reminds us of the already existing connexion between Chris Rock, which is very likely to be Marion's new boyfriend in 2 days in New York, Julie Delpy's sequel to 2 days in Paris, and French cinema:

(Picture: newsone)

After seeing his documentary Good Hair we began to see an unexpected dimension of actor Chris Rock's personality. This is being confirmed today by the projects he is involving himself in, and his interest in French cinema.

His taste for French cinema had led him to direct and play in I Think I love My Wife, a remake of Eric Rohmer's film Chloé in the Afternoon. More recently Chris Rock has decided to produce a remake of the French comedy La Première Etoile, an unexpected success of 2009.

His unexpected choices don't stop here, as he has the intention of writing an adaptation of the movie High and Low by Kurosawa, and give the direction to Mike Nichols.

In French here.

The new boyfriend!

21:26 Thursday, 26 August 2010

Production Weekly has just announced on Twitter that Chris Rock will be Marion's new boyfriend in 2 days in New York, the sequel to Julie Delpy's 2 days in Paris.

Ioncinema gives us some precisions:

The basic premise sees Delpy's character Marion having to juggle career, kids, ex-boyfriends and her current African American squeeze. The ex-boyfriend in this case, is not Adam Goldberg, but a French former flame -- perhaps in the Romain Duris vein"(....)
Synopsis: This centres again on French woman Marion (Delpy), who has broken up with Jack and now lives in New York with their children. Her Parisian family come to visit her, but the cultural differences between her eccentric father and new American boyfriend will turn out to be explosive. Meanwhile, her sister has had the "good" idea of bringing an ex-boyfriend from Paris and there is the pressure of an upcoming photography exhibition.

2010, the end of a decenny, and with it comes the listing game!

Among the dozens of lists for Best movies of the decade for 2000-2009, two movies featuring Julie Delpy are - very often - short-listed:

Avclub film writers included them both in their 50 best movies of the decade: Waking Life (2001) in position 35:

With Waking Life, writer-director Richard Linklater returned to the freeform philosophical meanderings, laconic rhythms, and college-town sociology of his cult debut Slacker, only this time the proceedings are a whole lot more animated. Literally. Linklater filmed the film’s spiritual seekers and amateur philosophers in digital video, then had Bob Sabiston and his team of animators trace and color the images through low-fi rotoscoping. Like Slacker, Waking Life is informed equally by its creator’s gentle humanism and insatiable curiosity about the world around him. It’s a trippy, mind-expanding journey through the world of ideas, populated by a motley assortment of free-thinkers, eccentrics, actors (including Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, reprising their iconic roles from Before Sunrise), and crackpots. Linklater and Sabiston succeed in creating a hypnotic cinematic dream state that transformed a defiantly non-cinematic parade of monologues and abstract theorizing into a deliriously visual feast for the senses.

...and Before Sunset (2004) (easy guess!) in position 12:

The perfect “will they or won’t they” ending to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise seemed like exactly the sort of ambiguous question that most emphatically doesn’t require an answer. It takes roots in the viewer’s imagination: Depending on who you are, romantic or cynic, you either believe that Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reunited in Vienna exactly one year later, or that they would only have that one night together, and never see each other again. And yet from their very first scene together in Before Sunset, everything feels right about the sequel—better, even—because the conversation that Hawke and Delpy continue so naturally 10 years later is now seasoned by the experiences they’ve had in the interim. Turns out that one night meant a great deal to both of them, but they aren't necessarily in a position to pick up right where they left off. What follows is every bit as enchanting as the first film, but considerably more complicated and adult, too—and with its own tantalizingly open-ended denouement.

Amongst Waking Life fans stand Roger Ebert, who includes the movie in his 20 favourite films of the decade, about which he wrote:

I have seen "Waking Life" three times now. I want to see it again--not to master it, or even to remember it better (I would not want to read the screenplay), but simply to experience all of these ideas, all of this passion, the very act of trying to figure things out. It must be depressing to believe that you have been supplied with all the answers, that you must believe them and to question them is disloyal, or a sin. Were we given minds in order to fear their questions?

