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Society

Forever Godard: 20 International Newspapers Bid Adieu To French New Wave Icon

International outlets are saluting the passing of the father of the Nouvelle Vague movement, considered among the most influential filmmakers ever.

Jean-Luc Godard, the French-Swiss filmmaker who revolutionized cinema in the late 1950s and 1960s as the leading figure of the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) movement, died Tuesday at the age of 91.

The Paris-born Godard produced now-cult movies such as À bout de souffle (“Breathless” 1960), Le Mépris (“Contempt” 1963) and Alphaville (1965), with his later works always garnering interest among cinephiles, even if often considered inaccessible for the wider public.

Godard's lawyer reported that that the filmmaker had been “stricken with multiple incapacitating illnesses," and decided to end his life through assisted suicide, which is legal in Switzerland, where he'd lived for decades.

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Reservations For Nature, Entry Fees For Cities: Is Mass Tourism Reaching A Dead End?

July 9-10

  • In Ukraine, living with Russian troops next door
  • Hollywood’s “coming of old age” problem
  • Game-changing sand battery
  • … and much more.
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No Country For Old People? How Seniors Are Portrayed In Hollywood, And Beyond

The author is looking for a coming-of-age movie, but not the age you had in mind.

Sometimes the hunt for a movie is just a hunt, and sometimes it’s a revelation.

I had already started and stopped several titles — labeled romance or comedy or drama or action — when I finally stumbled upon The Last Bus.

There was nothing wrong with the earlier movies I had surfed through and rejected. They were all good in their own right, except that the main characters looked to be in their 20s. Now some of my favorite people are in their 20s, but I’m in my 60s. And I wanted to see something of myself, or even my future self, reflected on the screen. I found that in the British film The Last Bus, a “coming of age” movie – in the real sense of the term.

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Bollywood Is Finally Showing The True Colors Of India's Holi Festival

Holi is much more than just throwing petals and colored powders. In addition to being a celebration of life, family and fertility, its songs and dances can also be a vehicle to warn against life’s dangers, or depict intimate moments where the saris are wet and the bodies can touch. And the Bollywood film industry too is progressively moving away from a sanitized depiction.

My first Holi in India was not an enjoyable one.

Amritsar. 1990. I’d missed the train to Pakistan — seriously... — so I took a three-wheeler to the border at Wagah. Although the driver was somewhat anxious, the fare was too good for him to turn down.

Ignored by lurking terrorists (were there really any?), we did astonish several jawans soldiers crouched behind their sandbagged posts, but were soon hit, inevitably, by a carrier bag of cold water, the rest of the journey being bumpy, chilly and soggy.

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Economy
Pierre de Gasquet

To Cannes And Back: The Subtle French Infiltration In Hollywood

Since Agnès Varda, Louis Malle and Michel Gondry, trying one's luck in Hollywood has become an obsession for some French filmmakers. But Netflix and friends are changing the formula.

HOLLYWOOD — Frank Zappa recorded his rock opera "Joe's Garage" there. The Beatles used its large auditorium for their meditation sessions. Halfway between Beverly Hills and the Pacific, with its imposing pink brick facade decorated with Ionian columns, The Village Studios looks like a huge room inherited from the 1920s. At the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Butler Avenue, the legendary West Los Angeles recording studio of everyone from Eric Clapton to Lady Gaga has been located in a former Masonic temple since 1968.

This musical sanctuary is where the soundtracks to "Crazy Heart" and the Coen brothers' comedy "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" were recorded. It is also where the opening scene of Leos Carax's "Annette" — co-written with the California pop duo Sparks (brothers Ron and Russell Mael) — was filmed.

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India
Ranjani Iyer Mohanty

Dinner With Netflix, When A Lockdown Drama Turns Extra Dark

From the moment the movie began, I had a funny feeling.

First, there were no opening credits — nothing to tell us who the producers or director were nor what famous actors would appear. No sign of even the author's name, like they showed in The Godfather. But I had seen Batman Begins, so I wasn't too worried.

Then I noticed there was no opening theme song (think Charade or Manhattan) to set the tone and tell me what to expect. But, during the past six months of online on-demand bingeing, I had seen all the James Bond movies and was used to waiting five minutes for the action and beautiful people and pulsating music to burst on the screen.

For the moment, all I saw was a table out in a pleasant backyard set with plenty of food and drink. The time was evening and the season was fall. The movie was in color — not high-definition, but it would do.

Then suddenly a couple entered the frame and sat down. I scanned their faces carefully. They looked strangely familiar but were neither famous nor beautiful. In fact, they were quite ordinary and frankly a little plump. Their clothes seemed a touch too festive for the informal occasion. But they looked friendly, rather flushed, even a bit excited. They started talking right away, exchanging some pleasantries, making a few small jokes — not particularly funny ones — that they laughed at themselves. Then, they looked deep into the camera and asked the most ordinary social questions … How are you doing? How's the family? Not the greatest dialogue and I couldn't quite figure out where the plot was going, but hey, the movie was just beginning.

They sat quietly for a while, looking back and forth at the camera and each other. I wondered if parts of this would be silent like in The Artist. Then they laughed nervously, reached out for the food, and began eating. They talked of very mundane things, and continued to periodically look at the camera nervously. Their awkwardness reminded me of the dinner at the in-laws in Shrek 2.

