Three Colours: Blue review – Binoche as charismatic as ever in Kieślowski masterwork

Krzysztof Kieślowski’s meditation on love and fate is the first in the trilogy to be rereleased 30 years on

Krzysztof Kieślowski’s vast meditation on love, fate and the unheard harmonies of the universe begins its 30th-anniversary rerelease tomorrow. This is the first in his film trilogy with its tricolour motif (to be followed by White and Red); the whole is a triptych with overlapping images and character-glimpses, all destined to be tied up in a chaotic conclusion.

Here, Juliette Binoche plays Julie, the wife of a famous composer working on a huge commission from the European Council: a symphony to be played by no fewer than 12 orchestras, symbolising the 12 nations of the European Community (as it then was). Kieślowski teasingly hints that the hubris of this project is maybe not too different from his own triple-decker movie fantasy, and the music itself periodically crashes on to the soundtrack in Julie’s mind, disruptively jolting her from a trance of anxiety. The chords are vehement but halting, self-questioning, a very different officially sanctioned Euro-celebration to, say, the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth.

While her husband is driving her with their young daughter, their expensive car’s brake fluid leaks and it crashes, as the child is opening a lollipop with a vivid blue wrapper, speckling the entire film with a traumatised aftershock colour scheme: blue crystals, blue swimming pool water. Kieślowski contrives an interestingly low-key but very real-looking smash: Alfa Romeo has a note over the closing credits saying that such a thing could never actually happen with one of its vehicles.

The composer and child are killed and Julie survives; in the midst of her reclusive grief, she is waylaid by an intrusive journalist who asks if it is true that she actually wrote all her husband’s music. The question is never explicitly raised again, but in an agony of self-annihilation, Julie puts the family’s handsome country estate up for sale, destroys all the manuscripts she can, moves to a small apartment in Paris and tries living a life of utter anonymity.

But the film shows how the past nags, a web of obligations and unresolved emotional ties: her husband’s assistant Olivier (Benoît Regent) is clearly in love with her; her husband was clearly in love with someone else, a lawyer called Sandrine (Florence Pernel). And in Paris, she is drawn into the life of a sex club dancer called Lucille (Charlotte Véry) who confesses to Julie her trauma at seeing her elderly father in the audience one night. And Julie must continue to visit her elderly mother who has dementia; this is a poignant performance from Emmanuelle Riva, who was to portray something similar 20 years later in Michael Haneke’s Amour.

Three Colours trilogy: Decoding the blue, white and red
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Shots of Binoche in Paris – especially in this movie – have become icons of cinema, like De Niro in New York; when she drifts or runs through the Paris streets, or takes an elegant coffee in a cafe or walks up the stairwell of her apartment building, she is so sinuously at home that there is a thrill in just watching her, even when she is palpably uncomfortable, as when she carries a neighbour’s cat into her flat to kill the mice.

Thirty years on, though, it is possible to be conflicted about Binoche’s award-winning performance; her dreamy, just-on-the-verge-of-tears smiles and silent trains of thought can look a bit precious, and her occasional air of detachment and integrity are surely complicated by the possible imposture and dishonesty involved in the music’s authorship, a complication which the movie does not entirely absorb. But she has marvellous charisma and address to the camera; there is something so rich and spacious and unhurried here. There is a wonderful reach and flair in Kieślowski’s film-making.

Source: Three Colours: Blue review – Binoche as charismatic as ever in Kieślowski masterwork | Movies | The Guardian


Cotillard, Pomme, Adjani, Binoche: artists cut their hair in support of Iranian women

Une cinquantaine d’artistes, chanteuses, actrices affichent leur soutien aux femmes Iraniennes dans une vidéo, en se coupant quelques mèches de cheveux.

It is a gesture that has become a symbol of support for Iranian women, who have been demonstrating for two weeks despite the repression: to cut locks of hair or shave their heads. In a video published Wednesday morning by a collective, around fifty actresses, comedians and singers film themselves, scissors in hand, cutting locks of hair. We recognize familiar faces: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marion Cotillard, Pomme, Angèle, Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Carré, Yaël Naim, Muriel Robin, Alexandra Lamy, Isabelle Adjani, Juliette Armanet, or even Laure Calamy. The soundtrack is the interpretation in Farsi of the song of Italian partisan revolt Bella Ciao, which has become the anthem of protests.

hrough this video, all bring their solidarity to the Iranian women, two weeks after the death of Mahsa Amini . This 22-year-old young woman died on September 16, after being arrested by the morality police in Tehran. She had left hair sticking out of her veil . Since then, demonstrations have shaken the country, and nearly a hundred demonstrators have died .

“Silence can be the worst form of violence”
Three lawyers are at the initiative of this video: Richard Sédillot, specialized in the defense of human rights (he had already mobilized for the release of the Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh ), the president of Paris Julie Couturier, and the former president of the Conseil national des barreaux, Christiane Feral Schuhl. The actress Julie Gayet supported them. “Iranian women need to know that they are not alone” , explains Julie Gayet to France Inter. “Silence can be the worst form of violence” .

This video is a way of “showing solidarity” , adds the actress. “It was to send them a signal, to say ‘we’re here’. I hope they have a way of seeing it.”  Lawyer Richard Sédillot hopes that this movement from France “will trigger an extremely strong political reaction” . “Condemnations should no longer be made in half-words, but with more vehemence.”

The video posted on social networks is accompanied by an explicit text: “ It is impossible not to denounce again and again this terrible repression. The dead and dead are already counted by the dozens, including children. only increase the number of prisoners already illegally detained and too often tortured. We have therefore decided to respond to the call that has been made to us by cutting, too, some of these locks.”

Protests continue in Iran
Since the arrest of Mahsa Amini, Iran has been hit by numerous demonstrations. New clashes took place in the night from Sunday to Monday between the police and students in Tehran, on the site of one of the most prestigious universities in the country .
In France, a minute of silence was observed in the National Assembly on Tuesday in honor of the “incredible courage” of the “women, men and all the youth of Iran” who “express their thirst for freedom” , in the words of the President of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet.

In a column sent to AFP on Tuesday, nearly a thousand personalities of the French seventh art, including stars like Léa Seydoux, Isabelle Huppert and Dany Boon, renowned filmmakers or the boss of the Cannes Film Festival Thierry Frémaux called on Tuesday to “support the women’s revolt in Iran”.

More at Radio France: VIDEO – Cotillard, Pomme, Adjani, Binoche: artists cut their hair in support of Iranian women

How French comedy of manners ‘Call My Agent’ became an American sensation

That feeling when you have eaten all the candy in the house and you look on the doorstep to find that someone has sent you a 1-pound box of assorted nuts and chews is pretty much how I felt learning that a fourth season of “Call My Agent” had landed on Netflix.

The series, called “Dix Pour Cent” (“Ten Percent”) in its native France, first came to my attention a couple of summers ago, by word of mouth, when the first two seasons were available. It was quickly clear that this was a series that had my name on it, handwritten and bordered in gold, presented on a dish made of silver. Set in a Paris-based talent agency, it is salted, after the manner of “The Larry Sanders Show,” with real French screen stars, including Isabelle Adjani, Juliette Binoche, Fabrice Luchini, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jean Reno (and in the latest season, American Sigourney Weaver) playing ironic versions of themselves, and shot in real Paris locations. And though it is obviously not completely original — it’s a workplace comedy in more than one television tradition — it’s also different in the way that one language is different from another even when a sentence says the same thing. Continue reading “How French comedy of manners ‘Call My Agent’ became an American sensation”

Call My Agent: the French comedy gem A-listers are desperate to star in

The sharp, hilarious look at the hell of being an agent already features everyone from Juliette Binoche to Isabelle Huppert sending themselves up. Now, Hollywood has come knocking

The pilot opens with an unannounced arrival (of ingénue Camille, aggro agent Mathias’s hidden daughter) and an untimely death (of founder Samuel Kerr, who swallows a wasp while on holiday in Brazil). Mathias and his colleagues, Andréa, Gabriel and Arlette, are thrown into a frenetic power struggle both among themselves and in the wider film industry. Stars threaten to leave ASK, Kerr’s widow and heir threatens to shut up shop, and private passions, usually held at bay, threaten to derail everything.

