Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou


Women in Film in Europe: News

..."It’s a time, where – see “Whale Rider” or “Rosenstrasse” - in many countries films made by women seem not to be anything special anymore and women film festivals therefore obsolete. We know, they are not and patriarchy still exists and shows it’s ugly teeth. I don’t think it is necessary to debate this. But I thought it was very interesting what Moira Sullivan told yesterday about the difficulties of women politics in a culture – Sweden - where gender equality has been officially declared as achieved. We know, that it is a difference that women’s films make also if not every film made by a woman makes a difference. And we need women’s film festivals more than ever if just for the reason that so many think of them as obsolete.

But there is a more general aspect to the example of Sweden. I think one of the major inner problems women film festivals had to face in the nineties is the dissolving of feminist identity politics in gender and queer theory. I don’t want to talk here about the question how much sense this may theoretically make. But for practical feminist politics that development left behind an open space, that is not easy to fill. One solution to this can be to create new identification. This is what many lesbian film festivals do very successfully until today, even if sometimes their programmers try to avoid it. At Feminale in Cologne for example, in times where the rest of the festival suffered from audience losses and disinterest, the separate lesbian program was always packed.

But an open space can also be a chance. And another possibility to react to the new situation could be to create new and different audience approaches. In this context I think we have to realise that the times of ever-growing audiences are definitely over and that this is perhaps not the worst thing to happen. And sometimes going on into the future may also mean to downsize in the present, not in professionalism and quality but in extension of films and times. Being small is not always a sign of weakness. Instead of sheer size we should focus more on intensity, on possibilities of visual, historical and social learning and on communication. "

Silvia Hallensleben, a German film journalist, at the meeting of the Working Group “Women and Film in Europe” during the 26th edition of Festival de Films des Femmes at Créteil/France in March 2004.


Shut Up Yourselves!

The Dixie Chicks are the subject of an excellent well-crafted new documentary by Barbara Kopple. Shut Up and Sing. The title comes from one of the country group’s ex fans who would feel perfectly content if everything that is disturbing to her was censored and muzzled. Why are artists assumed to be exempt from having opinions about political causes and world matters? Why are they just supposed to entertain? This contempt for the artist as the public's stooge recalls some of the films of Ingmar Bergman about the theme of the artist as outsider such as the most vivid example The Magician (1958, Sweden).

The Dixie Chicks
gained infamous popularity after a statement made at a concert in London in 2003 that they were ashamed that George Bush Jr comes from Texas. The comment was picked up by the Guardian in London and syndicated making its way back to the USA. A personal opinion about the governor from the state of Texas, who many still refer our controversial often foot in mouth high commander as, is all lead singer Natalie Maines expressed, but it’s like the game of gossip when someone whispers a simple statement into someone’s ears and by the time it gets around the circle it’s completely distorted. After the comment the group got death threats and were declared unpatriotic, radio stations wouldn’t play their music by listener request and their concerts and record sales sagged. It smacks of the way Jane Fonda’s visit to North Vietnam was used in a smear campaign to make her an enemy of the state. The most revealing comment made by Martie Maguire in the documentary is that the hidden reason they seem targeted is because they are supposedly a nice group of refined women that represent the myth of purity in America. And it seems like the unpopular war in Iraq needs a scapegoat just like the Vietnam War to stop the dissent. What better target than women. It also seems true that war is ultimately about a deep down hatred of women, as bearers of life on this planet. So to this end Kopple gives ample room to the fact that these women are mothers with children and husbands who support their work with intimate scenes of the women and their loved ones. These are some of the best parts of the film, especially as one finds it hard to fathom death threats from people who don’t even know them and what was actually said.

The film principally shows the interactions between the PR and record label people who handle the Dixie Chicks, personal comments from Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire and about what happened to them since the London concert, and the reactions good and bad to their work. It is an impassioned study of a group who speaks their mind spearheaded by a frivolous comment on a night in a country where the anti war sentiment is strong especially the unpopularity of Bush’s ally Tony Blair. To what extent are artists allowed freedom of speech, that is the question and why the immature belief that artists are wind up talking dolls in service to the people. The extent to which corporate radio yanked the music off the airwaves shows a very sad and disturbing state affairs about basic civil liberties in our country. Shut Up and Sing shows that it is all about freedom of speech and expression and how we had better not forget it. Freedom of speech, speaking out and having a voice. Yeah! On to the Grammies Dixie Chicks. You go girls!

Review Broadcast For Movie Magazine International, San Francisco. December 29th 2006 ©Moira Sullivan


The Twelve Days of Cochina: Marga Gomez at Theatre Rhinoceros, San Francisco.
This is not a film review, no siree bob, its about a theater production written by Marga Gomez. But she has starred in several indie films including, THE D WORD, a spoof on THE L WORD, and so the work of this multi-talented artist is here for you all to appreciate.
Marga Gomez is a household word in San Francisco, and she is back in town, her "creative home" as she puts it. (And MY "mythical home", proclaims CinéFemme!). I managed to catch this über talented performer in Stockholm years ago in a museum built to house the enormous shipwrecked Vasa, which sunk on its maiden voyage in the 16th century. It escapes me what Gomez was up to in Stockholm that year, but the spunk and fire that fuels her performance about oh , 20 years later was in crystalline form. She has only gotten better and better and better, every time I see her.

Just know that in an oppressive political period there are a lot of tight asses. I guess you can say this is the theme of this new piece. There has been an outgrowth of Laura Bush jokes by female comics from Margaret Cho to Sandra Bernhard to Gomez that invite us to explore how Hubby Bush can't possibly be satisfying her and women can do it better. Here, that Condoleezza Rice and the first lady librarian could be a better and kinkier match. So too, Al Gore could have done infinite wonders for the White House, if he hadn't been such a tight ass. Gomez makes that clear.

The story of The Twelve Days of Cochina begins with the upbringing of a young Latino American girl who learns that everything she puts into her mouth is dirty, making no exceptions for consensual sex as she grows older. Lesbian bed death aside, on Xmas eve she learns that her lover has dumped her for someone else. Perhaps that is why they haven't had sex for a long time and her girlfriend is always at work. Cochina goes on a war path which includes a visit to Walgreen's to become the yuletide "discrepancy bitch". She knows the parameters of this archetype having suffered lines of Xmas shoppers in order to overindulge her waylaid exlover. But she learns from the ghost of Xmas past, her auntie, (Theatre Rhinoceros could only afford one Xmas ghost being low budget , Gomez reveals) that she should live more and have more sex. It may seem a little corny but there is some truth to the missing life force of a loveless life. Or a sexless love life.

As time goes on I swear I am listening to Guy Debord's Situationist Manifesto that digs at the commodity tradeoff involved in sexual repression. Even some of his offspring who "demand new sex organs" because the one's we have don't function very well. Maybe that is why there is a sex toy market......or maybe even that is why the Austrian psychiatrist Willhem Reich really went to prison.

