CLASSIC OF THE WEEK: AUDREY HEPBURN FILMS, PART II

 

A VERY PEPPY GIRL

Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) sang it right : “you fill the air with smiles, for miles and miles and miles”. Many directors saw in Audrey Hepburn a great capacity for comedy. Paris when it Sizzles, or My Fair Lady are examples among others of how lively Hepburn was. There was in her a mixture of an enormous love for life as well as an attraction for melancholy. None of them saw it better that Stanley Donen and Billy Wilder.
FUNNY FACE(1957) by Stanley Donen
This was Hepburn and Donen’s first collaboration. Hepburn was very enthusiastic about making her first musical and working with the legendary Fred Astaire. Unlike in My Fair Lady, she did her own singing in the film. Her excitement is palpable in many scenes, especially the one where she performs her contemporary dance. That scene is quite revealing about Hepburn’s acting: the joy we see in her character, the love for life, the generosity that exudes from her imperfect and amateur dance… She manages to equal Astaire in grace and lightness, when she was not a professional dancer. All of these qualities have now become inseparable from Audrey Hepburn. And Donen captured all of them in one beautiful sequence.

You can find a great deal of funny moments: the girls chasing Jo to transform her into the perfect model, the soirée with the master of Empathicalism (a formidable Michel Auclair). The romance between Avery and Jo allows Donen to film some splendid moments, thanks to the help of Richard Avedon, on whom the character of Avery is based on. Avedon did a lot of photography for the film, especially the portrait Avery is developing when he sings “Funny Face”. These romantic scenes also allow Donen to reveal Hepburn’s melancholy. Remember the Anna Karenina photo shoot when it turns out that Jo doesn’t need fake tears, she’s already crying: Jo has fallen in love with Avery.

Donen saw how thin the line was between Hepburn’s joy and her sadness: at the end, the tears of sorrow transform into tears of happiness in a split second. And we have exactly the same performance from Hepburn at the end of Love in the Afternoon, which she shot back-to-back with Funny Face.

LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON (1957) by Billy Wilder
For his second collaboration with Hepburn, Wilder did not repeat the same mistake he did with Sabrina. He found her a partner who, although much older (a recurrent event in Hepburn’s career, she was always paired with much older man), was her match. And finding your match is the whole point of Love in the Afternoon. As always with Billy Wilder, there’s a lot of laughter involved: recurring gags (the band playing “Fascination” every night), idiotic characters (the foolish husband)… There’s also the traditional opposition between the philanderer and the young ingénue. There again Wilder offers Hepburn much more than he did in Sabrina. Ariane is neither passive nor subdued. She beats Frank Flannagan at his own game. She makes him believe that she too has hundreds of suitors and that, just like him, she doesn’t get attached.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5a8pXMe23I

Hepburn as always displays her subtlety. What she hides from Flannagan, she lets the viewer see: how hurt she is when he fails to recognize her, her emotion when he announces his departure… Wilder exploits her peppiness as well: her imagination goes wild as she invents more and more crazy lovers to make the one she loves jealous. Love in the Afternoon is a beautiful romantic comedy that is far from being traditional.
CHARADE(1963) by Stanley Donen
Who in all Hollywood had the same reputation for class, seduction and handsomeness as Hepburn? Many times, directors had tried to reunite Hepburn with Cary Grant. And Stanley Donen was the only one who succeeded, offering us one of the best onscreen couples ever. Donen escapes the traditional love story by turning the female character, Regina Lampert, into the predator. She’s the one who constantly pursues Cary Grant’s character with ardor. She tricks him into going into her bedroom at night and kisses him whenever she can. The suspense of the film is very well crafted, and the twists very amusing and witty. It allows Hepburn to play on different levels: fear, suspicion, love… Donen’s clever move is to make of Regina a strong woman, thus contrasting with Hepburn’s frailty. Regina is stubborn and very independent
. The thriller aspect of the film was so well done that when it was released, many people thought that Hitchcock had directed the film thus leading to the film’s famous nickname: “the best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made”.

