Let’s get naked. We are human after all.
With generosity from Dymocks, Stilgherrian and I have a chance to preview the French version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover which is released in Australian cinemas in October. It swept this year 5 CĂ©sar Awards including Best Picture and Best Actress.
A young, intelligent woman, Constance (Marina Hands) gets married with a wealthy, upper-class, half-paralysed man, Clifford Chatterley (Hippolyte Girardot). The unhappy marriage turns her to have an affair with his gamekeeper, Mr Parkin (Jean-Louis Coullo’ch). The original novel by D. H. Lawrence was a taboo itself with sex scenes between an aristocrat lady and a working class man. It was banned in many country including Australia.
There is nothing new with the plot of a married woman having an affair in the world of cinemas. They all have their excuses to cross the line. Ask Fracesca’s The Bridges of Medison County, Ada’s The Piano, Ju Dou and many main characters that has their quests beyond a married life. It is a kind of monogamous culture’s fantasy and a universal theme that writers always explore the relationship of a woman with her world, especially, before the sexual revolution and women’s lib movement.
Watching the relationship growing between Constance and Parkin is such a pleasure. They start off with sexual tension and develop into far beyond what she has with her husbandâ€”four-letter word, love. They strip their feelings to each other as well as their cloths each time they meet until they part.
Marina Hands beautifully portray Lady Chatterley as such a complex character. She combines naivety and intelligence in a perfect spot. She shines from when she sees herself naked in a mirror. The first sex encounter with Parkin, those eyes tell it all. The final sex scene she runs naked in the rains into the woods for him to catch her and end with floral decoration on her body.
This low-budget French adaptation is directed by Pascale Ferran. She interprets the story to contemporary stand, not just a standard costume drama, less of social context, more of character in depth.
It was limited released in French cinema as opposed to high-financed movies both local and from Hollywood studios. Three hours seem not too long at all giving that it delivers the sensuality in every minute of it.
The Science of Sleep
I am a big fan of a French Director, Michel Gondry. The visions he creates such as Chemical Brothers’ Star Guitar and Kylie Minogue’s Come into My World are always astounding. His second feature film, The Science of Sleep, has all his visual tricks that go with dream-and-reality-cross-over theme.
After his father’s death, Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal), moves to France to find out that he does not get the job he was promised as an Illustrator but as a Typesetter in a calendar publisher. The escape from real-life frustration is in the journey through his dreams. Then he falls in love with a local, Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), but the girl seems so distant even though she is living next door. While he is trying desperately to win her heart, his delusions become closer and closer to reality.
So what our dreams are made of, just some random intuitive thoughts or emotional fragments of daily life? Boundary between the realms of reality and fantasy is blurred in schizophrenic patients. In this case, Stephane’s mild illusions expose his ingredients of his dreams and mix up with reality quite beautifully.
The vivid dream sequences are made of conventional animation and old-time movie techniques, at least, I do not detect any computer graphics. It is the right medium for a French romantic-comedyâ€”I am not talking about Amelie. The down fall is that I just cannot help comparing them with Terry Gilliam’s work, only more or less Brechtian.
Paris, Je T’aime: Sugar-coated Paris
Thank to the generosity’s of Australian Centre for Photography, I and Stilgherrian have a chance to see an advance screening of Paris Je T’aime. It is an interesting and challenging projectâ€”18 different love stories taking places in Paris districts from different directors. We see the diversed lives of the people in the city: lonely Parisians, grieving mother, couples in the edge of their relationship, disadvantage migrants and, of course, clueless tourists.
Nothing is new about a collaboration of directors telling different stories under one theme. The style becomes the genre itself. New York Stories is closest cousin to this film. But to line up 18 shorts together is quite an ambition. It is another hi-concept that could be the problem itself, in other words, there are too many. It is like watching SBS’s SOS with the certain theme on Saturday night but less variety of style.
Despite the big names such as, Gus Van Sant, GĂ©rard Depardieu and Wes Craven, few of them deliver a fresh feeling of love and emotion. No need to talk about each segment, most of them are pretty much the same with the exception of Vincenzo Natali‘s Quartier de la Madeleine, Coen Brothers‘ Tuileries and Alexander Payne‘s 14th arrondissement. What puzzles me the most is the weird and dream-like segment, Christopher Doyle‘s Porte de Choisy which jumps out from all of them. He not only stamps his signature on Kathy Li‘s cinematography, but prove his strong connection to the orient.
After the screening, I have a craving for spicy food. We go to Snakebean Asian Diner on Oxford Street and have Thai late dinner there. Ironically, the food is still a bit too sweet for my taste buds.