Life Intrudes on Current Events
Smart And Spicy
April 27, 2017
Feeling hostage to current events? Let life meddle in your mind's troubled concern. If you let it, life can intrude, momentarily displacing disquieting current events, and perhaps enduring longer, if one's lucky. COLCOA lingers for me; ideas and visual beauty fill my head. City of Light, City of Angels: COLCOA'S alluring acronym. Impressive with 82 films, COLCOA'S the world's largest French film event. What's juicy? New storytelling formats: virtual reality and web series. What's left after films examine themes political and terrorist, poverty and causy? It's get -back to the stuff of life, what happens to everyone. The master's Claude Lelouch. COLCOA opened with the North American premiere of "Everyone's Life" ("Chacun Sa Vie"). Opening night paid homage to Lelouch; his stunning "A Man and A Woman" won an Oscar 50 years ago. Lelouch has directed over 60 films. "Everyone's Life" is a melody of life; people's lives don't so much collide as overlap. "I never try to judge," says Lelouch, attending the opening. The film's fun. Fifty famous actors play ordinary people in the small town of Baune (I love the wine). Their little stories are magnificent; they shock, they reveal, they're alive. "All the stories are true," Lelouch says. Some of the vignettes made the audience gasp. Johnny Hallyday's in the middle of it, bemused by his Elvis-impersonator-like followers. Entertaining enough, I asked Lelouch why he chose to use Johnny Hallyday. He must have a specific reason, I thought; must be a critical rationale to choose him for this role. "He's my best friend," Lelouch simply said. The people in the film become the judge, jury, and bystanders in the later trial of the actual prosecutor of an earlier trial we observe. As personal stories intersect with the trial, there's a lot to take in.
I asked Lelouch what the main idea was. "We all have faults. Perfection doesn't exist." * * * Some women know what they want. And they know how to get it. There, the lesson of Mr. and Mrs. Adelman."Il a du charme," as the French say. Witty and amusing, I loved this film. It's kind of like a French Woody Allen movie; not quite, but almost. When a prize-winning, famed author dies, we come to know the woman behind the man. His wife tells the story of what really happened, with moments of secrets, and betrayals. She's his muse; she made the marriage. But is either Mrs., or Mr., Adelman really what they seem? It's Nicolas Bedos' first film; he directed and starred in it, along with co-writer Doria Tiller, who's intelligently appealing as Mrs. Adelman. The film is, as Americans would say, very French. * * * "Why Do They Hate Us?" From today's headlines, or is this an eternal history of the past century? What makes a six-year-old a racist? "I don't like blacks, except you, Papa." When his young son said it, Lucien Jean-Baptiste decided to investigate what causes early hatred. He wrote, directed, and starred in this documentary look at stereotypes of blacks, Arabs, and Jews. The result will open your mind. Using unemotional interviews with academics, historians, sociologists, we see vile beliefs deconstructed. It's almost affable; the good-natured manner itself is a technique to get answers. It's surprising to see how insidious stereotypes are. This honest documentary, not painful to watch, is thought-changing. It's a loving look, if that's possible, at prejudice and hatred today. * * * "The Paris Opera" gives you a learning curve on the business of opera. It's an intriguing look at the diversity, and the strangeness, of what it's like to be director of a major institution. You may think it's about music, and true, there's plenty of that. Yet the pressures on the one in charge
can be staggering. We follow Stéphane Lissner, the opera's general director, as he does everything from encouraging a brilliant new singer to actually approving the choice of a live bull for a contemporary new opera strikingly reflecting what happened during France's equivalent to the American 9/11. It's an intimate, two-year look at the real behind-the-scenes, toggling between the sublime (training ballerinas) and the banal (dealing with crippling strikes). If you've ever wondered why opera tickets cost so much, they look at that, too. * * * My persistent film fest mantra: too many joys, so little time. Among the many delights of COLCOA, I must mention these three: "Polina" This enchanting look at how a great ballerina is made, then perhaps unmade, as she dares to choose her own life. Anastasia Shevtsova is the submissive Polina, who goes through such struggle to get into the iconic Bolshoi. Then her own desires make her start questioning whether she can stay. "Dalida" U.S. premiere of the huge French singer whose life challenges hid behind her songs. "Slack Bay"It's weirdness reminded me of "Blue Velvet" and "Twin Peaks." With an exquisitely-costumed cast, and beyond-superb acting, this movie might be an acquired taste. See it at your own risk. ______________________________________________©Carole Bell 2017 Carole Bell is a writer interested in everything. You can write to her at: email@example.com