Before Sunset can be found in even more lists, such as (amongst quite a lot) Brian Rowe's one at suite101 ("by far the best sequel of the decade"), or Metacritic's one, where the film appears in number 27 out of a 100.

And you? Would you include these films in your favourite movies of the decade?

After a tumultuous début between Julie Delpy and Krzysztof Kieslowski (see her interview with Ryan Gilbey), the former finally decided in 1992 to accept the role of Dominique in the middle film of the famous trilogy, Three colors: Blue, White and Red - the colors of the French flag in relation with the motto of the French republic: liberty, equality, fraternity.

A quick résumé of the story is to be found at reelviews:

White begins in a Parisian courtroom with the arrival of a lonely, dejected Karol Karol (Zamachowski), clutching a summons and looking downtrodden. Shortly thereafter, his marriage has been dissolved by the court because of his inability to consummate the union, and his beautiful young wife Dominique (Delpy) has claimed that she no longer loves him. Karol is devastated, and
decides to quit Paris for his native Poland.

To make matters worse, he has no passport and no money to obtain one, and after Dominique sets fire to a beauty shop that he and she owned together, the police want him for arson. Fate, however, is not entirely working against Karol, and he finds a friend in his fellow countryman Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos), who helps him back to Warsaw, where he begins rebuilding his life and planning revenge against the woman he still loves.

Interesting analysis include Roger Ebert's one at Chicago Sun-times:

Kieslowski allows a great deal of apparent chance in his stories. They do not move from A to B, but wander dazedly through the lives of their characters. That lends a certain suspense; since we do not know the plot, there is no way for us to anticipate what will happen next. He takes a quiet delight in producing one
rabbit after another from his hat, hinting much, but revealing facts about his characters only when they must be known.

In all of his films, there are sequences that are interesting simply for their documentary content: We're not sure what they have to do with the story, if anything, but we are interested to see them unfolding for their own sake. In "Blue," the heroine's pragmatic reaction to her husband's death gave hints of greater secrets still to come. In "Red," there are two lives that never quite seem to interlock, but always seem about to. In "White," there is the marvelous indirection of Karol's comeback in Poland, the way in which he becomes successful almost by intuition.

The colors blue, white and red in the French flag stand for liberty, equality and fraternity. One of the small puzzles Kieslowski sets up is how these concepts apply to his plot. As Karol deviously sets a snare for thewife he loves and hates - as he gains control of the relationship, in a way - it is hard to see how "equality" could be involved in such a struggle for supremacy. Afterwards, thinking about the film, beginning to see what Kieslowski might have been thinking, we see even richer ironies in his story.

Hal Hinson of The Washington Post also wonders about the "equality" that White is supposed to represent:

The stated subject of Krzysztof Kieslowski's "White," the second film in the Polish director's trilogy based on the colors of the French flag, is equality. But you'd have to stretch the definition of the word to its breaking point to make it fit this tortured love story.

Kieslowski is arguably the most gifted filmmaker working in Europe, and in movies like "Blue" and "The Double Life of Veronique," he has invented a poetic language for exploring the most enigmatic states of the mind and heart. In "White," which details the agonies of obsessive love, his story is more realistic, and his style more prosaic, but the results are no less inscrutable -- and no less engaging.(...)

Kieslowski's style here isn't overtly funny, and about the closest thing to an
outright joke is a sputtering neon sign above the front door of Karol's shabby
hair salon. But slowly, as Karol changes from loser to smooth operator, the film builds up a steady comic momentum. Zamachowski's performance is restrained, but no less hilarious because of it. Surprisingly, his Karol is never funnier than when he is a bigwig. With his hair slicked back and dressed in designer duds, he looks more like a silent-comedy clown than ever.

The film ends with Karol's last-ditch effort to recapture his lost love, and the spin Kieslowski (with writing partner Krzysztof Piesiewicz) puts on his story carries us into sublimely unexpected terrain. In an instant, the film is transformed into a poetic mystery. The denouement -- far too delicious to give away even if I could explain it -- brings us back to the issue of equality. Ultimately, "White" is a love story with a happy ending, and maybe the only one I've ever seen that's both touching and perverse at the same time.

