‘Context is all. If you saw Anita Pallenberg dressed in her glad-rags at, say, a Stones first-night party with her friend Marianne Faithfull, you might just recognise her as one of the great Sixties rock princesses, star of Performance, mother of two of Keith Richards’s children. But these days, you’d be more likely to see her cycling to her allotment in Chiswick or attending a botanical drawing class at the Chelsea Physic Garden, in which case you wouldn’t recognise her at all. She walks with a slight limp from repeated hip replacements and looks, if anything, older than her 62 years. Yet there is something in her face, despite its wrinkles, that still conveys what Faithfull called her ‘evil glamour’.
‘She lives in an enviable mansion flat overlooking the river at Chelsea. The decor is late Sixties hippie chic – battered leather sofas, velvet cushions, poufs, kelims, leopardskin rugs, Moroccan lamps and a Jacobean four-poster bed that she uses as a daybed. In this setting, Anita should be wearing something wafty by Ossie Clark, but is actually wearing rather ordinary beige trousers and a black sweater. She offers me tea and cigarettes – she smokes even more than me.
‘Does she actually need to work? ‘No. Financially I’m fine. But it’s good to work. I’m not capable of doing nothing. I’ve got my allotment in Chiswick, this is the third year, and I go out there twice a week at least with another girl and it’s fun. I grow vegetables – I’m a vegetarian; I’ve got strawberries, artichokes, leeks, broad beans. And I do drawing and watercolour classes and now I’m doing a course in botanical drawing at the Physic Garden, which is really interesting. Also I have a little house in Italy, in the country south of Rome, so whenever I’ve got spare time, I go there. I keep myself busy.’ What do the other ladies at the botanical drawing class make of her? ‘I don’t care! I can’t start thinking about that kind of thing. And they’re all better at drawing than me.’
‘In 1994, she completed a four-year fashion and textile degree at Central Saint Martins. Everyone said that her graduate show was great, ‘a triumph of style over substance abuse’, so why didn’t she try to make a career in fashion? ‘I don’t like the fashion world. It’s too nasty, too rip-off, too hard. And now it’s all Gucci and Prada, it’s very difficult to make your own business. Actually, I did want to work in textiles; I went to India for six months and worked in Jaipur. But then my mum got ill and I had to look after her for about five years.
”So then the momentum was over and that kind of stopped my career. But I would have stayed in Jaipur for ever – we were doing organic textiles and spending most of the time out in the desert.’ Couldn’t she go back? ‘I couldn’t go for those rides in the desert with those drivers. The driving – it’s little things like that you have to take into consideration. My life has become about little things; it was all about big things at first and now it’s all little things.’
‘She means, I suppose, the constraints of age. She has had two hip operations and fears that she may need a third. She also has hepatitis C, though she says ‘that’s OK. When you stop drinking, the liver regenerates’. She stopped drinking in 1987, but then started again in 2004 when she had her second hip operation.
‘She has had such an extraordinary life, it seems a pity that she won’t write her autobiography. She signed a publishing contract at one point but gave up. ‘The publishers want to hear only about the Stones and more dirt on Mick Jagger and I’m just not interested.’ Maybe she had the wrong publisher? ‘I had several publishers and they were all the same. They all wanted salacious. And everybody is writing autobiographies and that’s one reason why I’m not going to do it. If young Posh Spice can write her autobiography, then I don’t want to write one!’
‘She was born in 1944, in Italy, while her father was away in the war – she didn’t see him until she was three. He owned a travel agency, but was really a ‘frustrated composer’ who played classical music all day. They lived in Rome, but he sent Anita to a German boarding school because he wanted her to speak German; she hated it at the time but is grateful now, because ‘it’s nice to speak several languages’. Keith Richards famously said that when he first met her: ‘She knew everything and she could say it in five languages. She scared the pants off me.’ She laughs when I remind her – ‘I still do!’
‘Expelled from school at 16, she hung out in Rome with the Dolce Vita crowd, and then in New York with the Andy Warhol crowd, before moving to Paris and working as a model. Was she a top model? ‘Never! No, no, no. I could make a living out of it and that’s basically what I did, but I was not like the models of today. I didn’t like photographers too much, I didn’t like the fashion world. I still don’t.’
‘Then in 1965 a friend took her to see a Stones concert in Munich and they wangled their way backstage. Anita offered the Stones some hash, but they said they couldn’t smoke before a concert, though Brian Jones was ‘kind enough’ to invite her to his hotel room afterwards. They stayed together for two years but he was increasingly abusive, drunk and paranoid. On holiday in Morocco in 1967, Keith saw Brian beating Anita up and grabbed her, threw her in his car and took her back to England. So then she lived with Keith Richards.
