~Forever/Rouben Mamoulian Festival & John Turturro’s: Romance & Cigarettes
FOREVER at the Film Forum until Sept 25th 2007
ROUBEN MAMOULIAN FESTIVAL ends Sept 18th
JOHN TURTURRO’S ROMANCE & CIGARETTES – ongoing
September 17, 2007 by JAN ALBERT
FOREVER IS A FILM EVERY ARTIST SHOULD SEE.
As a 20-year old on my first trip to Paris, I made the pilgrimage to Pere Lachaise to place a rose on the grave of one of my heroes, the French author, Colette, so I was kind of interested in traveling down to the Film Forum to see FOREVER. It was a wonderful surprise.
Heddy Honigmann has turned what could have been a straightforward documentary about the score of celebrities buried at this famous cemetery (final resting place for everyone from Chopin to Jim Morrison) into a poetic testament to the power of art to reach out and inspire people centuries after its creation.
Honigmann keeps her distance; first watching the kinds of people who come from around the world to pay their respects to the likes of Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, screen pioneer Georges Meliies, Maria Callas, and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. She lingers on a ladybug creeping up a beautifully carved mausoleum, a pen left on a novelistâ€™s grave (â€œso he can carry on writing in the next world,â€ the caretaker figures), acclimating us to the rhythm of family members watering plants with Evian bottles and bon jouring the other regulars. Gradually, she begins to approach individuals who catch her eye and it becomes apparent that they share a passionate connection with those laid to rest here, whether they actually knew them personally or not.
We meet Yoshino Kimura, a young pianist about to make her debut who waits her turn for a moment alone with Chopin. By the end of the film we know surely that the great composer has touched her soul, as she delivers an exquisite performance of one of his Nocturnes. Another frequent visitor explains the influence Modiglianiâ€™s moody portraits have had on his own expression of the human spirit. Turns out he is an artist of a whole different sort; an embalmer. We observe him apply his artistry to the face of a beautiful young woman as he speaks eloquently about the relationship between the living and the dead.
An Iranian cab driver tries to stays in touch with his roots by spending time with his countryman, novelist, Sadgh Hedayat, who is buried at Pere Lachaise. He hesitantly quotes from the authorâ€™s book, ‘The Blind Owl’, and says he believes he would understand why he left home. Two blind film buffs visit the graves of Yves Montand and Simone Signoret (buried side by side), then go home to rewatch Diabolique with great relish.
Then, thereâ€™s the young Asian man struggling to convey in English all that ‘A la Recherche du Temps Perdu’ has meant to him. Honigmann says he should just tell her in his own language. He unleashes a torrent of words, which the filmmaker elects to leave untranslated, allowing the guyâ€™s urgent expression to say it all. Another quirky but elegant choice the director makes is to never directly tour Jim Morrisonâ€™s gravesite. We do see the hoards troop by as a Frenchwoman visiting her husbandâ€™s grave comments that â€œwe will never be lonelyâ€ with The Doors front man as a close neighbor. FOREVER contains the discovery of an unknown folksinger and the revelation of an epic love story ended by a bee sting. This beautiful film – as much about the living as it is about the dead – will be touching people long after we are gone.
see the trailer:http://www.filmforum.org/films/forevertrailer.html
FREDRIC MARCH & ANNA STEN in We Live Again, 1934, ROUBEN MAMOULIAN: THE GOLDEN AGE Of BROADWAY & HOLLYWOOD/FILM FORUM SEPT 7-18, 2007. (12 DAY FESTIVAL)
ROUBEN MAMOULIAN – 12 DAY FESTIVAL – SEPT 7-18, 2007 – FILM FORUM
You may just as well take up residence at the Film Forum and check out the ROUBEN MAMOULIAN FESTIVAL in Theater One and John Turturroâ€™s baroque musical, ROMANCE & CIGARETTES in Theater Two. Mamoulian was an extremely stylish and elegant director. He made just 16 films, most of them pure movie ecstasy, so try to see them all! There were musicals with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald (Love Me Tonight), one of Greta Garboâ€™s most iconic dramas (Queen Christina), a horror classic (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), which won Frederic March his Oscar), and the very first Technicolor classic (Becky Sharp). He worked with Martha Graham, George Gershwin and Alfred Lunt in the theater before going Hollywood. He believed in achieving his vision as a director not by behaving as a tyrant but by â€œwinning them over with love, so the work becomes a romance.â€ What actor could resist that?
ROUBEN MAMOULIAN FESTIVAL – SCHEDULE
image: POSTER/ROMANCE & CIGARETTES
JAMES GANDOLFINI in ROMANCE & CIGARETTES
JOHN TURTURRO’S: ROMANCE & CIGARETTES
John Turturroâ€™s musical, ROMANCE & CIGARETTES, is kind of out there, but in a good way. Seems like the whole neighborhood’s in on the conquest wrecking Nick Murderâ€™s marriage, with dancing firemen putting out the blaze in the heart of the Queens construction worker (played by a soulful James Gandolfini), as he lip synchs to â€œLonely is the man without love.â€ There are about a dozen full scale production numbers done to classic songs, in virtually every genre from gospel to rock, bolstered by inventive and very amusing choreography by Tricia Brouk.
Bobby Carnavale, Christopher Walken, Aida Turturro, Steve Buscemi and Eddie Izzard all have molto buono moments, but no one is fouler-mouthed or more wild and wanton than the utterly fabulous Kate Winslett, who looks like sheâ€™s having a blast playing a slutty temptress in a red dress with an over the top Cockney accent. Her post coital dance is worth the price of admission alone. That girl may be British but she definitely knows how to shake her booty!
A complete success? No, but, quite a spectacle. Personally, I think this flick would definitely loosen things up on a first date.
see the trailer: ROMANCE & CIGARETTES