“In the dazzling sunlight filling a gilded hotel suite on Madison Avenue, Isabelle Adjani was recalling the bleak season two years ago when she went on French national television to prove that she was alive and well.
“”It is impossible to believe the insanity of what was going on,” Ms. Adjani said, staring intensely at her interviewer with improbably blue eyes. “The newspapers were saying, ‘You have AIDS.’ They actually said I was dead. I just threw myself into my work when the whispering campaign turned really ugly. I think Camille saved me. I felt incredibly paranoid, just as Camille did. And do you know? I was able to use that in doing Camille’s scenes. It made them better.”
“Camille is the protagonist of Camille Claudel, a film from France in which Ms. Adjani plays the brilliant but doomed French sculptor who was Auguste Rodin’s apprentice, model, muse, collaborator and mistress. The 32-year-old Ms. Adjani survived a plague of sensationalized rumors in the French press to finish the $1.4 million film, which she conceived four years before and which recently opened.
“So immersed was Ms. Adjani in the project that she pursued and won permission from the reluctant Claudel family to make the film, talked a former lover, Bruno Nuytten, into directing it, and helped persuade a foot-dragging movie star, Gerard Depardieu, to play Rodin. The film chronicles nearly three decades in the life of Camille, the elder sister of the poet and diplomat Paul Claudel. She lived from 1864 to 1943, and was confined in an asylum for the last 30 years of her life.
“Even at the height of her artistic powers, the sculptor passionately believed that there were conspiracies against her, “and I sympathize with her paranoia, having been hounded myself,” Ms. Adjani commented. She says she believes that the slander against her started after she spoke out against anti-immigrant, anti-Algerian feeling in France, prejudice that resulted in the killings of North African immigrants.
“”I felt that I had to speak out,” she said, tossing the shoulder-length black hair that made a cameo of her rosy-cheeked face. She sat with perfect posture in a tight black Dior suit and wore a ceramic Christian Lacroix heart on a black ribbon around her neck. “So I said publicly for the first time that my father was Algerian.” Her father, a Muslim garage worker, met her German mother in Bavaria, and Ms. Adjani was born after the couple moved to Paris.
“”I talked about the persecution of Algerians, and told about racism in my childhood,” she said. “And it was as if, after that, I wasn’t French anymore.” The height of the whispering campaign coincided with the height of AIDS hysteria in France. Ms. Adjani took the HIV test “for my own sake,” she said, and the results were negative. In a separate interview, Mr. Nuytten said: “To the newspapers, she served as a young, beautiful symbol of AIDS, even though she didn’t have it. They thought it was a great story that she was going to die.”
“”Then, one night, France-Soir called,” Mr. Nuytten continued, referring to the sensational Paris newspaper. “They said: ‘We know she’s dead. We’re printing her obituary on page 1 of tomorrow’s paper, and we need to know the cause of death.’ And I told them: ‘She’s alive! You are insane!'” That story was shelved, but another announced her demise.
“”I felt I was being treated like a witch and a saint,” said Ms. Adjani, whose star power in France is hard to overestimate: she combines the acting ability of one recruited by the Comedie Francaise at the age of 15 with the pouty sensuality of a young Brigitte Bardot. “I knew I had to fight back,” she said. “I went on French television for 20 minutes. It was very embarrassing to have to say: ‘I’m not dead. I’m well. I’m not ill, and I don’t have AIDS.’ I hated doing it, because it was so insulting to those who really did have AIDS.”
“Camille Claudel opened in Paris in 1988 on the sculptor’s birth date, Dec. 8, and was a great success, winning five Cesars, the French version of the Oscar, including those for best actress and best movie. The film is the official French entry at the American Academy Awards this year.
“Ms. Adjani is perhaps best known to Americans for her role in the 1987 film Ishtar – she played a terrorist – and for her portrayal of the romantically obsessed daughter of Victor Hugo in Francois Truffaut’s 1975 film, The Story of Adele H. Hugo figures in Camille Claudel: Camille and Rodin first make love during the hours of national mourning after Hugo’s death. “At one point,” Mr. Nuytten said, laughing, “we considered having a scene where Camille would meet Adele H. at a party, and say, ‘I think she’s going crazy.’ Luckily, we came to our senses.”
