The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Michael Lonsdale Day *

* (restored/expanded)


‘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 retourn锑
‘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 [2010], 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 [1968], 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 [2000], 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 [1961], 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 [1975], 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 [2005], 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 [1977], 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 [1955]. 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.


27 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

the entire film


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



Marguerite Duras Jaune le soleil (1971)
‘The whole film takes place in a single room where representatives of the two political forces and their enemy “the Jew” are gathered. A female character establishes the dialogue between these individuals and comments on the ideology of each; Until the final scene where everyone seems to rally to a common idea.’– Letterboxd



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



Marguerite Duras India Song (1975)
‘Marguerite Duras’s most celebrated work is a mesmerizing, almost incantatory experience with few stylistic precedents in the history of cinema. Within the insular walls of a lavish, decaying embassy in 1930s India, the French ambassador’s wife (Delphine Seyrig) staves off ennui through affairs with multiple men—with the overpowering torpor broken only by a startling eruption of madness. Setting her evocatively decadent visuals to a desynchronized chorus of disembodied voices that comment on and counterpoint the action, Duras creates a haunted-house movie unlike any other.’ — Criterion Collection




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.’ —


007 Legends – Interview with Michael Lonsdale


Raúl Ruiz The Insomniac on the Bridge (1985)
‘A peeping-tom academic (Michael Lonsdale) and a hunchbacked prizefighter (Jean-Bernard Guillard) find nocturnal rapprochement in their shared inability to sleep. Bottomless philosophical discussions take the men further afield of reality, and they eventually decide to rape a pregnant woman named Violette (Olimpia Carlisi), who then throws herself into the Seine—only to return time and again in new, horrifying forms, including the spectral visage of her son (Ruiz’s child alter ego Melvil Poupaud). One of the director’s most confrontational visions, The Insomniac on the Bridge is a barbed avant-garde meditation on trauma, rationalization, and delirium—an underside that Ruiz, as always, reminds us is clinging to the crust of day-to-day reality.’ — filmlinc

the entire film


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


the entire film


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




Steven Spielberg Munich (2005)
‘Spielberg’s movies often turn, subtly, on the absence of stable fathers and the resulting emotional vacuum. In Munich, that vacuum is also a moral one. Avner’s surrogate father, a Mossad higher-up called Ephraim (Geoffrey Rush), is cold and withholding—of both information and spiritual affirmation. Far more affectionate is Munich’s third father figure, known only as “Papa” (Michael Lonsdale): the patriarch of a French family that deals in supersecret intelligence, providing Avner (for vast sums of money) with intelligence on the comings and goings of his targets. Papa is seen only in the context of his family—hordes of golden-haired grandchildren frolicking in bright sunlight on a country estate. He says, wistfully, that Avner could be his son. But he adds, ever amoral and pragmatic, that Avner is not his son and is therefore completely expendable.’ — David Edelstein



Catherine Breillat The Last Mistress (2007)
‘In The Last Mistress, Brellait deconstructs the early 1800s in such a way to give the viewer more than just a recreation of the manners and mores of the past through set and costume design Breillat sustains a wry tone of cool irony that Luis Buñuel would have admired. Asia Argento adds both dignity and pathos to the often thankless role of femme fatale. For the part of Ryno, Breillat said she needed a “young Alain Delon” (although Fu’ad Aït Aatto might evoke a young Mick Jagger for some viewers). Similarly, the participation of Michael Lonsdale, Yolande Moreau and Claude Sarraute brings both humour and credibility to the elders who walk a tightrope between bourgeois complacency and post-carnal world weariness.’ — Senses of Cinema



