Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou


Asia Argento brings red magic to Cannes Un Certain Regard with 'Misunderstood'

It proved extremely reliable to pay attention to the press dossier for "Incompresa" (Misunderstood, Italy/France 2014) directed by Asia Argento that debuted in Un Certain Regard on May 22 at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is not autobiographical but fictional and Argento leads critics away from facile assumptions: ”Alright, let’s start by dispelling any misunderstanding. There is no point in drawing any parallels between Aria (the lead character of the film played by Giulia Salerna) and Asia”.

The third time director is the daughter of legendary helmer Dario Argento and the leading lady in many of his gothic horror films, Daria Nicolodi. Asia executed a memorable performance in "The Stendahl Syndrome" (Italy 1996) directed by her father, playing Detective Anna Manni, a cop that transforms after an attack by a sadistic serial murderer. She wisely chose the Cannes best actress award winner Charlotte Gainsbourg for the lead in "Incompresa". On Twitter, Asia Argento lists herself as "Ex actor, Filmmaker Screen & Song Writer Red Witch Poet Priestess".

Aria’s parents ’Mother’, a classical pianist (Gainsbourg) and ’Father’, a famous movie actor (Gabriel Garko), have separated. Lucrezia, the first born in his first marriage goes with him, and Aria and Angelica stay with Mother. Aria soon finds herself a go between for their moods, incurring the ilk of her superstitious father and her increasingly feral mother.

Mother’s many lovers include drug dealers, punk rockers and greasy Casanova’s with money. To her daughter’s question about why so many men love her, Mother answers that she is a witch that practices “red magic”, the magic of love. Father tosses Aria back to her mother when black cats, pigeon fathers and broken mirrors change his luck, but takes her to a rock concert when her presence helps him land a role in art cinema. The realities of life are beyond the clever maneuvers of a nine year old but she will learn about that later. As for now, she is honest about the boy she wants, the clothes she wants and her wish for peace between her parents. Giulia Salerna is excellent as the child who must grow up before becoming an adult.

The maestro skills of Argento are detectable in every crevice of the breathtaking mis en scéne, cinematography, editing and sound by her talented crew.The script is by Argento and Barbara Alberti and Asia composed some enchanting original music.

The Italy that loves the family and Roman Catholicism depicted in national cinema know that Argento follows a strong tradition of trailblazers that have departed from sacrosanct imagery including Pasolini, Rossellini and Fellini. Marcello Mastroianni’s gesture on the official Cannes poster this year may not be ‘the finger’ but Argento knows how to do that too, as evidenced by her humorous posturing on the steps of the Cannes “Palais de Festival” last year and a production photo for "Incompresa".

"Incompresa" is a compression of image and sound that is both artistic and precocious. The colorful characters and mischievous dialogue show how children can be cruel to each other, those who might have parents repeating the insanity of their own guardians. Aria is surrounded by the best and the worst types, and also winds up embodying the best and worst of her lovable parents.


Swedish Cinemas have a new feminist movie rating


Nov 6, 2013

Folkets Bio in Sweden ( film exhibitor and distributor)  puts an A symbol next to films they screen that feature two women or more who speak about something other than men! Bravo!
This test was invented by graphic artist Alison Bechdel.

This is a great article. Only in Sweden has something been done to officially change gender discrimination. Hynek Pallas, a Swedish journalist received money from the Swedish Film Institute to make a film about Ingmar Bergman (so many films about Bergman......) so he is hardly in a position to criticize this policy (article comments taken down). What he is really attacking is Anna Serner, the CEO of SFI who alone at Cannes spoke about how Sweden was making efforts to put more women behind the camera. (
Age old arguments by skeptics and cynics will do nothing to change the situation and just assures it will continue.

Sweden does not have "gender madness" as  Swedish mathematician Tanja Bergkvist asserts- - there is gender equality and if that is madness more of it! The two critics seem to forget the goal of this program: movie watchers rarely see "a female superhero or a female professor or person who makes it through exciting challenges and masters them... The goal is to see more female stories and perspectives on cinema screens." Most of Bio Rio's audience (Stockholm cinema house)  is young, and the critics seem to belong to another generation that expect equality to jump out of a hat like a magic rabbit. The point is also not that a Harry Potter film or a Bigelow film doesn't pass the test: the point is getting people to think and this is a great incentive. 