Viddy Well and see you next week for the final part of Audrey Hepburn’s films.

E.C

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DOWNTON SIXBEY PART 1: episodes 1 and 2.

For those of you who are now familiar with the period drama Downton Abbey, you will not have to wait for next season of this successful British series to get a glimpse of the (sometimes soapy) atmosphere we love.

An excellent parody has been released from the Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night show. Downton Sixbey, entitled after Studio 6B hosting the show, is a 6 episode dose of delight. All the characters are brought back to life with an uncanny resemblance…
Without further ado, here are the 2 first episodes. Episode 1 sets the mood, episode 2 truly takes off with Whoopi Goldberg as a guest star. Remember her performance as Queen Elizabeth at the Oscars… period drama suits her well!
Enjoy,
Viddy Well

E.D

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THE NEWS!

‘The Silence of the Lambs’ is back… on TV

After more than ten years after the release of the film in 2001, NBC is to release Hannibal later this year, as a 13-episode series. The drama will be based on Thomas Harris’ novel The Silence of the Lambs, but will focus on Dr Lecter’s relationship with FBI profiler Will Graham, who will be played by Hugh Dancy. Lovely Clarice will not be a part of the adventure for this adapation. 
However, Lifetime is in preparation of its own series produced by MGM. Clarice will focus on Clarice Starling’s character, possibly on her childhood after her father got killed and her debut at the FBI academy. Who will replace oscar winner Jodie Foster for this role? We don’t know yet. Hopefully more news on casting will follow soon.
So, «Have the lambs stopped screaming, Clarice?» I guess not…

Harrison Ford in the Blade Runner’s sequel

Rumors have been confirmed, Ridley Scott wants Harrison Ford to be a part of the Blade Runner sequel, but not as the lead. The director reported to the U.K.’s Independent: ‘I don’t think it’ll be Harry (starring),… But I’ve got to have him in it somewhere. That’d be amusing.’
Les Misérables

New pictures from Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of Les Misérables, starring Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russel Crowe as Javert and Anne Hathaway as Fantine, Cosette’s mother, who is forced to work as a prostitute to provide for her daughter. The film is a musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, very much in the spirit of the stage musical apparently.
We have heard Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway sing before when they were hosting the Academy Awards, Russel Crowe however has yet to prove his musical talents!
Let us also hope that the film will be of the same quality as the director’s previously acclaimed film The King’s Speech.

‘Django Unchained’: more, more, more!

For those who intend to go see Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, here is a new incentive – if you ever needed one – to do so in hurry: The trailer for Tarantino’s Django Unchained will be released before the opening of the movie.
New images have also just been released:




Viddy Well, 


E.D.
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COSMOPOLIS: CRONENBERG RÉINVENTE LE VAMPIRE

David Cronenberg adapte Don DeLillo et livre un film d’une splendeur et d’une virtuosité incontestables. Je voudrais juste parler de ma vision du film sous un angle assez spécifique. Car ce qui m’a frappé en voyant Cosmopolis, c’est la manière dont Cronenberg réinvente le mythe du vampire et l’adapte au XXIème siècle.
 

