‘Michael Lonsdale has made over 140 films with some of the greatest directors of our time, but the British-born, Paris-based actor is hardly what you’d call a high-profile movie star, choosing to take on character-driven roles rather than star parts in popcorn Hollywood hits. His presence on screen may sometimes be brief, yet it is unforgettable. With his 6-foot-1-inch frame, shuffling gait and rich, powerful voice, he exudes an imposing, magisterial aura, shaded with inscrutable mystery and a touch of ironic malice.
‘At 79 years old, Mr. Lonsdale has played the gamut of religious roles —priests, abbots, cardinals, inquisitors—as well as countless aristocrats ranging from English lords to Louis XVI. Also a man of the theater, his circle of friends has included literary heavyweights like Marguerite Duras, Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, whose works he performed on stage in Paris in the 1960s. Perfectly bilingual, he moves easily between the bizarre shoe salesman in François Truffaut’s Stolen Kisses and the campy bearded villain in the James Bond classic, Moonraker.
‘When the actor moved to Paris in 1947, he began to study painting, but soon decided to take classes at Tania Balachova’s acting school (“to overcome my shyness,” he says). Mr. Lonsdale’s first theatrical appearance in Paris was at age 24, and he hasn’t stopped performing since. One of his most outstanding memories, he says, was working with Orson Welles in The Trial (1962), in which he had a brief role as a pastor. “We only shot for one night, but he must have done 20 takes for my scene. Welles was incredibly nice, and every few minutes, he’d keep asking me: ‘Are you happy, Mr. Lonsdale?’ Of course, I was thrilled.” Another turning point was his role in Duras’s experimental film India Song in 1974, where he plays the enigmatic tortured vice-consul, whose eerie howling rings out in the night. “It’s still my most favorite role,” the actor states. “It helped me exorcise the suffering I was going through at the time in my personal life.”
‘Although Hollywood continues to try to entice the actor with various scripts (Of Gods and Men was nominated for the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category), Mr. Lonsdale is unequivocal. “My life is in Europe,” he says. “I try to devote my life to a kind of cinema that is more than entertainment.” The actor is currently shooting in Puglia, Italy, with director Ermanno Olmi for his coming role (“another priest!” he sighs) in a poetical saga called Il villaggio di cartone.
‘These days, Of Gods and Men has boosted the actor’s celebrity, but fame is about the last thing on his mind. “Michael is very humble and has a way of making you feel his love for humanity,” says Mr. Comar, the producer. “He works with whomever he pleases and doesn’t care whether they’re well-known or not.” — collaged
Michael Lonsdale @ IMDb
‘Michael Lonsdale, un homme et un Dieu’
Michael Lonsdale # france culture
‘Michael Lonsdale : “Avec Buñuel, j’ai vécu des moments délicieux”’
‘Michael Lonsdale: “La foi m’a retourné”‘
‘Comédien des avant-gardes (Duras, Rivette, Eustache…), revenu au grand public avec Le Mystère de la chambre jaune, Michael Lonsdale s’amuse et se ravit de l’intérêt que lui portent aujourd’hui des cinéastes qui ont la moitié de son âge.’
‘Michael Lonsdale, la vie est bure’
‘Des hommes et des dieux – La confession de (Frère) Michael Lonsdale’
Brandon’s movie memory: Michael Lonsdale’
‘Michael Lonsdale – L’acteur qui joua Dieu et le diable’
Michael Lonsdale profile & interview
Michael LONSDALE & Titi Robin : “Je parle avec Dieu”
Interview Michael Lonsdale 2009
Zarathoustra – Friedrich Nietzsche – Lecture : Michael Lonsdale
“Before I play, I do not work the roles, the way I’m going to say the sentences. I do not know. I am from the family of instinctives.” What do you mean ?
Michael Lonsdale: Absolutely! I do not dare to say it too much because people will think I’m not serious … But here comes the meaning when I read, and I get bored a lot during rehearsals because I want to play everything right now. Cinema is an art of the moment. I do not need to prepare, nothing. Except when the director asks me for one thing rather than another, then I bow to his wishes.
