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.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Francois, Francoise, Charlotte, Catherine, David, Tom

A relaxing Sunday with warmer weather, the newspapers and some interesting stories on favourites of ours, before cooking dinner and later unwinding with a drink at hand, for that 1940s wartime saga HOME FIRES ....

An interesting interview with Francois Ozon (right) in "The Irish Times" where the gay French director talks about his new film THE NEW GIRLFRIEND (about to open here) and has some interesting comments, particularly on those films of his featuring women like Deneuve or Rampling. As the paper's feature (by Tara Brady) says: "8 WOMEN brought together France’s grandest dames for a 1950s-set musical murder mystery; 5x2 plays five key scenes from a divorced couple’s relationship backwards; SWIMMING POOL exuded Hitchcockian menace as Charlotte Rampling became a young woman’s reluctant caregiver and voyeur; POTICHE saw Catherine Deneuve as a rejected trophy wife, lead her husband’s employees to rebel.
Many of Ozon’s films are smaller, more tightly focused; TIME TO LEAVE sees a young man push everyone away as he enters the final stages of terminal cancer".
"Charlotte Rampling is one of many actors who have returned again and again to the troupe of Ozon players. Others include Ludivine Sagnier and Catherine Deneuve.
“There is a lot of pleasure in working with women,” says Ozon. “Very often actresses are more pleasurable and easier to work with than men. There are some actors I work with and once is enough. But there are others, like Charlotte, who have a depth and maturity.”
What is it, I wonder, about French cinema’s love affair with a certain kind of British woman, such as Rampling, Jane Birkin and Kristin Scott Thomas.
“In France we have a fascination with foreign actresses,” Ozon says. “One of the most popular French actresses of the 1970s was Romy Schneider who was German. And then there are the English actresses who fell in love with French men and come to France. They often tell me the French offer very good parts as a woman gets older. In England or America they get to play the mother or the grandmother.”
Ozon has had Hollywood offers since Swimming Pool became a global sensation, in 2003. But the director is not for turning.
“In America, film is not about art or culture. It’s a business. So they make movies for teenagers, because it’s easier. And they have a different way of working. The producer does not direct the film, but they do make all of the decisions. The director is a technician more than an artist. I don’t want to work that way. I don’t feel the necessity of losing my soul.” 
Charlotte Rampling herself is interviewed too in "The Daily Telegraph" - 'Le Legende' at 69 now feels she has "the face she has earned". Like Catherine Deneuve her career spans 50 years and she still works now, turning down scripts she does not like - "it has to be something that makes me want to leave the house, where I can stay very happily with my books and my cats". Presumably, like playing a barrister in that second series of BROADCHURCH for British television recently (we loved the first series, the second less so... ). She has come a long way from the 'partying Sixties It-girl' with The Look, as exemplified by her breakthrough film GEORGY GIRL in 1966. Interesting to see that this year she is starring with Tom Courtenay (another Sixties actor in it for the long haul) in 45 YEARS, by Andrew Haigh (LOOKING tv series, WEEKEND) which is an unsettling portrait of a marriage. . She credits Ozon and working with him on UNDER THE SAND as revitalising her and re-realising her potential as a cinema actor. She is as busy now as she has ever been: "I'm working because good work is coming"

Catherine Denueve, another Ozon regular, could probably say the same. Her STANDING TALL was the opening film at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and as the Times put it: "Deneuve adds punch to delinquent drama", where she is the steely judge in this gritty downbeat drama. The critics were not sneering, as at last year's opener GRACE OF MONACO. Let's hope London sees this new Deneuve drama before too long .... I found Catherine hilarious in Ozon's POTICHE with her portly housewife out jogging and communicating with nature, before taking over the family factory to avert a strike and then going into politics, and her dancing with the even portlier Depardieu a delicious treat, with that Seventies background, and the increasingly gay son (Jeremie Rennier). See Ozon label for reviews on all these, his serious TIME TO LEAVE is devastating too. 

BBC4 ran a fascinating documentary as well on French popular song - chanson - where a very spry Petula Clark, now 82, took us through the golden years of French popular song from Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet, including Petula's own French career, to that great early Sixties era, with Francoise Hardy and the others. Francoise was the Face of the early sixties, her Vogue 4-track EPs were the first records I bought, even before The Beatles. Utter bliss then. Francoise too is still going and still singing though the hair is short and silver grey now. 

Tom joins the Hockney set
David Hockney is back in the news too with a new exhibition at the Annely Juda Gallery in London, with some fascinating new paintings. The artist, now 77, is selling that house in Bridlington  in East Yorkshire, where his assistant Dominic Elliott died in 2013. His new work includes 'The Potted Palm' - below - which include Olympic diver Tom Daley and his partner scriptwriter Dustin Lance Black, who are now part of the Hockney circle, David said he likes Tom and praised his coming out last year, of course Tom does lots of diving into those blue pools, but not making "a bigger splash"! Hockney - subject of many posts here, see label - recently bemoaned the demise of what he calls Bohemia, the lifestyle once led by gays, who now want to get married, settle down and have children - he finds them boring and conservative, wanting to lead ordinary lives ... He now goes to bed at nine, and don't go to parties or films as he has got increasingly deaf. He continues to work though, as he says "When I'm painting, I feel 30. Of course I have no plans to retire, artists don't retire. So I'll go on until I fall over, dying ideally at the easel". One somehow feels that other blonde painter who smoked endlessly - Joni Mitchell, maybe still in a coma and also in her Seventies, would somehow agree. Hockney also said in another recent interview that "maybe" the love of his life was Gregory Evans, his 62 year old manager, they were lovers for over a decade but have worked together for 40 years - not Peter Schlesinger of A BIGGER SPLASH then ... The new paintings are certainly fascinating and sees Hockney going in a new direction. 

Binge on boxsets ...
Having a binge with boxsets seems to be the new way to watch television - not just an episode a week any more. and now that Netflix can put whole series on-line, one can certainly binge on them - I am rationing my GRACE & FRANKIE episodes (as per recent post), and got their HOUSE OF CARDS reboot on dvd. Has television ever been better? Despite all the crap stuff, there are some terrific series out there, our Sky Atlantic being particularly good (like HBO with THE NORMAL HEART and other dramas). PENNY DREADFUL is particularly stunning - amazing sets and gothic horror mixing in Frankenstein's monster, Dorian Gray, bloody vampires, werewolves and other assorted Victorian nightmares - Eva Green, Rory Kinnear (a touching monster, left), Timothy Dalton, Billie Piper, Helen McCrory and upcoming Douglas Hodge and Patti Lupone will keep one watching .... not for the faint-hearted! I have not even got around to GAME OF THRONES or BREAKING BAD or ...
THE AFFAIR looks like another must see, after recent stunning series like HAPPY VALLEY and the delicious Sky sitcom by Ruth Jones: STELLA  - now on Series 4 with those inhabitants of Pontyberry in deepest Wales. More please ! Hard to believe Ruth's Stella was also GAVIN & STACEY's Nessa and LITTLE BRITAIN's Myfanwy (with Daffydd, the only gay in the village) and played Hattie Jacques too. Actress and writer Ruth, right, with Patrick Baladi. 

Incidentally, I will have to catch the new MAD MAX: FURY ROAD this week, I need a big screen experience with an action movie everyone seems to love .... I will probably be seeing it in 3D!


  1. Oh no! A BBC4 documentary on French Pop and I missed it?!

    *goes off to look for rpts/iPlayer*

    Ta for the heads up!

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Yeah, it was groovy - should be on BBC iPlayer. BBC4 is worth keeping an eye on, they do great music documentaries on all types of music from jazz to country to disco to heavy rock and easy listening - AND they repeat things. In fact, the French music programme is repeated again at 11.30pm TONIGHT - Sunday 17th. Happy viewing.

  3. I know I'm normally all over BBC4...what on earth was I doing Friday night? Oh well, cheers I'll catch it tonight!

  4. It also includes Marc Almond, Etienne Daho, Jacques Brel, Gainsbourg & Birkin etc, but is not so much about the 60s Ye-Ye period, but that 50s period of great songs and singers, Back then we also liked Claude Francois, Adamo, etc. At least Francoise gets her due.

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