“Making Camille Claudel – and promoting its various premieres around the world -has been a consuming experience for Ms. Adjani since 1984, when she read the sculptor’s biography by Reine-Marie Paris, Camille Claudel’s grandniece. “I needed to have a kind of megalomania to be able to move ahead with the movie, an identification with Camille,” she said. “I felt that I was the only one who could comprehend who she was, who understood her contradictions.” She sighed. “That is of course nonsense!” she said. “But I needed to believe that, to get the movie done.”
“The 44-year-old Mr. Nuytten, a cinematographer who has made three other films with Ms. Adjani, was initially reluctant to direct the film. “But I fell in love with this woman’s destiny,” he said of Camille. “And,” he added with a shrug, “I thought it was the best way to spend some time together with Isabelle for a year.” Mr. Nuytten and Ms. Adjani have a 10-year-old son, Barnabe.
“”We had a very different relationship than we’d had before,” he added. “She was giving so much of herself in the role, I had to be there when she landed. I had to nurture her. I tried to make her keep a distance between herself and Camille. As an actress, Isabelle becomes closely involved in her characters in a dangerous way. She goes too far. When ‘Camille’ was done, it was very difficult for her to get free of the character. I was worried about her.”
“At times, Ms. Adjani said, she still identifies closely with Camille Claudel, “although we’re very different.” “Camille was truly an artist, and I’m an actress,” she said. “I don’t suffer the complete loneliness of artistic creation. And I’m not a victim, although I can be the victim of myself.”
“But she and Camille are alike, she said, “in that I have always tried to be very independent, and I try very hard not to become someone else.” She sighed again, smiled, then said, “And I have found that the more I try to be myself, the lonelier I get.”” — NYT
Isabelle Adjani @ IMDb
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Premier Casting – Isabelle Adjani
Isabelle Adjani interviewed (1977)
Isabelle Adjani, Serge Gainsbourg, Luc Besson ‘Pull Marine’ (1984)
Isabelle ADJANI interviewed (2015)
Michèle MANCEAUX : One felt up to now that the world perplexed you. It seems that you have acquired an understanding that you did not have before.
Isabelle ADJANI : It’s true. Life has brought me work to do on myself these past two years. Deep, internal work…
Work that you have done alone, or with help?
There has already been the karmic work : that what life has transformed in me, this initiation brought on, of necessity, by trials. It’s a road one goes by oneself, but always accompanied. By visible helpers and more invisible guides.
Yes, but “therapists” means not only “psychotherapists”. There are also beings that primarily take care of the soul. I have directed myself to those. I believe in angels, so it’s simple. I think that we all carry the divine within us.
Is it work to find it, the divine?
To change, that is the most difficult thing to accomplish. There are people who never experience that, who remain closed until death, from fear of change. If I had not passed through trial – through passion, one could say – through these years so painful and so rich, I don’t believe I could take on my life and my career as I do today.
Would you say today that passion is ill-fated?
Does passion rhyme with peace…? Before, for me, peace could have been synonymous with boredom. One believes that if nothing happens, one disappears. That is not true.
Now you know how to fill the “nothingness”?
At any rate I try. Nothingness not being nothing, nothingness being emptiness. One can be emptied out and be filled up. It’s a form of meditation. A nice exercise to do, because I’m basically impetuous and reactive. This exercise calms me and leads me to more listening, more availability. Maybe, at the same time, to more depth and lightness.
Did your malaise come from your success? From a success particularly difficult to accept in relation to your modest family background?
One is never ready for success. It consecrates and looses you at the same time. To leave in search of yourself, of your real needs, is easier when you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone, when there are not too many people bestowing you their attention. I was very young.
Did you lack freedom?
Enormously. I only begin to take and learn that freedom. I want to work beyond external aggressions, forget that one has something to do for others if it’s not for oneself. I do not want to work to correspond to an image.
Do you still have vague fears?
Less and less. That’s the purpose of learning to love oneself, to be self-sufficient.
Is to love oneself sufficient not to suffer from passion?
Passion is all but soft, it’s not tender, it’s violence to which you get hooked by pleasure.
Is it a suffering that’s worth the trouble?