« Un rat devint l’unité d’échange » : quand le capitalisme remplace la peste.
C’est à la peste que l’on doit le mythe du vampire. Des malades que l’on croyait morts étaient enterrés vivants, et finissaient par ressurgir de leurs tombes. Ces « morts-vivants » représentaient alors une menace terrible pour le reste de la population puisqu’ils portaient en eux la Mort Noire. C’est grâce à ses compagnons les rats, et à son sang contaminé, que Nosferatu dissémine la peste dans le film de Murnau, comme dans son remake par Herzog. Cosmopolis s’ouvre sur cette phrase : « Un rat devint l’unité d’échange ». La peste du XXIème siècle, c’est l’argent ; le capitalisme, ce spectre qui hante le monde. On le voit bien dans le film : les rats sont partout. On les brandit dans les lieux publics, provoquant la peur dans la foule. Les rats sont là, et ils vont semer la mort. Face à la peur des autres, Eric Packer, lui, rit. Car c’est lui l’ingénieur de cette épidémie, lui qui suit le cours de la bourse à chaque seconde, qui provoque cette cassure au sein de la population. Des émeutes éclatent : l’épidémie a bien commencé puisque l’anarchie s’installe. L’apocalypse peut désormais se produire. Des gens s’immolent, d’autres ont le visage défiguré par la haine. L’argent a contaminé tout le monde d’une manière ou d’une autre. La mort rôde : le président est en ville, on a peur d’un assassinat. Un rappeur est mort, ces obsèques font le tour de la ville. Et Eric, lui, attend la mort : chaque jour, dans sa limousine, son médecin vient l’examiner. Il ne cherche pas à vérifier qu’il est en bonne santé, bien au contraire : il attend avec impatience qu’on lui annonce une anomalie interne, quelque chose qui viendrait ronger ses entrailles. Eric veut en finir, mais ne sait comment faire puisqu’ il est déjà mort.
Dracula du XXIème siècle.
Robert Pattinson n’est pas là par hasard. Il est aux yeux du monde entier, l’incarnation du vampire. Alors Cronenberg le choisit pour incarner sa version du vampire moderne et permet ainsi à l’acteur de renaître de ses cendres. Si Edward Cullen est un faux vampire, Eric Packer, lui, en est bien un. Dans la ville, il circule dans sa limousine-cercueil, ses lunettes noires le protégeant d’un soleil néfaste. Il est blanc comme la mort. Son cœur bat d’un rythme trop régulier, trop artificiel. Il parle continuellement, analyse, explique chacun de ces gestes comme un robot. Eric n’a pas d’âme, pas de conscience. Le spectre, c’est lui. De sa fenêtre, il observe ce qui se passe au dehors et ne réagit pas. Ni contentement, ni culpabilité d’avoir mis la ville à feu et à sang. Lorsqu’il tue brusquement son garde du corps, Eric se teste : peut-il encore ressentir quelque chose d’humain ? La réponse est non, bien évidemment. La disparition de celui qui jusque là était son ombre ne lui fait aucun effet. Eric a l’instinct de l’animal, un instinct de tueur. Comme Dracula se nourrit de sang, Eric se nourrit du chaos. La violence fait partie de son monde, elle est inscrite au plus profond de lui-même. C’est pourquoi il parvient à lire l’histoire derrière l’œil torturé de son chauffeur. On se souvient de Joey, incarnation du mal, dans A History of Violence, qui avait ainsi martyrisé l’œil d’un homme avec un fil de fer. On le voit également dans sa relation au sexe, machinale, animale, qui ne lui procure aucun plaisir. Chaque femme qu’il rencontre – à l’exception de son épouse  – sera consommée. Mais aucune n’apporte sens ou sensation. Lorsqu’il couche avec sa garde du corps, Eric reste insatisfait et lui demande de lui donner une décharge avec son Taser. La douleur, la sienne, semble être tout ce qu’il lui reste. Eric rejoint également Dracula dans ce qu’il a d’aristocratique. Eric est riche, possède deux ascenseurs parmi un nombre incalculable d’objets. En bon aristocrate, il s’intéresse à l’art. Et veut acheter La Chapelle de Rothko. Toute La Chapelle dit-il. Et pourtant cette acquisition lui est refusée. Car Eric fait partie des damnés. Il est un vampire, un monstre. Sa chute est éternelle, et le paradis lui est refusé.
Le sang et la mort
C’est cette damnation, cette vie de mort éternelle qu’Eric cherche à fuir. Il roule continuellement dans sa limousine, espérant un jour arriver au cimetière. Très vite, il semble que seules deux choses peuvent l’amener au salut. La première : sa femme, Elise. La beauté pure de Sarah Gadon est éloquente : cette femme se refuse aux choses terrestres. Elle semble jeûner quand Eric dévore, se réfugie dans une bibliothèque pleine de vieux livres quand Eric a les yeux rivés sur ses écrans. Elise, comme la Mina de Dracula, représente l’innocence incorruptible. Et ce à quoi Eric ne pourra jamais accéder. La scène de la bibliothèque est en ce sens prodigieuse. Alors que le monde mis en scène par Cronenberg est un monde de science-fiction aux couleurs sombres et froides, le réalisateur nous propulse soudainement dans le monde d’autrefois, où la littérature est à l’honneur. Les couleurs y sont chaudes et rassurantes. Elise paraît enfin à sa place tandis qu’Eric se démarque par son allure de businessman. Elise n’est donc pas la solution, il faudra chercher ailleurs.
Eric ne s’éveille réellement que lorsque la menace contre lui se fait plus précise. Il sait que la mort vient, et souhaite aller à sa rencontre. Exit le garde du corps, qui aurait tué l’assassin. Exit l’arme monstrueuse du futur : Eric ne fera mine de se défendre qu’avec un vieux pistolet. Alors vient le face à face avec son Van Helsing : Benno Levin. La confrontation, qui dure 20 minutes, est éblouissante. Les deux personnages philosophent sur ce qui fait l’humain et ce qui crée la violence. Les deux acteurs livrent des performances inoubliables. Paul Giamatti crée un personnage à l’humanité déchirante et à la folie inquiétante. Benno, lui aussi, est contaminé (comme le suggère la serviette qu’il garde en permanence sur la tête). Et pour sur
vivre, pour se sauver, il doit tuer l’origine du mal, le spectre qui hante le monde, le capitalisme : Eric Packer. Robert Pattison est subjuguant de justesse. Après une première partie robotique, il nous dévoile l’humanité du monstre. Comme on empale et décapite un vampire pour l’exterminer, il faut que la mort de Packer, et son retour à l’humanité, passe par la violence physique. Afin d’en être certain, Packer se tire une balle dans la main, hurle de douleur. Le voilà à nouveau homme et mortel. Sa main trouée, comme un stigmate. « The Blood is the Life » : phrase à deux sens. Le sang est la mort de l’homme et la vie du vampire. Mais le sang fait aussi partie de l’imagerie chrétienne : c’est par son sang que le Christ apporte le salut. C’est le sang du Christ que le chrétien boit lors de l’Eucharistie. Dracula, véritable antéchrist, doit aussi verser son sang pour que l’humanité survive. Le sang que doit verser Packer, et que l’on ne verra pas, lui permet d’obtenir ce qu’il a si longuement cherché : la mort, et à travers elle, son humanité. La dernière image du film est celle d’Eric, les yeux ouverts, les larmes coulant sur son visage. Des larmes de bonheur, car il n’a plus à attendre. La mort, « clarté vibrante de [son] horizon noir », est là. 
Viddy Well.
E.C