About the mysteries of the film, from Desson Howe:

This all may read like a thriller, but "White" is more of a dramatic conundrum -- a tragicomedy full of explicit questions but only implicit answers. Why do these characters do what they do? What are the meanings of certain gestures? Why was Karol impotent in Paris? As for the finale, it is affecting and baffling: Something is being communicated between Dominique and Karol, but what?

These mysteries are not frustrating. They are intriguing. Kieslowski's films, which include "The Double Life of Veronique" and his 10-part work, "The Decalogue," are made to be watched instinctively. You use the same, appreciative reflex when you listen to music. Only this time, just listen with your eyes.

Fortunately, we have some kind of an answer to the question of Dominique's gestures to Karol at the end of the film (warning: SPOILERS ahead):

I've updated the Photo album with pictures from the 59th Berlin Festival photo call, where The Countess was first released in February 2009. You may remember that Ms Delpy had just given birth to her son, Leo, in January 2009.
From the press conference she held, Julie Delpy explained that:

“I wanted to [tell the story] more like a Greek tragedy instead of being a horror film, which is how this story is usually portrayed.” In telling the story, Delpy viewed the Countess as falling on both sides of the feminist ideal.

“In a way, [the film] is feminist but also non-feminist. I think that it isn’t ‘feminist’ to say women are perfect. There is no such thing as ‘everyone being great,’” said Delpy. “We’re all individuals. People say that if women ruled the world things would be perfect and I don’t think that’s true.”

Delpy also drew parallels with contemporary society’s hypnotic ifatuation with
youth and beauty through the film. “People with power [today] are also exposed. You see it in the entertainment industry with plastic surgery. Some people have a fear of losing youth and beauty. Some people associate that with losing power, and I think people are afraid of aging because they associate it with death - and yeah, I have that fear too.”

As with her promotion of “Two Days in Paris” two years ago, Delpy energetically answered journalist questions with a very comfortable command of English, launching into verbose explanations in both English and French intermittently,
even confessing that she is a bit highly strung.

“I’m hyper and psychotic and I have neuroses,” she said to moments of laughter. “Yet, I’m always tired, but I don’t sleep much. It’s terrible to live with me.”

Filmmaker, the magazine of independent film, makes a flashback this week on Winter 1995:

Winter, 1995, was a great issue. Our cover story was Rick Linklater’s Before Sunrise. Andrew Hindes interviewed Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, while Jean-Christopher Castelli detailed the film’s use of Austrian tax funds for its financing.

Available on line, the article from Jean-Christophe Castelli about making Before Sunrise in Vienna is quite fascinating:

In the chiaroscuro imagination of Hollywood, Vienna is a treacherous place for
Americans, a city where the only thing blacker than the shadows are the intentions of those who operate under their cover. "Down I came to old Vienna, happy as a lark and without a dime" says Holly Martins at the beginning of The Third Man, but in the end, he leaves poorer in everything but heartbreak and disillusion.

Nowadays, Vienna is a far more welcoming place for impoverished Americans – of the filmmaking variety, at least.

Richard Linklater’sBefore Sunrise which shot in Vienna in the summer of 1994, is one of the latest examples of how American independent filmmakers have used European government regional subsidies, not only as a financial resource, but also as a powerful tool for forging productive working relationships with the local film community.

The story of two young people (played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) who meet on a train and spend the night wandering around Vienna, Before Sunrise went beyond using the city as a backdrop, incorporating it as a kind of third character; and the production itself became an unusually successful model of cross-cultural collaboration.

Before Sunrise had a long gestation, and Linklater’s two young lovers wandered through a number of cities before finally arriving in old Vienna. "I wanted a very old, very classical kind of feel," says Linklater. "In the U.S., I had thought about Philadelphia – a good walking city – or San Antonio, which is really old."

Eventually, Europe seemed the logical destination – and not just for the locations. "Part of the reason was to take advantage of the subsidies," says John Sloss, Linklater’s lawyer and the Executive Producer on Sunrise. "The terms for funding are very good from the financial point of view; they are not obtrusive in the filming, they leave you alone. Basically, it’s an interest-free loan, with no continued equity interest." That means filmmakers can get
financial support without having to sell off a lot of territories. Moreover, the loan is repayable only when (and, most importantly, if) the producer’s own financial contribution has been refunded. (...)