That depends on the person who’s the object. In love, one should simplify, choose persons worthy of their promises and leave them if they don’t keep them. But no one frees himself from being in love in three days.
Do you regret the passions you have had?
No, that not.
Are you ready to begin again?
Passion surprises. One doesn’t search it. It can happen to you tomorrow… I believe that when you work on yourself, you are attracted by different, more positive beings. Beings that can bring you more of what you need.
You have stopped working, for three years, because of a passion. Would you do it again?
I don’t believe so.
At the same time you think that it was worth it?
Yes, because it has also allowed me to advance, to learn English. It’s anecdotal, it’s a turn, but okay, it has given me desire to know better where I was, to want to known more about myself… One can not love without opening oneself, and opening oneself, that’s taking the risk of suffering. One does not have control.
Is passion of necessity physical, for you?
If it’s not physical, I don’t know it.
Can it be purely physical?
I believe it’s possible. That passion cuts everything else, it blocks all, it’s what psychologists call unhealthy. It’s what one calls total alienation.
Nonetheless you grimace saying that.
Because at times when you’re quiet, reassured, you’re not interested in that anymore.
At the same time you know that it will come back to you.
My limits will be better marked. Both the limits I will set, and my own limits. You protect your being when you love yourself better. That’s the secret. Clearly, if they haven’t repeated to you all your childhood “Love yourself, love yourself”, it’s not when you’re actress that you can believe it.
Are you afraid of one day being less beautiful?
It’s alright, it hasn’t happened to me yet. I have no fear of being less beautiful, I’ve always been afraid of not being beautiful.
Do you accept that the marks of age appear?
I’ll accept it very well the day that I no longer do this work.
What will be the reason for you to stop doing this work?
I don’t think of it at the moment, but the roles that interest me are those of young people.
In the period behind you, what has hurt you most? The gossip? The attacks? The treachery?
There has not only been that. There has also been much love, joy, evidence of admiration, there has never been one without the other. You can’t believe completely neither in one, nor in the other.
Do you feel alone at the moment?
Alone, but not lonely. I’m in an agreeable state: busy, enthusiastic, curious. I live with all antennas out.
One can tell, you sparkle. You’re no longer afraid to speak about yourself.
I’ve suffered too much to hide my feelings. I’ve learned that to expose yourself, to reveal yourself is a test of your humanness. You must take the risk to disclose yourself in order to become more real, more human. And even if the price is high.
What do you know today that you did not know yesterday?
I know that the only question is: “What do I want to do with me, with my life? Who do I want to be?” It seems an egoistic question, it’s just the opposite, it’s a generous question, turned to the outside. Today I trust my instinct, I trust myself. Finally.
When you began at age sixteen, so wonderful when playing Moliere, did you trust your instincts?
Yes, that came from childhood. What beauty in childhood, what purity, what openness before one lets oneself be killed and cruelty recloses all. And then one passes the rest of ones life repairing all that’s been broken.
17 of Isabelle Adjani’s 47 films
Claude Pinoteau La gifle (1974)
‘Pinoteau was a journeyman director who made some hits using box office stars like Lino Ventura, Pierre Richard and Sophie Marceau. This film would pass unnoticed were it not for the astonishing presence of Isabelle Adjani, only 18 at the time. You just can’t take your eyes off her as long as she’s on screen. The abrupt adolescent gestures of rage and frustration are impressive to watch. Lino Ventura and Annie Girardot play the parents; they’re both great to watch. Ventura was an action star who could play comedy well. His slow-burn reactions to his daughter’s emotional excesses provide much of the fun.’ — Bob Taylor
Francois Truffaut The Story Of Adele H (1975)
