The Cannes Film Festival to Open With the First Female-Directed Film Since 1987

Cannes, Film

This Thursday, the Cannes Film Festival will reveal their 2015 lineup, but today it was announced that the May 13 opening night film will be Emmanuelle Bercot’s La Tête Haute. Diane Kurys’ A Man in Love in 1987 was the first and only other time the work of a female director has opened the festival since. “The choice of this film may seem surprising. It is a clear reflection of our desire to see the Festival start with a different piece, which is both bold and moving,” said festival director  Thierry Frémaux. “Emmanuelle Bercot’s film makes important statements about contemporary society, in keeping with modern cinema. It focuses on universal social issues, making it a perfect fit for the global audience at Cannes.”

Starring Catherine Deneuve, La Tête Haute focuses on a “ juvenile delinquent, Malony, and tracks his upbringing as a children’s judge and social worker try to save him from himself.”  

You can watch Bercot’s film On My Way and Polisse (which he wrote) on Netflix streaming now.

Honoring Famed Dracula Bela Lugosi & ‘Limelight’

Famed Dracula actor Bela Lugosi died on this day in 1956. So far he hasn’t returned my attempts for comment. I try to work in the brilliant Bauhaus song "Bela Lugosi’s Dead" into my set as it has a way of taking the dance floor to a surreal almost hypnotic state. It’s nine-and-a-half minutes long and is often remembered from the opening sequence of the terminally hip 1983, Tony Scott flick The Hunger. That film stared Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, and an absolutely brilliant David Bowie. As “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” blared, lead singer Peter Murphy climbed a chain-link fence that separated him from his crowd at a nightclub. Vampires Bowie and Deneuve pick up a couple of victims, including club performer- turned-actress Ann Magnuson. They lure them to a lavish home on the pretext of sex and then rip them to shreds. When I play the track on club nights it’s like a cigarette break. I can close my eyes and ponder things like how songs from this era are still relevant to fast crowds. YouTube this scene right now and toast to Bela Lugosi.

The Limelight flick is scheduled to start airing on Showtime starting today. I figure anybody relevant has already seen this film which has me chatting away in a few scenes. Now, the film which has been seen in the major markets will get to play in Peoria and places like that. For me it’s sort of like a vampire flick with a time and place that has been dead a long time, rising from its grave and into my bedroom and millions of others. Limelight is enjoying its limelight and return to the party with the opening of Daniel and Derek Koch’s Château Cherbuliez restaurant in the hallowed halls. 

Tony Scott Directed the Two Gayest Movies of the ’80s

Tony Scott, who is responsible for some of the biggest American movies in the last thirty years (including Bevery Hills Cop II, Days of Thunder, Enemy of the State, True Romance, Man on Fire, and Spy Game), passed away yesterday after jumping off Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles. It was certainly a shock to many, who took to Twitter (where else?) last night to express their grief. This is, of course, where I learned the news. While I can’t say that I’ve seen a ton of his movies (of the six I mentioned just now, I’ve only seen two), he was, surprisingly, the director of two of the gayest moves of the 1980s. I can’t offer any condolences via a social networking site, but I can add my own personal take on his career right here. YOU’RE WELCOME.

The first is Scott’s directorial debut: The Hunger. It’s the most obvious choice, as it’s got a lesbian love scene between Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. But let’s look deeper at the other total gayballs stuff in this movie. First, the cast. Catherine Deneuve? She’s the most beautiful person on the planet, even now at 68 years old. The woman knows how to pick a surgeon, is what I’m saying. Pretty gay! Then there’s Susan Sarandon. It doesn’t get any homo than mid-eighties Susan Sarandon. And David Bowie? Even straight dudes would go gay for Bowie. And it’s about vampires. Are there any monsters more homoerotic than vampires? Nope. Case closed.

What’s the other gay flick? Well, duh: Top Gun. To wit:

Yes, I think homosexuality is genetic and not a choice, but, then again, there is the existence of the rampant homoeroticism in Top Gun. (It surprisingly gets gayer when dubbed in Spanish, FYI.) I am pretty sure there’s a whole generation of gay men whose parents’ early ’90s basic-cable subscriptions have left them with the inability to control an erection whenever they spot a volleyball net. 