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



Arnaud des Pallières Degas et moi (2019)
‘The film shows a complex portrait of the impressionist Edgar Degas in this poetic short. The film establishes a dialogue between the arts, while foregrounding the artist’s problematic legacy.’ — IMDb

the entire film



p.s. Hey. I’ve been interviewed for the Poety Project Newsletter about ‘I Wished’ and Zac’s and my films, and about my work in general by Niko Hallikainen, and you can read that here. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Not bad, right? I don’t know if I can pick a favorite. Maybe thetorturedpoet just because having a tortured poet as a slave might make the arrangement a little less potentially tedious? Thanks to your mom for the enlightening definition. Gosh, I’m glad you’re outta there if she’s right. Let’s see … maybe one last slave love before they slip away. Love would love to go abroad and be abused by the lower classes, G. ** dwt, Yeah, the slaves have always appeared here on the last day of the month (unless that’s on a Sunday), and the escorts always on the 15th (unless that’s on a Sunday). I’ve never listened to the ‘I Wished’ audiobook. I had no control over that, and I’m scared to. Happy that it sounds to have worked at least to some degree. You like humidity? Wow. I’ve heard of people like you. I almost become suicidal when it’s hot and humid. Maybe you can teach me. ** _Black_Acrylic, Thanks! Super happy you liked the Roy Andersson film. I love his work. If you want another, I’d do ‘Songs from the Second Floor’. Its score is by Benny from ABBA (!), but you’d never know unless you read the credit. ** Lucas, Hi, L. That last image made me guffaw. I’ve heard of Junji Ito, but I don’t think I know the work, although I look at manga/anime in such a random way that I don’t pay that much attention to the artists’ names. I’ll go check. And I’ll try Tomie for sure. Thanks. Nice about the restorative conversation. Yeah, I hate power mongers no matter what they’re like, but when they’re arrogant, condescending mongers, it’s insufferable. But I (and Zac) seem to be trapped under this one’s power, so we have you figure out how to get through it. No, haha, I can’t recommend Hard Rock Cafe unless you would find it amusing to eat edible but unremarkable American food while having 90s music videos (GnR, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, etc.) playing loudly on screens all around you. We go both as a kind of joke and because it’s the only place in Paris where you can get actual nachos. Life gets better and better, I think, or it alway has for me, or I convince myself it has, or something. I’m not a sports guy, but soccer/football is pretty graceful sport, I think, as far as such things go. So I hope your dad and you enjoyed it and wolfed down beaucoup stadium food. Mine? Another meeting with the power monger. Tonight’s Nuit Blanche where they install temporary art and music and video things all over Paris and people walk around looking at them all night. (That sounds a lot more fun than it is). And some writing and stuff. See you back here come Monday. ** Misanthrope, That would be a pretty good trick, so I will focus even more of my learning abilities on you. I’m not sure hat I know the difference between fluff and dark stuff. Maybe the dark stuff is my fluff. Yury’s good. Working hard, in good spirits, he’s fine and dandy, I think. How’s Little Show? You haven’t mentioned him in a bit. ** HaRpEr //, I like the faulty name. It’s kind of suave. We could use a new Oscar Wilde, so keep noting down those bejeweled tidbits. See, now there’s another excellent one. Your on-the-spot one. They just roll off your … tongue/brain pan. Maybe you can be to the thinking set like what Deepak Chopra used to be to the non-thinking set. Haha, awesome, the Orson Welles comp. I am often in admiration of the slaves’ outside artistry and even when they’re not outside. But be assured that the ones I choose are very minuscule needle slaves in a gigantic slave haystack. ** Steve, Yikes! Uh, me thinks that dentist was not a good dentist to say the least. Strange, so sorry. I hope you’re not in discomfort during the in-between. ** Justin D, You do, right? You have no idea, or maybe you can imagine, how extremely rare and buzz-producing it is to come across a literature knowledgeable slave in those places where they ply their wares. All video games, but the ones that are waiting for me at the moment are — it’s been a while — the latest Paper Mario game, the last Luigi’s Mansion game, the most recent Resident Evil, the most recent Zelda game, and something else I’m forgetting. I’m a Nintendo guy, obvs. I am determined to restart my addiction any second though. Maybe even this weekend. Scary. I hope your weekend isn’t scary. ** Bill, The commenters are all just guys who hate that they’re not young and hot anymore and hate those who are. Is my guess. You went to the East Village event? I read about its existence. Bruce Benderson was never tall, but he was a more densely bodied guy in the past, which did give him something of an imposing vibe. Nice: the bookstore. In Santa Rosa! I went there once a billion years ago. One of the only two girlfriends I ever had lived there. Huh. ** Oscar 🌀, Nice. I’m going to pretend that keychain was also edible like a candy necklace. I don’t know if they sell those anymore. I think maybe it’s time to call forth the skywriting planes flying over your location in a ‘Oscar’-extruding formation. I wonder what it would be like if the blog was a bar and once a month all of you and that month’s slaves gathered here for a cocktail party. Non-fiction, cool. Zac and I want to make a documentary, but we haven’t landed on a subject matter. I think when I watch films they’re about 85% documentaries. What a form. Whoa! That’s amazing about the offer! How likely is it that you will accept? Incredible, congrats! I was telling Lucas up above that I guess I’ll go to Nuit Blanche tonight, even though it’s always very, very disappointing. Otherwise I think I’m mostly going to be dealing with film producer-related shit that I need to deal with but really, really don’t want to. But it’ll be fine. Thanks for the hoped for discovery. That sure would be nice. For me the first ‘wow!’ blast off Death Grips moment was coming across the ‘Get Go’ video somewhere out of the blue. I hope that at the rave that your day will consist of you stand or dance next to someone who’s so zonked on MDMA that they think your pocket is their pocket and accidentally slip their hard-won million dollar bill into it then dance away. ** Okay. Michael Lonsdale isn’t a household name outside of France, but he was the go-to actor for most of the brainiest French filmmakers and others for decades. As you may have already seen, his CV is amazing. He starred in films by Orson Welles, Francois Truffaut, Marguerite Duras, Jacques Rivette, Louis Malle, Robbe-Grillet, Alain Resnais, Luis Buñuel, Costa-Gavras, Joseph Losey, Peter Handke, Raúl Ruiz, James Ivory, John Frankenheimer, François Ozon, Steven Spielberg, Catherine Breillat, Manoel de Oliveira, and others, not to mention playing the villain in a James Bond movie. Anyway, I thought I would restore my old Day about him to give you a weekend to get to know him/his. See you on Monday.