‘Isabelle Adjani had already been working the film circuit from the time she was 15 years of age. But it wasn’t until her startling performance in François Truffaut’s The Story of Adele H that she truly revealed the depths of her talents. At the tender of 19, Adjani presented a damaged young woman on the brink of madness with an engaging sense of resolve. Truffaut had once said famously of her performance, “She acts as though as her life depended on it.” Truffaut, normally associated with France’s nouvelle vague (New Wave) movement of the ‘50s and ‘60s, turns in what could be his most conventional effort here. There are only just a few of the stylish tricks common of nouvelle vague to be seen here; in the way of linear-challenging techniques and fancy editing work, there isn’t much. The Story of Adele H follows a fairly subdued line of narrative which faithfully tracks the events in Adele’s life with disciplined chronology. The power of the film, something Truffaut clearly understood from the onset of filming, rests entirely in the performance of Adjani. He lets the her run with the character as far as she can, realizing fully that Adjani intends to destroy Adele with the kind of passion, heat and fortitude that would earn the actress an Oscar nomination for her role in this film.’ — Pop Matters
Roman Polanski The Tenant (1976)
‘Behind the credits, a face peering out through a window; a downward pan revealing a vertiginous drop to the courtyard below; a pan back to the window and round the court to another face, a girl’s, which quickly turns into Roman Polanski’s; a continuing movement past a chimney, across more windows-down one side of the building, over a railing and up another side — eventually coming round to the door leading to the street, which Polanski enters . . . If the remainder of The Tenant were as impressive as the first shot, we conceivably might have had a masterpiece on our hands. Nearly as concise as the extended crane shot opening Touch of Evil, it differs from the latter by arranging its arsenal of elements into a non-narrative pattern — a set of materials which, except for the girl turning into Polanski, are related spatially but nor chronologically, until Polanski’s entrance through the street door launches the story proper.’ — Jonathan Rosenbaum
André Techiné Barocco (1976)
‘Barocco is a 1976 French romantic thriller film, directed by André Téchiné. The film stars Isabelle Adjani, Gérard Depardieu and Marie-France Pisier. Identity, redemption and resurrection are the themes of the film. The plot follows a young woman who convinces her boxer boyfriend to accept a bribe to tell a lie that discredits a local politician. When the boyfriend is murdered, she is racked with guilt until she meets the killer and plans to remake him into the image of her slain lover. The film won three César Awards: Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Cinematography and Best Music. The film had a total of 678,734 admissions in France.’ — collaged
Jacques Rouffio Violette & François (1977)
‘In this film, Violette, played by Isabelle Adjani, is in a relationship with Francois played by Jaques Dutronc, who is a major wastrel that cannot hold down a job, and who likes to go shoplifting…among other things. The couple have a young son who is blonde, despite the fact that his parents are not…I couldn’t quite understand this, but anyway the film is quite watchable, and the characters are all engaging thanks to the performances of the cast. I have a love for all things French, so, I quite like these types of films, which show how Paris looked in the past. Surtout, dans les années 70. Eventually, Violette participates in Francois’…hobby…as the couple fall on hard times, and surprisingly she enjoys their escapades, until one day when she suffers some dire consequences for her actions.’ — Buck Aroo
Walter Hill The Driver (1978)
‘Almost three decades after the fact, The Driver seems like a striking precursor to Tarantino’s the-world-is-a-genre cinema as well as Michael Mann’s L.A-specific crime stories. In 1978, Hill did seem like the last man standing, devoted as he was to Americanizing the “mythic genre movie” genre originated by Melville and raised to operatic heights by Leone. Hill made a bold move with such a stylized undertaking, particularly in cruddy 1978 Hollywood. At a time when old-guard genre filmmakers like Seigel and Karlson were still working and extreme stylization was customarily reserved for subjects of corresponding heft (or for horror) the film barely made a dent. It’s fairly easy to discuss The Driver in terms of its hypercontrolled elements but a little more difficult to nail its strangely neurotic tone, which is finally what separates it from the myriad paint-by-numbers exercises in fanatically “controlled” genre filmmaking cluttering the multiplexes today. The Driver is indeed the sparest, driest, and most dramatically concise of Hill’s movies, but its three principal actors and their respective “acts” are about as far as you an get from a neo-Hawskian exercise in professionalism and grace under pressure. Dern’s needling, self-aggrandizing cop is very close to his vain Coming Home husband – while almost any other actor would have accented the procedural aspects of the role and made