‘Life with the Stones was fun at the beginning, she says, because they were always playing music: ‘I’ve always loved the blues and Brian especially was a real blues man. It was more than just pop. I thought they were great, you know. In those days. Now I’m not so sure! Somebody like Keith, he’s got a future because he can sit up like a blues man until he’s 90, he can just strum his guitar and sing his songs and people will always listen; but all this pop stuff,’ she shrugs, ‘I’m not really interested.’
‘What will Anita do next? She says she likes living alone and has no desire to find a partner. She plans to spend more time in Italy, especially in the winter, but she will keep up her allotment here: ‘I love gardening. And it’s perfectly acceptable as well!’ What will she do, where will she live, when she’s old and frail? ‘I don’t even think about that. If you start to think like that, you become like that. As long as I can walk, I walk, you know.’ So saying, she remembers that it’s time for her AA meeting and walks me briskly to the door. She shows me the loo en route, laughing: ‘I’m a toilet expert! When I went to Russia, I took pictures of every toilet I went into. I know where all the good toilets are in Rome – I know all the toilets! Because I spent so much time in toilets when I was using [drugs]. So when I go anywhere, I always go to the toilet right away and check it out. Even now!” — The Guardian
Anita Pallenberg @ Wikipedia
ANITA PALLENBERG: THE WOMAN WHO OUT-KEITHED KEITH
AP @ IMDb
The Anita Pallenberg Look Book
Anita Pallenberg: Muses, It Women
Installment#3 – The Anita Pallenberg Story
A Young Boy’s Crush on Keith Richards’ Mate Anita Ends in a Tragic Suicide
RETURN FROM THE STONES AGE: ANITA PALLENBERG
La historia de Anita Pallenberg, amante de tres Rolling Stones
ANITA PALLENBERG: A LIFE IN STYLE
1969 DESERT TRIPPIN’ | GRAM PARSONS, ANITA PALLENBERG & KEITH RICHARDS
Ego Driven Nut Case: Anita Pallenberg
ANITA PALLENBERG: 1967 AND ALL THAT
Anita Pallenberg: Stones Goddess
Anita Pallenberg @ instagram
How We Met: Anita Pallenberg & Harmony Korine
Relja Bašić: “My wild times with Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg!”
The dead boy in Anita Pallenberg’s bed
Anita Pallenberg @ tumblr
Anita Pallenberg Interview
Anita Pallenberg in Cannes (rare footage)
Anita Pallenberg’s Evil Glamour
Festival de Cannes
by Baby Jane Holzer
The following interview of Warhol star Baby Jane Holzer (by Anita Pallenberg) appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of Cheapdate magazine (Issue No. 5):
Jane Holzer:Anita, how do you stay so skinny? I have such a problem with staying skinny.
Anita Pallenberg:I don’t know. I think my mum was very skinny.
Jane:So was mine!
Anita:It could be that I ride a bicycle everywhere around London. Everyone is so polite here. I would be terrified to do it in New York. How did you get the name Baby Jane?
Jane:There was this columnist called Carol Bjorkman who wrote for Women’s Wear Daily, and she coined the phrase after the movie, which nobody had seen. When I saw the movie I thought oh my God, what have they done to me? It was the most frightening thing. The name stuck, which is a drag.
Anita:You’ve never liked it?
Jane:No, Jane is better. But what are you gonna do? You can’t change history.
Anita: Shall we talk a little bit about those days? You must have been one of the first people that I met in New York.
Jane: It was with Allan. Do you remember when I asked you if you remembered him? And you said ‘vaguely’. That is the funniest answer in the whole wide world. It’s just like the 60’s: vagueness.
Anita: I saw you at Ondine’s, in about ’65. It was a magic sort of place, on 59th Street, under the bridge. You met Brian Jones as well.
Jane: Were you dating Brian?
Anita: Yeah, I was going out with him.
Jane: And then you switched to Keith? Anita: Yep. Horrible isn’t it? We had a tumultuous relationship, and then Brian actually got a bit sick, taking acid and stuff.
Jane: How long were you together?
Anita: Until about 1967. Then he turned into a kind of schizo. He got agressive and abusive.
Jane: When did he die?
Anita: 1969. Would you call yourself a survivor?
Jane: Definitely. We’re both survivors.
Anita: But the word ‘survivor’ makes us sound like we’re been to boot camp, as if we were barely getting by. Do you see it like that?
Jane: Yes and no. No and Yes.
Anita: I don’t want to be thought of as a survivor. I’m living a good life. I’ve heard that you have a great art collection. What are your favorite pieces?
Jane: Warhol. I’m mad on Warhol. Also Keith Haring, Jean Michele Basquiat, Nan Goldin.
Anita: What are your thoughts about Warhol?
Jane: He was a master. He was a religious person: very catholic, very spiritual, loving and giving. He was afraid to give anyone money in case they would take drugs, but he ran a tab at Max’s Kansas City, so people could eat.
Anita: I spent more time upstairs in the painted bathrooms!
Jane: Well, I was downstairs chomping away on chickpeas. That’s the difference, right?