  1. Dominik


    Congratulations on the Poetry Project interview!

    It does sound pretty intriguing to have a “tortured poet” as a slave, right? And his looks help, too… He was one of my favorites as well (unsurprisingly). But Looking4SnuffMaster, Explogre, and UnChienAndalou (“lusty ghost / inattentive / social anxiety / slut / his name is skull”!!) also charmed me.

    I’m also going back to the slaves for one more love (only one because your love grabbed the third I’d had in mind!): love is not sure if he is into guys but he is into meanness, Od.

  2. Charalampos

    Ok total star in the OUT 1, a film that made me totally paranoid about human communication for a while or for good. And in the rewatch I will do I will try and study this thing more but feel fond of the time it made me crazy 🙁

    His seventies filmography is out of this world! But before than and after that too

    I got this thing about If we wait by Guided by Voices all of a sudden today. So I will play the respective EP to spot more goodies! They have many EPs too apart from all the albums

    Congrats for the Poetry project interview for me as well. I liked it. Who knows when the next idea for novel will come? Just wait

    Good weekend vibes from Crete and new month ahead

    • Charalampos

      Do you have some big faves from their many EPs that you feel is a must?

  3. Mark

    I got my copy of Fun to Be dead. I’m going to crack it open this week. We went to see Kraftwerk at Disney Concert Hall on Wednesday night – it was amazing!!! I’m going to see Lawndale this Sunday. Did you ever hang out at the Pikme-Up in LA. My friend Tawny worked there. I’m working on a Kid Congo zine and came across a flyer with him reading at Pikme-Up. Hope you are well 😉

  4. Steve

    Yeah, the dentist who conducted my root canal a few weeks ago was a lot more competent. I’m trying to relax this weekend, but I’m exhausted, as well as worried about further surgery. I can’t move any further on this till Monday. At least I’m not in much pain.

