Why I’m glad to see the back of Call My Agent!

By James Delingpole

For the past few weeks I have been binge-watching the Netflix series Call My Agent! (or Dix pour cent, as it is more satisfyingly known in France). Though it’s not quite as exquisite, multilayered and beguiling as my all-time favourite French drama Le Bureau, it has a similar appeal: strong, well-drawn characters in a distinctive setting in another country (France, obvs) where they do things differently because everyone is just so damned French.

This time it’s not about foreign intelligence services but a movie talent agency which, though perpetually on its uppers (for the purposes of that TV concept known as ‘jeopardy’, I suppose), nevertheless seems to have on its books all the most bankable stars in France. They crop up, playing themselves, in cameo roles. You can detect the series getting more popular and successful because the level of celebrity it attracts increases, from ones you’ve never heard of in season one to stars such as Isabelle Huppert, Monica Bellucci, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sigourney Weaver in the later ones. Continue reading “Why I’m glad to see the back of Call My Agent!”

‘Madame Claude’: gritty Netflix take on Paris sex icon

She was a salacious icon of 20th century Paris — the brothel-keeper to the stars — and Netflix hopes the basis for another hit in the recent run of French successes.

In the 1960s and 1970s, “Madame Claude”, real name Fernande Grudet, had a client book that read like the guest list to a royal wedding: captains of industry, President John F Kennedy, Marlon Brando, the Shah of Iran…

There were enough secrets being divulged on her pillows to ensure protection from the authorities, as well as considerable interest from the secret services.

But in the latest telling, released on Netflix on April 2, the glamour in which her story was often shrouded is stripped away to show a darker reality.

“There is the image of Madame Claude: of Paris, beautiful dresses and big hotels, power… What interested me was what was happening behind the scenes,” director Sylvie Verheyde, 54, told AFP.

Behind the scenes were ties to organised crime, a life of emotional misery and a near-pathological lack of scruples: Madame Claude, it emphasises, always made sure to get her 30 percent, even when the girls returned bruised and bloodied from an encounter gone wrong.

“Madame Claude built her mythology. She was a great liar, a fraud who said she wanted to ‘beautify vice’, which meant brushing all the ugliness under the carpet,” said Verheyde.

– ‘This isn’t love’ –

The director knows this world well: a grandmother and cousin both worked as prostitutes, and she tackled the subject already in her 2016 film “Sex Doll”.

Continue reading “‘Madame Claude’: gritty Netflix take on Paris sex icon”

The most radical viewing on TV right now? ‘Call My Agent!’

Wherever you live, there’s a Facebook mothers’ page. They are so geographically specific that you can belong to multiple pages at once — in my case that means the local village, the local town and of course the greater municipality.

Posts during the pandemic have been revealing: never have I seen so many desperate requests for recommendations about affordable printers and printer ink. My favourite lockdown post so far: “Can someone please get me excited about air fryers?”

But by far the most common COVID-19 post has been the request for new things to watch on Netflix. With so many of us at home day and night, we’re ripping through TV offerings like there’s no tomorrow. Because in many ways, as one day feels much like the next, there isn’t. Starting a new TV series is one way of charting some kind of progression through the stasis. So we ask for suggestions.

And here is what I write, over and over again: “Call My Agent! Call My Agent! CALL MY AGENT!!!”

I’ll admit I was hesitant to try it at first because it’s French and … you know … subtitles. It’s that extra layer of neurological processing when my neurons are fully booked as it is. That stopped being a concern about five minutes into the first episode.

The show (called “Dix Pour Cent” in France) is about the people working at a Paris talent agency: the agents and their assistants are constantly scrambling to negotiate the vagaries and machinations of actors, directors, screenwriters and other agents, not to mention their own missteps and desires. It’s about many things but its particular genius is the way it depicts women.

Consider this: according to a 2015 study of 6,000 American actors, the women have slightly more roles than the men up until they turn 30, when things quickly and steadily decline. At their peak, the women average four roles per five years. For the men, their roles continue to increase until they’re 46 years old (an extra 16 years of career growth and maximized income), and their peak is five roles per five years. Men’s roles continue to outstrip women’s for 34 more years, until both reach 80 years old.

Even Sandra Bullock’s roles peaked at 29.

Continue reading “The most radical viewing on TV right now? ‘Call My Agent!’”

French Cinema and Stars: Profile of Actress Camille Cottin

Camille Cottin
Camille Cottin

Gutsy and utterly shameless, meet the queen of provocation who burst through the small screen, all guns blazing.