Anita: Do you remember Edie Sedgwick? I remember her being very sad.
Jane: She wasn’t so sad. She was just stoned all the time.
Anita: But never happy stoned. Maybe it was her makeup that made her look sad. So what do you remember about doing those films with Warhol?
Jane: We’d always be waiting for Edie. We would all be straight and uptight by the time she arrived, and she would be so loose, so beautiful, so perfect. Everything she did was perfect. She was amazing. AMAZING! I wish she were still here.
Anita: I remember going to visit Andy at the Factory, when I had just had Marlon, and he was so sweet to him. He took him to this room packed with toys, and said he could have any toy he wanted. Marlon was blown away.
Jane: Andy loved children.
Anita: It’s great now. All the kids are friends, and all the mothers and daughters hang out together. It gives you a sense of continuity. I like feeling a part of it too, especially with the grandchildren. That makes me feel almost immortal. Do you ever feel like that?
Jane: Not really, dammit!
Anita: There was a moment where I thought, this is it. I’m immortal.
Jane: The funniest thing is what people say about Keith: ‘Cheating death for, what is it, thirty or forty years?’ He’s funny right?
Anita: He is funny, very sharp. Witty by day, must say. Do you feel differently now? Compared to the old days?
Jane: Yeah, I feel older dammit. Well, I don’t really feel older, but I know I am older.
Anita: Sometimes when I glance in a mirror, I still see the same person I had inside me thirty years ago. But when I go in to the bathroom and look at myself with all the lights on, I think wow, what happened?
Jane: You look great.
Anita: As a whole, but if you look closer you see the wear and tear. I heard that you keep sheep. How many do you have?
Jane: I have one black one and one white one. They are so cute.
Anita: What else are you up to?
Jane: Just working away, trying to get my house in the country done. Same old, same old. I feel lucky to be alive and healthy; doing a days work; feeling like I have accomplished something.
Anita: Are you married now?
Jane: No, I work too hard. I don’t have the time. Men of our generation need a lot of attention, unlike the younger ones. The younger ones are very good about giving.
Anita: Yeah, its true. I went to see a psychic in London, who told me I should look for a Tibetan or an Indian.
Jane: I don’t think so. Darling, you’re rock n’ roll aristocracy.
15 of Anita Pallenberg’s 17 roles
Volker Schlöndorff Degree of Murder (1967)
‘A Degree of Murder is a German film from 1967. While it is next to completely unknown now, it won some prestigious awards in its home country at the time of its release, and it was Germany’s entry into the Cannes Film Festival in ’67. It was directed by Volker Schlöndorff, the second film made by the man who was then part of the New German Cinema movement that also included the likes of Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Schlöndorff was just starting an illustrious film career that’s still active and that reached its high point when he won both an Oscar and the Palme d’Or prize at Cannes in 1979 for directing The Tin Drum. The Stones connection in A Degree of Murder is two-fold. First, Brian Jones made the soundtrack. Second, it starred Anita Pallenberg, who was also in Performance (alongside Mick Jagger), who was Jones’s lady friend at the time, and who would later be the mother of Keith Richards’s children. For Jones things around the film didn’t turn out well. The soundtrack, on which Jimmy Page and Nicky Hopkins and some other notables played along with the Stones, never got formally released; and this seems a great shame as the exotic and swank music sounds superb in the film. If this wasn’t heartache enough for the ill-fated Jones, shortly after the movie was made, Pallenberg left him for Richards. Jones was fast losing his place in the band by then and never again was on good footing in his life, which as we all know ended amid suspicious circumstances in ’69.’ — Brian Greene
A DEGREE OF MURDER Brian Jones (movie intro)
Joe Massot Wonderwall (1968)
‘Wonderwall is probably the ultimate “swinging London” film and what a pedigree it has. The featured Anita Pallenberg and Dutch design collective The Fool (who art-directed the film and were well-known for their work with The Beatles) in cameo roles. The film’s two primary sets (the apartments of the scientist and the model) were designed by Assheton Gorton who’d been previously nominated for a BAFTA for his work on Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup (another film in contention for “most Sixties film.”) Made in 1968 by first time director Joe Massot (who would later direct the Led Zeppelin concert film The Song Remains the Same and worked on the psychedelic western Zachariah with the Firesign Theatre), Wonderwall was released on DVD in an elaborate package by Rhino in 2004 that now goes for top dollar to collectors.’ — Dangerous Minds
Roger Vadim Barbarella (1968)
‘The Great Tyrant rules the city of Sogo with a leather glove. Her citizens are dedicated to committing evil acts for sexual and violent pleasure, feeding the Mathmos with negative energy that powers the city. A very green source of energy, if you think about it. Her Black Guards (made only of leather) suppress any opposition to her rule. She likes to disguise herself as an ordinary citizen and ‘play’ with her subjects. She also has a fondness for doubling up words, calling Barbarella “Pretty-Pretty”. Anita Pallenberg’s performance sounds better than it looks, even though her outfits are just as seductive and spectacular as Barbarella. Pallenberg famously had her voice overdubbed by another actress, who makes her sound sensual, suggestive and far more expressive.’ — BLACK HOLE