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PALMARÈS DU FESTIVAL DE CANNES 2012

Voici le palmarès du jury du Festival de Cannes, présidé par Nanni Moretti.

Prix du court-métrage: Sessiz-Be Deng de  L. Rezan Yesilbas

Caméra d’Or: Beasts of the Southern Wild de Benh Zeitlin

Prix du Jury: The Angels’ Share, de Ken Loach

Prix du scénario: Aù delà des collines de Cristian Mungiu

Prix de la mise en scène: Post Tenebras Lux, Carlos Reygadas

Prix d’interprétation masculine: Mads Mikkelsen pour La Chasse de Thomas Vinterberg

Prix d’interprétation féminine: Cosmina Stratan et Cristina Flutur pour Au-delà des collines de Cristian Mungiu.

Grand Prix: Reality de Matteo Garrone

Palme d’Or: Amour de Michael Haneke

Heureusement que la palme est allée à Michael Haneke. Le reste me laisse un peu perplexe. J’aurais aimé un prix pour Thomas Bidegain, scénariste de De Rouille et d’Os de Jaques Audiard. Et un prix important à l’incompris Cosmopolis de David Cronenberg. Que le jury n’ait pas remis un double prix d’interprétation à Jean-Louis Trintignant et Emmanuelle Riva me semble assez honteux. Leur remettre un prix en les distinguant séparément aurait marqué l’histoire.