The Detective a study of hubris gone awry. Dern offers yet another portrait of wounded machismo. Meanwhile, O’Neal with is very 1970s male sensitivity and pampered jock good looks, play his role like the cool guy in a romantic comedy, waltzing into the frame and claiming the beautiful woman without even trying. This dynamic of warring male psyches – the self-actualized sensitive man vs. the outdated, unfeeling ma of integrity and action – was already present in Hill’s earlier comic script The Thief Who Came to Dinner. It was also a staple of countless romantic dramas, comedies, and sitcoms of the period. Yet rarely, if ever, did it lie at the center of a movie devoted to getting at “the muscle, the sinew, the tissue, the very nerve center of a getaway driver,” as Hill put it in the press notes. The tension between the dolefully attractive O’Neal in his stylist jackets and open-collared shirts, an otherwordly Adjani adored in sleek late-1970s couture, and the jumpy, beady-eyed Dern with his off the rack drip-dry suits is closer to Paul Mazursky than to Howard Hawks. It’s what finally gives The Driver, which has the chassis of a somnolent Alan Alda triangle and the body of a no-frills action movie, its own very special charm.’ — Kent Jones
the entire film
Werner Herzog Nosferatu, The Vampyre (1979)
‘Werner Herzog’s 1979 film Nosferatu the Vampyre, starring Klaus Kinski as the emulsion-faced undead parasite, is now re-released nationally as part of the BFI Southbank Gothic season. It is his homage to the 1922 FW Murnau movie, conceived and executed with passionate connoisseurship; Herzog develops the first film, making the final sexualised sacrifice more explicit, keeping some original locations and images, and approximating the operatic visual language of Murnau with a new kind of primitivism: strange tableaux, eerie wordless scenes, and juxtaposed, grainy images of bats that directly reference silent moviemaking. Kinski is every bit as bizarre in the leading role; the Count’s glittering amour-propre and menace may have a little bit of Mel Brooks about them, but Kinski carries it all off with glassy-eyed fervour and fathomless agony, as the Count prepares to carry his anti-enlightenment into the heart of 19th-century Germany. Kinski really is scary. What can it have been like for Bruno Ganz to play opposite him, as Harker, the luckless visitor to his sinister castle who, by accidentally cutting himself with a bread knife over dinner, gets the thirsty Count’s rapt and undivided attention? This is Herzog’s journey to the heart of darkness, a film that specifically echoes his earlier offerings The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser and his South American odyssey Aguirre, Wrath of God.’ — The Guardian
the entire film
André Téchiné Les soeurs Brontë (1979)
‘The Brontë Sisters (French: Les Sœurs Brontë) is a 1979 French drama film directed by André Téchiné. It tells the story of the famous Brontë siblings. The film was written by Téchiné with the collaboration of Pascal Bonitzer and Jean Gruault. The cinematography was by Bruno Nuytten. It was a project that Téchiné wanted to make since 1972, but only after the favorable reception of Souvenirs d’en France (1975) and Barocco (1976), he was able to find the necessary financing. Produced by Gaumont, the film’s originally running time was cut from three to less than two hours upon its release at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival. The film stars Isabelle Adjani as Emily, Marie-France Pisier as Charlotte and Isabelle Huppert as Anne. Pascal Greggory plays their brother Branwell Brontë. The plot centers on the sisters’ sombre relationship with Branwell. Set in a careful recreation of the period, the film follows the bleak lives of the four siblings in less than a ten-year span. It begins in 1834, when, at the age of seventeen, Branwell painted the famous portrait of his three sisters, in which he originally included his own image, and ends around 1852 when Charlotte, now a famous author, is the only surviving sibling.’ — collaged
James Ivory Quartet (1981)
‘Quartet is the story of a girl who, adrift with her feckless husband amidst the literati of glittering Paris in the 1920s, becomes entrapped by a rich and sybaritic English couple. Adapted from the wistful, melancholy autobiographical novel by Jean Rhys, Quartet is full of intense confrontations dazzlingly acted by Alan Bates, Maggie Smith, Anthony Higgins, and Isabelle Adjani. This is one of the Merchant Ivory team’s darkest and most compelling dramas of dangerously intertwined relationships.’ — The Criterion Collection
Andrzej Żuławski Possession (1981)