Christian Marquand Candy (1968)
‘Sex, sex, sex – and Ringo Starr and Anita Pallenberg! Tell it like it is baby. A classic example of a film that could have only happened in the 1960s! The film begins with a trippy outer space hard rock segment that brings high school teenage sexpot Candy to earth to learn about life, love and…sex. I think?! It seems that every older man Candy encounters wants to “have her.” Including her uncle! Ringo Starr, during the Beatles White Album era, appears as a Mexican gardener who has his way with Candy atop a pool table! Marlon Brando as an Indian guru who while searching for the aura of Candy’s focal point touches one breast then another before placing his hand on her crotch when he says, “Ah ha! Here! And how alive it is! Candy replies, “Oh no, it surely, could not be there. No, I’m certain it’s NOT there! Brando: “Trust me, who’s the guru here?” Top Hollywood actors from the 60s appear as middle-aged gropers including: John Astin, Marlon Brando, James Coburn, John Huston, Richard Burton and Walter Matthau. Soundtrack includes the Byrds: “Child Of The Universe” and Steppenwolf: “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Rock Me.” Ewa Aulin, Ringo Starr, Anita Pallenberg, Sugar Ray Robinson, John Astin, Marlon Brando, James Coburn, John Huston, Richard Burton, Walter Matthau, Charles Aznavour, Elsa Martinelli. Candy!’ — The Video Beat
the entire film
Marco Ferreri Dillinger Is Dead (1969)
‘The Rabelais of the modernist cine-guerilla set, Marco Ferreri brought a vulgarian’s gusto to the late ‘60s/early ‘70s autopsies of bourgeois alienation. The scabrous pig-out of La Grande Bouffe may be this sensualist-agitator’s best-known provocation, but the serenely bristling Dillinger Is Dead is easily his best film. Glauco (Michel Piccoli), an industrial gas-mask designer, is our guide in a nightlong tour through the atrophied surfaces of 1969. Coming home to a drowsy trophy wife (Anita Pallenberg) and a paltry dinner, he sets out to whip up a gourmet meal for himself and, in the process, undergoes a most peculiar existential crackup. The shape of material possessions and the brainless pop tunes emanating from the radio act as constant reminders of modern life’s gilded cages, but the protagonist’s private revolt isn’t triggered until he discovers a rusty revolver wrapped in a newspaper announcing the death of John Dillinger. A memento from an outlaw past? An icon of vanished machismo? Either way, the exhumed treasure fascinates and emboldens Glauco, whose fantasies of empowerment go from simply cooking a steak to seducing the live-in maid (Annie Girardot) with the help of a pot of honey. Of course, the gun is honor-bound by Chekhov’s Law to go off by the third act, yet Ferreri is too aware of the scenario’s inherent absurdism to view Glauco’s newfound phallic assertion unambiguously as evidence of revitalized manhood. Rather, there’s the feeling that the character’s transgressive actions amount to little more than willful regression, corrupt responses to a corrupt world. (Without giving too much away, it’s easy to see the finale’s wish-fulfillment tropical vessel as a ghost ship.)’ — Fernando F. Croce, Slant
Volker Schlöndorff Michael Kohlhaas – Der Rebell (1969)
‘This is another of those films from the 1960’s that have apparently disappeared into the black hole that ought to have been reserved for some of the big-budget trash being made nowadays. It harks back to an era when halfway intelligent scripting and depth of characterization were deemed more important than brain-curdling eye candy and mindless special effects. And although not exactly what I would call a classic, it is nonetheless worthy of remembrance, at least among those of us elderly enough to remember it. The film is based on an 1811 novella by Heinrich von Kleist, which in turn was based on the exploits of an actual fifteenth-century German horse trader named Hans Kohlhase. The story, in a nutshell, runs more or less as follows. On his way to market to sell his horses, Kohlhaas is intercepted by the minions of a nobleman named Tronka. He is informed that he is trespassing on Tronka’s land, must pay a toll in order to continue, and winds up being forced to leave two of his horses behind as a surety. Upon returning to reclaim the horses, he finds that they have been maltreated and starved. Outraged, he seeks justice through official channels, but is stonewalled at every turn by the prevailing old-boy network. At length, his indignation erupts into violence. Brushing off advice to “just let it go,” he takes up arms, gathers a band of similarly disenfranchised people, and starts an insurrection. In the end, of course, his insurrection is crushed, he is captured and condemned to die by one of the cruelest forms of execution ever devised: to be broken on the wheel.’ — refrankfurt
Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg Performance (1970)