Your teacher, Tania Balachova, inspired by Stanislavski, asked you to “recompose the inner state of the character” to “find reasons to be happy or sad”.
ML: Yes, she always said that you should not play words, but what’s behind them. On Men and Gods , I improvised several scenes, especially with the young Algerian, at the beginning, when she asks me what it is, love. It came like this. This role of Brother Luke is that of a perfect Christian, given to others, sacrificed completely: forty years of infirmary every day from seven in the morning to sometimes ten in the evening. And besides he was asthmatic … I did not feel that it was me who spoke, as if it was someone else. This strange alchemy has already occurred to me when I played the great Russian, Saint-Seraphin of Sarov [1759-1833], seeing, prophet, in Pomogui [Catherine Fantou-Gournay, 2007-08]. Luke is a universal character. He even looked after the terrorists …
You describe your game as “minimalist” or “very English”.
ML: I like this distancing. To be in without being there … while being. It comes naturally, do not worry (he laughs). I have long been quite awkward and worried, on my nerves, but it disappeared, from my collaboration with François Truffaut [The Bride was Black, 1967]. In Stolen Kisses , I play a contemptuous, insupportable character, moron. The dinner scene with Delphine Seyrig was written, but for the one at the detective agency, he gave me two pages of text. I said I could not learn all that and he said, “It’s okay, do not worry, improvise.” “You have to half go to the role, and half that the role comes to you. If it’s the comedian who wins, it’s not right, and vice versa. “If it’s too much Lonsdale, it’s not right. Sometimes there are voices to be changed, but … I say that like that, it’s not a precise method. It depends on the partners too. Tahar Rahim, with whom I played in The Free Men [Ismael Ferroukhi, 2011], does not make a fuss: very simple, very true, very fair. He is a very great actor.
There is a formula of you that I really like: “I can be recognized as having a certain taste for the unformulated.”
ML: I let something unforeseen arise. With Bertrand Blier, it had gone wrong. In The Actors , he gave me a written role for Christian Clavier. The second day, he said to me: “It lacks mystery.” But me, I make mystery only when there is some.
What is the last thing you learned from your game?
ML: The Russian accent, when I played Turgenev in The Song of Ash, for two months, last autumn. A very complex writer, very rich and very concerned. I took the accent with rolled “r” and long syllables. “Booonjouuur”, “Commeeeeennnt ça vaaaa?”, “Do you go biiiien today or today?” [Little mischievous laughter] Turgenev, I know him by heart now.
Texts remain long in memory?
ML: I forget everything. But some roles remain: when I was studying with Tania Balachova, I worked the wonderful Trigorin of Chekhov’s Seagull. I played it forty years later, I remembered everything. If I get bored, I forget completely. Sometimes, I see old movies and I say to myself: “But what am I doing in there?”, Like those of Gérard Oury [The Warm Hand, 1959, L’Homme de l’avenue, 1961 ]. It’s before Snobs! by Jean Pierre Mocky , my first important role, magnificent: a gentleman who pronounces all “é” in “ai”. What a moron that one too!
Your major role, entrusting yourself, is that of the Vice-Consul of France in Lahore in India Song , for which Marguerite Duras asks you to “speak false”.
ML: Yes, in a strangled voice. It’s hard to speak wrong.
Steven Spielberg, he, in Munich , took you on the tone of a sentence.
ML: The hero [Eric Bana] is taken to the countryside blindfolded, where he meets “Dad”, a man of some power. I had played with regret because he did that to save his very sick father. Spielberg told me, “Be ruthless, he is not a family.” Dry, what?
You liked his job?
ML: Oh yes, Rencontre du troisième type , it’s beautiful. I was dead with envy that Francois Truffaut was chosen in the role of Professor Lacombe. At the time, they had thought of me, then they took Truffaut because he was better known. But not very good actor! [He laughs]
How often do you go to the movies?
