Orangina Advert 2008 France

May 31, 2008 at 1:29 am

31 May 2008

Going to the cinema in Paris these days comes in with the chance to see once again the great Orangina advert, a truly post-modern gem which seems to have been released only in France.

The advert is on TV as well, on vending machines and in magazines, and on moving poster displays around town. It looks dazzling on the big screen, however, so the cinema is the place to see it.

Here is a video, which may give some idea of it.

There is also a longer, 1:45 min., version at YouTube

Jump Cut, Issue 50

May 30, 2008 at 1:12 am

Julia Lesage

An email sent from Oregon by Julia Lesage reminds me that the new issue of Jump Cut is now available online.

This time it includes sections on Arab representations in Hollywood, on classical and more recent Latin American cinema, a selection of writings on popular European film (including a text on my childhood idol, DEFA’s Gojko Mitic), on Chinese and Australian cinema, as well as on American indies.

In existence since 1974 and facing the difficulties of limited distribution, over the decades Jump Cut has maintained highest standards of scholarship and political committment. Featuring the work of contributors such as E. Ann Kaplan, Jane Gaines, Julianne Burton, and many other leading film scholars (not least the late Bill Van Wert, a man who introduced me to many great texts of world cinema), it has become a really great resource for radical thinking on cinema. All back issues are now archived and available on-line for free access. A great resource!

Louisiana Modern Art Museum, Humlebæk near Copenhagen, Denmark

May 29, 2008 at 12:29 am

Completely independently from each other, several friends told me it was a must to visit the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art when I come to Copenhagen. Now that I have done it, I understand why their recommendation was so emphatic. The visit to the Louisiana was such a pleasurable experience that I see myself soon making the same insistent recommendation to others.

What really does it for the Louisiana is the perfect combination between nature and human creativity. The low unobtrusive buildings that house the collection, the park setting with large trees, beautifully landscaped spaces and sculptures scattered over freshly mowed lawns, on the background of gorgeous sea view over the sound to Sweden: it all flows together seamlessly to create a sublimely gratifying experience. The place was developed over a number of years by architects Jørgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert working together with several landscape designers to achieve an ambiance where nature, architecture and art come together in ideal confluence. The greatest delight of the place comes probably from the easy passage between indoors and outdoors, between moving in the protected space of wooden floors and walls and getting open air exposure: automatic sliding doors quietly slide apart to let visitors come in from the park or, vice-versa, leave the gallery space to return to the sculptures in the garden.

This year’s main curatorial event is dedicated to the work of Cezanne and Giacometti, an exposition that makes extensive and persuasive comparisons between the work of the two artists (including a series of study sketches by Giacometti who copies some of Cezanne’s compositions). More than fifty of Giacometti’s sculptures are on display here, probably the largest number of his works I have ever seen in one place. This was my first encounter with disturbing works like Woman with Her Throat Cut, Spoon Woman, or The Invisible Object. His famous Walking Man is property of the Louisiana anyhow, usually displayed in the room overlooking the pond, on the background of willow trees outside the large window, a perfect setting for the sculpture.

The Louisiana opened to the public 50 years ago, and even though the museum’s bookstore features several beautiful albums with pictures from the collection and the gardens, these publications do not seem to be widely available. In a way, the Louisiana remains a well kept secret. And it probably does not need more visitors than it already receives; the balance may be spoiled otherwise. To get to the museum one needs to either drive there, or take the suburban train from Copenhagen for a 45-min ride. We did it on the train, without prior planning, and it was not as complicated as it sounded. Once we got off the train at Humlebæk, a quiet village, it was a short well post-marked walk to the premises of the beautiful park.

© Dina Iordanova
29 May 2008

Ozu’s Autumn Afternoon/ Sanma no aji (1962)

May 28, 2008 at 1:47 am

Saw Ozu’s last film, Autumn Afternoon (a.k.a. The Widower), certainly not a widely available one. Like other films by Ozu, it tackles themes of radical solitude, of egotistic parents and siblings, and of family politics. (Mariko Okada stars as the daughter in law).