Starting in Germany, the producers of Before Sunrise approached the Hamburg and NRW funds, but met with rejection from both. Anne Walker-McBay, Linklater’s long
time producer, speculates that, based on the script (essentially an extended conversation between two characters), the film might have come across as "too European" for some, and therefore risky: "The state of subsidies is such that so
few films make money, most of them lose money; so there’s attention going to balancing that situation, and funding films that make money back, and this tends to be films which might be more ‘American’."

Whether or not a film gets funding is often dependent on factors such as local cultural politics as well as budgets, which are always hard to predict. Ellen Winn, the Munich-based co-producer, advises filmmakers who apply to make sure "that the numbers are realistic, and that you already have some sort of financing going into it, like a distributor’s letter saying that they are supporting this film enough to release it."

Linklater came to Vienna with the advantage of a relatively high profile; while Slacker had gone straight to television in Germany, it had been theatrically released in Austria by Stadtkino, which eventually provided a letter of intent to distribute Before Sunrise. Moreover, Dazed and Confused was one of the big hits of the October, 1993 V’iennale. The attraction was intense and mutual. "We got off the plane and felt that not only could we do it here, we’d really like to do it here," says Walker-McBay. (...)

The main criterion for funding is economic – what the WFF rule book calls the "Vienna Effect," which sounds like the title of a Robert Ludlum novel but is in fact a loose set of requirements that the money be spent locally. With a budget of approximately $3 million, Before Sunrise spent $1.5 million in Vienna, which
made it eligible for a $500,000 subsidy. Local expenses included film stock and processing from a local lab, a largely Austrian crew, the supporting cast, lighting equipment, cameras (the highly regarded Moviecam is an Austrian company), the support structure from the Austrian co-producer, and miscellaneous expenses like hotels and meals. The film was entirely shot and largely assembled in Vienna in July of 1994, with post-production back in Linklater’s home base of Austin.

Foreign producers must find an Austrian partner, who writes the contract and acts as the intermediary with WFF. WFF provides an accredited list of producers from which to choose, and, according to Ainberger, this is one of the most important decisions a filmmaker can make: "Make sure you have a very clear and exact partner in Vienna," he says, recommending a scouting trip of at least two weeks to find a compatible company. Before Sunrise used the services of Filmhaus Wien, a young company which specializes in commercial work and had the
reputation of being, in Walker-McBay’s words, "not so old-school in their thinking. They worked with us for crew hiring, recommending people, and pulled in many favors." Filmhaus partner Gernot St. Schaffler, who now heads up his
company’s L.A. office, saw his involvement with Before Sunrise in terms of long-range payback: "I wanted to prove that you can do feature films on a low budget in Vienna."

For Avi Levi, the production accountant on Before Sunrise, the benefits and costs of shooting in a place like Vienna must be carefully considered. "Vienna is an expensive place," he notes, singling out the benefits for cast and crew as "the most of any country I’ve ever shot in." On the other hand, "they use smaller crews than we do and the prices before the benefits are somewhat lower than here." While the costs might outweigh the benefits in a more complicated shoot involving stunts and special effects, with a relatively simple picture, it’s still worth it – provided the location is necessary to the story.

Before Sunrise’s integration of the city as a third character is precisely one of the factors that attracted the WFF to the project. WFF’s criteria also contain a cultural stipulation of "Vienna Relatedness," with preference given to films which promote the city as a recognizable location. According to Ainberger, "It is not necessary that Vienna is shown as Vienna – in Disney’s Three
Musketeers, it was shown as France – but we like it."

