mercoledì 24 febbraio 2010

Le détail qui tue...

While watching Fantastic Mr. Fox, the other day, I noticed in the movie’s little town, among other shops signs, one that looks very familiar to me: DUTRONC DETECTIVE.
Well, the reason is simple: I see this sign almost every day from the bus that brings me home, from the Marais to Montmartre. The real shop sign is DULUC DETECTIVE (18, Rue du Louvre), but the shape, the font, the neon light, are exactly the same.
I guess Dutronc is a tribute to French singer/actor Jacques Dutronc.
I took a picture of it today: think about it when you watch the movie!

I know, it is just a stupid detail, but isn’t that adorable?!
In Wes we trust,

lunedì 22 febbraio 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox

 Having a soft spot for Wes Anderson, I was ready to love his new movie Fantastic Mr. Fox, but I wasn’t prepared to adore it.

Based upon a children novel by English writer Roald Dahl (the very first book that Anderson received as a gift when he was 7 years old), the movie has been made in a very sophisticated yet very sweet stop-motion animated technique. 

Mr. Fox, his wife Felicity and their son Ash live a decent life in a decent hole but Mr. Fox, who promised to his wife two years earlier to give up stealing poultry as a job, is dreaming big dreams and he decides (against his lawyer’s advise) to buy a new home inside a lovely tree.
Once settled down, Mr. Fox (now a journalist) is unable to resist to the temptation of stealing from his new neighbours, the awful farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Helped by his friend, the opossum Kylie, and by the sweet and smart Kristofferson (Mr. Fox’s nephew), they managed to steal many products from the three bad guys, but then they have to face their terrible revenge. To escape from it, Mr. Fox and his family dig a deep tunnel under the three farms, finding a bunch of other animals whose houses have been destroyed by the fury of Boggis, Bunce and Bean. After many adventures (more stealing, a flooding, a starvation problem, and various attacks), Mr. Fox and his friends will be able to outflank the enemies and be happy again (with great news coming along…).
I’ve always loved obsessive filmmakers.
Artists that, no matter how many movies their career is made of, will always talk about the same few things.
Let’s say no more than three themes per film, and Anderson is definitely one of them.
What he has created, film after film (6 in total), is a very personal world, parallel to the real one, where you can recognise the same characters, the same kind of situations, the same sense of humour, the same difficulties to face, the same happiness to look for. The fact that Anderson often uses the same actors to play in his movies just magnifies this sensation: Jason Schwartzman, the Wilson brothers, Bill Murray and Anjelica Huston, to name few of them, are part of the Anderson family. The filmmaker even writes his stories with the same people, especially with his friends Noah Baumbach and Owen Wilson.
In his cinema, the complexity of family's ties is central. As well as the difficulties of growing up. Very often, there is a character that feels at odd with the rest of humanity: usually a hyper-sensitive, hyper-intelligent, not very sporty, totally nerd, funny and romantic guy who is in trouble to find his place into his family and into the real world (my favourite one is still Max Fischer from Rushmore, but little Ash from Fantastic Mr. Fox is another good example of it).
In this last movie, it is incredible to see how much andersonian looks the world imagined by Dahl.
 And somehow, having animated puppets instead of human beings, gives to Anderson's world a deeper resonance, a lighter breath and a heightened sensibility. For sure, the "voices" chosen were pivotal in creating these great effects: George Clooney as Mr. Fox, Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox, Jason Schwartzman as Ash, Willem Dafoe as Rat, Bill Murray as Badger... they're all more than perfect, but the little miracle here is the adorable Kristofferson's voice (courtesy of Wes Anderson's younger brother, Eric).
A last word about the music, that in Anderson's cinema always plays a very important role and it is amazingly used.
In Fantastic Mr. Fox, I was happily surprised by a song written and performed by Jarvis Cocker (now that I think about it, he is SO perfect for Anderson's universe!) but even more delighted to hear a couple of scores by Georges Delerue taken from two different Truffaut’s movies: Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent and La Nuit Américaine.
This last one is actually the same used by Zazie for her tribute to Truffaut in one of her first posts for this blog.
Well, Mr. Anderson, it looks like we have faith in the same God...