Long before she conquered the box office, Camille Cottin packed a punch as TV’s most fearless, and reviled, provocatrice; thanks to her irreverent breakthrough sketch show Connasse. No wonder. Armed with a hidden camera, the ballsy comédienne blazed through Paris, under the guise of her obnoxious alter-ego Camilla, dolling out insults, incensing taxi drivers, taunting joggers and ruffling paper-pushers.

But Cottin truly came into her own in 2015, when she brazenly clambered on the gates of Kensington Palace (unhurried bobbies eventually dragged the baying thesp down), only to later burst through the Changing of the Guard as a crew secretly filmed her antics for cringe-worthy spin-off movie Connasse, Princesse des coeurs; this time charting Camilla’s efforts to hunt down and marry Prince Harry. She spent two days in jail for the privilege.

Stoically facing the gaol not to break character on her illicit spree was the game-changer which propelled the loose canon overnight from fringe comic to bona fide star. Since her spell as the rabble-rouser, she has become the darling of French cinema, totting up a string of (relatively conservative) roles, including a remote social worker in Cigarettes et Chocolat Chaud and feisty gay impresario in Cédric Klapisch’s hit series Dix Pour Cent. Her cheek even nabbed her a coveted part in Allied opposite Brad Pitt. Worth every mortifying second behind bars, surely…

10-Second CV: A screen star’s life in one take

Name: Camille Cottin

Born: December 1, 1978 in Paris

Early career: After graduating, she made ends meet as a secondary school English teacher while taking acting lessons. She eventually joined a high- profile troupe in 2009. She enjoyed her first taste of fame in 2013, when she was cast as loudmouth Camilla in sketch show Connasse.

I know the face… She appeared as Monique in World War Two romantic thriller Allied alongside Hollywood royalty Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.

Where will we see her next? She currently stars as Juliette Binoche’s iron-willed daughter in awards-tipped comedy Telle mère, telle fille. The second series of her hit show Dix Pour Cent is currently airing in France. It’ll be available on Netflix soon.

C’est pas vrai! She feared police would arrest her before she’d even reached the gates of Kensington Palace, ruining Connasse’s pivotal scene. She needn’t have worried. It took an age for guards to notice the baying woman hanging on for dear life.

Source: French Cinema and Stars: Profile of Actress Camille Cottin

Call My Agent! celeb cameos: All the stars in the French Netflix show

 

Call My Agent, was a hit on French television, and ran for four seasons. The quirky French comedy-drama has also been a surprise hit in the U.S.

Now available on Netflix, new viewers are taking note of the many celeb cameos featured in the series.

Juliette Binoche

juliette binoche
Hollywood stars like Juliette Binoche feature in this French show (Credit: Netflix)

Juliette Binoche appears in series two, episode six.

This big-name French actress has starred in the likes of Chocolat, The English Patient, Dan in Real Life and Cosmopolis.

Monica Bellucci

Monica Bellucci appears in series three episode.

She is best known for starring in Spectre, The Apartment, Matrix Reloaded and Tears of the Sun.

monica bellucci in call my agent
Monica Bellucci in Call My Agent (Credit: Netflix)

Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver appears in series four episode five.

This major Hollywood star is perhaps most famous for starring in the Alien movies.

And also for her movie roles in Avatar, Galaxy Quest and the Ghostbusters films.

sigourney weaver
Sigourney Weaver is one of the many celebrity cameos in Call My Agent! (Credit: Netflix)

Jean Reno

Jean Reno appears in the final episode of the show – series four episode six.

He is a French-Moroccan actor who is particularly well-known for starring in Leon: The Professional. As well as for his roles in the likes of Godzilla, The Da Vinci Code and Mission: Impossible.

call my agent cameos
Actor Jean Reno is a huge Hollywood star (Credit: Netflix)

Jean Dujardin

Jean Dujardin appears in series three episode one and also episode six of this series.

He is perhaps best known for starring in the the silent movie The Artist. This won him the Oscar for Best Actor – a first for any French actor.

Isabelle Huppert

Isabelle Huppert appears in series three episode four.

This French actress has starred in films such as The Piano Teacher, Greta, I Heart Huckabees and The Bedroom Window.

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Source: Call My Agent! celeb cameos: All the stars in the French Netflix show

Falling Back in Love With French via Netflix

French Netflix

How shows like “Lupin” and “Call My Agent!” have inspired me to pursue French fluency.

Growing up with a francophile mother, French has always been part of my life. My special stuffed animal was Babar the elephant, and weekends were spent singing the translated version of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” with a group of children who were far more multilingual than me. In college, I spent a year studying in Paris, living with a host family and their three-legged dog, Colonel Moutard. Still, like many adults who spent their school years learning a foreign language, my opportunities to speak it dwindled after graduation, and so did my confidence. Continue reading “Falling Back in Love With French via Netflix”