‘The stories about the making of Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg’s Performance are almost as infamous as the movie itself. Some are true, some are not. But even the most excessive tales of sex and drugs and, well you know, rock ‘n’ roll during its making have never eclipsed the visceral power of the film itself. Performance was written by Cammell. He had Marlon Brando teed-up to star as Chas—an American gangster in London who holes-up with a reclusive pop star. As Cammell worked on the script, he became more obsessed with identity, sexuality and violence. It made the script a far darker thing. When Brando dropped out, James Fox moved in. Roeg was originally only hired as the cameraman. When filming began in a house on Powis Square, London, Cammell became all too aware that he did not know what he was doing behind the camera, and needed someone else to be the eyes while he created the mood, tension and magic in front of the lens. This magic included consuming large quantities of drugs and some full on sex between Jagger and co-stars Anita Pallenberg and Michèle Breton. Pallenberg was, of course, Keith Richards’ girlfriend. As Jagger and Pallenberg performed in front of the camera, Richards sat outside the location chain smoking, drinking and fuming over what his fellow Stone and woman were getting up to. The footage of Jagger’s sexual hi-jinks with his co-stars nearly had the film prosecuted and shut down. When the rushes were sent out, the lab refused to process the footage as it was considered pornographic. The footage was destroyed. But some of—or so it has long been rumored—survived and was edited together (allegedly by Cammell himself) into a short porn movie which won first prize at some underground porn festival in Amsterdam.’ — Paul Gallagher
Philippe Garrel Le berceau de cristal (1976)
‘A weird and dreamy minimalist underground art movie, Le Berceau de Cristal offers no joy whatsoever to mainstream film buffs – but doomed romantics, drug takers and fans of director Philippe Garrel may find it hypnotic and profoundly moving. An androgynous poet/dreamer (played by Nico – Velvet Underground singer, Eurotrash icon and Garrel’s other half) sits and writes and meditates on the aching void that is her life. Hieratic and semi-mythical beings show up to haunt her dreams. Dominique Sanda as a fleshy Pre-Raphaelite earth goddess. Anita Pallenberg as an impishly grinning, emaciated drug diva – shooting up live on camera. An early icon of ‘heroin chic.’ Not one of these figures utters a word to disturb Nico’s reverie. Beyond the poet’s voice is only silence and an intermittent, achingly lovely music score. (Uncredited, but perhaps the work of Garrel’s frequent collaborator, the Velvet Underground guitarist John Cale.) Impossible to say what any of this is about, only that – in the last few seconds – Nico takes out a revolver and blows a hole in her skull. By that time, you may be so bored that you have an overwhelming desire to do the same, or you may be – as I was – curled up in a primal ball, gazing raptly at the screen and silently sobbing. So if you are a morbid manic-depressive neo-romantic, Le Berceau de Cristal is the film for you. If you value your sanity, stay well clear.’ — David Melville
the entire film
John Maybury Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998)
‘The movie constantly switches from extreme naturalism, with perfect recreations of Bacon’s haunts, to the entirely fictional rooms and traps which exist only in the artist’s paintings, inhabited only by his squirming painted subjects. Sometimes we see the world extruded and distorted, not through Bacon’s eye, or through the medium of paint, but through the distorting lens of a glass of booze. Cigarettes crackle with the electrical fizz of paranoia. The wheeze of Bacon’s asthma and a doomy score by Ryuichi Sakamoto provide the soundtrack, and bare swinging light bulbs and distorting mirrors take us into the claustrophobic spaces of Bacon’s paintings. The film uses no actual shots of the paintings, though there is a dreadful prop-maker’s painting of a toilet which Dyer manages to mistakenly piss into on a drunken trip to the lavvy one night. Maybury is trying to create several kinds of worlds at once, all of them equally claustrophobic. For the most part, he makes us believe these places, these people, this awful world. But hang on, isn’t that Tracey Emin with Gillian Wearing, drunk as usual, in the corner? And isn’t it young Turner prize contender Gary Hume, who Bacon’s just insulted at the bar? Maybury infiltrates the young British artists of the moment into the 1960s milieu of Bacon’s cronies, some of whom perform stagger-on parts as themselves. Time and space are warped in Love Is The Devil. The protagonists are warped too, but then they always were. Maybury is making a point about the sodden Soho boho corner of the art world in the 60s and the younger London art world now. In fact, reading the supporting cast notes, it seems that almost everyone is there, from fashion designers Rifat Ozbek and Stella McCartney to Norman Rosenthal, exhibition secretary of the Royal Academy, from gallery director Jibby Bean to Rolling Stones survivor Anita Wallenberg.’ — The Guardian
John Malkovich Hideous Man (2002)
‘Hideous Man is written and directed by John Malkovich and produced by Bella Freud. It is their third short film collaboration and is shot on 35mm black and white film. It tells the story of a group of beatnik girls rehearsing their work in preparation for a performance for their alter ego – the Hideous Man. Starring Peaches, Saffron Burrows, Anita Pallenberg, Shaznay Lewis, Camilla Rutherford, Skin, Arielle Dombasle and Emilia Fox.’ — The Genealogy of Style
the entire film