One things is for sure, Napoleon Hill seems to be right about handshakes (Think and Grow Rich, 1937). He says they reveal the presence or absence of a vital sexuality and even the potential for success. Most folks aren't really "successful" till they are 50 he proclaimed, and all goes "mano et mano" with mind-body-soul alignment. When will the conservatives ever learn? George never has, and I don't think Laura ever will either. With or without Rice.

Just know that Gomez' timing is sublime all the way through the one hour and forty five minute one woman act. There is subtlety and wild antics and the comedian is a veteran in knowing when to speed up, slow down and stop for parking. Some of the musical numbers require a stronger voice, but Gomez makes no pretense she is a vocalist or musician and doesn't let it rip like Sandra Bernhard. (There is only one lesbian standup world class vocalist I know that could pull it off with the right musicians) You can't have everything not even for Xmas. Like Bernhard, Gomez has a taste for stacking up the cultural icons that belong under the Xmas tree, when you're not having sex and don't have someone who breathlessly rushes at the same speed to snuggle under the mistletoe for a kiss.

I wish I could do justice to the elastic body of Marga Gomez: Suffice it to say she is in great shape and pulls off physical elocution like a gyroscope at a fun house. If you are a suspicious spectator determined to make her work for a laugh you will find yourself in agreement with the lofty wit of Gomez in roughly the first quarter. Its impossible not to imbibe in her energy and wherever you are on the relationship spectrum there is something for all and for all a good night.

Today would have been the last day of the show, extended through New Year's Eve at Theatre Rhinoceros, San Francisco.


Welcome CinéFemme Back to Paris and Cineffable!

After a summer hiatus....
With Cineffable News!

From Greencine
November 06, 2006
Paris Dispatch.
Moira Sullivan looks back on a Parisian highlight which took place October 27 through 30.
The Paris Cineffable Feminist and Lesbian Festival is a pearl of a festival, an international "non-mixte" event exclusively for women. Since 1989, it has been held during what can be seen as the (unsuccessful) attempt to bring Halloween to France and just before la Toussaint (All Saints Day). This year the 18th edition took place at the legendary Trianon Theatre, built in the late 19th century and a former venue for Jacques Brel, and at the folklore museum Halle Saint Pierre, both situated just below the Sacré Coeur. The Trianon conveniently accommodates everyone who buys an adhésion or membership fee for €8, and the entire program of nearly 80 films can be seen for €45. Attendance is up 23 percent over last year, so there will most certainly be a 19th edition. The festival also features several "non-mixte" film events during rest of the year in Paris. Run by approximately 50 volunteers, Cineffable is sponsored in part by the city of Paris and one of its best and most eclectic radio stations, Radio Nova. This year's trailer featured a smart collage set to Brigitte Bardot's 1967 classic "Harley Davidson."

Cineffable's success is partly attributable to the vision of the selection committee, which culled the 7000 short films submitted to come up with an excellent package featuring the best in lesbian global cinema. The committee regularly travels San Francisco's LGBT festival, Frameline, and maintains contact with many other gay and lesbian film festivals around the world. While all the films need to be translated into French, the team as a whole is fluent in six languages. The program includes a screenwriting award with support for production and features debates at Halle Saint Pierre. This year there were discussions on same sex parenting, racism and discrimination; eleven photographers, engravers, sculptors, poets and writers discussed and displayed their work; and there was a presentation from the French group, Slam O'Féminin. Modeled to some extent on Créteil Films de Femmes, Cineffable weaves political activism with eroticism, poignant stories with humor.

Besides a concert by Nawal, a vocalist from the Comores archipelago in the Indian Ocean, opening night featured The Journey, the story two young upper class Indian women who attend a private school in a small village and later fall in love. This brings problems to Kiran, as Delilah will soon enter into an arranged marriage. Filmmaker Ligy J Pullappally was born in India, grew up in Chicago, became a lawyer and then returned to India to make this film. Several other directors represented at the festival seem to be living in countries other than their homelands as well.

Slam poetry was one of the main themes of the films of this festival. The audience award for best short documentary went to Krudas, a film on Cuban lesbian rappers beautifully executed by Sandra Boero-Imwinkelried from Argentina who studied cinema at the University of Cordoba. Left Lane, by Samantha Farinella, founder of One Angry Woman Productions, won the award for best feature documentary. The doc, not as brilliant as Boero-Imwinkelried's, follows a year on the road with Alix Olson, a spoken word poet.

The theme same sex marriage was evident in other recent work. In The Attack of the Bride Monster by Vicky Boone, a woman uses all of her energy to convince her partner to marry her. The same theme is explored in Floored by Love by Desiree Lim, who grew up in Malaysia and Japan and now works in Canada. Two Asian-Canadian partners, one from Japan and the other from China, want to tell their parents about their relationship and their plans to marry. Meanwhile, their Jewish neighbors have a son who is just coming out.

Two feature films that won prizes at the Créteil festival last spring were featured at Cineffable this year. Both is a compelling drama that explores the life of a bisexual stuntwoman. San Francisco-based and Peruvian-born Lisset Barcellos directed the feature. The other film, Sévigné by Marta Balletbò-Coll, is about a famous theater director who falls in a love with a playwright. It stars Anna Azcona as well as the director herself.

The audience award for best feature film was tied between Sévigné and Fremde Haut (Unveiled) by Angelina Maccarone from Italy, a film about an Iranian woman who is forced to take on the identity of a deceased man in order to survive in Germany. As the festival wrapped, several French spoken word poets performed, followed by the presentation of "the best of the 18th," featuring several short films. The fabulous "Cineffablians" are planning a gala festival to commemorate the 20th edition with a Greek theme.
Edited by David Hudson, Greencine



"Some people, well, can't handle Scientology. Well then fuck you. Fuck you period".
Tom Cruise, Scientologist

One such person was Scarlet Johansson who was proselytized by Cruise and shortly after dropped out of Mission Impossible. As converts are easily found in the blockbusters roll lists, next stop, the set of Batman to meet Katie Holmes, now wife.

"Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion".
L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology

That's great if you got your interview with Tom after he was was squirted by water at the War of the World publicity tour two years ago. Like his films, his statements about Scientology are very much in the public domain. Like other celebrity Scientologists--do they all have bad PR agents? Perhaps just Scientologist advisors. Tom's religion may seem to have very little to do with his acting career but its one of the factors behind his success -- as he will tell you himself. And he's not above proselytizing his "religion" to "friends" and "acquaintances". Its disturbing to read how many actors and celebrities are actually associated with this cult. Makes you wonder about the dummifying entertainment produced in Hollywood and the deals being made to get on project rosters. To name just a few associated with Scientology: Kirstie Allen, Mimi Rogers, Candice Bergen, Demi Moore, Isaac Hayes, Juliette Lewis, Jenny Elfman. JohnTravolta, Rickie Martin, Kelly Preston, Ann Archer, Peggy Lipton, the late Sony Bono and William Burroughs and-- Katie Holmes.