ML: Sometimes two or three a week, sometimes not for a month. I also see old movies on TV. That’s how I discovered with passion [the Hungarian] Béla Tarr, zapping on a very long shot of people walking in the street … I do not remember the title … a story of “symphony” … [ Harmonies Werckmeister, 2000]. He wanted me to go to Prague to double a character, three lines, I said no, he came to Paris. I was a little touched, we walked a lot to the right on the left …
Otherwise, you found Black Swan [Darren Aronovsky, 2011] “horrible”?
ML: Horrible. This ambitious girl, this terrible mother, this odious director, oh there … And Natalie Portman, I knew her from Goya’s Ghosts [Milos Forman, 2007], she is not friendly at all. I said hello when arriving in the morning, she did not even answer. The film is a miss, too much misery. Forman wanted to visit Spain, so Jean-Claude Carrière [coscenarist] showed it to her, then they said to themselves that it would be nice to shoot here. It’s not a necessity. Do not do things to please yourself. It must really touch.
And Moonraker [Lewis Gilbert, 1979], then? The pleasure of playing the villain in James Bond, it does not matter?
ML: It’s comics. I was told, “You never do commercial movies,” I said, “Well, I’ll make you one.” 457 million spectators, it’s not bad! I played that English … with this giant of 2.18 m, Richard Kiel [Jaws], nice as anything. We went to present the film in New York, three thousand guests, including Frank Sinatra, everyone screamed, hissed, applauded …
Your favorite film is Ordet by Carl Theodor Dreyer . Why?
ML: There is a resurrection, which I had never seen at the movies. The heroine dies by putting her baby into the world. His little girl will find the son a little simplet, mystic, who recites the psalms all the time, saying “Come, you’re going to resurrect Mom.” He makes a short prayer, suspense terrible, fixed plan on the face that does not move no, wonderful timing, we hope, we are afraid, then suddenly she opens her eyes … It’s the triumph of childhood. Great man, Dreyer.
It’s also one of Nicolas Sarkozy’s favorites ...
ML: Ah? Well, there you go ! He crashed. In every newspaper, every day, there were four articles about him, no, no, no. There was no restraint, no distance. It does not interest me too much, but he disappointed people, he promised so much … I’m afraid it’s the same with the new guy. France is in a pitiful situation.
21 of Michael Lonsdale’s 239 films
Orson Welles The Trial (1962)
‘Bilingual in French and English from an early age, Lonsdale began appearing in French features and television productions as early as 1956. Billed frequently as Michel Lonsdale, he worked steadily if anonymously for the next half-decade before gaining his first international production with Orson Welles’ The Trial (1962), based on the novel by Franz Kafka. Though debatable as an adaptation of the Franz Kafka novel, Orson Welles’s nightmarish, labyrinthine comedy of 1962 remains his creepiest and most disturbing work; it’s also a lot more influential than people usually admit.‘ — collaged
René Clément Is Paris Burning? (1966)
‘Is Paris Burning? stars Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Gert Fröbe, Orson Welles, Anthony Perkins, Robert Stack, Charles Boyer, Yves Montand, Michael Lonsdale, Leslie Caron, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Simone Signoret, and Alain Delon. The production was filmed in 180 sites. Claude Rich plays two parts: General Leclerc, with a moustache, and Lt Pierre de la Fouchardière, without a moustache. He is credited at the end only with the part of Leclerc. His role as the young lieutenant is not by chance: Claude Rich, as a teenager, was watching soldiers in the street when the real-life Pierre de la Fouchardière called him into a building to protect him. The film is almost entirely in black and white, presumably to better blend the documentary stock footage that is included in the film. The film was shot in black and white mainly because, although the French authorities would allow swastika flags to be displayed on public buildings for key shots, they would not permit those flags to be in their original red color; as a result, green swastika flags were used, which photographed adequately in black and white but would have been entirely the wrong color. However, the closing credits feature aerial shots of Paris in color. The entire film was shot on location in Paris.’ — collaged
Francois Truffaut Stolen Kisses (1968)