‘Self-mutilation with an electric carving knife, the most unpleasant divorce in the history of cinema, multi-coloured viscous pus pouring from every orifice, Isabelle Adjani going mental for 127 minutes and Sam Neill in tight turquoise trousers. You will find all of this and significantly more in director Andrzej Zuwalski’s Possession, an unsung masterpiece of horror which treads carefully between the realms of art house and exploitation cinema. The standout element of Possession has to be Adjani’s performance. Picking up both a Cesar and Best Actress at Cannes for her role, she looms menacingly as the centrepiece of the film, both in terms of narrative focus and ferocity of performance. While Possession contains many scenes of gore and hideous imagery, the most horrific and affecting sequences are in the maniacal shouting matches between Anna and Mark, which imbue a palpable sense of hysteria. As well as these arguments, there is an unforgettable sequence in a subway, which sees Adjani writhing, contorting and suffering a seizure on the floor, culminating in some form of gory demonic miscarriage. This has to be one of the most uncomfortable and disturbing sequences in cinema history, both for its demented ferocity and grotesque imagery. Oddly, this sequence seems to invite flattering comparison to the notorious subway scene in Noe’s Irreversible through the similarity of its setting and harrowingly psychotic behavior.’ — Den of Geek
Claude Miller Deadly Circuit (1983)
‘In this suspense thriller inspired by the novel Eye of the Beholder by Marc Behm, Catherine (Isabelle Adjani), a serial killer, seduces men and then murders them just before moving on to the next victim. She spreads her mayhem through various countries in Europe, only slightly ahead of the mentally anguished detective (Michel Serrault) who tracks her — he fantasizes she is his long-lost daughter and disposes of her trail of corpses to foil the police. Catherine pauses for a real love affair with a blind architect (Sami Frey) but the detective is overcome by jealousy and causes the man’s death. This drives Catherine into despair — and a return to her psychotic killing. As the police dragnet closes in, both Catherine and the detective are brought closer to a final confrontation with their internal demons. The version released in the U.S. runs only 96 min.’ — Rovi
Luc Besson Subway (1985)
‘Subway has a highly energetic visual style and a set of characters and situations so thin that they might as well be afterthoughts. It begins with an early morning car chase staged with typically meaningless panache. A young man in a tuxedo is pursued by a half-dozen similarly overdressed thugs through the streets of Paris, with all of them finally crashing into a Metro station. The chase goes on from there – the film never again sees the light of day – and soon involves a large number of subsidiary figures, chief among them the elegant woman who stalks the original runaway to his underground lair. It seems that Fred (Christopher Lambert) met the beautiful Helena (Isabelle Adjani) at a party the previous evening and happened, rather casually, to steal some papers from her husband’s safe. Whatever the circumstances, they amount to little more than a weak pretext for the ravishing Miss Adjani to show up in the Metro in her evening gown.’ — Janet Maslin
Elaine May Ishtar (1987)
‘”If all of the people who hate Ishtar had seen it, I would be a rich woman today.” So said Elaine May in 2006, two decades after the Warren Beatty-Dustin Hoffman comedy she wrote and directed had become synonymous with “extravagant flop.” (The film grossed $14.4 million on a $55 million budget.) Up until May 22, 1987 (the day it opened in theaters, 25 years ago), advance buzz on Ishtar was contentious; it was either a brilliant comic masterpiece or a textbook case of overreach on the part of two giant Hollywood egos to whom no one could say, “No.” After the film’s release… same thing. To this day, the movie is roundly mocked for its alleged awfulness (often by people who’ve never seen it), while a passionate cult of fans insists it’s a lost work of misunderstood genius that never got its proper due from critics or moviegoers. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. The movie is far from being unwatchable, as its detractors complain; nor is it as unrelentingly funny as its supporters claim. Seen today, Ishtar contains some inspired gags, from the hilariously bad songs performed by Beatty and Hoffman’s inept lounge duo to the prescient satire of America’s ham-fisted foreign policy blunders throughout the Middle East. But it also doesn’t really hang together as a film; rather, it lurches along in fits and starts like the movie’s fabled blind camel.’ — moviefone.com
Ishtar Trailer for 2 Hours
Bruno Nuytten Camille Claudel (1988)