Harmony Korine Mister Lonely (2007)
‘I am officially here to talk about Anita’s role in a film called Mister Lonely directed by Harmony Korine. It is about a troupe of impersonators – Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Abraham Lincoln and so on, with Anita Pallenberg as the Queen – putting on a show in a Scottish castle. There are also some flying nuns who periodically jump out of planes, with Werner Herzog as their priest, but they seem to have strayed in from a quite different film. Anita appears occasionally in the background and has a speech at the end, but I would estimate her total screen time as maybe 10 minutes. She wears an unflattering grey wig, but otherwise makes no attempt to impersonate the Queen. ‘I didn’t even try to do the accent,’ she tells me unnecessarily in her smoky German growl. She got the part by pestering Korine, whom she met through a mutual friend. ‘I wanted to be one of the floating nuns, because I thought I could be a really good Mother Superior. So I expressed interest, but it all came from my side – it wasn’t him asking me! And then eventually he said you should do the Queen, it’s a better role, bigger, so I did that. I never thought I could do it, but actually I think my Queen is quite good. We made our own costumes and I put all those ermine tails on my fur coat.’ She first saw the film at the London Film Festival last autumn: ‘I was upset because it was hard to see my big face on the screen with all those wrinkles. But the film surprised me in a good way. It’s very original.” — The Guardian
the entire film
Abel Ferrara Go Go Tales (2007)
‘Abel Ferrara has described Go Go Tales as “Cheers meets The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.” Really it’s closer to a remix of Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion, with a foul-mouthed Sylvia Miles in the role of Tommy Lee Jones’s intimidating Axeman, Grace Jones subbing for Dusty and Lefty on the soundtrack, and the Johnson women stripped down to their panties. Enter that force of nature known as Asia Argento, who takes the stage in one scene to perform a mercilessly brief striptease during which she swaps saliva with one of two rottweilers; the other one, played by Bob Hoskins, barks orders offstage, trying to keep patrons in their seats and their paws off the girls. Welcome to the seedy demimonde of the club Paradise, where Ferrara probes the dreams of lives less ordinary, including his own.’ — Ed Gonzalez, Slant
the entire film
Stephen Frears Chéri (2009)
‘Cheri is based on a pair of novels by the French writer Colette, the first of which caused a scandal by turning the cliches of romantic fiction upside down. For one thing, Cheri is a man, a young and dissolute Parisian played with Pre-Raphaelite fragility by Rupert Friend. For another, his lover, Lea de Lonval (Pfeiffer), is several decades older than he. For a third, she’s a courtesan, recently retired. “Women who do what we do, no one else would understand,’’ Lea says. Well, yes, but we live vicariously through fiction. Colette knew that and so do movie producers. The movie introduces a few old harlots who are grotesque parodies of Lea, the couple’s worst fears made flesh. None is as arresting as Anita Pallenberg, the bad-girl beauty of the British ’60s pop scene and now a withered beldame who resembles nothing so much as her onetime lover Keith Richards in drag. Cheri asks about her pearls. “They’re fake,’’ she gleefully croaks.’ — Wanton Witch of the Côte
Abel Ferrara Napoli, Napoli, Napoli (2009)
‘Abel Ferrara’s Napoli Napoli Napoli is as rambling and all over the place as his previous foray into documentary filmmaking, Chelsea on the Rocks. This time his approach is the same: talking-head interviews haphazardly mixed with staged reenactments, with some archival images thrown in at random. But compared to a rebel director like Werner Herzog, who weds his similar restlessness to an amazingly diverse appetite, Ferrara seems just an addict-jumpy auteur with a frustratingly immature and narrow vision; sex and violence, drugs, and the arts are pretty much all he’s interested in. Which is why after about 15 minutes into Napoli Napoli Napoli, you find yourself wondering why he doesn’t just stick to fiction instead. Though Ferrara’s doc fancies itself an investigative look at the human fallout from the mafia’s stronghold in Naples, Napoli Napoli Napoli is no far-reaching Gomorrah. Ferrara probes drug dealers at the Pozzuoli women’s prison and the guy who runs the local youth center (that includes programs for both addicts and artists, of course). He stages men’s prison scenes and a clunky fictional storyline involving young mobsters preparing to take out a traitor. There’s even a subplot involving a streetwalker that runs out on her drunken family, which is interspersed with glimpses of religious icons; think Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” video with a gratuitous rape scene.’ — Lauren Wissot, Slant
the entire film
Abel Ferrara 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011)