Ironically, "Vienna Relatedness" eventually overtook financial necessity for the filmmakers as well. When Castle Rock Pictures picked up Before Sunrise as part of a first-look deal with Linklater in early 1994, there was no longer any need for a subsidy; in fact, as sole producer, Castle Rock was reluctant to get involved with an extra layer of bureaucracy. (A particular sticking point was the lien on all subsidized production, one of the normal requirements for funding, which was eventually dropped in the face of Castle Rock’s objections.) The filmmakers insisted on working through the WFF, however: "We wanted to make the production as local as possible," says Walker-McBay. "Getting the subsidy seemed like a good way to become politically connected; and you need as many friends as possible when you’re shooting on a low budget!"

These connections were particularly important when it came to lining up locations. Most European cities don’t have film commissions to coordinate things like in America; though Vienna has grown into one of the more film-friendly cities, "it’s not like L.A. where there is shooting on every corner," notes
Schaffler. The city is divided into districts, and securing permissions often involved arguing with local representatives who were more concerned with appeasing constituents bothered by film crews than any long-term benefits. "Austrians are not as direct as we are," notes Walker-McBay. "We like ‘yes’ and
‘no,’ but they’ll go, ‘Isn’t this nice? You want to film here? No problem!’ – this is two months before; and then the day before, they tell us ‘you can shoot until 11,’ but our problem is that the sun goes down at 10 and we need six hours of night shooting. Then, at the last minute, they push it through."

As in all shoots using foreign crews, the filmmakers had to be aware of local working methods ahead of time and compensate accordingly. Linklater brought over his "core group from Slacker," including producer Walker-McBay, director of
photography Lee Daniel, and an American first assistant director. ("They do more with location and set managers," says Walker-McBay. "Their A.D. has a more narrowly defined role than ours.") The rest of the crew was Viennese (though largely English-speaking), and the Americans found themselves adjusting very nicely to a rather more gemütlich feeling than is commonly found on American independent sets: "I like the European attitude," says Walker-McBay. "Most of the crew has a life beyond films – families to go home to, vacations to take – and it’s more relaxed."

Despite the shorter working hours, the Viennese crew were no slackers. Walker-McBay has nothing but praise for their technical expertise, and Linklater marvels at their dedication: "They’re not hellbent people like in the U.S. They have a real respect for the intentions of a movie," he says. "All they wanted
was for me to make the best movie I could." The Austrians seem to have been similarly enriched by working with Linklater: "I’ve never seen anyone so concentrated and hard-working," says Schaffler. "He was in a good mood all the time, and made our life very easy." As John Sloss sums it up, "it went so well that we’d be tempting fate to even say what we should have done better."

Needless to say, the producers of Before Sunrise came away with very few of the war stories that would normally spice up, if not the actual shoot itself, then an article like this one. According to Linklater, several of the locations that he happened to like turned out to be the same ones Carol Reed used for The Third Man, but even these coincidences don’t provide much of a metaphor for the film: for unlike Holly Martins, Richard Linklater came home from Vienna a happy man.

Au clair de lune...2 days in Paris

15:22 Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The 10th edition of Cinema au clair de lune (4-22 August, 2010), the open air cine festival organized by Forum des Images in Paris, reserves a good surprise: 2 days in Paris in on the program for the 14th of August, to be seen in the Parc de Choisy (13th arrondissement).

To arouse your appetite, here's the trailer:

A lot has been said about this successful independent film, but one my favourite critics includes the LA Times Carina Chocano one:

"2 Days in Paris" is pure Julie Delpy, figuratively and otherwise. Since first becoming known to American audiences in the early '90s, she's revealed herself to be an artist of sundry and unexpected talents, with a distinctive voice and point of view.

Most of these are on display in her first feature-length movie, which she wrote, directed, produced, edited, scored and stars in, opposite Adam Goldberg. She cast her real-life parents, Marie Pillet and Albert Delpy, as her parents in the movie. Finally, for what one can only assume is good measure, she sings the song that plays over the end credits, accompanied by the slinky French pop band Nouvelle Vague. If one were to learn that Delpy manned the craft services table between takes, it would come as no great surprise.


At first blush, "2 Days in Paris" looks like it's going to be the story of a culture-clashing couple. But slowly and rather slyly, Delpy zeros in on something much more subtle and complex. What interests her are not the superficial differences between people from different countries -- your skinned rabbit is my tourist in a Bush/Cheney T-shirt, and so forth -- but the way in which the distances between people, genders and cultures (the very distances we rely on to grant us the perspective needed to see how completely insane other people, genders, cultures really are) seem to shift constantly according to circumstances.