To her credit Scarlet Johansson took a hike.
Consider the recruitment factor to Scientology with an advocate like Tom Cruise :
"Celebrities are very Special people and have a very distinctline of dissemination. They have comm[unication] lines that others donot have and many medias[sic] to get their dissemination through".
L. Ron Hubbard, from Flag Order 3323, 9 May 1973
Not only do celebrities have lines of communication, according to Scientology their utterances are divine and can potentially alter organic matter. That's pretty powerful stuff for someone like Tom Cruise:

He who can truly communicate to others is a higher being who creates new worlds.
L. Ron Hubbard

And young and old stars are buying it:
Celebrities Help Open International Training Center For Educators
Hollywood Stars open newest Scientology Mission in Los Feliz

Yet, Tom's popularity has never been lower, and it would appear that the public can be divided into "Scarlets" and "Katies"(of late--mostly Scarlets):
"Tom Cruise's popularity has dropped significantly in the last few months, according to the latest Genius StarPower report. By all measures, the plunge (among 13 to 49 year-olds) is steep for a celebrity of his magnitude:

* his StarPower ranking plummeted from 12th to 50th
* he went from the 11th most liked celebrity to the 197th
* his fan base (those who like or like him a lot) shrank from 33% to 25%
* he ranks among the top 5 most controversial actors (those who are heavily disliked and liked), along with David Spade, Tom Green, Pauly Shore and Ashton Kutcher."
The drop follows Cruise's controversial publicity tour for the release of "War Of The Worlds" and his engagement to actress Katie Holmes. The above figures are from the Genius StarPower Summer 2005 report (covering the six months to July 1, 2005) and the Spring 2005 report (covering the six months to April 1, 2005). Which is great that it is waning, because maybe Cruise and company can afford to be milked for millions by Scientologist but fans without that kind of cash flow will pay heavily for their star worship. But maybe P.T. Barnum is right: " a sucker is born every minute".

The Church of Scientology uses celebrity spokesmen to endorse L. Ron Hubbard's teachings and give Scientology greater acceptability in mainstream America. As far back as 1955, Hubbard recognized the value of famous people to his fledgling, off-beat church when he inaugurated 'Project Celebrity.' According to Hubbard, Scientologists should target prominent individuals as their "quarry" and bring them back like trophies for Scientology. Celebrities are considered so important to the movement's expansion that the church created a special office to guide their careers and ensure their 'correct utilization' for Scientology. The church has a special branch that ministers to prominent individuals, providing them with first-class treatment. Its headquarters, called Celebrity Centre International, is housed in a magnificent old turreted mansion on Franklin Avenue, overlooking the Hollywood Freeway.

There was another time when Hollywood directors, screenwriters and actors "named names" which shed a dark light on the entertainment world. Scientollywood does have an effect on how we perceive "performances". Scientology first of all is not a religion, it is a belief system like the Moonies. Unlike Buddhism which is also not a religion, and which you can't even come a millienium close to comparing it with. Scientology specifically uses celebrities to spread its message to the extent that a significant number of high profile celebrities are visibly associated with the cult. With some generous financial reciprocity & networking opportunities. That's Scientollywood!

Tom Cruise is 'Hubbard and companies' most bankable and highest profile celebrity and they will tell you that themselves on their website. The market research analysis study points out that Cruise's popularity has decreased - among those involved in the study, it has nothing to to with how a celebrity it defined. It also reveals nothing about how many people nevertheless will allow their bank accounts to be emptied for star worship to be associated with the likes of Tom Cruise and some of the celebrities in the photos in op cit.

Scientologists have opened special missions for career guidance to stars like Tom Cruise - and a growing number of careerists that want to make it in Hollywood. It behoves Scientology that he does this. Knowing about Scientollywood actually has nothing to do with Tom Cruise's acting ability. There are other scales to use here. As far as 'quantifiables' , you might then want to consider why, according to the market study in op cit that Tom Cruise's popularity has decreased because of his affiliation with Scientology. What does that say about Scientology?

Not everyone wants to believe that 'body thetans' are still attached to humans from an alien invasion to earth which require holding the batons of a wizard machine daily for purification. Not to mention that for this privilege its very hard to shake proselytizers once you have begun garnishing your wages to Scientology. As far as negative publicity, would it have been better to not discuss the health risks of smoking at all?

Comparisons can indeed be made with Scientology and other cult religions who profit on people's grief, tragedy; loss of limbs or loved ones, or aspirations to make it in Hollywood. Now all that remains is to check into one of the Scientology missions in a neighborhold near you to see if the experiences of others hold any truth. If those quicky press conferences about Scientology for 'Tom Cruise interviewees' haven't got your attention what will?

But you might say, "if I'm defending Cruise's right to talk about Scientology it'd be hypocritical of me to attempt to deny your right to challenge him; I'm simply expressing my own opinion that I don't see why the whole thing is quite so offensive to people". So, kindly point to where Tom Cruise's 'right to talk about Scientology' is the issue. There is no 'offensive' or 'moral' outrage meter ticking. There are only 'body thetan' meters to purify stars like Tom Cruise and missions for new stars with Scientology advisors up and running. And less financially able converts that are in debt to Scientology that haven't had the benefit of information about what Scientology is about - just that Tom Cruise is in it so its got to be great. And conscious devotees like Katie Holmes who will give birth in silence and whose child can not be spoken to during his or her first months of life because an alien life form may be attached to it: why there is actually nothing 'offensive' here at all. Just another normal day in Scientollywood.

Cruise hasn't said so much about Scientology but received considerable negative attention when he criticized Brooke Shields' book on postpartum depression and called psychiatry a 'quack field' for treating the condition medically. Cruise, a high school graduate and Scientology's numer one guy, has never given birth to a baby. About the same time his ratings dropped. But the good news is that it brings Scientology's dubious belief system into the public domain. Therefore, Let Tom Speak. I Agree. Tom's criticism of Shields helps to illuminate Scientology's views about childbirth. His wife will not be allowed to make a sound during her delivery nor even speak to her newborn infant. Read Kelly Preston's account of how that went....Or if you prefer, medical opinions linked below.
"A Thetan [alien] assumes a baby's body usually about the time it takes its first breath".
L.Ron Hubbard
Re: proselytizing stars: Who ARE the advisors and what ARE their qualifications for 'star maintenance'? Is Tom one of the mentors? He claims he spends time on the phone 'helping people' even at 2am. Financial hooks in new converts regardless of ability to pay aside, and the rights of Tom to speak out, what about the reproductive rights of mothers--not to mention newborns ? Is anyone aware of this who admits to not knowing much about Scientology?