Jada Pinkett Smith seems to have her eyes open already.

"Here we are sitting and talking....about something other than men."

A mark on films shown in Sweden from Alison Bechdel, graphic artist. 


Jacqueline Bisset wins Golden Globe for "Dancing on the Edge"

Bisset accepting her award at the 2014 Golden Globes
Talk show hostess Queen Latifah told Jacqueline Bisset on her show Jan 21 that she "set the bar" for sincerity and depth at the awards show for the 20th Golden Globes. It was claimed by some media that she gave a "bizarre speech" as best supporting actress in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, "Dancing on the Edge" on Jan 12.
Jacqueline Bisset is not only a brilliant actress but eloquent woman. As she explained to Latifah, her category was supposed to come up at the top of the show (Golden Globes), and came at the end, without receiving refreshments and dinner. And she didn't expect to win.
In her acceptance speech, she was obviously flustered and on the verge of tears, nothing unusual for a winner, but she came through with her "Scottish stock" (her father was born in Scotland) as she explained to the audience. Bisset who turns 70 this year had some wisdom to share from her long career including practicing forgiveness, something that is well advised in the competitive entertainment business.
British born Jacqueline Bissett has worked consistently throughout her career which began in the late 60's where she played opposite actors such as Steve McQueen in Bullitt (1968), Peter Sellers and David Niven in the James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967) and Jean Pierre Léaud in François Truffaut's Oscar winning best foreign language film "Day for Night" (1973).

Jacqueline Bisset as Lady Cremone, "Dancing on the Edge"
Bisset is one of the highest paid actresses in the world. During the last three decades she has primarily worked in television and made for TV films as well as several motion pictures. In 2012 she starred in Bernard Rose's "Two Jacks" (2012) as the older Diana (played by Sienna Miller), an adaptation of a Tolstoy short story about two generations of a Hollywood family, and in 2005 she played the role of a cruel school mistress in John Irvin's "The Fine Art of Love: Mine Ha-Ha", which debuted in Venice with art direction by Dante Ferretti.
When she was in San Francisco in 2001 for Sleepy Time Gal (interviewed by Movie Magazine International) the good natured actress as a gesture of solidarity sold movie tickets to her film in the box office at "The Roxie".  In the film set in San Francisco, she plays a dying ex-radio disc jockey.
In the behind the scenes gathering with Bisset and the press following her award at the Globes, it is clear they have really not much to ask her, and which is their loss,  because what she did say was intelligent and thought provoking as a distinguished veteran actress.
Perhaps the press backstage at the Globes did not see the fantastic miniseries "Dancing on the Edge" by the BBC directed and written by Steven Poliakoff, nominated for best miniseries or a motion picture made for television.
Bisset commands every scene she is in in the miniseries. She plays Lady Livinia Cremone, a semi reclusive member of the aristocracy who has lost her husband and sons in during WW1. She later is drawn out into society as the patron of the arts she has always been. Bisset appears in the 2nd through 5th episodes.
The miniseries "Dancing on the Edge" is set in 1930 after the Depression in a palatial hotel where Louis (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his jazz band perform for the dowagers and upper class of London. Getting to know the characters is what makes this miniseries enchanting. All give great performances, such as Jacqueline Bisset and Ejiofor,  and it is hard to not get attached to them. Racism is at the forefront of this story about black jazz musicians in a country where the BBC wouldn't play jazz on the airwaves until a member of British Royal Family took a liking to the band.


Maria Klonaris, Greek experimental artist, passes away in Paris January 13.

Maria Klonaris, born in Cairo, Greek installation artist, video artist, experimental filmmaker and photographer from Paris passed away on Jan 13. Klonaris and her partner Katarina Thomadaki left Greece for France during the junta in 1975. 

Klonaris and Thomadaki's "femininité radical" and "cinéma corporel" (cinema of the body uses structured space in ritual form combining sound and image with different technologies. Their oevre has been shown at several venues such as Centre Pompidou in Paris, the British Film Institute, the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, and Créteil Films de Femmes. 


Née au Caire, de parents grecs et médecins, ayant grandi à Alexandrie, puis à Athènes, Maria Klonaris fit dabord des études en anglais à luniversité, et de scénographie à l'école des beaux-arts dAthènes, avant de partir à Paris, où elle suivi, à la fois, un enseignement dEgyptologie à lEPHE, de cinéma expérimental et esthétique à Paris 1, et ultérieurement dinfographie àlENSAD.
Mais sa vie, dès avant leur installation à Paris en 1975, rejoint celle de Katerina Thomadaki. A Athènes, elles dirigent le Théâtre des 4 puis lespace de recherche théâtrale. A Paris, cest le cinéma expérimental dans lequel elles sengagent à deux fondant leur pratique dans un prolongement de leur vie ensembleet réciproquement. Klonaris/Thomadaki, avec une  barre entre les deux noms, cest aussi comme un trait dunion. Un trait dunion, qui relie la projection filmique à son dispositifélargi à linstallation, et à une problématique corporelle, nourrie des abstractions de la pensée critique,  en rupture avec un cinéma narratif dominant de la distance voyeuriste .  Celui de Klonaris/Thomadaki porte au contraire, dans son extension même à la peau, la revendication dune « féminité radicale » : un questionnement de la frontière, symbolisée par la différence sexuelle : entre les genres, entre les disciplines, entre lart et la vie, entre les gens.  Et dabord, « entre-nous », dans la plasticité d'une production qui, sans cesse «filme les identités sexuelles comme une complexité en mouvement »remet en cause la singularité dun auteur, rend sa liberté à la circulation entre lintérieur et lextérieur et sancre dans une généalogie où on trouve aussi bien Claude Cahun/Marcel Moore, que les pratiques queer de Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz
Dans leurs œuvres plastiques et  leurs livres, elles forgent ainsi le concept de "corps dissidents" dont les motifs sont d'abord lhermaphrodite, lange,  les jumeaux,  l’« inquiétante étrangeté », le « monstre ».  Cest à la disposition des récits et les images mythiques (en particulier ceux de la Grèce ancienne) que Klonaris/ Thomadaki mettent les technologies dont elle font usage. De nombreux essais critiques s'en font l'écho, par Marie José Mondzain, par Marina Gržinić, ou par Nicole Brenez, qui célèbre la capacité des cinéastes à (nous) plonger « dans un monde envoûtant, aux limites de lhypnose ou de la transe »
Les œuvres de Klonaris/Thomadaki ont été présentées dans de nombreuses institutions, tels que le Centre Pompidou, le musée dArt moderne de la Ville de Paris et la Cinémathèque française (Paris), le MoMA (New York), la National Gallery of Art (Washington), le British Film Institute et la Tate modern (Londres), la Fondation Joan Miro (Barcelone), la Kunsthalle Wien, la Pinacothèque dAthènes... Trois de leurs films les plus importants ont été restaurés par les Archives françaises du film du CNC avec la BnF et le 16 novembre 2012, la BnF consacrait une manifestation à Maria Klonaris et Katerina Thomadaki, rendant visibles leur fonds darchives.
En décembre 2012, le centre audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir programmait deux films de la série Portraits, lun par Katerina Thomadaki, lautre par Maria Klonaris.. Maria Klonaris était venue au cinéma Latina et c'est là que nombre d'entre nous l'avaient rencontrée pour la dernière fois.
Le 13 janvier dernier, elle s'est endormie et ne s'est pas réveillée. 

                                                           Unheimlich @klonaris/thomadaki

Katerina Thomadaki fait part qu'une messe orthodoxe sera célébrée le 21 janvier 2014 à 14h30 en l’église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, 79 rue Galande, Paris 5e.Le rituel sera suivi d'un recueillement à 16h00 en la salle Mauméjean du crématorium du cimetière du Père-Lachaise. Un hommage sera rendu à Maria à l'église et au crématorium.


Kimberly Peirce draws blood in 'Carrie' update

Carrie by Kimberly Peirce (Contact Music)
Kimberly Peirce’s films are signs of the times and her latest film "Carrie" opens in San Francisco on Oct 18. “Boys Don’t Cry” (1998), was one of the first motion pictures to deal with a transgender hate crime.“Stop - Loss” (2008) explored a character who involuntarily had to return to Iraq during this unpopular military war and service codes. Now Pierce has tackled the holy ground of “Carrie” and unearthed her. The film stands as a high quality interpretation on a cinematic level approaching the original.
Take a look at "Carrie" from 1976 after you see the new "Carrie" (2013) to witness the reinvention of the story for this generation. Today we have expanded the possibilities for bullying to such an extent that it goes beyond the girl’s locker room into cyberspace. It is a “miracle” that Carrie didn’t kill herself as some young girls have today whose lives have been hung out to dry by insensitive peers. The “Carrie” that Stephen King based his novel on in 1974 was a real life person whose mother (no father mentioned) was a contest fanatic. The girl wore the same outfit to school everyday and was teased mercilessly, even moreso when one day she wore something stylish. Later she married and eventually killed herself.
To address Carrie's insecurities, Peirce told the SF Film Industry Examiner in San Francisco last week that she has equipped her with “superpowers”. They are more arduous and expressive, more snap, crackle and pop than Sissy Spacek’s bug eye fixation on objects that move telekinetically - through psychokinesis, a power often seen in Hollywood movies. An absent father, a demented mother and brutal young classmates can certainly transform a young woman, so telekinetic powers are clearly a way out of the abuse.
This Carrie is younger than the mature 24 year old Spacek at the time, who brought to the role an interpretation immortalized in film history. This Carrie in real life is 16. Chloë Grace Moretz shows more timidity and reserve than in"Kick Ass" and Clark Kent before he runs for a phone booth to make his wardrobe change as Superman. But she gradually becomes the girl that learns how to use psychokinesis, outsmart her mother who locks her in the closet to contemplate Jesus and her sins and outshine her classmates with her visceral symbolist poems.
The budget for this film allowed for some jolting special effects such as Carrie’s attempt at navigating her telekinetic powers. It is not really mentioned in the 1976 "Carrie" but this version shows her at the library researching about her powers and a classmate even tells her where she can find audiovisual material about this on the net. No one shows Carrie how to harness her power, which we learn in other Superhero stories like Spiderman, and Batman.It is quite true that you need to use your hands, not just your eyes when moving objects telekinetically. She tries to remind her mother that her grandmother had this power.
Julianne Moore redefines Margaret White who is not only a religiously twisted woman but whose self-mutilation is more graphic. In that home "confessional", locked in by Carrie who goes off to the prom, she also wants out. Peirce shows her at work as a seamstress in a small shop and her seam ripper and other sewing equipment become new instruments for drawing blood. We see that her life is one huge closet and Moore's performance is outstanding in showing all the angst of that confinement. Peirce has demonstrated that she knows how to work with actors and get the best from them. Moore is so likely a candidate for an Oscar in this film.
On the athletic field at Carrie's high school are fashion conscious heterosexual young women and at the ritualistic prom the same heteronormative crowd gathers. It would have been refreshing to see a few tomboys since Peirce has successfully changed some of the iconography in her modern tale for gender normative teens to witness. Peirce would have liked that too and explained when she was in San Francisco last week that she is bound by the "real estate" of the film to move within certain parameters.
The prom queen crown is the Holy Grail of high school, and Peirce succeeds in piercing the facade of the spectacle in the highpoint of the film. There are enough changes in the new Carrie's rampage to pin spectators to their seats with art direction by Nigel Churcher ("Resident Evil", "The Virgin Suicides", "Safe House"). The beauty of Carrie is that she is a brave young woman with so many disadvantages to overcome hurled at her from birth through her rite of passage in becoming an adult. She embodies the preciousness and cruelty of youth as does everyone around her.
It is inevitable that there will be comparisons with the novel and the Brian De Palma’s "Carrie", the other versions movie and this one. In almost every sense this update gels, from the gutsy gym teacher Ms. Desjardin (Judy Greer) to bad girl (brutal Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) and conscionable good girl, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) who prompts her good-natured boyfriend Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort) to take Carrie to the prom.
It is not only the characters that are brilliant it is the state of the art film technology that creates an update like this visually pleasurable. Those who bemoan the original as the only interpretation possible should take a look again. Compare the grasp of the cinematography in this film (Steve Yedlin), from the underwater opening scene where the torsos of young women are shot, to the volleyball game on court, to the quintessential horror show of the prom and aftermath. The picture language is multi-dimensional and opens the classic up to modern proportions. That is what a good update does.
Stephen King’s novel "Carrie" has historically been banned in schools. Some of those reasons are evident in the new Carrie as well as the old. Blood, the first blood of a young woman in King’s first short story draft, releases hormones that cause telekinesis. That plan was scrapped. Had it not been for his wife Tabitha, the novel, which was dedicated to her, wouldn’t have been written. He wrote it on a dare to begin with because he was accused of not being able to write about women.
King wrote "Carrie" as a high school teacher but called it “a cookie baked by a first grader”. Maybe he has insecurities about the popularity of Carrie because it is a story about a girl with “menstrual problems" as he put it. However, Peirce has delivered a soufflé that actually stays up, following the archetype of the original with new twists.
Not only is there blood but blood sports and rituals. The site of Margaret's blood during the birth of Carrie is new, and the threat of piercing flesh to draw blood is frequently shown. A young girl's rite of passage is born of blood, which for Margaret inevitably led to rape. Protecting her child is her mission and to keep her in place she insists on zealous chasteness. Promiscuity is a sign of possession, so Margaret must possess her daughter.
"Carrie's" success in 1976 fit in the chronology of horror stories of the time about girls – from "Rosemary’s Baby"(1968) who give birth to Satan’s child to the "The Exorcist" (1973) with Linda Blair. Today we have many more models of women of all ages that have superpowers. Add “Kick-Ass” 'Hit Girl' Moretz to the list in Kimberly Peirce's "Carrie".