‘The Antoine Doinel of Stolen Kisses—the third of five screen incarnations—was almost a decade older than the movingly delinquent child who electrified audiences in The 400 Blows at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival as he ran for salvation across the French countryside to the sea in one continuous tracking shot. The scenario of Stolen Kisses (by Truffaut, Claude de Givray, and Bernard Revon) is a perpetual juggling act by which harsh truths are disguised as light jokes. The sheer horror and inanity of competing in the open market for a routine job is hilariously summed up in a straight-faced shoe-wrapping contest, the outcome of which, to add to life’s injustices, has been fixed in advance. Antoine’s other jobs—hotel night clerk, private detective, TV repairman—mark him as a disreputable drifter capable, like Truffaut and his breed of breakout artists, of sinking all the way to the bottom in order to rise to the top. Antoine will have learned and experienced so much of the human condition that he won’t be able to keep himself from becoming a real artist.’ — Andrew Sarris
Marguerite Duras Destroy, She Said (1969)
‘The movies made from Miss Duras’s novels, even Hiroshima, Mon Amour, have in large measure depended upon an evocation of mood, a sense of dense and strange beauty foreign to the lucidity and simplicity of her own directorial decisions. She apparently means her film to portend revolution, holocaust, and rebirth (thus, the film’s title), but she maintains her own sense of order and decorum to the end. It must take a good deal to sustain dialogue composed chiefly of non sequiturs. Miss Duras’s cast manages it with style. I have reservations about Michel Lonsdale (the unlovable shoestore owner in Truffaut’s Stolen Kisses), who brings too weighty a personality to the abstractions of his role, but the other actors suggest just enough meaning to maintain conversation without overloading it.’ — Roger Greenspun
Jacques Rivette Out 1 (1971)
‘Rivette shot Out One in 16 mm in the last years of the 1960s, as France – disconcerted, wounded, exhilarated – was taking stock of what had happened to her during the months of May–June 1968. There was no “experimental filmmaking” as you had in the US at the time, and la Nouvelle Vague was working in 35 mm. The smaller format connoted reportage de télévision – as 16 mm cameras were the norm in the television industry. The events of May ‘68 had also prompted another Nouvelle Vague filmmaker, Jean-Luc Godard, to experiment with formats: Ciné-Tracts (1968), Un Film comme les autres (1968), One American Movie (1968), British Sounds (1969) and the films of the Groupe Dziga Vertov (1969–71) are all shot in 16 mm (and, in 1975, with Numéro deux, Godard would start to explore video). The reference there was “militant cinema” as well as the American cinéma vérité and the British direct cinema – i.e. a certain form of “catching” and addressing the Real. For Rivette – interestingly enough since, in a recent interview, Rivette admits that he does not own a television – 16 mm was used as a specific reference to television, an off-the-beaten track position if any. In the 1960s and 1970s, the editorial board of Cahiers du cinéma was suspicious and contemptuous of the new medium.’ — Senses of Cinema
Louis Malle Murmur of the Heart (1971)
‘In Murmur of the Heart, Malle’s own zest connects with the knockabout wit and curiosity of his adolescent antiheroes. He sketches even the jokey supporting parts with a satiric sort of sympathy—like the youthful snob Hubert (François Werner), who thinks it’s classy and worldly to defend colonialism. From the fleshy warmth of Ricardo Aronovich’s cinematography to the jazz percolating in Laurent’s brainpan—and, thanks to Malle, in ours—the movie boasts the high spirits to match its high intelligence. Murmur of the Heart is the opposite of a problem comedy about incest. For one thing, incest is not a problem here. Incest is the trapdoor that swings up to reveal the turbulence beneath a cozy way of life—and, in doing so, betrays the growing appetite for candor of a towering twentieth-century artist.’ — Michael Sragow
the entire film
Fred Zinnemann The Day of the Jackal (1973)
‘The Day of the Jackal is a 1973 British-French thriller film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Edward Fox and Michael Lonsdale. Based on the 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth, the film is about a professional assassin known only as the “Jackal” who is hired to assassinate French president Charles de Gaulle in the summer of 1963. The Day of the Jackal received positive reviews and went on to win the BAFTA Award for Best Film Editing (Ralph Kemplen), five additional BAFTA Award nominations, two Golden Globe Award nominations, and one Academy Award nomination.’ — collaged
