Last night during the Golden Globe Awards, 20th Century Fox premiered a new trailer for the spy thriller Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence. As far back as 2014, director David Fincher and actress Rooney Mara were circling the project, looking to re-team for the first time since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That, of course, did not come to fruition, though the new trailer for the film not only suggests the influence of Fincher, but also that of Darren Aronofsky, whose last film, the divisive Mother!, also starred Lawrence. Directed by Francis Lawrence, Red Sparrow also stars Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeremy Irons.
Charlotte Rampling (#1–10 of 9)
For Let the Corpses Tan, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani trade the giallo stylings of Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears for a wild heaping of spaghetti-western psychedelia. The married French filmmakers may be fixating on a new genre, but their deliriously abstract and meta approach to their craft remains intact. In fact, the shift in genre focus only gives them new objects and landscapes with which to play their formalist games.
Beginning with the sound of gunshots as paint splatters on a canvas, Cattet and Forzani announce their intent to elevate style above all else. What follows is a deliriously gleeful, rapid-fire montage of sound and image: extreme close-ups of burning cigars that threaten to set fire to the very image of the film, landscapes refracted through sunglasses or the flames of a lighter, the crackling of meat roasting over a fire, and enough creaking leather to make Kenneth Anger blush. Let the Corpses Tan is driven by sensory overload—its formal elements pieced together in rhythmic crescendos designed to titillate not with sex or violence, but through sheer cinematic inventiveness.
Will voters who secretly agree with the eternally crusty Charlotte Rampling’s tempest-in-a-teapot comments about the purported reverse racism of #OscarsSoWhite feel like tempting fate this year? Will those who don’t even care one way or the other about her performance throw her a secret vote in solidarity? She quickly recanted her comments, saying she was misinterpreted, but this is one year no genies will easily go back into their bottles. It doesn’t matter matter how great her performance may be in Andrew Haigh’s patient 45 Years. Her impatient retraction, made as Academy members are publicly sighing their collective exasperation over being called out, simply felt unconvincing. Rampling’s firm, tony demeanor on and off screen, compounded by almost exclusively highbrow critics’ enthusiasm in her favor, was probably never going to move the needle much for an AMPAS still struggling to reassure the public they’re in touch with the times. But sticking to her guns may have given the longshot her best chance.
Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years tells a domestic tale that sounds familiar in its broad outlines: that of a long-lasting marriage that undergoes a profound shift as a result of a blinding revelation that brings up a well of behavioral changes and attendant doubts. In this particular case, the revelation comes early in the film, as Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay) gets a letter in the mail that informs him that the body of his first love, Katya, has been discovered in the Swiss Alps. Though he repeatedly tells his wife, Kate (Charlotte Rampling), that he still loves her, she begins to fixate on signs that suggest otherwise: Among other things, he takes up smoking again and rummages around the attic late at night to look for photographic mementoes of his long-lost old flame. All of this takes place mere days before their wedding-anniversary party; similar to Alex Ross Perry in Queen of Earth, Haigh structures his film around the days of the week leading up to the anniversary bash, with title cards marking each day.
It’s generally agreed that films fall into one of three categories: The Good, The Bad, and the So-Bad-It’s-Good. Still, there remain a few highly select examples of a fourth category: the What-in-Hell-Was-That? Michael Sarne’s star-laden evisceration of Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge is certainly one of these, as are such disparate disasters as The Lonely Lady (Pia Zadora’s last-ditch attempt at being taken seriously), the sub-Ed-Wood exercise in low-budget incomprehensibility Mesa of Lost Women (1953), and—when and if it finally gets released—Faye Dunaway’s vanity (and how!) rendition of Terence McNally’s Maria Callas play Master Class. Yet none of these acts of cinematic desperation are quite as outré as The Driver’s Seat.
Directed by Giuseppe Patroni-Griffi, this Italian-made English-language drama, adapted from Muriel Spark’s novella about a mentally unbalanced woman searching for someone to stab her to death, stars Elizabeth Taylor and features (as Neil Patrick Harris would say, “wait for it…”) Andy Warhol. Nothing in the good, bad or so-bad-it’s-good canon compares to it. And if you were among the semi-happy few who managed to see it back in 1974, when it was released (or, some might say, “escaped”) to select grindhouses before vanishing into the maw of home video, then you know what I’m talking about. For while Elizabeth Taylor certainly made her share of stinkers in a long and productive career (Cynthia, The Sandpiper, Young Toscanini), it’s hard to imagine another item so fit to leave moviegoers scratching their heads, wondering precisely why it was made.
- andy warhol
- Charlotte Rampling
- Elizabeth Taylor
- faye dunaway
- franco arcalli
- george stevens
- giuseppe patroni-griffi
- gore vidal
- guido mannari
- ian bannen
- jean-louis trintignant
- john huston
- John Waters
- last tango in paris
- Marlon Brando
- mona washbourne
- pia zadora
- reflections in a golden eye
- richard burton
- Roman Polanski
- rupauls drag race
- sinful cinema
- terence mcnally
- the 10th victim
- the conformist
- the divine nymph
- the drivers seat
- the night porter
In France, she’s known as La Légende. Co-star Dirk Bogarde dubbed her penetrating gaze “the look.” Film critic Barry Norman created a new verb in her honor, “to rample,” which means “an ability to reduce a man to helplessness through a chilly sensuality.”
At 65, Charlotte Rampling is still one of cinema’s great iconoclasts, recently appearing in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. It’s hardly surprising that the new documentary Charlotte Rampling: The Look isn’t a conventional biography. Director Angelina Maccarone calls it a “self-portrait through others,” explaining that she wanted to explore Rampling’s life “according to content instead of chronology.” If you’re looking for tearful revelations about her personal life, you won’t find them here. The Look gives us a glimpse at candid conversations between Rampling and her collaborators and friends. Each section is guided by a heady concept, such as “beauty,” “death,” and “desire,” and is intercut with clips from her most famous films.
In the first and most potent section of the film, “Exposure,” the still-ravishing Rampling, her heavy-lidded eyes untouched by a surgeon’s knife, discusses a life spent in front of the camera with her friend, photographer Peter Linbergh. Rampling’s observations are unusually self-aware and intelligent, but the woman who shocked audiences in films like The Damned and Max Mon Amour is at her most engaging when stirring up trouble.
The exterior mirrors the interior and vice versa in Melancholia, Lars von Trier’s second consecutive allegorically autobiographical work about crippling depression (after 2009’s Antichrist), which he here confronts via the story of a wedding-gone-awry and a subsequent world apocalypse. Those two events are a vehicle for von Trier to explore both emotional and spiritual crisis while also proffering a pitch-black worldview with regard to God and life’s meaning, concerns that feature little of the overt glibness that plagued Antichrist, whose provocations and stylistic tics regularly undercut its psycho-horror, but remain issues that the Danish director treats at a frustrating remove. Von Trier still appears to care more for conceptual stunts than actual people and feelings, though at least he tries in this instance, commencing with a gorgeously wrought, if decidedly over-the-top, series of foreshadowing end-of-days tableaus set to Wagner before seguing into the more restrained action proper, in which Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) first glide, then wobble, and finally crash through their nuptials at an opulent and remote estate.
A deliberately paced study in sublime defeatism that shuttles easily between deadpan humor and witty pathos, Rodrigo Moreno’s A Mysterious World might be the most auteur-y object to emerge from the Toronto International Film Festival’s “City to City” Buenos Aires-themed program. Expanding on—and more expediently dramatizing—the philosophy of monotony that characterizes his earlier film El Custodio, Moreno wanders the streets, apartments, and rural suburban roads around the Argentine metropolis by way of a scrawny flaneur protagonist, Boris (Esteban Bigliardi), who’s ejected from his terminally bored girlfriend’s loft in the daintily circuitous dialogue of the opening sequence. Just barely responding to his newfound adrift-ness, Boris checks into a hotel, allows himself to be conned into buying a broken-down French car, interpolates cigarette drags into his daily abs work-out, feasts on white bread topped with ketchup and mustard, and follows women compulsively, for miles, without any recognizably lecherous intentions. The camera lopingly observes Boris through these exploits, frequently forcing us to identify with his stultifying nervousness by mimicking his immobility and aimless turns of the head via stable eye line shots and unhurried pans.
In Heading South (or Vers le Sud, before the film was re-titled for speakers of American) director Laurent Cantet adapts a few short stories by Dany Laferrière, positing a trio of white Northerners on a beach in Haiti during the summer of 1979. The three women—played by Charlotte Rampling, Karen Young and Louise Portal—adopt (paid) black boyfriends who are three or more decades younger than themselves. Cantet intends the viewers, and if not them, then certainly the reviewers, to inhale the geopolitik drift of associations vis-à-vis “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s regime, the ruling power at the time.