Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 18 March 2013

A is for Amour & Anouk, B is for BB, Body Heat & BBM, S is for The Servant (with Q&A!)

Miscellaneous items that caught my attention over the weekend:

A is for AMOUR. The dvd of Michael Haneke's Cannes prize-winner and arthouse crossover is out today, and I should have mine in today's post. Its not hard to understand its success - we all have to deal with ageing and death, and witness our parents' decline .... This was my film of the year last year (French, Trintignant labels), it is though a pitiless drama showing what ageing does to us. Watch it and weep ... event cinema is rarely this grim. We observe two highly intelligent people, deeply in love, as we clinically observe their end ... the devotion of the frail husband (Trintignant in his 80s) caring for his ailing wife will stay with you for days ... it reminds me so much of  my parents (though their situation was reversed). Haneke tops and tails the film just right.

A is also for Anouk: We were having an interesting discussion over at IMDB (The Internet Movie Database) on UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME - it is still a very well regarded French movie, maybe THE French movie for those who don't usually like French movies ? ! Lots of love too for Anouk Aimee and Jean-Louis Trintignant ... I have posted on it before here, at Anouk label - but I feel like watching it again now, particularly that "Samba Saravah" sequence. Sheer '60s glamour bliss ...

B is for Brigitte ... The French Institute here in London is currently running a mini-season on Brigitte Bardot at their Cine Lumiere cinema in Kensington. They are only showing a handful of BB films, but they remind us that she had developed into a considerable actress before her other passsions for animals and their welfare took hold, though unlike Sophia born the same year 1934, BB was never that dedicated to her career. She is certainly stunning in the iconic AND GOD CREATED WOMAN in 1956, left, where she is a new archtype, like the female James Dean!
See Bardot label for review of one of my favourites: HEAVEN FELL THAT NIGHT, that Vadim scorcher from 1958 with BB and Stephen Boyd both in their prime. - they were less so a decade later in that dreadful western SHALAKO where she seemed bored with it all and her '60s look was all wrong for this 1890s western ...
her last great outing was really in Malle's VIVA MARIA that international hit from 1966, where she is playful and fun and oh so glamorous with Malle and Moreau. She was lovely too as Helen's handmaiden in HELEN OF TROY in 1955 and with Bogarde in DOCTOR AT SEA ....  '50s glamour then!

We also revisited two favourites on tv over the weekend:

BODY HEAT from 1982, a discovery from last year with Kathleen Turner as one of the great femme fatales ... I love her first appearance as she walks past our dumb hero Ned Racine as the breeze ripples her white dress showing some thigh, you can feel the heat .... then theres that zingy dialogue. 80s glamour !  (review at Turner label).
Also, another wallow at BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - still one of the great movie dramas ... though I still think why couldn't they have run off to San Francisco or some other big city (like so many other small town/country boys did) and opened a jeans store - they could still be cowboys! - and not ruin so many lives and be more fulfilled themselves. Ang Lee's direction (so good to see him getting another best director award this year, though I am not so sure if I want to see his new one ...) and the performances remain superlative - that moment with Ledger locked into himself, eating his apple pie in the diner, is a heart-breaking moment I won't forget - let along that climax with his visit to Jack's parents, which speaks volumes. Interesting too how Jack Twist begins to meet other people (is this what leads to his murder?), as Ennis cannot see a future for them together, ... including that nicely judged scene with that other husband who casually but eagerly invites Jack to his weekend log cabin, for drinking and outdoor pursuits ... oh those cowboys!

This year is also the 50th anniversary of Losey's THE SERVANT, that ground-breaker from 1963, and the BFI has some screenings lined up. Its easy to forget quite how creepy and daring this was back then, the early '60s was still the era of Norman Wisdom comedies in England, and Bogarde's war movies like THE PASSWORD IS COURAGE and HMS DEFIANT. There was of course that British "New Wave" led by Tony Richardson with A TASTE OF HONEY, Schlesinger with A KIND OF LOVING, and Dirk's VICTIM but then it was back to fluff like DOCTOR IN DISTRESS ...  
THE SERVANT though changed all that, as scripted by Harold Pinter from Robin Maugham's novella. Set is that very Losey house - all those mirrors - (off Kings Road, Chelsea) with that score by John Dankworth and the terrific Cleo Laine song "All Gone", it focuses on Barrett taking over the house of indolent young master James Fox, and soon we have Vera (Sarah Miles) whom Barrett introduces as his sister, and Wendy Craig as the displaced girlfriend.  
1963 was just when things were starting to change as the '60s got underway, the year of the first Beatles album as pop and mod and fashion took off. Of course it was also the year of the Profumo scandal. With his outsider's eye Losey picked up on the absurdities of the British class system ... THE SERVANT continues to fascinate and remains a key Losey-Bogarde film, more on it at Losey, Bogarde, Miles, Fox labels. Hard to think that those '63 classics like THE BIRDS and HUD, LE FEU FOLLET and BAY OF ANGELS are also 50 years old .... they just don't feel like old movies! '60s decadence! plus '63's BILLY LIAR, CHARADE and THE LEOPARD as well ...
PS: I am now attending a screening of THE SERVANT with a Q&A afterwards by surviving cast members James Fox, Sarah Miles and Wendy Craig, at The Curzon, Mayfair on Sunday 24 March, 2.45pm. As I saw Bogarde and Losey in interview in 1970, I felt I had to be at this one too ... more on that next week! (and Sarah is a 'People We Like' on here ...).

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