Alain Robbe-Grillet Successive Slidings of Pleasure (1974)
‘Trintignant, in trenchcoat and trilby, investigates a bondage slaying, grilling the heroine in the victim’s bedroom which somehow contrives to be also a monastery cell, with trussed-up nuns languishing compliantly in the adjacent sanctum sanctorum. This is Robbe-Grillet amusing himself by scrambling together images and situations out of the overlapping conventions of the murder mystery and the S/M fantasy, taking care never to join the dots to form a coherent narrative and indeed ensuring that no such joining-up can possibly be achieved. This being Robbe-Grillet, none of the characters is permitted anything so crass as everyday sexual congress, though the numerous erotic tableaux should stir even the jaded or disinclined, thanks to the presence of Olga Georges-Picot, playing (but of course!) both victim and defence counsel. Amid all the sleight of hand, the most impressive feat is Trintignant’s performance which manages to be simultaneously poker-faced and extravagantly comic.’ — Time Out (London)
Alain Resnais Stavisky (1974)
‘The film began as a commission by Jean-Paul Belmondo to the screenwriter Jorge Semprún to develop a scenario about Stavisky. Resnais, who had previously worked with Semprún on La Guerre est finie, expressed his interest in the project (after a gap of six years since his previous film); he recalled seeing as a child the waxwork figure of Stavisky in the Musée Grevin, and immediately saw the potential of Belmondo to portray him as a mysterious, charming and elegant fraudster. Semprún described the film as “a fable upon the life of bourgeois society in its corruption, on the collaboration of money and power, of the police and crime, a fable in which Alexander’s craziness, his cynicism, act as catalysts”. Resnais said: “What attracted me to the character of Alexandre was his connection to the theatre, to show-business in general. Stavisky seemed to me like an incredible actor, the hero of a serial novel. He had the gift of bringing reality to his fantasies by means of regal gestures.” (Among many theatrical references, the film features a scene in the theatre in which Alexandre rehearses a scene from Giraudoux’s Intermezzo, and another in which he attends a performance of Coriolanus. His office is adorned with theatrical posters.)’ — collaged
Luis Buñuel The Phantom of Liberty (1974)
‘As in The Milky Way and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Phantom of Liberty shifts attention not only from a central character to a minor one, who then becomes central, but also from one time period to another. The film opens in Toledo during the Napoleonic occupation, as a costume drama involving executions and drunken French soldiers desecrating a church, a statue that comes to life, an exhumation. As the story reaches its climax, we hear the voice of Muni, a plump, antic actress who appears in many Buñuel films, reading the story aloud and next see her sitting with a friend on a park bench in present-day Paris. What does it mean? Phantom of Liberty? Buñuel joked that the title was a collaboration between himself and Karl Marx. It also seems jejune to suggest interpretations, since Buñuel deflected all incitements to explain himself and insisted that nothing at all in his films was symbolic or had the significance people attached to his recurring motifs. He liked the appearance of a peculiar bird—I think it’s called an emu—so he put one in. When he cast two actresses in the role Maria Schneider had been fired from in That Obscure Object of Desire, Buñuel merely threw the idea out to Serge Silberman, his producer, as a joke. Silberman thought he was serious, that it was the perfect solution—and that’s what happened.’ — Gary Indiana
Costa-Gavras Special Section (1975)