The scene of the daughter’s wedding day from this 1962 film reminded me of the photo of a newly wed couple that we took in 2007 at the Shinto shrine in Yoyogi park in Tokyo.

Japan may have changed, but in some respects at least it looks the same as in earlier times.

Autumn Afternoon‘s use of bright color spots (blue, yellow, red, pink) on the background of generally monochrome interiors, has been replicated in cinema in films ranging from Tati’s Playtime (1967) to Kusturica’s Black Cat, White Cat (1998).

© Dina Iordanova
28 May 2008

A Year Working Abroad

May 26, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Read Stephen Clarke’s presumably best-selling A Year in the Merde (a.k.a. Merde Actually). Yes, it must be best-selling if I have also bought it, but I was disappointed. As the book opens up with a quote from Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, I was looking forward to encounter an example of sophisticated English humor. Alas, it was a far cry from the kind of hilarious writing that the English are able to offer.

A Year in the Merde was first self-published in around 200 copies and distributed among the writer’s friends. Later on, it was picked up and marketed internationally by large publishing houses. The story of its success suggests that there is great interest for the genre that tells stories of cross-cultural hick-ups at the place of work, and especially those that are structured around reporting on the anxieties of some innocuous character who is thrown to swim alone in the treacherous waters of foreign corporate milieu.

Indeed, I really really enjoy this kind of writing, maybe because it allows me to compare notes with my personal émigré experience. For the time being, my personal favorite of this genre is Amelie Nothomb’s Fear and Trembling, which is structured around a similar premise and tells of the trials and tribulations of a young French woman who spends a year in Japan working at a large corporation. Now, this one is a really gripping and darkly humorous treatise on the themes of cross-cultural prejudice and adaptation distress. Alain Corneau’s film based on the book, starring Sylvie Testud, is a real gem.

Even though a best-seller in France, the English translation of the novel has not been published in book format and at the moment appears to only be available for downloads on Amazon’s new Kindle reading device which for the time being sells solely in North America.

© Dina Iordanova
27 May 2008

Laurent Cantet wins Cannes Film Festival 2008

May 26, 2008 at 1:17 am

French director Laurent Cantet has won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival for Entre les murs/The Class, a film based on a book by François Bégaudeau.

Being based in Paris these days, I can certainly say this was totally unexpected for the French. The other film in competition, Arnaud Desplechin’s Un conte de Noël, is widely covered, its group of actors are on the front pages of every possible magazine, and the film is already playing at cinemas everywhere. The coverage for Entre les murs, on the contrary, was a low key affair throughout, with a few interviews here and there and in a subdued tone in the overall, as the film screened last at Cannes and was not expected to leave a particular mark (beyond the generally good impression that the cinema of Canted normally enjoys). It may also be that the French, after having awarded scores of Cesars to Abdellatif Kechice’s L’Esquive/Games of Love and Chance a few years ago, may be tired of classroom films. As I write this on the day after the Festival closed, the imdb entry for the film is incomplete, and the Wikipedia article about the book on which it is based is only two lines long. This will certainly change very quickly.

Here is a clip from the film.

In the French tradition of ‘auteurs’, Cantet has built up a solid even if not ‘hot’ reputation over the years, and one can certainly say he is one of the most robust and level-headed filmmakers working today in the vein of the classical realist tradition. His ‘method’ has already been the subject of a scholarly investigation(Pour une méthode d’investigation du cinéma de Laurent Cantet). His first international success, Ressources humaines/Human Resources(1999), was extremely well-received and even though it dealt with the seemingly most prosaic subject matter — the intricate politics between employees within an organization — it was reviewed as highly original and unexpected; no wonder as it is one of the rare contemporary films to tackle head on the world of work. This is still my favorite among his films. It was followed by L’emploi du temps/Time Out(2001), based on the true story of a man who had lost his job but who felt uncomfortable telling his family and cheated on them for a long time by continuing to pretend he was crossing into nearby Switzerland for his job while gradually suffocating in a web of financial swindles. A very fine portrayal of the contradictory reaction of a weak person confronting a difficult situation. More recently, Cantet continued exploring complex human relationships, this time of subtle exploitation, in Vers le sud/Heading South(2005), his most wiedly distributed film starring Charlotte Rampling. It is an investigation into transnational sex tourism involving vulnerable young Haitians, an allegory of the not so subtle exploitation that generally marks the interactions between the global North and South.