Ironically right about the time of Hollywood blacklisting in the 1950's L. Ron Hubbard was recruiting 'celebrities' to Scientology:
"According to Hubbard, Scientologists should target prominent individuals as their "quarry" and bring them back like trophies for Scientology. He listed the following people of that era as suitable prey: Edward R. Murrow, Marlene Dietrich, Ernest Hemingway, Howard Hughes, Greta Garbo, Walt Disney, Henry Luce, Billy Graham, Groucho Marx and others of similar stature. "If you bring one of them home you will get a small plaque as a reward," Hubbard wrote in a Scientology magazine more than three decades ago. Although the original effort faded, the idea of using celebrities to promote and defend Scientology survived and is now being expanded though Hubbard's successor David Miscavige. [Miscavige befriended Cruise in the 1980´s".
Today the advice to treat AIDS, postpartum depression, heroin addiction, and radiation poisoning with vitamins can be heard at a Scientology mission in Hollywood or near you. Where 'trophies' (beyond those already named) include: Karen Black, Linda Blair, the late Sonny Bono - who introduced Mimi Rogers, who introduced Cruise and is ex-wife), Nancy Cartwright - the voice of Bart Simpson, Lisa Marie and Priscella Presley, Chick Corea, Ernest Lehman, Geoffrey , Juliette and Lightfield Lewis. Kelly Preston and John Travolta and Paul Haggis are lifetime members ... and the list also includes lesser known screenwriters actors and professionals in Hollywood.... And so what, it probably doesn't help their careers much . One ex-member (before the murders) was Charles Manson...But mothers and newborn and those with medical emergencies are in trouble.
"Shields should take vitamins".
Tom Cruise.
"Comments like those by Tom Cruise are a disservice to mothers everywhere. To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general".
Brooke Shields.
"Since all illness are psychosomatic in the eyes of a Scientologist, members believe that everything from indigestion to AIDS can be cured through auditing (talking through issues while attached to a biofeedback device called an "E-meter" that is similar to a lie detector) and vitamins".
Journal of Clinical Investigation.

"Scientology is the only specific (cure) for radiation (atomic bomb) burns".
Church of Scientology.


The 2006 Cannes Film Festival Awards

The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Ken Loach Palme d'Or.
This year the Palme d'or winner film is about the Irish struggle for independence led by the IRA against the British Black and Tan soldiers. The story is set in the early 1920s. According to Loach upon accepting his award, the film deals with "the British confronting their imperialist history". It can also be seen as an allegory for the current situation in Iraq. The Cannes selection skillfully blends art with politics and the awards are known for profiling superior films that reveal the complexities of today's issues on screen. Loach is one of Europe's leading auteurs and the award was well deserved. His films are frequently selected to Cannes, and the jury decision to award the film the Palme d'Or was unanimous since the first time they saw the film early in the week.

According to Helena Bonham Carter: " Ken Loach's film came very early on and that absolutely shattered and broke, so intense and viscerally moving. There's no explaining it; it hit us all profoundly. It was one of five films about war. It was not only a fantastic education about the Irish problem, but it also was emotionally for me because I could understand something that I thought I could never understand. It led me to believe how somebody could kill his own brother. For me, it had tremendous humanity. I can't explain our mass reaction; we were just all profoundly moved."

Patrice Leconte agreed: "When I saw Ken Loach's film the first day, it filled me with enormous emotion that has never left me. And when we'd see other films day after day, we talked together about what we had felt. In a corner of our hearts, The Wind That Shakes the Barley remained there, as strong as ever. That is why, this morning, in the space of a very short time, this film was unanimously chosen to be the Palme d'Or."

Or ask Tim Roth : "I discovered from Ken's movie on that I am a complete weeper. I just cried a lot in these movies. Normally, when I'm acting in films, they blow stuff in my eyes and I cry. These films really took me and took my heart."

Although the film may be a surprise to some of the critics, notably those which have issues with the social realist that Ken Loach is, or those just flabbergasted that they hadn't counted in this film as a strong contender, rest assured that the jury wanted this film from the beginning, and it wasn't a lifetime achievement award.

Palme D'Or The Wind That Shakes the Barley Ken Loach, Ireland/U.K./Germany/Italy/Spain
Grand Prize Bruno Dumont Flandres France
Special Jury Prize: Andrea Arnold, The Red Road, UK/Denmark
Screenplay Pedro Almodovar Volver, Spain).
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu Babel,US
Best Actor: ensemble cast from Rachid Bouchareb Indigènes (Days of Glory): Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, Sami Bouajila, Roschdy Zem and Bernard Blancan, a film about four North African soldiers who helped France fight against the Nazi's during WWII. France/Morocco/Algeria/Belgium
Camera d'Or Prize (debut film): Corneliu Porumboiu - A Fost sau n-a fost? Romania
Palme d'Or- Short Film: Bobbie Peers, Sniffers Norway
Un Certain Regard Grand prix award: Wang Chao Luxury Car China-France
Un Certain Regard special jury prize: Rolf de Geer Ten Canoes Australia
Actress Dorotheea Petre How I Spent the End of the World Romania/France
Actor Don Angel Tavira The Violin, Mexico).
Jury President's Award Murderers Patrick Grandperret, France

Fipresci Awards
Competition Climates Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey-France
Un Certain Regard Paraguayan Hammoc Paz Encina, France/Argentina/Netherlands/Paraguay/Spain)
Directors' Fortnight Bug William Friedkin, USA


Cannes Gives Andrea Arnold Special Jury Prize

Andrea Arnold, the UK director acclaimed for her innovative Oscar winning short Wasp, won the Cannes jury over and received a special prize for The Red Road, a film about a woman who works for the Glasgow council closed circuit television and one day notices a man from her past. The Red Road is the first of three films in a dogme like conception called Advance Party. The other segments are scheduled to be directed by two other helmers -Morag McKinnon and Mikkel Norgaard who will be using the same characters and also set in Scotland. The award was announced at the closing ceremonies of the Cannes Film Festival this evening (28 May) .

Pedro Almodovár won the best screenplay award for Volver. The Spanish director is claimed to have revitalized cinema in Spain after Franco primarily with gender benders. The ensemble cast of the film won the best actress award: Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Chus Lampreave, Yohana Cobo and Blanca Portillo, presented by French actor Jean Rochefort. Cruz said that the prize belonged to Almodovár: "Thanks for what you do for women all over the world."

Beyond being nominated for a Palme d'Or there hasn't beeen such an innovative period piece since Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. The main criticism against the film was that Sofia Coppola left out the French Revolution. But she never said that was what her aim, nor was it her intention to show the execution of Antoinette. That exclusion may make it "petit bourgeois" for some French reviewers, but in terms of style, Marie Antoinette is a ground-breaking film with a film score that includes teen rock hits. Since its Cannes debut, according to surveys, it is the film that most viewers want to see. Sofia Coppola, a young auteur reknowned for soulful explorations of the territory of young women, was considered a top contender for an award along with Pedro Almodovár for Volver, and Alejandro González Iñárritu, for Babel, who won the best director prize. The 35- year old director also wrote the script, adapted from Lady Antonia Fraser's novel on the Austrian woman who became a French regent. As for the French cold shoulder, according to Fraser "Marie Antoinette wasn't French, and neither am I".

"I think it's a good year for women," reported Samuel L. Jackson, member of the nine-member jury.


The Sacred Feminine in Cannes

There may not have been much to chew on in Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code but there are stronger signs of female power at Cannes making this festival one of the best. First of all there is the veteran actor- the magnifique Gena Rowlands featured in Paris, Je T'Aime in Un Certain Regard and who will be giving a Master Class. Almost everything that comes out of the mouth of this veteran actor is inspirational and provocative:

"We actors do not need to die to be reincarnated, we for that is what we do each and every day. But what freedom! We all have thousands of characters within us. Only actors and madmen (whom we are often taken for) can give them expression and body, and defend them. With complete impunity".