‘Unlike Z and L’Aveu, Section Speciale was not a big success when it was theatrically released. Z took place in Greece and L’Aveu behind the iron curtain. Section Spéciale takes place in France and it is no easy to clean your own backyard. Coming after Le Chagrin Et La Pitié and Lacombe Lucien which both showed the other side of the French attitude towards their occupying forces (till the seventies, most of the movies dealt with the French resistance from Le Père Tranquille to L’Armée Des Ombres), Costa-Gavras showed how the French used the law to commit injustice. And these French who sentenced their compatriots to death were not troubled after the Liberation (whereas others who did not kill anybody were). Main objection: “if we had not sacrificed these ones,a hundred of French people would have been shot…” Although Costa-Gavras made his movie accessible to everyone (story telling has always been his forte, even in his American career), he did not try to sweeten the screenplay with love affairs or melodrama (the past of one of the victims, played by Yves Robert, is almost treated with nonchalance and casualness). Although there is no superstar here (nobody like Yves Montand) most of the actors (particularly the great Michael Lonsdale), even in small parts, were widely known by the French audience of the seventies.’ — IMDb
Joseph Losey Monsieur Klein (1976)
‘Joseph Losey’s Monsieur Klein (Mr. Klein) is one of the exiled American director’s finest accomplishments. Shot in both Paris and Strasbourg between December 1975 and mid-February 1976, this existential thriller was the first of four films that Losey made in France while striving unsuccessfully to secure funding for Harold Pinter’s screenplay adaptation of Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past, written by Pinter in 1972 but never filmed). When funding56ell through on the Proust project, Losey inherited Franco Solinas and Fernando Morandi’s screenplay of Mr. Klein from Greek-born political filmmaker Costa-Gavras, who backed out of the project. Despite eventually winning three César Awards, as well as being selected as France’s Palme d’Or entry at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, Losey’s Mr. Klein was probably an unwise interim project if it was designed to help woo additional French financiers to the Proust adaptation. Not only was the film a box office disappointment, but also, echoing the audience reception of the similarly-themed thriller Le locataire (The Tenant, Roman Polanski, 1976), French audiences were unsettled by the film’s unflattering depiction of French anti-Semitism and xenophobia.’ — Christopher Weedman
Peter Handke The Left-Handed Woman (1978)
‘A train shatters the stillness of a Paris suburb, leaves a puddle on the station platform quivering with some unsolicited, mysterious, moving energy. This Romantic metaphor is at the very centre of Handke’s grave, laconic film, produced by Wim Wenders, which begins where The American Friend left off: in the ringing void of Roissy airport. Here, the Woman (Edith Clever, superb in the role) meets her husband (Ganz) and, for no apparent reason, rejects him in favour of a solitary voyage through her own private void. In her house, with her child, the film records a double flight of escape and exploration, her rediscovery of the world, her relocation of body, home and landscape. This emotional labour makes its own economy: silence, an edge of solemnity, an overwhelming painterly grace. Self-effacement is made the paradoxical means of self-discovery, and the film becomes a hymn to a woman’s liberating private growth, a moving, deceptively fragile contemplation of a world almost beyond words.’ — CA
Lewis Gilbert Moonraker (1979)
‘Hugo Drax (who has the honorary title of “Sir” in the novel) is a fictional character created by author Ian Fleming for the James Bond novel Moonraker. Fleming named him after his friend, Sir Reginald Drax. For the later film and its novelization, Drax was almost entirely changed by screenwriter Christopher Wood. In the film, Drax is portrayed by French actor Michael Lonsdale. In both versions of Moonraker, Drax is the main antagonist. An example of the Drax character’s ruthlessness as portrayed in the film is given by the manner in which he disposes of enemies. In one case, after discovering that his personal pilot Corinne Dufour had assisted Bond in discovering his plans, Drax fires her and proceeds to set his trained dogs on her. The Beaucerons chase her into a forest on the estate and kill her.’ — jamesbond.com
007 Legends – Interview with Michael Lonsdale
Jean-Jacques Annaud The Name of the Rose (1986)