‘Camille Claudel has until now occupied only the footnotes of late 19th century art. She was one of the mistresses of Auguste Rodin, the willful sculptor who is known to everyone, if only for “The Thinker.” She was often his model, and for a time she worked as his collaborator. She left behind many sculptures, which can be seen here or there, not much remarked, while Rodin’s work has been enshrined in the pantheon. She spent the last 30 years of her life in a madhouse. The film Camille Claudel is more concerned with her personality and passions than with her art, and so it is hard to judge, from the evidence on the screen, how good a sculptor she really was. This is not a movie about sculpture. Those who have seen her work report that some of it has a power that is almost disturbing – that there is an urgency in her figures suggesting she was not simply shaping them, but using them to bring her own emotions to life.’ — Roger Ebert
the entire film
Patrice Chéreau Queen Margot (1994)
‘We lost a major talent with the 2013 passing of director Patrice Chéreau, whose movies are marked by fierce intellect and fleshy eroticism. His stunning 1994 period piece, Queen Margot, adapted from Alexandre Dumas’s based-on-fact novel and now finally being released in its longer director’s cut, is a perfect introduction to Chéreau’s unique worldview. Chéreau makes us hyperaware of the literal meat of human existence—the deep-rooted longing for companionship and the visceral lust for survival that can be cut short with the flick of an aristocrat’s hand. (These people aren’t the embalmed waxworks of your garden-variety historical epic.) Death seems to linger in every inch of the frame, yet the film lives and breathes like few others.’ — Time Out (New York)
Jean-Paul Lilienfeld La journée de la jupe (2008)
‘A high school teacher loses it and ends up holding hostages half her class, turning the situation into a reflexive introspection on the various crisis of modern youths. Isabelle Adjani, very pretty in her white skirt and blazer, and rolled-up sleeve holding “caids” at gunpoint, is unpredictable and convincing – the rest of the cast, amateur or not, is very weak. The subject (education and equality) is strong, very relevant and more to-the-point than the very flat and bland take of the last Palmes d’Or “Entre les Murs”. La Journée de la Jupe takes it to another level, more brutal, more real and less entertaining. Less humor and more critical analysis. The two weakness of the movie are the very feeble and bad acting on almost all the characters. And the overuse of Issues. During the hour and half, the movie feels obliged to tackle every single issues possible: from gang rape to condoms, from Islam to immigration, from respect to racism … Too much. I was almost waiting to hear about Finance or the Ozone layer …. Interesting subject but awkward construction.’ — nyc host
Alexandre Astier David et Madame Hansen (2012)
‘The cinematic rentrée in Paris is marked by the return to the screen of one of France’s great icons, Isabelle Adjani. She stars in the emotional melodrama David and Mme. Hansen, playing a wealthy psychiatric patient with a dark secret. Wearing Jackie O sunglasses and a gray (but luxuriant) wig, Adjani plays her role to the hilt, but also gives it surprising depth. The movie has “Isabelle Adjani Vehicle” all over it, but it’s very much a showcase for the talents of Alexandre Astier. He not only directed and wrote the film, and stars as David, but even scored the moody soundtrack. He may have taken on too much. As an actor he’s assured, holding his own with Adjani (he also benefits from the writer—himself—giving him most of the lines). But his emotional register is limited to exasperation and irritation. We admire David’s stony persistence with Mme. Hansen, but he never opens up or softens, never shows vulnerability.’ — Bonjour Paris
p.s. Hey. ** Armando, Hi. I’m a wait and see on both of those films, but, after ‘Inherent Vice’, which I really liked, my interest in PTA has been refreshed, so ‘Phantom Thread’ is probably a lock. As I’ve said, I just have no aesthetic boner at all for ‘Call Me By Your Name’ It’s one of those many things where I think I’m not a very gay gay guy. But then I’m excited to see ‘I, Tonya’, which kind of kills that argument ha ha. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Ha ha, I love your and Steve’s opposition on the new PTA. It makes me want to know. I really enjoyed Bill’s story. I keep waiting for something to happen that will make me want to see ‘Call Me By Your Name’, but it hasn’t happened yet. That ‘Surrounded by Books’ piece looks to be lovely. Thank you for the alert. Well, The Ninth Circle was absolutely 100+ percent a hustler bar in the early to late 80s, at least. Not that others (like me) didn’t hang out there on the dealings’ fringes. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. He’s good, Mackey. Funny you and Steve talking about ‘Possession’ since, voila, there it is up there like a gift from conversation’s god. Nice weekend you had there! Never seen Radian. Now I really, really have to. Just got the new Pere Ubu album, which I think you said you liked. I love it. ** Steve Erickson, Hi, sir.. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! It depends on the ice cream cake. I have had awesome ones. It’s really about the cake vs. ice cream ratio. And whether the cake part gets ruined by the freezing process. It’s a delicate art. I still might get the Mini, though. Moreso now because only yesterday did I realise that one of my buche finalists is only for sale in the distant city of Dijon (!), so there’s room for another candidate. The mysterious project … the mysterious part is very annoying. We were told not to talk about it until the contracts are signed, and it is taking ages and ages to get the contracts ready to be signed for some unknown reason. And then the other day we noticed that one of the things we have to agree to in the imminent contract is that we won’t talk about the project! It’s ridiculous! We’re not working for the CIA, for goodness sake. I think once the contracts are signed, I’ll mention what the project is just once here and then I’ll talk about it after that in code. Which is silly. It’s a very cool project, but it’s nothing that’s going to blow anyone’s mind or anything. Today I think I’ll meet with Zac to talk about the new script additions. Then hopefully we can make some quick revisions and stuff because the new work we have to begin to do will completely swallow the film script work for a while, which sucks because we’re really excited to work on the film right now. Tidying up doesn’t sound too bad. Me, mostly just working on stuff yesterday. I strolled around to look at Xmas-y Paris for a while. A pretty lowkey day. My back is sort of okay but dangerous, and I’m trying to keep it in check until it accustoms itself to the winter and hopefully fades out. How was your day in the gallery and out? ** Nicholas Jason Rhoades, Hey, bud. Living with artists and writers seems like a big, big plus, no? Is that pretty much the choice? Standing up for and with ourselves is kind of all we’ve got left at the moment. ** _Black_Acrylic, Howdy, Ben. Oh, your dad and his friends might get into Mackey’s work, yeah, that’s really true. The big countdown, the last three days … wow! End of an era, and beginnings of an even greater one, I reckon. ** Chaim Hender, Hi, man. Ah, too bad that the Melies mix wasn’t a good one. That kind of new score/old film thing seems pretty in vogue these days, and I’ve only seen it actually work once: Maya Deren films with live improvised score by Thurston Moore and Stephen O’Malley at the Louvre. But your friend stuff there is the important part in any case. Yeah, it’s not necessarily anything physical about those places but more probably some kind of life/emotional alignment that happened at the time or something, I think. ** Misanthrope, Hey. Cool, glad you were pulled in. Happy to hear your hole is recovering. Baby teeth? I don’t know why, but I thought baby teeth weren’t built to live a long time. I thought they would crumble to dust after a couple of years or something. Good to know. ** Jeff J, Hey there, Jeff. My pleasure. I’m so glad you got stuff from it. Yeah, his poetry is excellent too. I happened to catch and read the outtake on Tyrant. It’s awesome!!!! Everyone, Here’s Jeff “J” Jackson. Take him up on this offer. I already did, and it’s a feast. Jeff: ‘New York Tyrant posted a new short story of mine today. It’s a discarded piece from my novel Mira Corpora that I reimagined – a photo gallery about a mysteriously vanished musician. With art by DL Michael Salerno. Here’s the link, in case anyone is interested.’ Films of late: Mostly things to do with blog posts I’ve made, so some Jean Rouch, Jean-Gabriel Albicocco (I did make a post re: his films), and Paul Clipson. Oh, I saw the new film by Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens, ‘Editeur’. Paul is my publisher, the head of the great house POL, and he, like me, has become a filmmaker in last few years. This is his second film. I’m actually in the film in one scene. It’s excellent. Unfortunately, I doubt the film will get any kind of release outside of France because it’s very much not conventional fare. Here’s the trailer if you’re interested. I’m visible in it for a fraction of a second. Books: I’m reading Mathieu Lindon’s ‘Learning What Love Means’ right now. It’s pretty great. ** Right. Something came over me that caused me to restore my murdered blog’s Isabelle Adjani post, and there it is. See you tomorrow.