Palmarès décevant, en ce qui me concerne. Heureusement que la palme a été décernée à un aussi grand cinéaste.

Viddy Well

E.C

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ON THE ROAD… Looking for Dean Moriarty.


It was with great anticipation that most of us rushed to the theater to see Kerouac’s classic brought to the screen. And as the first images appeared along with Sam Riley’s voiceover, the hope that it would meet our expectations hung still. Does the movie have it?
But soon the realization that there was something lacking from the succession of first sequences came as a bold evidence. What of the beat? What of the fever? There is no fleeting madness in this form, especially in the first part of the film. While the content of the book is there, the spirit is lacking. Walter Salles delivers a movie that is faithful to his body of work with well-established shots and matching cinematography, but which distances itself from Jack Karouac’s masterpiece.
Many pointed at the inadaptability of the book in terms of structure, saying that it is inherently literary and does not work cinematically. And truly, the text is a constant back and forth between places, with inumerable flashbacks, no beginning, no middle nor end as such, no climax, but a force that drives the story forward: that of Kerouac’s, who wrote his story in one breath, in the incredibly short and quite extraordinary amount of time of three weeks. The structure of the novel mainly revolves around the importance of Dean Moriarty’s character, a central figure that turns out to be greatly altered in the film.
Dean is wild, Dean drinks, he sleeps with men and women, Dean is on drugs for fun. Dean says “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I do all these dumb things; think in all these distored ways“. But we never really see it. Why does he do it? Why is everyone so fascinated with him? Kerouac’s Dean is on the edge of everything, on the edge of reason, he mumbles his rambling thoughts, he is feverish even when he is not on drugs, he is looking for a truth through experience, he is looking for it, a meaning for life, for his existence. He looks for it through sex, drugs, jazz, travel, passionate friendship, and cruel distanciation from others. But unlike in the film, those are not the end, they are vessels for Dean’s quest for truth. And he fascinates everyone because it seems that sometimes, when he is being Dean Moriarty, he sees it, he sees a glimpse of truth and they are fascinated by the possibility that Dean Moriarty, that crazy, restless character, might actually be right. And that is why they follow him: because they too, want to experience it. Dean Moriarty is the force that pulls the narrative forward, he makes Sal Paradise leave and explore. In the movie, Dean Moriarty is just wandering aimlessly, he has no it, no purpose.

The other characters however are portrayed quite faithfully: Kirsten Dunst as sweet Camille, Sam Riley’s voice highlights the beauty of the text, Tom Sturridge as Carlo Marx turns out to be an interesting revelation, adding a depth to his character that we find lacking in others. Kristen Stewart as a 16-year old Marylou proves surprisingly believable in this difficult part. She is probably the one that conveys the best the ambivalence of her feelings towards Dean, between fascination and hatred, with one beautiful shot of her in the car on the verge of crying. Garrett Hedlund only reaches the potential his character could have had from the sequences in Mexico to the very end. The script did not allow the Dean Moriarty in him to reveal himself sooner. 
The «unsaid» dimension of the novel is absent. The silence between the lines, what Kerouac voluntarily skips, the fascination Sal Paradise has for Dean, the subtext of homosexuality, their common quest for the loss of their father – everything is visually or verbally explicit in the film. It could have been otherwise. 
Dean Moriarty is no longer the backbone to the structure in the film while he carried the spirit of this inspiring book. It is perhaps why in the end it feels so right when Sal Paradise starts typing: «I first met Dean not long after my father died». A sentence that lingers long after the movie ends, along with Sam Riley’s voiceover when he utters the almost mystical last words: «Dean Moriarty, Dean Moriarty, Dean Mo-ri-arty». 

Viddy Well, 

E.D.