Rowlands remarked how rewarding it was to work on Paris, Je T'Aime, a film made by 18 directors about the arrondissement in Paris they love, especially because of the integration of age spans. We need to know that love exists, she remarked about the role she has in the section directed by Olivier Assayas.

Monica Bellucci who serves on the official jury made a marvellous statement at the start of the festival that we can say to earth pods whey they ask us why we watch SO much cinema :

""If I was not an actress, I would then be a big cinemagoer. I love cinema and I could not deprive myself of movies one way or another. It is through cinema that quality encounters between cultures can take place and their various expressions meet."

Actresses typically are to be found on the international jury, rarely directors. This year the Argentine director Lucretia Martel is a part of the feature film jury, whose film The Holy One has received international acclaim since its debut at Cannes in 2004. Agnes Varda was on the jury in 2005. Several women have served as presidents of the jury, all actresses: Liv Ullmann (2001) Isabelle Adjani (1997), Jeanne Moreau(1995 and 1975) , Ingrid Bergman (1973) , and Sophie Loren (1966).

Actresses are typically the "Madame of Ceremonies", - such as Monica Bellucci, Charlotte Rampling and Sophie Marceau but this year in a gender bender, the French actor Vincent Cassell was selected. He heralded the multiculturality of France, adding that in addition to the spiral formed arrondissement of Paris, there are 177 communities!

The artistic director of Cannes, Thierry Frémaux was interviewed by Dagens Nyheter ( 14 May) and declared that each Cannes selection is a global snapshot of the world. "We are not the UN and we don't have quotas. For example, we don't take a film from Sweden that is half good just because Sweden may be underrepresented. Jamais". By the same tack Frémaux said that films by women although appreciated are not sought after. He can put together an entire program without women with no qualms. Although he appears to have no insight into why it might be so he declared, "Men make more films than women, and this is reflected at Cannes". Since we have no reason to expect women selected to the international competition, this year a HOLY TRINITY of female power was selected much to our delight.

Sofia Coppolas's Marie Antoinette is the story of the young Austrian woman who became regent. A period piece is expected from directors with two or three successes under their belt. However, in this respect Coppola has modernized the historical epic, with rock music and an occasional converse footed actor. The film is adapted by the novel by Lady Antonia Fraser, married to that rebel rousing Nobel laureate Harold Pinter. Coppola seems to be keeping interesting company.

Although it is fiction, of course, what do you make of The DaVinci Code and its suggestion regarding the Holy Grail as feminine icon?

Lady Antonia Fraser: Haven't read it. No plans to do so.

We are also spared from the demise of Marie-Antoinette in new pic! Au contraire the film, like other work by Coppola concerns the pressures of life for young women.

"For me, Marie Antoinette has remained, first and foremost, the symbol of a totally decadent style. I didn't realise to what point these people, who were called upon to govern a country, were in point of fact no more than teenagers. Daily life in the Château de Versailles is also, for these adolescents, a form of apprenticeship set in a tense, difficult environment. It is this position and the complexity of the character of Marie Antoinette which interested me."

Nicole Garcia who served on the Cannes jury with several well made films has been invited to present Selon Charlie, an multi-arc film with seven--and a surprise eight- men. Previous films include Place Vendôme starring Catherine Deneuve who plays an alcoholic that has lost her husband. Deneuve won an acting prize at the Venice International Film Festival. L'Adversaire was shown in Cannes in 2002, the story of Jean-Claude Romand man who murdered his wife, children and parents in 1993.

The Oscar winning Wasp director Andrea Arnold brings us the first part of a dogma inspired trilogy concerning a woman who works in closed circuit television studio in Glasgow: The Red Road. Pic has already engendered enthusiastic acclaim for the international competition for its film form and message. The project is called "Advance Style", where three directors will create films based on the same characters by Lone Scherfig and Anders Thomas Jensen--all set in Scotland.


