Tag Archives: Cannes Film Festival

FILM REVIEW: GIGOLA (CHARPENTIER, 2011)

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2011.

Gigola, directed by Laure Charpentier, is a French film with subtitles set in the early 1960’s Paris containing themes of adult sexuality and gender issues. The film made it’s debut at the Cannes Film Festival. From there Gigola was shown at the Hamburg Film Festival in Germany and finished out the year at the Paris Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, in Paris, France. The mise-en-scene is in Gigola is remarkable. The costumes, make-up, and lighting are spectacular conveying images reminiscent of That’s Entertainment (1974), and Moulon Rouge (2001).

The film opens with a teenage school girl named George, played by Lou Dillion, as a  young and slender coming of age debutante, and her teacher, an attractive mid 30ish woman. Playful background music provides energy for a highly sexually charged, sensual transaction between George and her teacher.

Charpentier jumps ahead to 1963 Paris nightlife scene. George’s boy friend has committed suicide. George has decided to withdraw from school and announces to the night-time partiers that she has flunked out of medical school seemingly intentionally.

Next time we see George she is in a Parisian bistro and we are introduced to a Carol Channing like character. George has reinvented herself.

A comment is made  to George, “You look like a gigolo.”

George coolly replies, “Gigola.”

We now see George as Gigola, the name she has given her new self. A well-to-do matron comes to the bistro and Gigola is into action. Dressed in a black tuxedo, Gigola escorts the matron onto the dance floor for a spin. Soon the pair leave the bistro together and head to the matron’s estate. With grace, elegance and a touch of class Gigola seduces the matron in an erotic bedroom scene with a snake-headed cane and white gloves.

Gigola, if nothing else, knows what she wants and she goes after it. She threatens to leave her new found matron unless she receives more money. The matron has already given Gigola a signet ring and a red MG convertible. The matron capitulates handing over to Gigola a large cache of currency. We now witness Gigola expanding her “business” with new girls working under her discretion.

Meanwhile, Gigola’s father, an opium addict, is squandering away the family’s estate as he cogently leads the life of a Parisian gentlemen. Eventually Gigola confronts her father brandishing a loaded revolver after repeatedly warning her father to stay away and, in turn, pleading with her mother to cut him off.

After an attempted suicide, Gigola finds herself under the care of a psychiatrist who bears a striking resemblance to her former teacher. She suggests having a baby to Gigola. Gigola is less than optimistic but the psychiatrist is able to connect with Gigola. Never one to miss an opportunity, Gigola deftly makes clear her intentions to the attractive psychiatrist. When the psychiatrist makes a “house call” Charpentier uses a wrestling take down move to portray the mixed emotions the psychiatrist has – she is attracted to Gigola but she is married and lives according to her principles as a married woman – a defining characteristic of the times. The psychiatrist cares about Gigola and they have dinner together where she tells Gigola that Gigola needs to let go.

Again without missing a beat Gigola moves deeper into the nightclub scene in Paris meeting a Mr. Tony Pasquale, a Sicilian. The two gain a mutual respect for each other and Tony ends up impregnating Gigola. Gigola has the baby and it seems as though Gigola has accepted normalcy and is conforming to societal norms. Gigola has left and George has come back.

However, before a sigh of relief can be expressed, in tromps the cast from the bistro. A raucous scene ensues in the hospital room with Gigola consenting to have her locks cut – a symbol of Gigola’s re-emergence.

The film closes with Gigola adhering to her somewhat circular, misguided idealism. She has turned over the care of her child to her mother and she is shown in tuxedo walking down a Parisian cobblestone alley way with her back back to the camera just before sunrise.

Amazing Friday night film for the right audience. Gigola is currently available on Amazon Prime.

Advertisements

Pak classic Jago Hua Savera is a true gem that wowed Cannes

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Gautaman Bhaskaran

One of the classics at Cannes Film Festival in May was AJ Kardar’s 1959 black and white movie, Jago Hua Savera (Day Shall Dawn).

The film, which was to be screened as part of the Restored Classics Section of Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival starting October 20, has been dropped.

Made in 1959 in what was then East Bengal, Kardar’s work was to have screened at Mumbai. But the prevailing political climate has not allowed this.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-10-40-43-am

In a section titled, Restored Classics — which has become quite a hit at Cannes since it was introduced some years ago and which has seen the works of some Indian masters like Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen figuring — Jago Hua Savera was described as a gem.

Be that as it may, Jago Hua Savera is a haunting piece of celluloid that was also Pakistan’s first ever submission to the Foreign Language Oscars. The year was 1960. A moving story of fishermen in East Pakistan, the movie traces their weaknesses and strengths — clearly underlying their never-say-die spirit in the face of a hostile nature and prowling man-eating tigers.A Cannes brochure said: “By many standards, life in these far flung tiny villages is dull and monotonous, yet, for the people who live there, life is full of trials and turbulence. This is the story of the people of the river to hunt for fish. This is the story of one such man, of many such men, each aspiring to own their own boat.” The simple folk had a simple aspiration – to own a fishing boat, but caught in a web of loans, they lost even before they began their fight. The big sharks were too powerful for these small fish.

After all these years, what strikes as truly remarkable about Jago Hua Savera was its truly international crew and cast. The revolutionary Pakistani poet, Faiz Ahmad, wrote the screenplay and even penned lyrics for this quasi-documentary fiction, while a German-born British cameraman, Walter Lassally, caught the fantastic rural scenes with a kind of unforgettable magic. He used the Arriflex camera with superb dexterity to capture a set of rank amateur actors as they went about their mundane lives on the banks of Meghna. The style was true realism.

The original story came from West Bengal’s Manik Bandhopadhyay, the lead actor, Tripti Mitra, too. She was a member of the Indian People’s Theatre Association. And Indian music director, Timir Baran, co-composed along with Pakistan’s producer-composer Nauman Taseer. Shanti Chatterjee, an assistant of Satyajit, was also part of the crew. And one can see Ray’s influence in Kardar’s work.

Cut to present. The movie was restored with the help of the Nauman Taseer Foundation. Picture and the Deluxe Restoration in London. Taseer had been the financial backbone of Jago Hua Savera in its original avatar. Now his son, Anjum, took it upon himself to reconstruct a long-forgotten classic. He dug up the prints from France, London and Karachi, screened them at festivals like the Three Continents at Nantes (France) and New York, before he got restoration teams to work on the film, a painstaking job.

When the digitally-remastered movie was shown at Cannes, Faiz’s daughter and celebrated poet now living in Lahore, Salima Hashmi, had tears welling up, and she called the experience “emotional”. Understandably so. For, her father was in jail — as part of the anti-Communist crackdown by Pakistan’s General Ayub Khan — when Jago Hua Savera premiered in London. The movie went on to win a Gold at the 1959 Moscow Film Festival, and nothing was heard of it after that. Till it re-emerged as a brand new print at Cannes.

And Kardar’s life like that of the fishermen in the film ran parallel to the sea and the surf and the sand. He initially worked as a sailor and then went to London to study cinema. His first dabble with the megaphone was Jago Hua Savera.

In an important way, Kardar’s brilliant piece of creativity was a turning point in not only the cinematic fortunes of East Bengal — which really had no money for the arts and was always subjugated culturally by the rich and powerful West Pakistan — but also that of the country as a whole. After the 1947 partition of the Indian sub-continent, the thriving film industry in Lahore shifted to what was then Bombay. Talent migrated, and Bombay became Maya Nagari, while the movie industry in Lahore floundered and perished. Jago Hua Savera came as a whiff of fresh air, injecting oxygen into Pakistan’s business of cinema. But the glory was not allowed to last by Pakistan’s military rulers, who saw a threat — real or imagined — in the emergence of cinema in their eastern wing, which boasted of several men of letters.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the number of films produced annually in Pakistan is well under 20, while India churns out about 1300. After, Jago Hua Savera, Pakistan did not submit anything for the Oscars till 1963 (Ghunghat). It was a long gap after that — till 2013, when the country sent Zinda Bhag.

Jago Hua Savera was a landmark work all right, and it is a pity that it will not be screened at Mumbai Film Festival.

mami-banner360

(Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com)

Filipino films garnering wider international attention

Filipino films have been garnering international recognition in recent years. “The Woman Who Left” by director Lav Diaz won the prestigious Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival last month.

In May, the Philippines’ Jaclyn Jose won best actress at the Cannes Film Festival.

CCTV’s Barnaby Lo reports this could be a new golden era in Philippine cinema.

It was a red carpet event, and rightly so. After its success in the international film festival circuit, “Ang Babaeng Humayo” or “The Woman Who Left” opened in the Philippines last week. The almost four-hour film about a woman seeking revenge for getting incarcerated for a crime she didn’t commit had won the prestigious Lion Award last month, the highest honor at the Venice Film Festival. But for its Filipino cast and filmmakers, it was both an exciting and nervous moment.

Today’s Filipino films have little to prove abroad, especially with the win of Lav Diaz’s latest epic at the Venice Film Festival. The real battle now is at home, where romantic comedies and commercial dramas still dominate the local movie industry.

While awards do not guarantee box office success, surely, they are a measure of where Filipino films are right now on the world stage.

(Source: http://www.cctv-america.com)

Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ Delayed Again

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Jack Giroux

Terry Gilliam‘s longtime passion project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has been delayed again. The writer-director was going to start shooting the film (for the second time) next week, but another unexpected curveball has been thrown in this troubled project’s direction. Gilliam called the most recent delay of his fantastical adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’ novel “slight.”

What’s preventing Don Quixote from going before cameras this time? Money.

While speaking with Jonathan Ross on the BBC Radio 2 talk show (via Indiewire), Gilliam explained the delay:

“I was supposed to start to be shooting it starting next Monday. It’s been slightly delayed. I had this producer, a Portuguese chap, who claimed he’d get all the money together in time. And a few weeks ago, he proved that he didn’t have the money. So we are still marching forward. It is not dead. I will be dead before the film is.”

Back in March, it was reported Gilliam would begin principal photography on October 4th. The film, which will star Adam Driver and Michael Palin– (Monty Python), was said to have an $18 million budget. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote started to appear genuinely close to happening, but that still sounds like the case, despite the new delay. As Gilliam said, they’re marching forward.

A few months ago, the director’s plan was to have the film finished in time for next year’s Cannes Film Festival. He told reporters at this year’s fest he’s ready to get this movie out of his head and into the world (Source: Indiewire):

“We should be here in Cannes next year with the finished film, and then you can ask me why I made such a mess of it or why I made such a wonderful film. I think it’s going to be great…It’s one of those dream nightmares that never leave you until you finish the thing. I want to get this film out of my life so that I can get on with the rest of my life.”

If this recent delay is only momentary, Gilliam can probably still reach that 2017 Cannes premiere he wants. The last we saw of the filmmaker he was scouting locations for The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which is set to co-star Olga Kurylenko, Stellan Skarsgård, and Joana Ribeiro. After 20 years of waiting, Terry Gilliam will, sadly, just have to wait a little bit longer complete The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.

(Source: http://www.slashfilm.com)