Entries tagged with “Michel Piccoli”.


‘Topaz’ is quite different than most of the previous movies in the filmography of  and also lacks the (American movie) stars in its distribution, as his fans were accustomed in the 20 or 30 years that preceded its release in 1969. These may be two of the principal reasons that the movie is less credited in by the critics and historians of cinema. There are, however, sufficient reasons of satisfaction for the movie fans, and the film does not fall in my opinion lower than ‘Torn Curtain’ that preceded it by three years, and also brought to screen a Cold War spy story. On the contrary, I would say.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065112

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065112

 

The film brings to screen a novel by which tells a true story of a Soviet spy ring in the high French political environments during the critical days of the Cuban missiles crisis. The events in the fall of 1962 that brought the world closer than ever to an atomic war were since then the subject or background of many books and films, but Hitchcock was the first well-known film director to bring what was at that time very recent history to screen, in a moment when the story was still under censorship in France. However, this was not in the area of comfort for Hitchcock who liked to be very involved in the writing of the story and building of the suspense, an opportunity that was lost with ‘Topaz’ . This may be also why there is less Hitchcock thrill in this film than we are used. There is yet quality, but more in the details than in the overall architecture.

 

(video source Alfred Hitchcock TV)

One of the best parts of the film is the rendition of the atmosphere of the time and places where the action takes place. Washington, Moscow, Copenhagen, Paris are all well served by filming on location, the only exception is Cuba, for obvious reasons. We can say that Hitchcock was a pioneer (also) of the international spy thriller, and we can only imagine what would have happened if he had been trusted with a James Bond movie. He also uses in a flawless manner the combination of documentary clips cut and edited together with filmed fiction. The lead actors are not doing great service to the movie, but we can see a progress and less stiff acting than in previous films. It is with the supporting roles that the good surprises appear, with the beautiful and exotic in the Cuban episode, and the French stars and giving style and credibility to the French episode of the action. It is in the humor of dialogs and situations, in the use of music (composed by Maurice Jarre) and in the creative games of colors that we find some of the Hitchcock touch. Otherwise, we can just enjoy a good action movie based on a Cold War story which has the merit to have been filmed at the time of the Cold War. Not a bad film, but not really one of the best Hitchcock films either.

 

 

Papacy and its institutions have attracted film makers in many different ways. The Vatican or its clones have been used as sets and stage for many movies in genres ranging from historical movies to crazy comedies. ‘s Habemus Papam tries to be more and different. It tries to say something important about the burden of supreme office of the Catholic Church, while telling a story that hesitates between social satire and comedy of situations.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1456472/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1456472/

 

A pope is dead, and a new pope needs to be elected. The college of cardinals gets together, doors close, cardinals start the election process. After a few inconclusive rounds, cardinal Melville () is the unexpected winner. White smoke. The pope is to be announced and should bless the crowds gathered in the piazza in front of the San Pietro. However, there is a problem. The new pope seems to have second thoughts. The burden of responsibility? Stage fear? A shrink ( himself), the best money can buy, is called in help. And then the pope runs away. Maybe he is looking to get back to his secret vocation, repressed in childhood? Maybe he will be convinced to get back, after revisiting his responsibilities?

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The premises are exceptional for a very interesting film, maybe for more than one. This is actually the problem with ‘Habeamus Papam’. Nanni Moretti seems to not have decided which film to make. The characters comedy with the shrink trying to psycho-analize the pope, and the bunch of semi-idiots with teenager behaviors which seem to compose the cardinals crowd? The situation farce where a member of the guard plays the shadow of the pope to mask the fact that the head of the Catholic church just ran away to try to face real life? The drama of the man facing a huge burden and questioning whether he is ready to undertake it, doubled by the conflict between life as it happens and the deformed reality lived by priests? Each of these succeed to some extent, especially the later due to the superb acting of Michel Piccoli. The ensemble does not work as one movie.

 

I am fascinated by . In more than 30 years he made just a handful of long films, but what films these are. Each of them reminds me when I get to see them why I love and I am fascinated by cinema, and what an art film making can be under the hands of a director who knows the secrets and ingredients of turning each film, and each scene in his films in something different, something that charms, shocks, can be enjoyable or repulsive, but cannot leave us indifferent.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091497/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091497/

 

Mauvais Sang (Bad Blood is the literal translation) will be 30 years old next year. Yet it is not only as fresh as it was made yesterday, but it also has the quality that will make it relevant 30, 60, and 90 years from now (I do not make bets about future that extend between one century :-) ). It’s a gangster story in the
French tradition, Melville’s movies come to mind immediately, and the fact that some of the bad guys are American is actually also a French noir films tradition. Although the making of the film is closer to David Lynch’s peak period, Mauvais Sang precludes the best of what Tarantino will make 10 or 15 years later. I actually have almost no doubt that both Lynch and Tarantino saw this film several times and were deeply inspired by it. It is however more – it is a double love story, or two love stories which are sensitive and beautifully told. And then, the final scene makes – so it seems to me – a reverence to ‘Casablanca’.

 

(video source Carlotta Films US)

 

What gives such quality to Mauvais Sang? First, the actors. - at the edge of seniority, playing the gangster – combinator whose combines not always succeed best. Breathtakingly beautiful and young in one of her first major roles. And, of course, , Caras’s best acting asset ever. Then the cinematography. I do not know how much we owe to Caras and how much to the director of cinematography Jean-Yves Escoffier but almost each shot is a piece of art, and the colors combinations are sublime and uniquely expressive – just watch the repeated combinations of blue, white and red! There are the ingredients, but the ultimate merit belongs without doubt to Leos Carax, a master chef of the French cinema.