Leonardo Who ? or Symbols of the Sacred Feminine

I missed the frenzy around Dan Brown's best seller last year, The Da Vinci Code recommended by a respected Zen Buddhist teacher in Sweden--before all the media frenzy. All last summer my friends spoke about it in Skala Eresssos on the island of Lesbos on my holiday for it takes up how Mary Magdelene may have been one of the disciples of Jesus . I even bought the book which awaits my scrutiny. Tonite, the film adapted from the book will open the Cannes Film Festival. I saw it several hours earlier today. I am glad I saw the film before I read the book. Because as filmmaker Maya Deren declares: if cinema is to develop its own language it must create a vocabulary of filmic images. It should reject horizontal linear development and create vertical cinematic time and space. That said, Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code is a horizontal potboiler. There are few instances of cinematic magic. Granted there are several teams that worked on special effects , with colorful code names such as Brainstorm Digital, Double Negative, Rainmaker and The Senate. However, there is little to conjure up "sacred symbols of the feminine" even if the mystery concerns tracing theories about the history of Mary Magdelene. Howard said the theme fascinated him because he has a strong willed wife and three daughters. But this is not the theme of this film. Its an ordinary crime mystery saga, like the novel, with lots of detectives, preyed upon innocents and arch enemies.In just the opening minutes of the film I was confronted by the profundity of the following "symbols".
  • Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is giving a lecture in Paris. He asks - in English - what certain symbols mean for the students. They answer all too quickly like a cadre of Harvard hotshots, nearly all in English. This does not happen in Paris student lectures. Students are contemplative and take their time responding, however brilliant. Granted in the book these are students at the American University in Paris, but in the film, these are French students, admonished to speak in English. The lecture has changed title from "The Symbology of Secret Sects" and "Ideograms"--to the "Sacred Feminine". The precipice of the film, with little to show for it.Later, Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) of the Paris police, questions Langdon about what the symbols mean on the chest of the dead curator of the Louvre - Jacques Saunière (Jean Pierre Marielle). Right in the middle of a book signing in Paris. This kind of public ventilation of the details of a criminal investigation ----just does not happen..... Then, we only get to hear about 10 seconds of Serge Gainsbourg's La Javanaise (The Javanaise Woman) on the taxi radio when Robert is left off at the Louvre to meet Fache and observe the curator's body. Quel dommage!
  • History: Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tatou) , a French government crytographer doesn't like history but Harvard professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) says that is because she may not like "her story". Considering the fanaticism around The Da Vinci Code maybe we would like our history better if it were not surpressed and buried. So, who killed her grandfather, the curator at the Louvre. The symbols on his chest and several anagrams and cryptic numbers reveal a story of power in the Christian Church. His death comes after he assumedly reveals the location of the keystone to the Holy Grail to Silas (Paul Bettany), a deranged flagellator - or did he? The stone marks the site of the "best kept secret of the Catholic Church", on the "Rose Line", a Prime Meridian that passed through Paris before the Greenwich Median was established. Hence an old rivalry is evoked of the two neighbors on the English Channel. In order to present the historical arches of Brown's novel several scenes are rather quickly recreated from biblical and early Christian history - including the modern operations of the Priors of Sion, a "secret" gnostic brotherhood, and the ultra-conservative Catholic sect Opus Dei. which includes Bishop Aringarosa (Alfred Molino). To impart a dated feel to the material, these scenes are blurred, including a fuzzy mass of departed souls ascending the steps of the Temple Church in England. The history of Sophie's grandfather, is given ample room. He was one of the Priors of Sion. She was unknowingly groomed as an apprentice until a fallout. But more is revealed. In the end when Robert cuts himself shaving and the blood forms a Fleur de Lis in his Ritz hotel room sink, he realizes that the Rose Line goes from Rosslyn Chapel in England (which took only 40 years to build!) to " the scar of Paris" as Bezu Fache calls it-- IM Pei's pyramid outside the Louvre. It turns out the Holy Grail is none other than the remains of Mary Magdalene, a real threat to the patriarchal order of the Church. This makes sense when we realize how many thousands of women were burned at the stake and executed with the dawn of Christianity and the bloody Crusades. Da Vinci offers us the clues. The chalice or Holy Grail is Magdelene's womb, the vessel of the blood of Jesus, symbolized in the emptyV-shaped space between Mary Magdelena and Jesus in Da Vinci's Last Supper(shown above). Inversely, each V-stripe on the soldiers of military officers is a male symbol, declares Sir Leigh Teabling (Ian McKellan), a Grail scholar, who cunningly use Robert and Sophie for his own selfish purposes in his quest for the Holy Grail.
Further profundities
  • "I never knew a girl whose grandfather gave her a cryptex. My grandfather gave me a wagon". Langdon to Neveu. Lines like these create little chemistry between the two characters and are notable throughout the entire film.
  • Sophie's "grandfather" and "grandmother" indulged in rituals of the Priors where men and women recreate the carnal passion of Jesus and Mary Magdelena. This scene is reminiscent of Kubrik's desparate Eyes Wide Shut when Tom Cruise disguises himself and observes masked men and women in ritualized orgies. Sophie on a surprise visit home as a college girl quickly cuts her ties to her grandfather after witnessing this event. Clipped at the wings in Howard's adaptation is a rich pageant of esoteric knowledge and French history. Beneath every calling card is a better, truer story. Brown may have been sued for plagiarizing the novel, but the information is out there in the public domain for modern tropes, however twisted.
  • Sir Isaac Newton was famous for his scientific inventions but left the ultimate interpretation of them to God. Now that's gravity.
  • Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci is a very small portrait kept under glass at the Louvre and is strictly forbidden to be touched or photographed. Another Leonardo worthy of mention is Leonardo Pisa Fibonacci whose numbers were a roadmap to sacred places, possibly even the tomb of Mary Magdelene, if such a place indeed exists. His numbers were used to calculate immaculate conceptions. In this film they are superficially used to access a Swiss banking vault.
  • The "Fleur de Lis" (introduced in The Da Vinci Code as a pendant left at the Louvre by Jacques Saunière) is the symbol of the Virgin Mary and was used by the Kings of France. The earliest were the Merovingians who established the City of Paris on a vortex point, Rose Line if you will. They also worshipped the goddess Diana. Pont and Place de l' Alma are the sites of underground chambers of worship in her name. Below Place de l'Alma Princess Diana was killed in a tunnel. (Briefly, Ron Howard shows a car ride in a tunnel- and The Ritz where Diana was moments before). The Fleur de Lis is adorned on French churches. The unoffical tour of the Notre Dame de Paris, not sanctioned by the Catholic Church has information with Fleur de Lis prominantly displayed. Hoards of tourists climb the steps to the tower of the Notre Dame. Here if they know what to look for, they will find two languages in stone - one esoteric, such as a statue of an alchemist, a pelican and an elephant and the other Christian, with all the saints and Jesus. At the bottom of the Great Port is a woman-the sacred feminine indeed, holding a book of esoteric and exoteric knowledge, and a series of stone carvings of the stages of alchemy described by Fulcanelli. Secret societies of freemasons and alchemists historically met in the Church honoring these stones. France has a powerful history of esotericism, much carved in stone, and is awaiting cinema for worthy explorations. Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code does not do it very well.


    Udine Far East Film Festival

    The Udine Far East Film Festival ran from April 21-29. See Greencine dispatches for the entire festival. CinéFemme especially recommends Ma Liwen: You and Me, a meeting between an elderly woman who was a soldier and rode horses, and a young university student. The contemplative pace of the film and the female characters are exceptional.

    If the paucity of Asian films at the Cannes Film Festival gets to you, plan on attending this festival. (This year there are 12 Asian films in Cannes, 73 in Udine). Fest catches the Asian films released between Venice and Cannes, and which miss the crosshairs of Berlin. The festival hopes to double the amount of Asian film to the Venezia- Friuli-Veneto region together with the Venice Film Festival. And director Marco Müller was in attendance to give his nod of approval. The festival organizer is of Europe's leading experts in Chinese literature and who saw to it that Hayao Miyazaki came to Italy to accept a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement last year in Venice.

    Asian Cannes 2006
    Competition: Summer Palace, Lou Ye
    Quinzaine des realizateurs: The Host, Bong Joon-ho,Yureru, Nishikawa MiwaSepohon Rambutan Indah Kepunyaanku Di Tanjung Rambutan, U-Wei bin HajiSaari
    Un Certain regard: Re-cycle, Oxide Pang Chun & Danny Pang Gwai Wik, Luxury Car, Wang Chao, The Unforgiven, Yoon Jong-bin, Serambi, Garin Nugroho
    Midnight screening: Election 2, Johnnie To, Guisi, Su Chao-pin
    Cannes Classics: Shi Si Nu Ying Hao, Kang Cheng, Kaze No Tani No Naushika, Hayao Miyazaki
    Photograph ©Moira Sullivan


    Jane Fonda back in Stockholm

    ©Moira Sullivan
    Jane Fonda was in Stockholm during the antiwar demonstrations against the Vietnam war in the early 1970's. Then in 1989 to promote the film Old Gringo. On March 18-22 she came again to promote her book, My Life So Far, and to introduce a retrospective of her films at the Swedish Film Institute Cinemateque. She marvelled at how Swedish films are paid for by a percentage of the box office, and enthusiastically presented On Golden Pond, the last film her father Henry Fonda made. She starred as his daughter, and recalled some of the problematic issues of their relationship on screen. Katherine Hepburn played Jane's mother who tried to smooth the way between them, both offscreen and onscreen. Both Henry and Katherine won Oscars for their roles and Fonda recalled how Katherine remarked, " you'll never catch me now!"
    ©Moira Sullivan 
    A huge crowd of primarily middle aged women filled the Stockholm Kulturhuset to hear Jane Fonda speak about her life and reveal anecdotes that are found in her best selling book, translated into Swedish. The actress was interviewed by Stina Dabrowski, who had visited Fonda in her apartment in Atlanta a few weeks before. Dabrowski chose to ask questions about Fonda's personal life, who is more than willing that people know the intimate details of failed marriages and her own recovery from bulimia and alcoholism. Dabrowski was also asked by Fonda about her own failed marriage, which she declined to discuss.
    The ultra-professional actor revealed earlier at a press conference that she isn't asked to star in so many movies, relating factors of modern day Hollywood production with huge budgets and so much tied into marketing and the demands for instant box office success. Fonda recalled how young actors were given a chance to have their films find a market. But Fonda is certainly in top form in her third act. Should she come to the attention of a European director she wouldn't mind it. Charlotte Rampling, Jane Birkin, Catherine Deneuve and Jeanne Moreau still work, and Jane is fluent in French. But one French director she would never work again with is Jean Luc Godard. She regarded his "generically political" film, made by a Maoist", Tout Va Bien as horrible. Although she enjoyed working with Yves Montand, and highly regarded Jean Seberg's work with Godard, she realized he was using her for his own agenda. When she tried to back out, his "henchman" Gorin physically threatened her. Godard's write off was Letter to Jane, a film she "doesn't have a clue about " as far as what he wanted to say.