Director Francois Ozon on Reuniting Catherine Deneuve & Gerard Depardieu

Cinematic auteur Francis Ozon is one of Europe’s most prominent directors, best known for his brilliant use of melodrama and satirical wit in films like 8 Women and Swimming Pool. For his latest overseas hit, Potiche, Ozon joins forces with his 8 Women star, Catherine Deneuve, and oversees the most recent reunion of the iconic actress and Gerard Depardieu, another of France’s celluloid heavyweights. In Potiche, French slang for “trophy wife,” Deneuve is forced to take over her husband’s umbrella factory after a strike — and her hubby’s well-timed illness — leaves the plant crippled. With the film already a huge success abroad, we caught up with Ozon to discuss working with such a legendary cast, genre bending, and the difference between European and American cinema.

How did you go about choosing this project? It comes from a play which I discovered about ten years ago. I thought it was an amazing vehicle for an actress, and a beautiful part, but it took me time to know how to adapt it. The play was too old-fashioned and had nothing to do with the reality of today, especially in the case of women. Four years ago in France, we had the presidential elections and for the first time we had a man in front of a woman, and during this period I realized we had a comeback of male chauvinism, of misogyny, and I read the play again and thought maybe things didn’t change so much. So I worked on the adaptation with many links to today in France.

So even though the political climate was different, you were able to relate to it? Exactly, because it was important to have this political background for the story. So then I went to Catherine and asked if she would accept to be my Potiche, and she said yes.

How did you go about casting? It’s a kind of cliche when you have to cast the lover of Catherine Deneuve, but the first idea I had was Gerard Depardieu because they have done so many films together, and for me, as a cinephile director, it’s very touching to see these actors again together. We discovered them in The Last Metro by Truffaut, and they were very young and beautiful, and after all these years, they are still there, and it’s very tender to see them as a couple. There’s a magical chemistry between the two actors. It’s like seeing my parents.

A lot of films that take place in the 70s tend to be dark and gritty, but this is very bright. Why did you chose a bright aesthetic? You know, the ‘70s is my childhood, so I wanted to go back to this period in a very childish way. I wanted to be realistic, but I wanted it stylized a lot, so I decided to follow my memories about the ’70—the costumes, sets, music, and references like Judith Godrèche’s hair, which is the hair of Farrah Fawcett, because I saw Charlie’s Angels when I was a young boy. There was something about the film that still felt like a play. I wanted to mix genres in the film. I wanted to have a fast melodrama and a fast political side–to have different things. Because it’s something in life, and I know it’s sometimes disturbing for the audiences, especially in America, where we are more used to seeing something more straight. I think the people are clever enough to follow different directions at the same time, and life is like this. Sometimes you feel like you are in a Woody Allen film, and after you are in a drama of Bergman.

What do you think inspires you the most when you’re choosing a project? Each time is different. In the case of this film, it was the fact to work on a very likable character like Suzanne Pugol, and to work again with Catherine. And after 8 Women, we wanted to work again together, but I wanted her to be the real star of the film because in 8 Women, she was one among eight actresses. She followed all the steps of the production. I came by very often to her and told her, “I need to find you a lover, I need to find you a husband, I need to find you two children,” and she was giving me some advice. She was very involved in the project.

Do you think there’s a big difference in contemporary European cinema and what’s going on in American cinema? Yes, it’s a huge gap, it’s two different worlds. That doesn’t mean one is good and one is bad — I think there are some amazing films in America — but I have the feeling for an auteur, it’s easier to work in Europe. But at the same time, I realize a film like Black Swan is an auteur movie that became a blockbuster, so it’s possible to do that. In America, cinema is first an industry, but in Europe, it’s first an art, especially in France. There is this idea that if the film is good, if you have good reviews, it’s already a good thing.

Which I think is something we need more of here. Here people like success, which is good because we need success. I need success to make my films. I was very pleased that Potiche was a huge success in France, which means for my next movie, maybe it will be easier to make more difficult and less commercial movies.

Yves Saint Laurent Laid to Rest

imageA full house of celebrities, designers, and politicians attended the funeral of fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent today in Paris. Among them was legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve, looking properly mournful yet luminous. In sympathy, the windows at the YSL store on New York’s 57th Street are bare of goods.