Watch this: Dardenne brothers’ “Young Ahmet” is now streaming online

YOUNG AHMED (2020) Stream on Criterion Channel; rent on AmazonGoogle PlayiTunesVudu and YouTube

A bespectacled Belgian teenager gets swept up by radicalism in this most recent film from the brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne. The teenager, a 13-year-old named Ahmed (Idir Ben Addi), falls under the influence of an extremist imam (Othmane Moumen). As Ahmed grows apart from his family, his attention falls on his math tutor, Inès (Myriem Akheddiou) — a fixation that leads to catastrophe. “The plot may hinge on Ahmed’s actions and motivations,” A.O. Scott wrote in his review for The New York Times, “but the film’s real drama revolves around a central moral and political conflict, between religious extremism and a humanist ethos that is more behavioral than doctrinal.”

NY Times
Dardenne Brothers

Actress ‘proud’ she walked out of French Oscars over Polanski

Actress ‘proud’ she walked out of French Oscars over Polanski

Actress Noemie Merlant has absolutely no regrets about walking out of the French Oscars after Roman Polanski won best director to cap what was perhaps the most bitter and fractious awards ceremony in French cinema history.

Merlant followed her “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” co-star Adele Haenel nd the acclaimed movie’s director Celine Sciamma, to the exit after Polanski won best film for “An Officer and a Spy”.

Haenel cried “Shame!” as they left, furious that the Cesars academy had honoured a man still wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977, and who has since had to deny several claims of sexual assault.

Haenel — a key figure in the French #MeToo movement, who last year revealed that she had been sexually harassed by a director as a teenager — had declared that “distinguishing Polanski is spitting in the face of all victims”.

“I am proud that I left with my comrades,” Merlant said of the dramatic night four months ago, which caused an earthquake in the French industry.

– ‘It had to happen’ –

“I think it is good that it caused a stir, that it started a debate.

“The world is changing, and going forward,” the actress told AFP.

“Now we are standing up and we are walking out when things have to change. It’s something I think that has to happen,” said Merlant, who made her breakthrough playing a woman radicalised by the Islamic State in the 2016 film, “Le Ciel Attendra” (Heaven Can Wait).

“Maybe five or 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have done it,” the actress admitted. But after working with “lots of female directors I began to ask myself some quite perturbing questions about women’s lives, about what they wanted to say, and their choices.”

Merlant, 31, said that while the Cesars ceremony was “extremely stormy”.

“I feel deep down that it opened up some things, both in the profession” and beyond it, even “among families and friends”.

– Younger generation shocked –

“It is something that people want to talk about — and even when people don’t want to talk about it, that too is interesting,” said Merlant, who was nominated for a best actress Cesar with Haenel.

“As women speak up, it allows you to ask questions about ourselves,” the actress said. “This is also why so many of this new generation of (women) are shocked” and angry about cases like Polanski’s.

Having worked with a lot of woman directors, Merlant said she has been lucky to star in so many female-driven stories.

“Up to know, I think the women that I played were not objects but the subject, and I want to keep it that way,” said the actress, the star of the new French film “Jumbo”, in which she plays a loner who forms a strange attraction to a fairground ride.

“I really love to go out of my comfort zone and to take on roles and stories that scare me, that take me somewhere else,” said Merlant told AFP in March, before the release of the film was delayed by the French lockdown.

 

Source: Actress ‘proud’ she walked out of French Oscars over Polanski – RFI

Review: ‘The Ghost of Peter Sellers’ revisits an outlandish film and its troubled minds

Peter Sellers (left), Peter Medak and Spike Milligan on the set of “Ghost in the Noonday Sun,”


The Hungarian-born filmmaker Peter Medak survived Nazi occupation during World War II and communism under the Soviet umbrella. But Peter Sellers was a force of nature all his own.

By many accounts, the British comic genius severely damaged Medak’s career when in 1973 he enticed the director to make a pirate comedy concocted by friend and cohort Spike Milligan, then decided on the second day of filming he didn’t want to be a part of it. That was the beginning of a nightmarish shoot that would end with the disastrous “Ghost in the Noonday Sun” being shelved and the blame heaped on Medak, who was one of the hottest directors in the world going into the shoot, but afterward wouldn’t make another film for five years.

But Medak’s new documentary “The Ghost of Peter Sellers,” while intending to set the record straight, isn’t a hit piece on Sellers, but a nuanced portrait of a troubled, often self-destructive talent. And it is an introspective piece from a filmmaker who still, nearly a half-century later, lives with the guilt and psychological wounds from the experience that need addressing. Continue reading “Review: ‘The Ghost of Peter Sellers’ revisits an outlandish film and its troubled minds”

French screen legend Michel Piccoli, who starred in ‘Belle de jour’, dies at 94

Michel Piccoli, one of the most original and versatile French actors of the last half century, has died aged 94, his family said Monday.

He died “in the arms of his wife Ludivine and his children Inord and Missia after a stroke”, the family told AFP.

Piccoli starred in a string of classics that redefined world cinema, from Luis Buñuel’s “Belle de Jour” and “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” to a typically memorable turn opposite Brigitte Bardot in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Le Mépris” (“Contempt”) in 1963.

A masterful performer with a wickedly malicious edge, he managed to carve out a hugely prolific career as both an art house icon and a kind of French Cary Grant.

Like Grant and other Hollywood all-rounders Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper, Piccoli was able to adapt himself to virtually any kind of material without altering his essential everyman screen persona.

With his bald forehead, vast eyebrows and sly grin, he hopped easily from seducer to cop to gangster to pope (2011’s “Habemus Papam” by Nanni Moretti), with a predilection in the 1970s and 1980s for ambiguous and cynical roles.

Actor and activist

Yet despite his omnipresence, with Buñuel alone casting him in six of his films, Piccoli never won a French Oscar – the César – despite being nominated four times including for Louis Malle’s “Milou in May” and Jacques Rivette’s “La Belle Noiseuse” in 1991.

He did, however, win best actor at the Cannes film festival in 1980 for playing a tortured Italian judge in Marco Bellocchio’s “A Leap in the Dark” and the following year shared best actor at Berlin for “Une étrange affaire”.

Piccoli was a life-long left-winger who counted the philosophers Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre among his friends, but that did not stop him raging against repression in the old Eastern Bloc and supporting the Polish trade union, Solidarity.

One of his best known films outside France was Marco Ferreri’s 1973 “La Grande Bouffe” (Blow-Out), in which a group of male friends shut themselves up in a house with prostitutes and try to eat themselves to death.

“I do not put on an act… I slip away behind my characters. To be an actor, you have to be flexible,” Piccoli said.

Source: French screen legend Michel Piccoli, who starred in ‘Belle de jour’, dies at 94

Curate your own Cannes film festival

A trawl through the history of the Palme d’Or yields streaming gems from Brief Encounter to Blow-Up, The Leopard to The Square

Bring out your tiniest violins: in a normal year I’d be writing this column from the balmy French Riviera, with a glass of rosé at my side, amid the annual Cannes film festival. That, of course, has all been called off. For the first time since the second world war – not counting the time things shut down halfway through amid the May ’68 movement – the festival has admitted no Cannes do.

A year without Cannes leaves the arthouse release schedule a bit disoriented: traditionally, UK distributors pick over the festival’s highlights for the next year and beyond. (At Curzon Home Cinema, for example, you can currently stream Portrait of a Lady on Fire and The Whistlers, both plucked from last year’s Cannes competition.) Through the miracle of streaming, however, you can curate your own festival of past Palmes d’Or to treasure. Continue reading “Curate your own Cannes film festival”