Saturday, May 02, 2009

Tribeca, French Actresses, Gay History

Next week blogging will return to normal but this weekend I'm mostly offline. That's normally hard for me (My name is Nathaniel and I'm an internet addict) but this wedding weekend is such a blast that I haven't much though of movies... except for when we passed the Alamo Ritz earlier.

Before I left I took in my last Tribeca film, All About Actresses [Q & A] which is a French mockumentary about actresses and their neurosis. The actresses play themselves... but comedic false versions of themselves. The writer/director/star Maïwenn looked SO familiar to me and I just couldn't place her. This is what IMDB is for. Turns out she played the diva Plavalaguna in The Fifth Element. Well, how about that? I always loved her scene in that movie. Her new film is... unusual... but despite my francophilia, I feel like more knowledge of French cinema would have definitely helped me get the comedic twists on the star personas of the various actresses featured: Karin Viard, Charlotte Rampling, Muriel Robin, Karole Rocher, Jeanne Balibar, Romane Bohringer, Mélanie Doutey, Julie Depardieu, Estelle Lefébure. Nevertheless I was horrified that the audience knew even less than I. Consider: One audience member stands to ask a question and prefaces it by saying
I can't remember her name... but my question is about the old lady. The one that was in Basic Instinct 2...
 Charlotte Rampling?!? CHARLOTTE freaking RAMPLING reduced to 'the old lady that was in Basic Instinct 2?'

........Nathaniel wept.

I kept trying to picture All About Actresses with more familiar Hollywood actresses and it'd be quite a watchable oddity that we'd have to talk about. We'd have to talk about it a lot. My greatest take away was that I missed Romane Bohringer and I definitely want to see more of Karin Viard's work.

I forgot to mention it earlier but I also attended a special screening of the work in progress documentary Making the Boys [Panel] which covers the history of Mart Crowley's landmark gay stage play turned movie Boys in the Band (1968-1970). I have long been in the camp that feels that the property in question is a classic example of internalized homophobia but the documentary is terrific at showing all the sides of the arguments surrounding it. It attempts to put it all into perspective in terms of Boys place in the chronology of gay liberation. When it's completed it'll also be a must see for classic Hollywood devotees -- especially Natalie Wood fans. She was Crowley's patron saint, friend, and frequent employer and she gets lots of time and love in the documentary. Major bonus points: archival footage from parties at Wood's beach house with Hollywood stars like Sal Mineo and Roddy McDowall and great anecdotes about Bette Davis, William Friedkin and Richard Harris among others.

...more later but now I sleep and attend wedding festivities. Have a great weekend.


Slayton said...

Hmm.. but who would they cast? I'm thinking Debra Winger, Meryl Streep, Barbara Hershey, Karen Black, Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Joan Allen, Julia Roberts, Stockard Channing, Michelle Pfeiffer and Julianne Moore...

reassurance said...

My soul hurt when I read that question about Rampling. And I've always been a fan of Romane Bohringer (and her father, for that matter) as well, ever since Savage Nights.

Jesper.L said...

I think Charlotte Rampling is Super

Leehee said...

OMG, I would have wept, too, had I heard that question about Rampling in person. And possibly even have wacked that guy on the head and sent him to the video store to rent "Under The Sand".

So jealous that you got to see the movie!! Been dying to see it, the francophone that I am, for months!

Hayden said...


I found this Nicole Kidman quote that fits pretty nicely into your view of her auteur-ridden career:

"Cinema is a director's medium, so you're saying, "What do you want?" Being an actor is about adapting - physically and emotionally. If that means you have to look great for it and they can make you look great, then thank you. And if you have to have everything washed away, then I'm willing to do that too."

FrenchGirl said...

you have great taste,Slayton!

Cinesnatch said...

BITB was definitely an example of internalized homophobia. However, if the property in question is done right in staged play setting, it can come off a lot less caustic and bitter than the movie ... Friedkin (?) overplayed every last dark angle.

Anonymous said...

So, when are we getting the first point in the actress contest?

Fox said...

Yay! Glad you are in my town tonight, Nathaniel!

I thought I saw strobe lights and heard pandemonium over on 6th street near the Ritz tonight! It must have been you getting out of your limo!

OBloodyHell said...

maybe it's a gay thing, but Charlotte Rampling has hardly been a huge name. Most of her stuff is obscure art-house stuff, or of interest mainly to devotees of French cinema. Beyond that, she hasn't done much that qualifies as mainstream (Zardoz? LOL) and as such anyone who DIDN'T have an interest in art-house stuff and French cinema would be hard pressed to know anything she's done.

That's not a value judgment on her work -- it's just that one should hardly be surprised that someone outside those narrow realms of interest should be reduced to scrabbling to find anything she's done to identify her by.

I think you are being self-deluded to expect anything else from a mainstream audience. Rampling chose not to pursue "the big career" in mainstream Western cinema. That has both an upside (a lot of good films by some lights) but also a downside (not a lot of widespread recognition). There are always trade-offs in life.


Good points.

I know to some extent that I'm naive about how little mainstream audiences actually know about the cinema (I mean beyond the blockbusters). But on the other hand, I don't have to like it.

I'm a bit of an idealist when it comes to the cinema. I think you get out of art what you put into it and I firmly believe that people would love the cinema more if they stepped out of their usual diet (movies with huge P&A budgets) once in awhile.

And I think the world would be a MUCH better place if people cared about cinema's rich and international history.

It hurts me daily that most people don't even care to get to know hugely acclaimed and lengthy careers and only care about whatever flash in the pan is talking to the confessional cameras on the latest reality show.


the Rampling moment hurt me... And I haven't even seen that many Rampling movies but still. I know and have always known who she is.