One moment, Jack is categorically rejecting all modes of European public transport (in case of terrorist attack), and the next he is recoiling from his compatriots because they have bad taste in books. Likewise, Marion chafes at Jack's American provincialism one moment, and can't believe how xenophobic Parisian taxi drivers are the next. No sooner has either one of them settled on a single, hidebound world-view than a situation arises to smack them out of it.

The more Jack -- who doesn't speak a word of French -- interacts with Marion's family, the more entrenched he becomes in abstract absolutes. "I'm an American," he tells one of Marion's exes. "What's mine is mine!" And yet, not long before this he found himself fending off Marion's father Jeannot's insinuation that all Americans are ignorant of French and even American literature. Jack may be covered in tattoos, but when Marion's former hippie mother (her first words of dialogue are "Can't those poor exploited nurses go on strike? This isn't America!") lets him in on a little secret about her sexual past, he's instantly transformed into a prig and a prude.

Naturally, the worm eventually turns, and Marion is left furious and sputtering after a chance encounter with an ex-lover who used his "immersion in Thai culture" (he worked for a foreign aid organization) as an excuse to do some very bad things. Is the German eco-activist (Daniel Brühl, seeming like he just walked off the set of anti-globalist caper "The Edukators") that Jack meets at a fast-food chain an Earth-saving "fairy," as he claims, or is he a terrorist? Delpy's wry, acerbic sense of humor and privileged perspective make her the ultimate outsider-insider, perfectly positioned to ask the most astute questions.

Eventually, a kind of synthesis arises from the battle of the perspectives -- that is, that there are no absolute ideas and no fixed identities. One man's freedom, as we know, is another man's French.

Amongst the film's admirers stands also Roger Ebert, from the Chicago Sun-Times:

(...) Marion and Jack wander about Paris, talking in that way that lovers have when they're beginning to get on each other's nerves. But, no, this is not a retread of Richard Linklater's "Before Sunset" (2004), in which Delpy and Ethan Hawke walked and talked around Paris. It is a contemplation of incompatibility, as Paris brings out a side of Marion that Jack has never quite seen: Is she a radical political activist and a shameless slut, or does she only act like one? She runs into old boyfriends so often it makes Paris seem like a small town, and attacks one of them, in a restaurant, for taking a sex vacation to Thailand.

At home, her father quizzes Jack on French culture, and her mother is so eager to wash and press his clothes that he barely has time to get out of them. Both of Delpy's parents are professional actors, and so these are only performances, I hope. In addition to casting her parents, Delpy puts her mark on this film in many other ways: She starred, directed, wrote, edited, co-produced, composed the score and sang a song. When a women takes that many jobs, we slap her down for vanity. When a man does, we call him the new Orson Welles.

Delpy in fact has made a smart film with an edge to it; her Jack and Marion reveal things about themselves they never thought they'd tell anybody, and we wonder why they ever went out on a second date. Much has been made of the similarities between Delpy here and Diane Keaton in "Annie Hall" but if Delpy's character found a spider as big as a Buick in the bathroom, she'd braise it and serve it up for lunch.

Which is an oblique way of saying that Julie Delpy is an original, a woman who refuses to be defined or limited. Her first great roles were in Bertrand Tavernier's "Beatrice" (1987), Agnieszka Holland's "Europa Europa" (1990) and Krzysztof Kieslowski's "White" (1994); she was in Linklater's "Before Sunrise" "Waking Life" and "Before Sunset" and she dumped Bill Murray at the beginning of Jim Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers." In between, she studied film at NYU and made herself available for 30 student productions.

What she has done here is avoid all temptation to recycle the usual lovers-in-Paris possibilities, and has created two original, quirky characters so obsessed with their differences that Paris is almost a distraction. I don't think I heard a single accordion in the whole film.

Julie Delpy herself has been interviewed a lot about her film, the motives for it and the major themes - men and women relationships, and cultural differences. Here is a great interview from empireonline: