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Gérard Depardieu (#110 of 8)

Film Comment Selects 2012: Mortem

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Film Comment Selects 2012: Mortem
Film Comment Selects 2012: Mortem

French filmmaker Eric Atlan’s black-and-white Mortem has been billed as a “metaphysical thriller” inspired by David Lynch and Ingmar Bergman. The more obvious comparison, however, would have been to French film noir. Mortem’s opening scenes, in which two young women arrive by nightfall at an empty hotel, bring to mind Georges Franju’s haunted Eyes Without a Face, based on Jean Redon’s novel that also inspired Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In. In all three movies, bizarre experimentation, psychic or physical, and plot reversals ensue.

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2011: Potiche

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Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2011: <em>Potiche</em>
Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2011: <em>Potiche</em>

So arch you can practically hear its back breaking, Potiche finds François Ozon following up the psychologically incisive Hideaway by reverting to his campy 8 Women ways. Ozon immediately establishes his mood of lighthearted frivolity via an opening credit sequence in which the screen breaks into round-edged fragments, all of them encapsulating sights of Suzanne (Catherine Deneuve) jogging through a softly lit forest while wearing a candy-red track suit, stopping along her route to watch rabbits screw and write poetry about passing squirrels. That self-satisfied tongue-in-cheek mood doesn’t dissipate once Suzanne returns home, where her adulterous, umbrella factory-running husband, Robert (Fabrice Luchini), treats his wife like an empty-headed “trophy housewife” (the film’s title refers to a decorative vase that sits on a mantle), scoffing at her advice while explaining that her role is to be merely his most prized piece of domestic ornamentation.

Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2010: Gérard Depardieu, Lebleba, & More Abu Dhabi Impressions

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Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2010: Gérard Depardieu, Lebleba, & More Abu Dhabi Impressions
Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2010: Gérard Depardieu, Lebleba, & More Abu Dhabi Impressions

Stars drop in and out with great frequency at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Clive Owen (no festival movie) flew into town for opening night and ate breakfast with journalists the next morning; Om Puri (West Is West) materialized out of an elevator, and gave me just enough time to squeal, “You’re a great actor,” before vanishing once more. Adrien Brody has been here, and Julianne Moore and Irrfan Khan will be. Gérard Depardieu came to promote his new movie, François Ozon’s campy fashion show Potiche, in which he plays a muted man falling hard for Catherine Deneuve.

A group of us walked into the actor’s hotel room to see the 61 year-old Cyrano sniffing nasal decongestant. His bare toes crinkled toward us, his shirt lay proudly unbuttoned, and he seized his fat belly at times to show he was unashamed. He gave the overall impression that he often gives on screen: a funny-looking, awkward-seeming dude who keeps shocking you with his sheer physical energy, then winning you with loquacity. He often spoke in rambling French, sometimes English, avoiding any recent controversies like his unprompted Juliette Binoche slam and returning over and over to the need to honor cinema of the past.

A Movie a Day, Day 95: Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1

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A Movie a Day, Day 95: <em>Mesrine: Killer Instinct</em> and <em>Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1</em>
A Movie a Day, Day 95: <em>Mesrine: Killer Instinct</em> and <em>Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1</em>

Gangster movies usually come in one of three flavors. In the first kind, the filmmakers identify with their glamorized protagonists (think Coppola’s Corleones or Michael Mann’s Dillinger in Public Enemies), portraying them as admirable, even honorable men who abide by a strict moral code in an immoral world. The second show no love to their gangsters, thugs without remorse like the ugly brutes in last year’s Gomorrah. The third—and probably most common—play it both ways, making their gangsters charismatic enough to appeal to our love of rebels without a cause (think Tony Soprano) while showing enough of the damage they inflict to remind us that bad-boy infatuations work best as fantasy.