Stacie Passon's 'Concussion' heats up the same sex suburbs

Stacie Passon’s "Concussion" opens in San Francisco October 18, a well-crafted film produced by veteran Rose Troche. After a hit on the head, Abby (Robin Weigert) feels that her talents should be spread beyond working out in the gym with body conscious housewives, folding laundry or fielding questions from teachers who are afraid that other WASP mothers might think that Halloween is a sign of witchcraft. Add to that that her partner Kate (Julie Fain Lawrence) seems uninterested in her and miles away.
Sports help, but soon prove unviable. Abby starts noticing women on the street, and she decides to fix up a loft, one of six she has done already, with the help of friend Justin (Johnathan Tchaikovsky). She answers a personal ad. When that proves unviable, Justin sets her up with a woman named Gretchen, who works for 'The Girl' (dating Justin). "The Girl" (Emily Kinney) is in law school and just can’t get caught setting up sex dates for pay, so she disguises the "sales" in “decorator language”.
As a storyteller, Stacie Passon wastes no time, and rather than explaining everything in dialogue, her picture language is both economical and meaningful. The spaces in the interiors and the music by composer Barb Morrison is upscale. Contrasts between the darkness of the bourgeois home and the light of her loft make clear that enlightenment is on the outside not the inside of the confines of her stale marriage with two demanding children - a son who hit her in the head with a baseball and doesn’t respect limits and a daughter with lots of questions. Probably this bourgeois scenario is the kind that stifles marriages.
Abby (Weigert - absolutely brilliant in her role) embarks on a series of adventures with women she both pays for, and who pay her, for sex. She does this for enjoyment, not for money and she is good at it, probably the first thing she has been good at for a long time besides gentrifying lofts and working out.
Most of Abby and Kate’s friends are straight and ask invasive questions like “when did you know (you were a lesbian)", and it’s a safe predictable lesbian relationship of no great depth or interest. Only Abby is interesting because she understands the need to expand and grow. The couple seem to inhibit each other when they entertain and though they are free to express love to each other, Abby and Kate are not, in love.
So, Abby becomes a “hot dyke housewife” catering to young women. As Justin puts it, the young set "with their fathers' credit cards" - "looking for a mature situation".
"They buy you, you buy them, what’s the difference?", he adds.
As for Justin, “I’m your guy that sets things up”, the guy that takes a percentage of the credit card sales.
But .....Stacie Passon in the midst of all of this shows the preciousness of women who just want sex, younger women who have no experience, and older women who want some romance. Even a neighbor on the PTA, Junior League and Food Bank committee - the kind you meet in the supermarket in the canned good section.
With Abby’s interludes how will this all work out? That is the question for "Concussion" and Passon has some challenging and provocative answers.