    Fonda enjoyed her success in Monster in Law, which she calls a 'popcorn movie', and wouldn't mind a sequel. But she doesn't have the time to produce it, so someone else will have to.

    Regarding her relationship to Sweden she recalled how she came to strategize with antiwar demonstrators in Stockholm in the 1970s. She was proud of the country and the late Olof Palme. Since her visit in 1989 she says revealed that she is feeling much better as "a whole person". Mary Hershberger's Jane Fonda’s War: A Political Biography of an Anti-war Icon illuminates Fonda's work with antiwar resisters during the very unpopular war. The study reveals how Fonda through Nixon propaganda was used as a scapegoat to chastize the antiwar movement. On a personal scale, in My Life So Far , Fonda revealed how antiwar activist Tom Hayden belittled her achievements which ultimately let to their divorce.

    Fonda admitted to having a low profile regarding the Iraq war and said there were others out there now to do the job. Her choice of best film at the Academy Awards was Syriana, a film that was not nominated, though George Clooney won best supporting actor, and she loves his work.

    Two young Stockholm sci-fi enthusiasts, Erik Dalen and Helena Sterner dressed as Barbarella and Pygar came to the book signing dressed up straight from the cult science fiction film directed by Fonda's ex husband, the late Roger Vadim. An astonished Jane exclaimed, but "they didn't have piercings back then", when she noted the adorned chest of the Swedish Pygar. As true
    Barbarellian aficionados, Erik and Helena were well versed in the intricacies of the film. Such as the remarks of "The Great Tyrant"(Brian Jones real life girlfriend Anita Pallenberg) to Barbarella - "Hello Pretty Pretty"? "I didn't like those biting dolls," revealed Helena. "Did you know that the pop group Duran - Duran was named for the film?" "Of course", replied Erik.

    ©Moira Sullivan
    Jane revealed her fantasy of a 21st century Barbarella in neutral Sweden, which she called "liberated territory", acclaiming her peace making mission, then as now.


    Jane Birkin at Créteil Films de Femmes

    Jane Birkin is perhaps best known for jumping up and down on David Hemmings bed in Antonioni's Blowup (1966) as a teenage groupie. But when the famous photographer Hemmings plays takes her fawning serious she realizes the game is too rough for her. Later she is to star opposite singer/songwriter Serge Gainbourg in Je t’aime moi non plus (1969) - also a legendary pop hit - and marries him in real life. Jacques Rivette puts her range of acting talents to use in L'Amour Par Terre (1983) opposite Geraldine Chaplin, a three hour spectacle of young actors commisioned to perform theater in the elaborate home of the wealthy Roquemaure. Rolled up shirt sleeves, roomy Manchester slacks and slippers, she exemplifies the finess of androgyny that makes her perfect for roles in films like Kung Fu Master (1987) by Agnès Varda. Now at 60 Birkin has cut a new CD using material from songwriters such as Neil Hannon, The Divine Comedy, The Magic Numbers, Beth Gibbons, and Rufus Wainwright. Fictions will be released March 20 by one of the most versatile Francophiles of the screen.
    Birkin was honored with a special retrospective at the 28th Créteil International Film Festival (March 10-19), sporting what else? Rolled up shirt sleeves and roomy slacks. For the Soirée Gala on March 11th, she selected Jacques Doillon's La Pirate (1984) - a film where she was allowed to play a "plain Jane".


    Long before the Oscars were the BAFTA's--and they chose Brokeback Mountain!

    BAFTA's , February 19, 2006
    It was a night of surprises, an excellent, gracious and witty host - Stephen Fry who starred in Wilde (1997), as Oscar Wilde. It was also a night to thank George Clooney for stirring up the political volume in film. The highest honor went to producer Lord David Puttnam behind films like The Killing Fields, and Chariots of Fire,with Ben Cross sitting in the audience. Cross starred opposite Ian Charleson in Chariots of Fire (1981) - a film about "two men chasing dreams of glory" at the 1924 Olympics. Charleson died of AIDS in 1990. Putnam applauded the work of George Clooney for themes that had changed the industry in a year – probably the best accolade of the evening.

    But above all it was a nite for Brokeback Mountain--best script, best adapted screenplay , best supporting actor.

    "Its not a gay cowboy film", quipped the producer of Brokeback Mountain upon receiving the award for best film. "Its a gay shepard film!" Jake Gyllenhaal got his just rewards for best supporting actor. Jake reports in Premiere last month how hard it was to initiate 'the intimacy' in the film, but not when Ledger and he were wrestling. After all sports are perfectly acceptable homosocial encounters - for spectators and players alike. Observe the fascination for the Olympics. So, if 'love is a force of nature', as the film poster states, why not nominate both actors? The Brits did!

    Fry's jokes went over well, many about the handsome men in the room and on stage. The awards ceremony was polished and intelligent. Tributes to people in the industry who had passed away was very well made -- with clips from films of among others, Shelley Winters, Sir John Miles and Richard Pryor.

    Wallace and Gromit: the Curse of the Were Rabbit won best British film. The Constant Gardener, nominated for ten awards took home one award. The awards caused a stir the next day, how can we not reward our own? Not realizing that is exactly what Hollywood would do a couple of weeks later. Cheers to the Brits!

    "I'm not a lesbian but my girlfriend is...."

    Biopic on the late vocalist Dusty Springfield in the works, directed by Ang Lee. Charlize Theron will be cast as Springfield and opposite, as the PR goes, Springfield's lesbian lover Kate Moss. So what does that make Springfield? Remember that T-shirt "I'm not a lesbian but my girlfriend is". Here we go again. Marketing for an Ang Lee film about what it's not about....
    Springfield biopic
    Ang Lee's new film cast

    Brokeback Tie-Ins?

    From the beginning Brokeback gained art house cult momentum from its Golden Lion at Venice to its opening in far less theaters than King Kong, but holding its own enough to surpass the Kong box office based on its exhibition availabilities. Now the film has moved into popular culture with auctions, music and advertising--that are not your usual 'tie-ins'.

    This is an amazing phenomena to witness. I disagree that it has 'perked up' heterosexual interet in gay relationships. It reveals the extent of a covert homosexual culture forced underground for the prejudices and hate crimes depicted in 1960's middle America but are rampant everywhere today.
    Pop Cult Brokeback
    "Brokeback" shirts go for more than $100k
    The eBay auction of the two shirts worn by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall in "Brokeback Mountain" closed Sunday afternoon. The winning bid? $101,100.51!

    The shirts were won by Tom Gregory, who placed the winning bid about 10 minutes before the auction closed. Gregory told PlanetOut he was thrilled that he won the auction, but explained his euphoria on a broader level. "The shirts represent such a significant moment in the history of film," Gregory said. "And when you see the shirts together in the closet in the film, it's an extraordinary moment for gay people. You just . . . sigh."

    Brokeback auction

    White Woman, King Kong

    We all knew it was going to win something--visual. Thrilling dinosaur matches with King Kong, giant sucking insects, flying creatures which compel. Otherwise, why do a King Kong film now? The theme of the film, according to scriptwriter Jackson: "beauty destroyed the beast. The day she met him, he was a dead "man", captivated". Doesn't really explain why make a Kong film NOW, though.

    A white woman esteemed by a gorilla. A white woman in a white dress walking through the streets of New York in 0 degree weather to find her King (Kong). A group of white men, (one) white woman , (one) Asian man and (one) black man on a boat to Skull Island? Spoilers: the black and Asian man die first. Next, a group of spirit possessed black islanders are subdued by the militarism of a ship's primarily white crew and captain? Why now? Why Kong?

    I do not mean that the film is 'racist'. It skillfully uses race tropes, primarily white and black. By looking at how these tropes are used we can get a better sense of images are endowed in film , particularly images of 'white' people. Who gets contrasted against these seemingly 'normative' images? De-mythologizing, deconstructing "whiteness".

    Kong also 'capitalizes' on macho gender roles. Ann does cartwheels to impress Kong, and all he can come back with is knocking her down over and over which gives him a real chuckle. When she challenges him, he feels emasculated, pounds his chest and fists and gets hit with a rock that falls on him from his rage attack. After that, she's gotten to him, and he's captive. Oh boy, how infantile can the scriptwriters get. Or casting - Jack Black could play Orson Welles, if he wasn't such a bad actor.

    And have to agree that Kong gave Jackson the opportunity to work with the special effects of Lord of the Rings, and all that dinosaur flesh rolling over and over, with safty insects sucking up the men provide plenty of material.

    Its impossible to ignore the racial tropes, its so obvious, and since Kong has been recycled many times, trotting out a new version exposes the story for these crystallized structures. What comes to mind when I watch this movie is film professor ( University of Warwick) Richard Dyer's masterful study White, on the representation of white in film, and the history of 'white' in culture. From Richard Dyer's White:

    White people are not literally or symbolically white; nor are they uniquely virtuous and pure. Racial imagery and racial representation are central to the organisation of the contemporary world but, while there are many studies of images of black and Asian people, whiteness is an invisible racial position. At the level of racial representation, whites are not of a certain race. They are just the human race, a 'colour' against which other ethnicities are always examined. In White , Richard Dyer looks beyond the apparent unremarkability of whiteness and argues for the importance of analysing images of white people. Dyer traces the representation of whiteness by whites in Western visual culture, focusing on the mass media of photography, advertising, fine art, cinema and television. Dyer examines the representation of whiteness and the white body in the contexts of Christianity, 'race' and colonialism and, in a series of absorbing case studies, he discusses the representations of whiteness in muscle-man action cinema, from Italian 'peplum' movies to the Tarzan and Rambo series; shows the construction of whiteness in photography and cinema in the lighting of white and black faces, and analyses the representation of white women in end-of-empire fictions such as The Jewel in the Crown , and traces the disturbing association of whiteness with death, in vampire narratives and dystopian films such as Blade Runner and the Aliens trilogy.

    The part above about 'lighting' whiteness is especially true for Jackson's new film. Note how Watts is lit in the scenes where her whiteness is constrasted with the darkness of Skull Island, and islanders. And the scene where she finds Kong in NYC, wearing only a white gown. And in the end with Kong gone, its time to return to 'her own kind' with an embrace of Brody. No contrasts needed.

    Regarding having new heights to the new tale, a modern Kong may have scaled the WTC, but in the original story, this was the Great Depression, and the Empire State Building was the tallest edifice to challenge Kong. Opening scenes of the film about time period promised something that just never was delivered. Jackson just got sucked into the story, its his kind of story anyway. He made it his kind of story.

    Whose Cold Blood?

    Its a pretty disturbing film when you realize that the character played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman is far from the vampire Truman Capote was in real life. Perry Smith confessed to the murders before he told Capote, unlike the version in the latest theatrical realize. Its doubtful that Truman assisted in stays of execution as the film intimates, but like the film used his money and influence to play with the courts and penal institutions to his whim and fancy. Amazing that a celebrity could have such disregard for human life and buy his way through. He lived a good twenty years after he wrote In Cold Blood and died of alcoholism. From the film its clear that the disease had taken its toll early on.

    There is something indeed disturbing about the gay and lesbian characters in Capote. For one thing, thing they never have sex. Its the most sexless movie that has ever been made. The director pumps up the eroticism between Perry and Truman, and is content having Truman's boring lover dismiss Harper Lee as "masculine". She also never has sex. Though Seymour Hoffman does a great job of portraying a caricature of the real life very stereotypical gay Capote, we learn that the title of his book could just as well apply to the way he got his story.

    What does In Cold Blood (1967) have to say about Capote? Time to watch Robert Blake, the man who shot his wife have a go at Perry Smith.

    Master Executioner of Sharks and Humans

    Munich is so incredibly violent that its unbearable to watch. For spice Spielberg throws in a female assassin that is brutally murdered with coolness- simple little bullet holes from a silencer, that are neat and small and then spurt blood, her body left naked. There is seemingly no point at all for this, for the efforts to first conceal her, then not to feel guilt afterwards that her body wasn't covered by the men who executed her. Her crime is punished in a way that in its subtleness is disturbing--she executed for money, not for political motive, which is why her execution is aesthetized in distinctly vivid ways.
    The execution of "Jeanette"(Marie-Josée Croze) differs from the laid out naked corpse of "Carl"(Ciarán Hinds), in dim hotel light --actually no comparison.

    The walk on representation of Golda Meir is also shallow and a caricature no doubt because of poor scripting.

    There is just execution after execution in this film, no analysis of what was going on at the time with the asassination of the 11 athletes. Nothing revealed other than violence. A pointless film in this respect in which nothing is learned. Other than that violence solves nothing. The aesthetics of violence should excite. Which is why so many analyses of the film confine themselves to apartments exploding and glass shattering. There is no inspiration to learn more from the film, only what the film lacks and doesn't discuss.

    If studio execs prefer Brokeback Mountain over Munich it is because Lee's film provides a background and conceptualization of the brutality and repression of homosexuality with emotion. Kuscher and Roth try to humanize Eric Bana in between executions, and off assignment but it doesn't diminish Spielberg's 167 minute tirade of cinema time and space destruction.