setting of early 20th-century Georgian England. But the first two versions of Lawrence's novel, entitled simply Lady Chatterley, are not as tediously oriented towards society and politics as the third version, entitled Lady Chatterley's Lover. Personally, as a reader, I've always preferred this excellent French translation of the initial version, prefaced by the author's widow, Frieda Lawrence.

Talking about D H Lawrence, I wonder if many of my compatriots are aware that, in 1922, this great writer actually spent a few months out in the New South Wales seaside suburb of Thirroul, near Wollongong. This experience resulted in a plausible political novel entitled Kangaroo, published in 1923... which, in spite of its title, has nothing to do with bush marsupials.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Crime and punishment

Dostoevsky's novel has nothing to do with the crime of an adult male's sexual encounter with a 13-year-old girl, and the punishment that should be meted out, in a law-abiding society, to the offender. Certain observers consider that a crime of this kind was apparently committed, three decades ago, by Roman Polanski. And Californian "justice" has finally used archaic under-the-belt tactics, in collusion with Switzerland (which has always been a "neutral nation", as we all know), to catch up with him. That's to say, they caught this distinguished gentleman in a trap, as if he were a wild beast.

If there's a trial of Polanski, we'll surely learn all the explicit details about what the hell his young "victim" was doing, with her naked ass posed in a Hollywood jacuzzi in the company of the "predator". Was she just strolling around in the neighborhood when she suddenly decided to take a bath? Talk about laughing out loud...

At a technical level, brilliant highly-paid lawyers will soon be supplying the planet's media with juicy details about the technical process of sodomizing an unwilling girl at the deep end of a jacuzzi. Indeed, there's a certain amount of explaining to be done at that bathtub level. Meanwhile, wise parents should prevent their 13-year-old daughters from ever watching a Polanski cinematographic masterpiece such as Tess, because you never know what ignominious things might happen when the poor child's back is turned.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Thoughts that should just go away

When I was a child, I was terribly marked [in an interior way, because I've never mentioned this anecdote up until today] by an image of horror related to a news item. Two young kids had come upon a discarded refrigerator in a municipal dump. They scrambled inside. The door shut. And they suffocated to death.

In our house at Grafton, we had one of these self-shutting refrigerators. I came to hate it. Even today, more than half a century later, I'm terrified when I discover, for example, a village butcher's shop in which the unwitting butcher could shut himself into a cold room and freeze to death. On the other hand, I hasten to relativize what I'm saying, in that I've never developed any abnormal tendency towards claustrophobia. But I've never been tempted to go for a ride in a submarine or a bathyscaph, and I have no desire to get involved in the sport of speleology, which delights some of my Choranche neighbors.

In another domain, as a child, I was alarmed at the thought that kids my own age, suffering from polio, might be expected to survive in a newly-invented respiratory device named an iron lung. Here's a photo [circa 1953] of an entire ward of such gadgets in an American hospital:

In a related realm, I found it hard to fathom [no pun intended] that certain individuals would wish to earn their living by donning a diving bell, such as this one in my hometown museum in Grafton:

No, in general, I prefer to spend my time with my head out in the open air... which explains why I like living here at Gamone.

Now, why am I saying all this? Well, ten years ago, the French intellectual world was stunned by the publication of an autobiography by a 46-year-old man about town [of the kind that French media people would now refer to, in crazy English, as a people] named Jean-Dominique Bauby.

Bauby's 140-page book informs us that he was struck down on 8 December 1995, in an abrupt and totally unexpected manner, by a cardiovascular accident. When he woke up in hospital, he was terrified to find himself a victim of a mysterious condition referred to as LIS [locked-in syndrome]. What this meant is that Bauby, while totally conscious of his situation and predicament, could no longer communicate with the outside world. Happily [the adverb is unseemly], Bauby's body retained a single functioning element: his left eye. He could flap his eyelids like the wings of a tiny but beautiful butterfly. Over a period of two months, with the help of a literary Florence Nightingale named Claude Mendibil, Bauby used the open/closed eyelid movements of this left eye as a binary semaphore device enabling him to transcribe his tale onto paper. Of an afternoon, Bauby's female alter-ego would read out aloud to her literary partner: the daily press, or even Zola.

In November 1996, Claude Mendibil read out to Jean-Dô (as he was called affectionately) the final version of their typescript. Reaction of a tired but contented Bauby: "I could never have written another line." The best-seller was born. And Jean-Dô disappeared into the diving bell of Eternity exactly four days after its publication.

Since then, his book has appeared in English. And today, a film on the awesome drama of Jean-Dominique Bauby is being shown at Cannes.

I was wrong in thinking, once upon a childhood time, that there are thoughts that should simply go away. In thinking of such unthinkable thoughts, we unlock the locked-in world. In writing about the unwritable, we achieve, not only art and enlightenment from anguish, but profound freedom.