‘What we have here is the setup for a wonderful movie. What we get is a very confused story, photographed in such murky gloom that sometimes it is hard to be sure exactly what is happening. William of Baskerville listens closely and nods wisely and pokes into out-of-the-way corners, and makes solemn pronouncements to his young novice. Clearly, he is onto something, but the screenplay is so loosely constructed that few connections are made between his conclusions and what happens next. What this movie needs is a clear, spare, logical screenplay. It’s all inspiration and no discipline. At a crucial moment in the film, William and his novice seem sure to be burned alive, and we have to deduce how they escaped because the movie doesn’t tell us. There are so many good things in The Name of the Rose – the performances, the reconstruction of the period, the over-all feeling of medieval times – that if the story had been able to really involve us, there would have been quite a movie here.’ — Roger Ebert
James Ivory The Remains of the Day (1993)
‘Based on the 1989 Booker Prize winning novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day is told in a series of flashbacks as Stevens, near the end of his life, makes a trip across the English countryside for a meeting that he hopes might reconcile his past mistakes. Anthony Hopkins received an Academy Award nomination for his subtle and penetrating portrayal of Stevens: in his tight shoulders and breathy hesitations, Hopkins discovers a deep humanity in a man who would leave his father’s deathbed to wait on his master at a dinner gathering. His rapport with Thompson, who also received an Oscar nomination, creates some of the most iconic and psychologically charged romantic tension in recent film history. The supporting cast includes Hugh Grant as Lord Darlington’s nephew, the enterprising journalist Cardinal; and Christopher Reeve as the American politician who tries to open the eyes of the English aristocracy to the imminent Nazi threat.’ — collaged
John Frankenheimer Ronin (1998)
‘I enjoyed the film on two levels: for its skill and its silliness. The actors are without exception convincing in their roles, and the action makes little sense. Consider the Stellan Skarsgard character, who is always popping out his laptop computer and following the progress of chase scenes with maps and what I guess are satellite photos. Why does he do this? To affirm to himself that elsewhere something is indeed happening, I think. The best scene is one of the quieter ones, as De Niro’s character gives instructions on how a bullet is to be removed from his side. “I once removed a guy’s appendix with a grapefruit spoon,” he explains, and, more urgently: “Don’t take it out unless you really got it.” The scene ends with a line that De Niro, against all odds, is able to deliver so that it is funny and touching at the same time: “You think you can stitch me up on your own? If you don’t mind, I’m gonna pass out.” John Frankenheimer is known as a master of intelligent thrillers (The Manchurian Candidate (1962), 52 Pick-Up), and his films almost always have a great look: There is a quality in the visuals that’s hard to put your finger on, but that brings a presence to the locations, making them feel like more than backdrops.’ — collaged
François Ozon 5×2 (2004)
‘In 5×2, François Ozon, the hard-working boy wonder of new French cinema, leads us backwards through the failed marriage of a young couple, from the cold details of their divorce to the first pangs of lust on the shores of a Sardinian beach resort. It’s an interesting exercise in signposting. Too often, we watch movies and groan at the obvious twists and turns towards a predictable end. But there’s something Brechtian about Ozon’s approach here. The end is clear; the question is how we got there, what we can deduce from the little behaviour we witness. The experience is something like a criminal investigation, a search for clues to Gilles and Marion’s impending break-up. It makes for engaging viewing – but still leaves you with a feeling that all love is doomed. Stimulating, but hardly comforting.’ — collaged
Xavier Beauvois Of Gods and Men (2010)
‘Of Gods and Men is a 2010 French drama film directed by Xavier Beauvois, starring Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale. Its original French language title is Des hommes et des dieux, which means “Of Men and of Gods” and refers to a verse from the Bible shown at the beginning of the film. It centers on the monastery of Tibhirine, where nine Trappist monks lived in harmony with the largely Muslim population of Algeria, until seven of them were kidnapped and assassinated in 1996 during the Algerian Civil War. The film premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Grand Prix, the festival’s second most prestigious award. It became a critical and commercial success in its domestic market, and won both the Lumière Award and César Award for Best Film.’ — collaged
Manoel de Oliveira Gebo et l’ombre (2012)
