Monday, April 9, 2007

The Week That Was - Two

A delegation of film-makers went to Canberra, led by George Miller, to, according to the SMH, thank the Government for supporting Australian film. George showed Peter Costello his Oscar….The AFC announced that it threw a hugely successful Parliamentary Reception…the new Arts Minister George Brandis continues to hint that an extra $60 million is heading in the direction of Australian film production in next month’s Federal Budget….Premiere magazine announced that the April issue will be the last that goes to print before it becomes exclusively an online publication…Greater Union Theatres resumed advertising in the Sydney Morning Herald…Bra Boys became the highest grossing Australian doco ever. What remains unexplained for some of those who have chosen not to buy a ticket is how a film with such an odious and self-aggrandising trailer could have attracted anybody let alone record numbers. Russell Crowe has apparently taken the subject material off to Brian Glazer with a view to re-making it as a feature…The Australian Financial Review published a three page review of two new books on Orson Welles. Those making a living from picking over the master’s bones continue to prosper. Sanford Schwartz’s note didn’t have much good to say about the biographies and studies authored by Simon Callow or Joseph McBride, nor the earlier David Thomson opus. It did say some approving things about James Naremore’s similarly earlier study and went to some length to make a somewhat less than convincing case for Welles as a surrealist. Grist to the mill in the great man’s aura…Universal Pictures announced its first release slate since the UIP conglomerate was broken up…. Globalisation and its discontents were apparent when the SMH Spectrum gave over three pages (nicluding the cover) to a story reprinted from The Independent about the wondrous Catherine Deneuve and her fifty years in film. Author John Lichfield went to Paris and found there, a couple of Frenchmen prepared to speak off the record (“One industry insider says Deneuve has a reputation for being not too bright…”) and John Baxter who claims that ‘unlike say a Jeanne Moreau she has been unwilling to try riskier, more demanding roles as she has got older.” The article asserts that Deneuve ‘makes a few films a year, none of which have been worthy of her for years’. The journo seems to think she hasn’t made anything of interest since she got her Oscar nomination for Regis Wargnier’s ponderous Indo-Chine in 1992. But I’d be willing to bet the journo hasn’t seen most of the stuff she’s made since then. Since 1992 she’s worked for Raul Ruiz, Phillipe Garrel, Leos Carax, Andre Techine, Manoel De Oliveira, Nicole Garcia, Lars Von Trier and Wargnier again among others. For some there has been more than one movie. (Since 1992 Moreau has worked for Vincent Ward, Waris Hussein, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Peter Handke, Charles Sturridge, Wim Wenders & Michaelangelo Antonioni, Gavin Miller, Marvin J Chomsky, Ismail Merchant and made a number of films for Josee Dayan among others.) According to Lichfeld, Deneuve’s ‘memorable screen appearances can be counted on one hand, perhaps two’. A side article in the SMH nominated The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Repulsion, Belle de Jour, Indochine and Dancer in the Dark as ‘five of her finest roles’. Which is the fingers of one hand. To get past the second handful, and on, you could add Vice and Virtue, La Vie de Chateau, Les Creatures, The Young Girls of Rochefort, Mississippi Mermaid, Peau D’Ane, Un Flic, Tristana, The Last Metro, The Hunger and something from the large number of films she’s made for Techine in particular. That’s without even considering the post-1992 films, especially those she did for Ruiz, Garrel and de Oliveira mentioned above, many of which apparently haven’t traveled beyond French shores. Why, well I guess her critics would say because she’s not a great actress whose work is always worth seeing. I think it may be more complicated than that, especially given she’s not always the star of those films. French production still hovers around 250 films a year and international distribution of all European films has slowed to a trickle in the relentless rise of Hollywood and its satellite independents. Whatever, it’s a sign of the SMh’s current standards when cover articles consist of a reprint of a report of some pom journalist in Paris, his conversation with an Australian once upon a time cinephile (who I dont think actually goes the movies much, if at all, anymore) and the snide bagging of a goddess. Very ordinary stuff.


Paul Martin said...

I can't say I've followed Deneuve's career, but I do find it frustrating how little of quality French cinema makes it to our shores. I had to gold-mine the recent French Film Festival and found a few gems, but generally what we see here is pretty mediocre.

I've been thinking about learning a foreign language for some years and am seriously considering French. I'd love to take a holiday there and seek out the gritty dramas we see here during festivals (recent highlights for me were Private Property and Poison Friends).

Film Alert said...

Agree with you Paul. The selction of new French films was mediocre but that seems to be the case always. Safe films get the nod in those events because the Embassies who support them aren't looking for trouble or controversy. Paris is the greatest city in the world for movies. I wrote a note about the pleassures we found in our stay there in 2004. You can find on my website which is listed at the top of the blog. Cheers