‘If you happen to live in a neighborhood with no Jehovah’s Witness ladies around to remind you that we’re living in the last days, wackadoodle director Abel Ferrara’s latest, 4:44 Last Day on Earth, is here to drive that truth home — or at least make you think about it just a little bit. Willem Dafoe plays an actor, Cisco, facing what he, and everybody else, knows is the Earth’s last day, thanks to an ozone layer that dissolved faster than anyone expected. He spends that last day writing in his journal, watching video footage of some fake-inspirational guru-dude, reaching out to his daughter and assorted pals via Skype and, most importantly, making sweet, crazy, soft-core love to his dishy, much-younger girlfriend, painter Skye (Shanyn Leigh), in the couple’s artsy, faux-ramshackle Manhattan loft. What a way to go! And yet, for an Abel Ferrara movie at least, 4:44 Last Day on Earth is surprisingly restrained. It doesn’t have the loosey-goosey dress-up-box vibe of the director’s 2007 Go Go Tales (also starring Dafoe), or the lackadaisical silliness of his 2005 Blessed Virgin thriller Mary (which featured a post-Big Fish, pre-La Vie en Rose Marion Cotillard, though I don’t remember a thing about her performance). 4:44 is, like the aforementioned movies, often laughable — watching the excessively craggy Dafoe and the excessively nubile Leigh roll around on their pre-Apocalyptic mattress was certainly good for a giggle. But the picture is also weirdly compelling, maybe most notably for the way Dafoe’s character — who is, in this respect, perhaps a stand-in for the Bronx-born Ferrara — seems to be grappling less with the idea that the world is ending than that the city is ending.’ — Stephanie Zachary, Movieline
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p.s. Hey. ** Todd Grimson, Hi, Todd! It’s awesome to have you here, man. Don’t let Tao sully Joy Williams. She’s a master and a king. Holy whoa about your near death O.D. Christ, that’s scary, even though you just made it seem fascinating. I’m awfully glad you’re okay again, health-wise, though very sorry that money isn’t rewarding you. I do know what you mean in my own way, yeah, for sure. Thanks for being here, Todd. Do hang out, if it suits. ** Kyler, Morning to you. Happy to be decorating your early morning again. Tentative good news there about your dad. Of course I second my post’s recommendation of the Joy Williams. She’s definitely among my very, very favorite American writers. The agent part is the hardest part. Hang in that. Don’t get discouraged. ** Slatted Light, Hi, D. Thank you very much for your thanks. If it injects into your project, the post will get to go to heaven. A fiction book! Fascinating! Wow, I like the idea of you writing fiction a lot, or I mean getting to read fiction by you. Have you been testing different writing methods unsuccessfully, or are you dream-testing? Or both? ‘American Translation’: no, I’ve never heard of it. I’ll find out what’s what. The title has promise. Have a very fine one. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi, Dóra! The Colasacco book is really, really good. I was quite blown away by it. As someone who writes about teenagers a lot, I know how hard it is to do that in a beautiful and knowing way, and his book is really special. All of his work that I’ve read is very strong. Charles Ray is amazing. Photos of his work are better than nothing, for sure, but you really have to see his stuff in person. The Pompidou is doing a major retrospective of his work next year, I think. You should come. Good for you for getting your thesis finished and out of your life. Is it going well? The prep session was very helpful. We were approaching it in entirely the wrong way, and now we know what to do, and that’s good to know even if we have to regroup. We have our big prep session today, so we’ll see if we learned our lesson. Enjoy Tuesday and please fill me in, if you like. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yes, a shame indeed. That book about her/the film/etc. yesterday is very, very good. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. Cool, those kinds of posts are faves of mine too. And thank you very kindly. ** Bernard, B-ster! I think I have to agree with you about the sublimity of that Wilder perf. Everyone, Bernard highly recommends that you use this link to go watch a moment from Gene Wilder’s amazing performance in Woody Allen’s ‘Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask’, and I second his poke. I had indeed missed your comment for the reason that you suggest, but I went back and read it. Sounds good. I approve of your writing, duh, and of your planning for writing even, duh. The NYC stint is great stuff. Zac and I will be there, although briefly-ish, around the 20th to show ‘LCTG’ if you’ll be there then. And LA! If I were about to be in LA, I would go to … the new Harry Potter mini-theme park within Universal Studios, the Ed Ruscha books show at Gagosian, the Catherine Opie and Agnes Martin shows at LACMA, and Hito Steyerl’s ‘Factory of the Sun’ video installation at MoCA. To start with. I think I’m good re: LA stuff. Thank you! Say hi to Diane for me. ** Ferdinand, Hi. Cool, you came back. You’re studying Dutch. Why, or why not? I used to speak Dutch not incredibly well but passably when I lived in Amsterdam, although mostly all that’s left now is easy-peasy phrases like ‘Ik ben moe’ and ‘Hoe ben je hier gekomen?’. But I still understand it when others speak it okay. I really like the Dutch language. I haven’t heard of ‘The secret meaning of things’, but I’ll go follow your lead and dig into the archives. Thank you a lot for that. ** H, Hi, h. All those books are good. Well, obviously I think so, I guess. Every day my back is less of a problem. It’s just a little too gradual a fix for me, but beggars can’t be choosers, as they say. Understood about the writing anxiety and its appearance in the writing. I think I have that with writing fiction these days. Vague’s okay. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Thanks a bunch. Oh, vanilla gelato, … yum. There’s been this pop-up Magnum store in the Marais near my place all summer that looked really exciting through the windows. Like a ‘custom-build your own Magnum ice cream bar’ thing. But I finally went there the other day when it was toasty outside, and it was good and all, but it wasn’t wild enough to warrant the pop-up hype or whatever. The add-ons were too few and too, like, elegant. But it was good. ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, T. I really highly recommend the Colasacco book. It’s really gorgeous and wonderful. Yeah, of the course, the break up is going to taint the deep things for a while. Honestly, and you know this, I’m sure, it will begin to seem like a past richness at some point not too long from now. Novel #3, yay! Yeah, at this point, for me, I’ll just suddenly and unexpectedly need to write poetry, and I will, and then I’ll be like that dedicatedly for a few months or something, and then the need will disappear again. Strange. Let me pass along your thing. Everyone, Here’s Thomas ‘Moronic’ Moore. Read/listen up. ‘If there are any writers/reviewers reading, Necessary Fiction have got my book available and are looking for someone to review it. ** Joseph, Hi, Joseph! Good to see you! Oh, Labor Day, right. I forget about those standard American things over here. It’s weird. Both of them are great. You won’t go wrong. I just suddenly realized, thanks to you, that I have never watched even so much as an excerpt from ‘Welcome Back Kotter’. How did that (not) happen? ** Raymond, Hi, R! The problem with Japanese porn outside of Japan is … well, there are a number of obstacles. For one thing, the Japanese really like products. The vast majority of Japanese still buy CDs, for instance. And same with porn; they want it on DVD, so it’s labor intensive stuff to get overseas, and the DVDs are expensive, and it’s hard to tell if a porn is worth the cost and time. Also, there are a very large number of porn companies there that make porn for every type and fetish. Basically, the only way to see Japanese porn easily is to come across random examples on the hundreds of free sites where people ‘illegally’ upload porn. Not easy. If I come across a particularly good example, I’ll remember and pass along the title. Me too, about Japan. I’ve been there three times, and it was an amazing experience, and I miss Japan continuously. Those quotes are very good, yeah. I don’t think I’ve seen the documentary. I’ll look for it. Have you been to Japan? I so very recommend doing so, if not, and getting there however you can. ** JG, Hi, JG, very nice to meet you. I’m really glad you came inside. Yeah, what a horrible, instructive mess that Google thing was. I’m still amazed that the blog survived it. For most of those two months, I really didn’t think it would. I’m so happy that the book posts have been useful for you. That’s my dream. Thank you! Stop in again and any time, please, if you feel like it. It would be good to get to talk and get to know you. ** Scunnard, Mr. Pappas-Kelley! The man! Howdy. Thanks about that post. Oh, interesting question that … yeah, I’m going to need to dwell in my memories to be able to answer it, I think. Let me think. Remind me to give you suggestions, if I forget, and I’ll accrue them in the meantime. ** Chilly Jay Chill, Hi, Jeff! Really excited for the approaching birth of your book! We’re early on in the opera project. I mean, we’ve met and talked about it a lot, and it’s actually pretty developed conceptually. Right now everyone is waiting for Zac and me to write a basic structure/text/sound instructional kind of thing. Kind of a libretto, but the opera is going to be as much about sounds and sound design as it will be about speaking and singing. It’s a very complicated project, excitingly so. Anyway, we need to have something drafted out by the end of September to send to the composer/musician, and we are swamped with other work — we’re spending 10 days this month making/shooting a music video — so it’s going to be tight. No, I actually don’t like Kiefer’s work. So, no. If anyone else ever wants to do a Kiefer post, I will post it, of course. But, yeah, I’m not personally into his work at all. ** Steevee, Hi. It does sound like you’re probably being inordinately affected by one of those factors if not a combination, yeah. Obviously, hope your body accustoms and/or that it just passes mysteriously asap. I like Rattle, yes. In fact they’re in my next gig post. I’ve been listening to them of late. It’s surprising how interesting they are. They could so easily not be. ** Misanthrope, Hey. Ah, yeah, I keep my stuff small and squint through my glasses. I’m impractical. I’m okay with zucchini as long as it’s inside or involved and something else of greater taste impact and if it isn’t the main ingredient. Although that frittata sounds delicious. Doten is the man! Such a fantastic novel! And, yes, you should be writing. Get on that, lazy bones. ** MANCY, You do, it’s true, if you don’t mind me saying so. All Joy Williams is a must-read joy. And the Légar is fantastic. As is that Eileen Myles. Excellence in the shape of Tuesday! ** Okay. Anita Pallenberg is a very curious and interesting figure, I think. I thought I would use to the blog today to give you a chance to consider and explore her. See you tomorrow.