    I hope you’re having an enjoyable weekend. I was gonna see AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON tonight, but Griffin Dunne is introducing it, so I realized tickets are likely to sell out in advance. I’ll probably catch IN A VIOLENT NATURE instead.

    I have two new reviews, on Eric Chenaux Trio’s DELIGHTS OF MY LIFE ( and Marco Bellocchio’s KIDNAPPED ( Scroll down halfway the page for the Chenaux review.

    Charli XCX’s new remix of “360,” featuring Robyn and Yung Lean, is awesome! They go back and forth, playing off each other’s vocals, with great chemistry.

  5. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Ha! You could be right re: dark and fluff. Dark could be your fluff. My fluff is whimsical stuff that has a happy ending and no really bad things happen to anybody, at least not anything they can’t work themselves out of with a little thought and determination and honor. I think I described that the way I wanted to.

    Oh, Little Show. Well, Little Show got big and hit over 300 pounds but has lost 20 of that. In the meantime, his opioid addiction has only gotten worse. And now his rotten mother has left North Carolina and is back up in Southern Maryland living with her mother. I think David’s been hanging out with her. She does even harder drugs and we’ve noticed he’s been even worse since she showed up. I don’t know what’s going to happen with him/them.

    Good to hear that about Yury.

    The Korean BBQ was good last night. I’m deciding where/what we’ll eat tonight. I want to go to this Thai place but it’s in a not-so-great area, haha. Maybe Japanese then?

    I’ll probably save my new time management until next weekend. 😛

    Btw, the French Open is going on. See if you can snag a ticket somehow and get your tail over there. 😀

  6. Corey Heiferman

    Shit now I feel like an old-timer since I was here for Michael Lonsdale Day 1.0. I try to live my life as an Out 1 character so he’s on my mind every day. Congrats on Flunker getting published.

    I’ve been busy preparing texts for some upcoming Hebrew poetry magazine submission deadlines. I probably have the best chance with an Oulipo-inspired magazine and another that’s also kind of out there, but you never know. I like being a chameleon so I might end up writing texts I wouldn’t write otherwise specifically for submissions. Have you ever written with a particular submission in mind? Or would you just look through what you have and send whatever seems like the best fit?

  7. _Black_Acrylic

    Lonsdale sure did have a varied CV, got to respect that. Used to love James Bond films back when I was a kid so I’m sure his work lingers on in my subconscious.

  8. Justin D

    Hey, Dennis! When I was 8, my Dad painted a mural of Mario on my bedroom wall, so I totally get your Nintendo fondness. I haven’t played a video game since the long-awaited ‘Return to Monkey Island’ (the latest in a series of adventure games in which you solve puzzles as a lovable, nerdy, twink pirate). If you’ve never played any of them, I can definitely recommend. The games are highly immersive and loaded with humor. Now I feel guilty in possibly aiding your gaming addiction after you clearly mentioned your desire to take a break from it. Oops! 🎮

    • Justin D

      I meant to say thanks for sharing that interview. So, thanks!

  9. Darby🤨

    Hey happy Men’s mental health awareness month and also the rainbow capitalism month which is only good for when I’m trying to get amazing discounts on binder and binding tape. Never been to a pride parade, have you?I know people who go but it seems kind of chaotic but tbf I hate crowds.
    I swear people who vandalize art so stupid, why do they think that even sends an impactful message?? DO they not realize that a lot of the pieces they target are like in no way associated with their really absurd point and that by damaging them all they are really doing is upsetting people who agree with them and proving that their just really privilleged yet simultaneously uneducated!!
    Anyways Frankie( the cat obviously) asks if the Tour de France is prevalent yet? She’s a big fan of bike races. She’s also a fan of eating.

    Also, yes there is a Cupcake man but you should never bring him up to the Muffin man because he was gunned down back in 82 for drug-related crimes. He was caught smuggling powdered sugar over the border.
    Its ok you didn’t know. Have a good week.