Cantet’s earlier, The Sanguinaires (1997), a study of the family dynamics’ over a summer spent on a small island, is available on VHS.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the Turkish cineaste to whom I dedicated a post on 14 May 2008, has won the award for best director. Click here to read it.

© Dina Iordanova
26 May 2008

Cannes film festival and advertising

May 25, 2008 at 1:19 am

In the finances of large film festivals, company endorsements have long surpassed the simple sponsorship schemes. Advertising revenues are a vital income stream in the budgets of big festivals, who heavily rely on their brand value to bringing these funds in. The festivals’ branding becomes increasingly complex, resulting in situations where the brand value of the festival is recognized as superior to the one of the promoted brand and is used to enhance the commercial value of the product.

These days various French brands keep reminding the public of their proud and enduring partnership with the Cannes Film Festival. The festival’s name is being referred to as yet another top brand, the partnership with which brings prestige to the advertiser. Luxury watch and jewelery maker Chopard, for example, displays the little bough of the Cannes logo along with diamonds, bags and gold watches in each of the windows at their upscale Place Vendome location in Paris and manifests its long-standing relationship with the festival on a special web-site. L’Oreal have also dedicated a special interactive web-site to their lasting position as an official make up partner of Cannes. Having used film actresses in their advertising for years, L’Oreal recently reached out globally by using Asian female stars, such as Indian Aishwarya Rai and Chinese Gong Li, both well-known favorites seen regularly at the Cannes red carpet.

In other cases, the mutual dependence of advertiser/sponsor and festival, is being made the basis of the advertising campaign. Referencing the fact that they have been an official partner of the festival for 25 years now, Renault run full page magazine and street poster ads showing a star arriving at a gala on the back of a motorbike, with the copy line: What Would Cannes Be Without Renault? A version of the same advert is developed for TV airing, and is featured on Renault’s web-site:

© Dina Iordanova
25 May 2008

Documentary on the big screen: Mai 68 at the Filmotheque du Quartier Latin

May 24, 2008 at 1:07 am

An initiative of Documentaire sur grand ecran, the program Sauve qui peut (le monde), a title clearly referencing Godard’s 1980 film, was presented at the Filmotheque du Quartier Latin, with the subtitle Quand les cinéastes montent au front. Yet another example of robust programming, this time conceived by academic Dominique Villain, it included:

Vent d’est, France/Germany/Italy, 1970, groupe Dizga Vertov (Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin)
Ernesto Che Guevara : Le journal de Bolivie, France/Switzerland, 1994, Richard Dindo
The Cool World, USA, 1964, Shirley Clarke
In the Country, USA, 1966, Robert Kramer
The Edge, USA, 1967, Robert Kramer
Ice, USA, 1969, Robert Kramer
Night and Fog in Japan, Nagisa Oshima, 1960
Le fond de l’air est rouge, France, 1977-2008, Chris Marker
Pravda, France/Germany, 1969, groupe Dizga Vertov (Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin)
Ian Palach, France, 1969, Raymond Depardon
La Sixieme face du Pentagone, France, 1967, Francois Reichenbach and Chris Marker
Rocky Road to Dublin, Ireland, 1968, Peter Lennon
British Sounds, France, 969, groupe Dziga Vertov, (Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Henri Roger)
L’esprit du temps, Netherlands, 1968, Johan van der Keuken
Saute ma ville, Belgium, 1968, Chantal Ackerman
Libre examen, Belgium, 1968, Luc de Heusch
Le 17eme parallele, France/Vietnam, 1968, Marceline Lordian and Joris Ivens

Yet another program, Mai 68 des luttes ouvrieres, exclusively evolving around documentary is presented at Saint-Ouen and at the L’Ecran de Saint-Denis during the last week of May.