‘Gebo and the Shadow, directed by Manoel de Oliveira, is based on a play by Raul Brandão. It was shown at the 69th Venice International Film Festival. It was the final feature film directed by de Oliveira, who was 104 years of age when the film was released, and the last film appearance of Jeanne Moreau before her death on 31 July 2017.’ — collaged
Loris Gréaud Sculpt (2016)
‘Loris Gréaud Sculpt is a social science fiction movie that depicts unprecedented shapes and experiences, along with obsessions and fantasies. The film follows the thoughts of a man about whom we know very little, who seems to be constantly developing the concept of what experiencing beauty, thought, or obsession can be, despite the risks to which the subjects are exposed in the long term. Sculpt, produced for LACMA, is Loris Gréaud’s first major exhibition project to take place on the west coast of the United States and his first feature-length film. It offers a unique experience to each viewer who sees it as an immersive environment and the film’s content will be interpreted differently by each solitary visitor.’ — LACMA
p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Thank you, sir. Oh, and that’s fantastic news that ‘Raised by Hand Puppets’ is dead set on the birth canal at last! Keep me/us up on developments, if you don’t mind. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Sadly, given the Oscar candidates of recent years, I can rather easily imagine that. Well, god know self-aggrandisers are capable of good work sometimes, so I’ll hope for the best. No, I have nothing to play CDs or DVDs with at the moment, a poor situation that I’ve been meaning to rectify for ages, and a friend has the expanded ‘Tree of Life’ Criterion DVD ready to loan to me at a moment’s notice, so maybe I finally will now. ** _Black_Acrylic, Thanks, Ben. Happy you were snagged by a couple. Yes, I check my mailbox every day now and fish within its wee darkness hoping my hand will come back with an enveloped copy of the Moore/Purtill no-doubt masterwork. ** Kai, Hey, you’re back again, sweet. Aw: those kids. One of the exciting things about being in Japan is trying to decide what’s weird and what’s a logical divergence with a temporally blinding outlay and what’s advanced. How long are you there? Zac and I are hoping to get there by early next year if possible. My pleasure, as you know, about the recommendations. Triple hug. I’m waiting to hear back from Ishmael, so news soon. ** Jamie, Your 360 is complete. Welcome home to your home and to your flat, white, decorated home away from there (aka here). My weekend was all right. None too eventful. Work but not enough. Interesting coffee with a guy who wanted to pick my brain about Tony Duvert and Jean-Daniel Cadinot for a book he’s writing. Other stuff. Okay overall. You were all over the joint up there, nice. Sweet about the possible apt., and about the filmmaking course even especially! Tired plus wired can be a very useful space. My Monday needs to be eaten by work galore, and I’ll do my best. May yours involve Teresa May saying, ‘Fine, you can have your fucking second referendum.’ Okay, I have not seen either of those Pattinson film vehicles so all my previous bets are off. To hell via heaven and back love, Dennis. ** Corey Heiferman, Hi. Those are some excellent highlights, and, other than mass transit and museum overdosing, I’ve never indulged in a single one of them when I’ve been there. The front door of the house where I grew up had giant kumquat trees on either side of it. I liked how torturous and unrewarding they were to attempt to eat. I’ve never even heard of a Necco Sky Bar. Sounds kind of genius or something. I’m going to add them to my list of must-try-against-my-better-judgement US freak sweets along with Kandy Korn Oreos. Yes, I used to submit my stuff to lit magazines relentlessly when I was starting out. Poems mostly because my fiction was too obviously shit back then to even try. So, yeah. And I still think it was a good thing to have done. It ‘got my name around’. I think I must have submitted strategically based on what the magazines published, or tried to. It’s interesting. And it makes checking your mail tense and exciting. ** Right. I’m guessing that a lot of you might not know the name Michael Lonsdsale, but he’s had a very interesting ‘career’ as an actor, as you will see, starring or co-starring in films by a lot of great directors. Anyway, I thought you would find it worthwhile to familiarise yourself with him. Give it a shot. See you tomorrow.