  10. Cletus

    Doesn’t have a lot to do with this post specifically, but I was finally able to order the Bob Flanagan book! I’m super duper excited. I’ve been going back to that post and re-reading the excerpts in anticipation. Glad the blog featured it. Hope you and everyone here had a good weekend.

  11. Lucas

    hi dennis!

    yeah, that sounds unbearable with the tyrannical producer, I’m hoping that meeting with them was as short and painless as it could be. I just looked at some clips from nuit blanche on twitter and.. hm it does look underwhelming, which is a shame, because it’s a nice concept. tell me if you saw anything cool though.

    my weekend was ok, yesterday was really nice and today sucked. I’m staying at my dad’s place for the time being so I think it’ll be okay—I agree with you that life generally always gets better but it’s been kind of hard to accept since I’m a natural pessimist. the best part about my weekend, though, was that the copy of the dream police I ordered that was meant to arrive on like thursday arrived yesterday, so it was a pleasant surprise. you said in the new interview with the poetry project that you’d never be a good enough poet, but the ones in this book are really, really great. my favorite being that one for robert piest, “late friends”. I reread that one and others a bunch of times today and it made my day a lot more bearable, so huge thanks to you.

    I saw a squirrel on my walk today that was kind enough to let me take photos of it so I thought why not share them with you:

    wishing you a good start to the week!

  12. HaRpEr //

    Hey Dennis. Michael Lonsdale just so happens to be in the two films that I’m most desperate to see. The first is ‘Out 1’, and the only option for seeking that out appears to be on Vimeo with Italian subtitles baked in. Jacques Rivette in general I’ve been trying to seek out, I’ve found out a way to watch ‘Duelle’, though. If anyone knows how to watch ‘Out 1’, in Oscar Wilde’s words ‘men have gone to heaven for smaller things than that’. The other film is ‘Successive slidings of pleasure’ but that one is on dvd at least. I remember I spent a few years tracking down Jean Eustache’s ‘The mother and the whore’ and it was worth the wait, the same with Derek Jarman’s ‘Blue’. Eustache’s ‘My Little Loves’ is another one I’m seeking out.

    Also, I got around to reading Blanchot’s ‘Death Sentence’, what a book! It feels familiar and so elusive and strange at the same time, and there are all these intriguing devices. I was reading about how Blanchot often wrote with neutral pronouns which gets lost in translation, I may have understood that but it fascinates me anyway.

    Anyway, all of this personal stuff I’ve been going through is too exhaustingly boring for me to even verbalize, but I’m doing what I can to get through it all and I hope you’re doing well.

  13. Uday

    This makes me even more curious about Antoine Monnier and now I really really want to find it with a library but I shall respect your desire to not have it seen whatsoever, if that is your wish. I think I might be misremembering the conversation with Jackson. Maybe he said he only knew your roommate. Sorry that your week was 2/3rds not good. More movie stuff or? I’m not sure I’m being “saintly” to my friends because I’m also benefitting by spending time with them etc. but yes it’s been nice otherwise. Saw the Hairspray musical earlier and it doesn’t quite compare to the original 1988 movie but it was still a good time. I think somewhere along a quest for learning I’d forgotten about the value of occasionally seeing feel-good art that doesn’t challenge. Only in small doses of course.

    Michael Lonsdale! I remember seeing him in the James Bond movie with my dad years ago and of course with Bunuel et al more recently but my brain somehow never made that connection.

  14. Bill

    Lonsdale’s face looks familiar, but the only movies of his I’m sure I’ve seen are Name of the Rose and Moonraker. I can’t imagine they are the movies that I remember his face from. Odd.

    Nice Poetry Project interview! I can’t imagine what it’d be like reading I Wished without knowing the five novels, hmmm.

    A friend was over this weekend, and we watched a bizarre doublebill of William Jones’ Fall of Communism, and Ishii’s Electric Dragon 80,000 V. How’s that for a weird combo?

    I’m trying to order Flunker through a local bookstore to support them. Hope it doesn’t take forever…


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