© Dina Iordanova
24 May 2008

May ’68 in cinema: more screenings

May 23, 2008 at 12:49 am

MK2 Hautefeuille runs a program of daytime screenings entitled Since 1968. It includes several titles, a mix of feature and documentary:

Vent d’est, 1970, France, groupe Dziga Vertov
Rue Santa Fe, Chile, Carmen Castillo.
Route One USA, 1989, France/UK/Italy, Robert Cramer
Ce vieux rêve qui bouge, 2001, France, Alain Guiraudie
On appelle ça le printemps, 2001, France, Hervé Le Roux
Le Brahmane du Komintern, 2006, France, Vladimir Leon.

The MK2 chain of cinemas is owned by producer Marin Karmitz, whose own films as director were made in connection with the ’68 events. His Coup pour coup makes part of every program dedicated to ’68; it had a special screening and discussion at the forum at MK2 Bibliothèque, accompanied by a discussion at the Limelight (see a trailer/bande annonce by clicking here).

Whereas films from Brazil or Japan have made it into the May ’68-related programs, it is really puzzling that none includes works from Eastern Europe. One is left with the impression that events such as Prague Spring or the ideological build up of the Praxis group in Yugoslavia and the corresponding student riots in Zagreb and Belgrade in 1968 are of no relevance. The film which I believe would be of utmost importance for inclusion in any program on the ’68 ideology, the 1969 Belrinale winner Early Works by Zelimir Zilnik, a visionary bitter commentary on the massive failure of leftist intellectuals to reach out and connect with the classes of workers and peasants, is nowhere to be seen. The only important East European film shown was Evald Schorm’s Czech 1969 Seventh Day, Eight Night (Den sedmý, osmá noc), which played as part of screenings organized by the German Goethe Institute alongside Volker Schlöndorff’s The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum.

© Dina Iordanova
23 May 2008

Representation of May ’68 in Cinema at Le Champo

May 22, 2008 at 6:13 am

Programmed at Le Champo with the involvement of Serge Wolikow, a historian from the University of Dijon, The Representation of May ’68 in Cinema comes along with several other programs on the same topic that run in Paris’s key cinéphilic venues these days. The cycle at Le Champo is programmed over several weeks and includes cycles such as Before ’68, The Society Crisis, Political Cinema and The Lead Years (the 1970s).

Here is a list of the films included in the main event:
Grands soirs et petits matins 1968-78, 1968, dir. William Klein
Le Temps de vivre, 1969, dir. Bernard Paul
Camarades , 1969, dir. Marin Karmitz
Sept jours ailleurs, 1969, dir. Marin Kramitz
Coup pour coup, 1971, dir. Marin Karmitz
Le fond de l’air est rouge, 1977, dir. Chris Marker
Mourir à trente ans, 1982, Romain Goupil
May Fools (Milou en mai), 1989, dir. Louis Malle
A mort la mort, 1999, dir. Romain Goupil
The Dreamers, 2002, dir. bernard Bertolucci
Regular LoversLes Amants reguliers, 2004, dir. Philippe Garrel

At the nearby Place de la Sorbonne there is an open air exhibition of May’68 images by photographer Marc Riboud. On one of them, representing a young female protester, someone has added “They have now introduced the Navigo and the Velib so that they can track your every move!”*

© Dina Iordanova
20 May 2008

* Navigo: Personal electronic pass mostly used in Paris transport
Velib (velo libre): The free bikes that one can rent in Paris by using the Navigo