Some films cry out to be made. Others whisper, and some just offer the tiniest, weariest shrug. ”Spoiled Children,” which opened yesterday at the Public Theater, is one of the latter. Its main character is a film director who rents an apartment in which he plans to create his latest screenplay. While living in the apartment, he joins the tenants’ committee, has a desultory affair with a woman much younger than he, pays visits to his wife that are even more desultory, and otherwise whiles away time.
This director, Bernard (Michel Piccoli), appears to be assembling material for his film with an arty randomness, selecting occasional snippets of his own experience and shaping his screenplay around them. He even has a collaborator, who chimes in ”It’s strange how the cemeteries in Berlin are colder than elsewhere.” The collaborator then proclaims the remark ”Great!” and wonders how he can wedge it into the film. Bertrand Tavernier, the film’s director, may have worked in much the same way. Continue reading
Here are some ways that Bettrand Tavernier, in production notes for his new film ”A Week’s Vacation,” describes his film: ”A portrait of a woman against the background of almost murmured questions that concern us all, approached without didacticism.” ”A laughing fit before you realize it’s going to snow.” ”An old man who knows a lot.” ”A motorcycle engine more familiar than a Moliere play.” ”A letter you read at the end of summer.” Continue reading
After recently watching Bertrand Tavernier’s “In the Electric Mist”, that film made me miss “L.627” all the more. While “In the Electric Mist” isn’t a complete failure, it’s mixture of Southern gothic, hard boiled detective novels and clunky exposition doesn’t seem to represent the best of Tavernier’s senses. A French filmmaker not afraid to put himself on the line and film a quintessential “American” story (see “Round Midnight”, even though it documents the musician’s exploits in France), Tavernier’s 1992 film “L.627” is his masterpiece…. and still not available for digestion on region 1 DVD. Continue reading
1938, in a French african colony. Lucien Cordier is the cop of this village,
populated with blacks and a few whites (usually racialist and lustful). He
is a washout, everyone (including his wife Huguette) humiliates him. He
never arrests anyone and looks at elsewhere when a dirty trick occurs. But
one day, he turns into a machiavellian exterminating angel. Continue reading
The essential question arises: how do you express routine and habit, essentially anti-dramatic notions which are organic to this job? How do you film a job so it becomes the only source of dramatization?
A few visual ground rules are established: respect the different colours of street lighting (yellows and blues), not correct or soften them; eliminate as far as possible any descriptive shots and particularly any framing that over dramatizes an action; stay with the cops and see what they see when they tail or pursue suspects; never leave the point of view of the pursuer; refuse all stylistic effects inherent in the thriller genre; stick to the characters, follow their rhythm, reflect the routine and unstable nature of their life, and think at the same time as they do. A difficult choice, because the audience has a thousand formal, ideological references in its head – American references in particular: promotion of individualism, rejection of collective spirit, predominance of plot. I want to overturn these references. Continue reading
A detective tracking a serial killer who preys on young women finds his investigation complicated by a glamorous Hollywood starlet and a ruthless crime kingpin in director Bertrand Tavernier’s adaptation of the James Lee Burke novel In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead. Continue reading