Off-Broadway, Churchill, adapted and performed by Ronald Keaton, is a one man show about Winston Churchill's life. Keaton gives a splendid performance with a fine imitation of the great British statesman. We celebrated opening night at St. Andrews Restaurant & Bar,
I attended a sneak preview of the Broadway musical It Shoulda Been You, music by Barbara Anselmi, book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove, directed by David Hyde Pierce, at Pronovias, 14 East 52nd St. The cast performed two songs, which were very entertaining. The show features many of the top stars on Broadway like Tyne Daly and Harriet Harris. I eagerly await opening night.
Film Society Lincoln Center is presenting press screenings for Rendez-Vous of French Cinema March 6-15. 3 Hearts, by Benoit Jacquot, France/Germany/Belgium, 2014, is a slow moving, unbelievable film with three very unattractive leading actors. A tax auditor (Benoit Poelevoorde) misses his train to Paris, and meets a woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) on the street of a small town in France. After walking with her for awhile, the two decide they are madly in love. They plan to meet in Paris, but miss each other. On his return to the small town, he meets her sister (Chiara Mastroianni), and marries her, not knowing she is the sister of the unknown woman that he had first fallen in love with. The convoluted story is so ridiculous, that is hardly worth telling. Catherine Deneuve has a thankless role as the mother of the two sisters. She spends most of her screen time at the dining room table eating.
Eat Your Bones/Mange Tes Morts, by Jean-Charles Hue, France, 2014, is about gypsies, who live by stealing. When a member of a family is released from jail, he returns to a life of crime, and involves some other young men, including his half brother. It is not a pleasant picture, and there is a lot of vulgar dialogue, violence and a horrible view of the life they live, without any redeeming virtue. It is a grim, depressing film.
Breathe/Respire, by Melanie Laurent, France, 2014, is a tale of a young high school student (Josephine Japy), who becomes friends with a new girl at her school (Lou de Laage). Their relationship develops over months, and it appears that her new friend does not tell the truth about herself, and is a little weird. It results in a tragic conclusion. As most of the film takes place in their high school, one learns a great deal about the education they receive, plus their misbehavior, exploring sex, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes constantly.The two actresses give splendid performances, and it is a riveting tale.
My Friend Victoria/Mon Amie Victoria, by Jean-Paul Civeyrac, France, 2014, is a sweet, sentimental story about a black girl, Victoria (a luminous Guslagie Malanda) living with her sick aunt in Paris. One night, when she was eight-years-old, and her aunt was in a hospital, she spent the night in an apartment of a white family, and became obsessed with how different her life could be. Years later, she had an affair with the younger son of the white family, and becomes pregnant. Seven years later, she informs him that he has a daughter.
The white family welcomes the child as part of their family, and now Victoria realizes that her daughter's life will change, and perhaps she might lose her. It is a beautiful film, that depicts the wide gap between social classes in modern day France, and the hopeless life that Victoria will have, being uneducated, having no skills, and working in a variety of underpaid jobs, with only her love for her daughter, and a younger black son from a dead musician, that she had married. It leaves profound emotions on the viewer.
Wild Life/ Vie Sauvage, by Cedric Kahn, Belgium/France, 2014, is a another depressing film, based on a true story, about a father, who wants to flee society, taking with him his two young sons, and live a nomadic life. The mother wants her sons back, but he is able to escape the police for ten years, before he is finally captured, and the children can be reunited with their mother. We watch how he lives during those years, and the disastrous effects of that type of life on his children. It is impossible to escape civilization, and it is unfair to impose that kind of life on young children. It is well acted.
The Connection/ Le French, by Cedric Jimenez, France, 2014, also based on a true story, which takes place in Marseille with Jean Dujardin portraying a magistrate, pursuing a gang of drug dealers. It is a horrifying tale of vicious mobsters, extorting money from bars, restaurants, discos, and earning enormous amounts of money with their illegal drug trafficking. It is typical crime thriller, with excellent acting, and lovely views of the French Riviera, with ugly views of the criminals that inhabit the city and the corrupt politicians, who govern it.
Hippocrates/Hippocrate, by Thomas Lilti, France, 2014, is a film about the daily life in a French hospital. The staff complains about overwork and the lack of basic necessities to help the patients. A young intern (Vincent Lacoste) is the main character of this unremarkable hospital drama, with doctors behaving like immature adolescents in the cafeteria, and at an unbelievable party in the hospital. They all seem to smoke a lot, as do the actors in every French film that I have seen in this series. As this film takes place in a hospital, it seems quite unhealthy.
Metamorphoses, by Christophe Honore, France, 2014, is based on the famous poem by Ovid. The director knows the names of the gods from Greek mythology, but his interpretation in modern times is weak. He has filled his film with young men and women, none of whom seem to have any acting talent, except their ability to remove their clothing and run around naked. Their sexual shenanigans are not particularly erotic. The photography is lovely and soothing, with scenes in the woods and the river. The film, however, is a travesty of one of the great works of literature.
Portrait of the Artist/Le dos rouge, by Antoine Barraud, France, 2014, is about a filmmaker (Bertrand Bonello) obsessed with making his next project about a monster. He engages an art expert to accompany him to various museums to observe paintings of monsters, and to give her opinions about them. For lovers of art, the film is worthwhile, because half the film deals with the artworks. The story itself is completely unbelievable, and many scenes are just plain irritating. For example, there is a party scene where a lady sings interminably with an annoying voice, that is hard on the ears. The protagonist is obviously a mental case, as is the art expert, who disappears from time to time, for no discernible reason. However, the paintings and the museums are a delight.