If the show’s premise is somewhat predictable, its handling of fame is altogether less so. Each episode features a titular guest star – BéatriceDalle, Cécile de France, Guy Marchand – but rather than being written as the focal point, the big name is instead that day’s worry to assuage, the problem to be fixed. Call My Agent does that rare thing that interviews often fail to achieve, and makes these people, who live decidedly abnormal lives, very normal.

There are administratively challenged actors who need help answering emails and vetting nannies, and matrimonially challenged stars who want help finding a date. There’s the actor who can’t drive, the actor who can’t swim and the actor who suddenly can’t act. There’s one who, as Andrea puts it, is “doing a Day Lewis”, and can’t stop acting, unable to come out of a very intense Revenant-style survival role. He ends up being dropped from his subsequent gig as a clean-shaven banker when he literally attacks the producer’s dog, with his teeth.

However, instead of ramping up the self-deprecation implicit in these big-screen stereotypes as Extras did, or as you can imagine a W1A-style British remake might, the talent here is treated with tenderness, and not a small amount of poetry. And by ‘talent’ I mean not just the people (actors and directors) but the artform itself: the show is an ode to cinema. It is French, after all.

Continue reading “Call My Agent: the French comedy gem A-listers are desperate to star in”

Trailer: “Non-Fiction” with Juliette Binoche

Alain and Léonard, a writer and a publisher, are overwhelmed by the new practices of the publishing world. Deaf to the desires of their wives, they struggle to find their place in a society whose code they can no longer crack.

Director Olivier Assayas
Starring Guillaume Canet, Juliette Binoche, Vincent Macaigne, Nora Hamzawi

 Non-Fiction isn’t a surrender, nor is it a call to arms. It’s an anxious — but strangely calming! — reminder that change is the only true constant, and that steering the current is a lot easier than fighting it. Nobody does that better than Assayas, even when it looks like he’s not even trying. – Indie Wire

Rendez-vous with French Cinema 2018 preview: Juliette Binoche and 80 new features

The year begins in earnest at UniFrance’s Rendez-vous with French Cinema in Paris, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Julliet Binoche

Veteran director Jean Becker’s First World War drama The Red Collar opens UniFrance’s Rendez-vous with French Cinema in Paris this month (January 18-22). It is a choice that breaks with the event’s spotlight on mainstream comedies and romances in recent years.

The film sees Nicolas Duvauchelle star as a decorated army officer who falls from grace after he desecrates his medals in a protest against the absurdity of war; Francois Cluzet plays the judge who is charged with interrogating the young man.

It is the 15th feature from 84-year-old Becker, following a pair of mainstream dramas, Welcome Aboard(2012) and Get Well Soon (2014), and The Red Collar’s release in 2018 coincides with the centenary of the end of the First World War. “The film belongs to a type of classic French cinema that distributors love,” comments UniFrance managing director Isabelle Giordano.

UniFrance celebrates the 20th edition of Paris Rendez-vous this year. Deputy managing director Gilles Renouard recalls how the event was created by late producer and UniFrance chief Daniel Toscan du Plantier from the ashes of Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival in the French Alps.

“When the festival stopped in 1994, he started inviting European distributors to watch French films there instead,” he recounts. “This took place for a few years. Then it was decided the screenings should move to Paris and the Rendez-vous was born in 1999.”

In that inaugural year, 60 European distributors were invited for a programme of 20 screenings in Elysées Biarritz, a restored Art Deco cinema off the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. Around 15 sales companies took part, and a press junket aimed at international film journalists also kicked off the same year.

Two decades later, the meeting — now located in the swanky InterContinental Paris-Le Grand hotel and nearby Gaumont Opéra cinema on the edge of the Grands Boulevards shopping and entertainment district — is billed as the biggest market for French cinema out- side of Cannes’ Marché du Film. More than 40 international sales companies, representing 169 features and 500 buyers — hailing mainly from Europe but also the US, Asia and Latin America — will participate in the market this year, while 120 journalists have been invited to the press junket.

Rendez-vous now kicks off the market and festival calendar for many distributors, ahead of Rotterdam, Sundance and Berlin, who come not just to screen finished features but also to sniff out titles that will be ready for Cannes.

Cinema award

Beyond the market and press junket, UniFrance will honour Juliette Binoche with its annual French Cinema Award, in recognition of a cinema professional who has raised the profile of French film around the world. Past recipients include Isabelle Huppert and Luc Besson.

“It’s a particularly high-profile time for Juliette Binoche internationally, thanks in part to Claire Denis’ Let The Sunshine In, which played festivals all over the world, and this looks set to continue into 2018,” says Giordano, noting the actress’s upcoming performances in Japanese director Naomi Kawase’s Vision and Denis’ sci-fi tale High Life.

In other events, UniFrance will hold its annual presentation of preliminary international box-office figures for French cinema in 2017 as well as launch the eighth edition of its online French-language film festival MyFrenchFilmFestival, which drew 7 million spectators worldwide last year. Ten features, including Guillaume Canet’s midlife-crisis comedy Rock ’n Roll, late-developer comedy-drama Willy The 1st by twin brothers Ludovic and Zoran Boukherma, and Cannes Critics’ Week title Ava, will compete in the main competition. Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino presides over a prestigious jury comprising Julia Ducournau, Nabil Ayouch, Brillante Mendoza and Kim Chapiron.

UniFrance will also mark Rendez-vous’ 20th edition with a party on January 20, putting the spotlight on the work of innovative French institutions and companies such as Gobelins animation school in Paris and videogame company Ubisoft, as well as the country’s burgeoning virtual-reality scene. “Rather than looking at the past, we want to look to the future and spotlight the best of French innovation,” comments Giordano.

Screening highlights

Jean Becker’s The Red Collar is one of 80 new French features due to screen over the course of Rendez-vous’ five-day meeting, with two-thirds of the titles making their market premieres. As per recent tradition, the line-up features a number of comedie including Dany Boon’s La Ch’tite Famille in which the actor-director star plays a top architect moving in elite Paris circles whose working class northern French roots are exposed when his scrap-dealer family turns up unannounced at a retrospective of his work. The feature plays on the distinctive Ch’tis dialect and culture of Boon’s home region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais in northern France that he first explored in his 2008 breakthrough hit Welcome To The Sticks, which drew more than 20 million spectators and remains the second most successful theatrical release in France after TitanicLa Ch’tite Famille is sold by Pathé International.

Other comedies include Philippe Le Guay’s Normandie Nue, co-starring Francois Cluzet as a village mayor opposite UK actor Toby Jones as a famous photographer who wants to capture the small rural community in a nude shoot; SND is handling sales.

Normandie nue

Studiocanal will unveil Laurent Tirard’s period comedy-drama Le Retour Du Héros, while TF1 Studio will screen Momo, in which Catherine Frot and Christian Clavier play a childless couple whose life is thrown into turmoil by the arrival of a deaf and dumb man claiming to be their son. Gaumont will present Anne Le Ny’s family-inheritance caper Family Business (La Monnaie De Leur Piece).

Beyond comedy, Elle Driver will present Cain and Abel-inspired thriller Carnivores, the feature co-directorial debuts of Belgian actor brothers Jérémie and Yannick Renier. The film stars Leïla Bekhti as a struggling actress who covets the life of her more successful younger sister. Playtime (formerly Films Distribution) will screen Erick Zonca’s Black Tide starring Vincent Cassel as a jaded detective assigned to the case of a missing teenager mixed up in drug trafficking, opposite Romain Duris as a former tutor of the boy who joins the search.

In other drama highlights, Memento Films International will market premiere Xavier Giannoli’s The Apparition, starring Vincent Lindon as an investigative journalist reporting on mysterious religious events in a small French village, while Alma Cinema will screen a new promo reel for Guillaume Nicloux’s Indochina War drama To The Ends Of The Earth, starring Gaspard Ulliel and Gerard Depardieu.