martedì 16 febbraio 2010

Du côté de Jean Eustache

I like the idea of having a cinema blog, because I can talk about film-makers not very well known, or unfairly underestimated, or completely forgotten that I adore.
One of them is Jean Eustache.
I have to prevent you, though: if, after reading my post, you want to rent or buy a DVD of one of his movies… well, forget about it. We live in a world where Eustache’s movies DON’T exist on the market (yes, it's a tough world, guys).
I personally managed to see all of them at a great retrospective organized by the Pompidou Centre (God bless the two architects who made it!) in January 2006.
Born in 1938 in Pessac, near Bordeaux, Eustache moved to Paris in 1958, and immediately joined the wild bunch of the Cahiers du Cinema (his wife used to work there as a secretary) in their cinéphile crazy life: 4 movies per day, pastis and cigarettes at the cafés of the Rive Gauche, and never ending discussions about cinema until the early morning.
His first movie, a moyen-métrage called Du Côté de Robinson, is dated 1963 (oh, the joy of recognizing the street where I live in one of those scenes!).
In 1966, Jean-Luc Godard gave to Eustache some film-rolls left from the shooting of his movie Masculin, Feminin (in retrospect, it would have been so much better for Godard to gave him the entire film-rolls… try to have a look at Masculin, Feminin today and you’ll be bored to death after 10 minutes... as it is often the case with Godard movies). On the contrary, Eustache used them to film a little masterpiece: Le Père Noel a les yeux bleus.
The story is set in Narbonne, where a young and poor guy, played by Jean-Pierre Léaud, would like to find the money to buy a duffle-coat. It is Christmas time, and Daniel finds a strange job: disguised as Father Christmas, he poses for pictures with people passing in front of the shop he works for. To his surprise, he realizes that disguised like that he could be a different person: less shy than he actually is and able to flirt with girls that normally won't even look at him. Reality, though, strikes back: when he has a date with a girl that he met as "Father Christmas", he is badly rejected by her. In 45 minutes, Eustache creates a perfect little story about what we would like to be and the reality of what we are, about life in a small town, about love and solitude.
Eustache only became famous, though, in 1973, thanks to a 3 hours and 40 minutes feature film called La Maman et la Putain (winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival that year) and considered as the most important French movie of the Seventies.
This is a unique cinema experience that I hope everyone of you will make one day: Jean-Pierre Léaud loves two women at the same time, Bernadette Lafont et Françoise Lebrun. The three of them spend the whole time loving each other, trying to leave each other, having sex, listening to old records, smoking in cafés, discussing endlessly about love, relationships, friendship, death and the ultimate meaning of life. The long monologues by Léaud are absolutely amazing: he is able to hypnotize the public for 30 minutes talking about a single thing. Believe me, this is an unforgettable movie.
Eustache was incredible in understanding and representing the time he was living in: the post '68, with all its contradictions and heavy consequences on the future.
Thanks to the success of La Maman et la Putain, Eustache made a movie he really cared for: Mes Petites Amoureuses, about his childhood and his first loves (girls and cinema). It is a rigorous, tender and melancholic movie, that unfortunately didn't find an audience.
This was also his last feature film. He made few short-movies and then he died.
His influence, I have to say, is still very strong on film-makers everywhere in the world.
Broken Flowers by Jim Jarmusch, for instance, is dedicated to him.
In Pour Rire by Lucas Belvaux (1996), Jean-Pierre Léaud goes into a hospital to visit a friend and he bumps into a nurse, who is… Françoise Lebrun (from La Maman et la Putain). He looks at her for a long moment and then he asks: do we know each other? And she replies with an enigmatic smile: no, sir, I don’t think so.
But what I really love to remember is the scene from Domicile Conjugal by François Truffaut (the fourth chapter of Antoine Doinel’s epic), in which Jean-Pierre Léaud just had a baby and stops at a public telephone to call the Eustache family to announce them the great news.
Cinema and real life mixed together in a perfect way.

Eustache, frustrated by many fruitless attempts to find a market for his movies and (I guess) distraught by important personal problems, killed himself in November 1981.
He actually shot himself in his bedroom.
He didn’t leave any letter of explanation for his gesture. He just left a note on the door of his room: 
If I don’t answer, it is because I’m dead.

Sadly enough, that was the case.

domenica 7 febbraio 2010

Zazie D'Or 2009

Forget about Golden Globes, Oscars, BAFTA awards, Golden Lions, Golden Palms and Golden Bears, it is now the moment of the most prestigious cinema award EVER, the one of your favourite cinema blogger: the ZAZIE D’OR!!!
Zazie has been 60 times at the movies last year (yes, she took her task pretty seriously) and now she is ready to let you know the very best in cinema for 2009.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the winner is....

The Zazie d’Or for BEST PICTURE est attribué to the French movie UN PROPHETE by Jacques Audiard
Why: Because this is an outstanding picture, that you won't forget for ages. The story is great, the actors are to die for, the dialogues are perfect, the atmosphere is fascinating. In a word: a masterpiece.
And the Zazie d'Or for BEST DIRECTOR est attribué à JACQUES AUDIARD for Un Prophète
Why: Because Audiard is able to film like anybody else. The new Martin Scorsese? C'est lui!

The Zazie d’Or for BEST ACTOR est attribué à TAHAR RAHIMI for Un Prophète by Jacques Audiard
Why: Because even if this would be a silent movie, Rahimi's eyes will tell you the whole story. He is simply perfect.

The Zazie d’Or for BEST ACTRESS est attribué à KATIE JARVIS for Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold Why: Because she's a force of nature and you can't resist to her mix of strenght, fragility, despair and hope. A star is born.

The Little Zazie D’or (BEST FIRST FEATURE FILM) est attribué to the Australian movie SAMSON AND DELILAH by Warwick Thornton
Why: Because it is rare to see such a powerful first movie. This is the 400 Blows of the modern era.
The Zazie d'Or for the BEST SCREENPLAY est attribué à LOS ABROZOS ROTOS by Pedro Almodóvar  Why: Because this is one of the most beautiful and moving declaration of love ever seen. 
The Zazie d'Or for the BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY est attribué à CHRISTOPHER DOYLE for The Limits of Control by Jim Jarmusch.

Why: Because Doyle's images are the most beautiful thing in the worst and most useless movie of the year. This guy is a genius.

The Zazie d'Or for the BEST EDITING est attribué à SARAH FLACK for Away We Go by Sam Mendes  Why: Well, because Sarah is a friend of mine, and she is a fantastic editor as well as a fantastic human being. Brava Sarah!!!   
 The JEREMY IRONS PRIZE (MAN OF MY LIFE AWARD) est attribué for this year to the German-Irish actor MICHAEL FASSBENDER Why: C’mon, guys...
This is a personal message for the winner: the only way to receive this prize, Michael, actually is to knock at the door of my apartment... looking forward to hearing from you!!! Yours, Zazie
Very important p.s.The prestigious award Zazie d'Or has been designed by artist Sergio "Saccingo" Tanara, best known as ALKY. Grazie Sacc!
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