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Brothers & Sisters: Are they? Really??

  

Now that we’ve talked about actors who look so much alike they could play brothers and sisters in films, let’s see some real brothers and sisters who do not!

You can notice common traits in some of these siblings, but still, they look really different. In some cases, it’s just really tough to believe that they are related! But in all cases (all but one – or two? – I’ll let you find out which), these actors are extremely talented and have had or still have amazing careers.

SHIRLEY MACLAINE & WARREN BEATTY

RIVER & JOAQUIN PHOENIX

      

BEN & CASEY AFFLECK

Ben Affleck and Casey Affleck - 'Gone baby Gone' - Affleck Brothers Photocall

FRANÇOISE DORLÉAC & CATHERINE DENEUVE

RALPH & JOSEPH FIENNES

Viddy Well!
E.C

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THE MUSICAL POST: MOTHER INDIA

It’s hard to think of musical films without mentioning Indian cinema. As a homage to Bollywood and their forever musical movies, here is the all time classic Mother India, directed by Mehboob Khan. It was the first Indian film to be nominated at the Oscars.
In this 1957 melodrama starring Nargis, Sunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar, a woman struck by poverty has to raise her children alone, despite the hardships cast by an evil moneylander. After an accident, her invalid husband decides to leave to allow her to marry again. In this video, she goes to the city to look for him.
Not the most cheerful tune but by far the one that struck me the most in this epic film.The singing voice, however, as it was the custom in Bollywood, does not belong to the leading actress but to someone else: playback singer Lata Mangeshka.
So enjoy the clip,
and Viddy Well,
E.D.
P.S.: I always wondered if the camels passing by in the background were planned as part of the shot…

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THE NEWS



James McAvoy will star alongside Jessica Chastain in a double-feature film project produced by Myriad Pictures, where a married couple living in New York deals with a life-altering experience. The originality of the project seems to stand in its point of view: the first one The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him will adopt the husband’s point of view (James McAvoy), and the second one The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her, the wife’s (Jessica Chastain).

After The Artist, The Weinstein Company just bought another French film: Haute Cuisine, from Wild Bunch. The comedy stars French actress Catherine Frot and novelist Jean D’Ormesson, and is about a private chef who works for the former French president François Mittérand.



Todd Field, director of Little Children is finally back with a movie titled The Creed of Violence and produced by Cross Creek Pictures. Based on a novel by Boston Teran, the story takes place during the Mexican Revolution of 1910. The shooting should start in 2013.




Gary Oldman, the man who can play anything, will be playing one of the leads in a RoboCop remake by Jose Padilha. After working for the British government in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Gary Oldman is now to play the scientist who creates RoboCop, played by Joel Kinnaman. Production should start in August 2013.

Ethan Hawke returns with Predestination. He previously worked with directors Michael and Peter Spierig on Daybreakers. Sony just acquired the domestic rights for the movie. The story is about a time traveling agency which prevents future violent crimes.

Does this sound a bit like Minority Report? Hopefully not, I still have hopes to see Ethan Hawke in a truly great role.

Viddy Well, 

E.D.
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POLANSKI FILME PRADA

C’est lors de la projection de son magnifique Tess à Cannes que Roman Polanski a dévoilé sa charmante publicité pour la marque de luxe Prada. Au lieu d’une simple pub, c’est un véritable court-métrage que l’on a découvert. Il est fascinant de voir à quel point Polanski parvient à insérer son univers dans n’importe quel sujet, sous n’importe quelle forme… On retrouve Sir Ben Kingsley, un habitué, et Helena Bonham Carter, une nouvelle venue. 


Le court-métrage rappelle avec force Le Locataire, autre chef-d’oeuvre du réalisateur, à travers le personnage de ce psychanalyste plus attiré par le manteau de sa patiente que par sa patiente elle-même… Bonham Carter, elle, possède toutes les composantes d’un personnage polanskien: la solitude et la paranoïa. Bref, un vrai petit bijou. 


Viddy Well!


E.C

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