I wondered who these two rather pathetic, middle-aged people could be. Maybe he was a Nobel Prize winner, but she was the real brains behind the work. Maybe he was an adventurer and she owned a large farm in Africa. Or perhaps he was a famous resistance leader and while she admired him, she actually loved a short surly heart-broken café owner with a piano-playing sidekick. But in this movie, there would be no character development to speak of.

I couldn't quite figure out where the plot was going, but hey, the movie was just beginning.

Suddenly, as a contrast, I thought of that scene in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta takes Uma Thurman to a restaurant — and I hoped fervently that, like in the Tarantino masterpiece, a great song would start up and this couple would break out on the dance floor. But they didn't do that either.

Indeed, there was no music at all in this film. How was I to know what to feel — when to laugh, when to cry, when to empathize with the characters, when to suspect them, when to get scared, when to know everything would be just fine — if there were no musical cues?

Photo: jeshoots

Still, I felt certain that something dramatic must be about to happen, something like Mr. and Mrs. Smith each pulling out a long knife. Or Timothy Spall announcing to Kristin Scott Thomas that he was leaving her. Or maybe this couple was like Martha and George — although you wouldn't know it from their stilted dialogue — and another dysfunctional couple would join them.

The suspense was killing me, but I had to get up to go pee. I told my husband to hit pause.

When I came back, the movie was still running. I angrily asked him why he hadn't hit the pause button. My husband looked at me with glazed eyes and said that he couldn't find the pause button. As Dickie Greenleaf said in The Talented Mr. Ripley, "Spoo-ky-ky-ky".

Then, suddenly, there was some action on the screen. The couple had pushed back their chairs and were standing up. They were both looking straight at the camera and appeared visibly upset. Now at last there would be some exciting dialogue. "I don't know what the hell you two are playing at, inviting us here and not talking to us all evening," said the man. "But we've had more than enough." The woman, sobbing quietly, added: "And to think that after months of isolating, you two were the first friends we had wanted to see."

Truly experimental, so avant-garde!

OK, now things were getting interesting. We watched intently. The couple looked at the camera expectantly for a few moments, then shook their heads, sighed heavily, and left the frame.

My husband and I sat for a minute, watching their empty chairs, waiting for them to return; they did not. Then we sat for another minute, waiting for the closing credits; there were none.

Disgusted, I turned to my husband. "What a ridiculous movie! Didn't you read the RottenTomatoes reviews?"

He looked gobsmacked — like First Officer Murdoch after shooting two passengers on the Titanic — and whispered, "I thought you had."

But later on that night, I began to reevaluate what we had seen. No opening or closing credits. No music. Unattractive actors. No plot or character development. A script that perfectly captured the utter boredom of our reality. Breaking down the fourth wall ... Truly experimental, so avant-garde!

Or wait. Maybe this was just the first episode of another one of those series they label "slow burn," designed to suck you in whether you want to watch or not. Anyway, I'm hooked and we'll definitely be there for the next episode.

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LA STAMPA
Mattia Feltri

Lockdown All'Italiana: Trying To Find Comedy In COVID-19

Our Italian columnist has a chuckle at those wagging their social media fingers at the new movie that pokes fun at quarantine life.

-Essay-

ROME — It's funny, if you think about it. Nothing's made me laugh recently quite as much as the uproar against director Enrico Vanzina's new comedy about the lockdown. The film production company announced that on October 15, it will release Vanzina's new movie: Lockdown all'italiana, a frivolous, self-commiserating laugh about Italians and the coronavirus.

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Peru
Farid Kahhat

Apocalypse Fiction And COVID-19: Why Life Didn't Imitate Art

In the movie version, the contagion would lead to lawlessness and chaos. But in reality, institutions are encouragingly resilient.

-OpEd-

LIMA — The post-apocalyptic movie genre has done little to boost our faith in humankind's ability to cooperate in dire circumstances. It's worth noting, therefore, that in the face of the current real-life calamity — and with the exception of certain institutional problems (with the World Health Organization for example) — we haven't, by and large, seen a generalized, institutional collapse. What's more, this period of radical adversity has even produced episodes of empathy and cooperation.

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Coronavirus

After COVID-19 Cut, Global Film Industry Looks To Bounce Back

No crisis has ever hit the entire film industry as badly as the coronavirus lockdown. With sets empty, movie premieres postponed, screenings canceled and box offices closed, the global film industry has been largely frozen in time — and revenue. Even as activity is gradually resuming, it will take time for the movie business to recover and when it does, the cinema landscape may never be quite the same – either on set or on screens.

The Cannes Film Festival unveiled its 56 Official Selection titles by live stream Wednesday evening in Paris, two weeks after the 2020 Cannes edition was originally due to run on its iconic red carpet. Despite the lack of physical event and the delay, the Festival's chief Thierry Frémaux told Le Monde that COVID-19 couldn't be allowed to destroy the event completely. "If the Festival couldn't take its usual form, we needed to present it another way — but never would it disappear."

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LA STAMPA
Franco Giubilei

Hot New Details From Italy's Battle Over 'Last Tango in Paris'

The infamous 1972 film sparked a years-long legal battle in director Bernardo Bertolucci's native land. The recently restored court archives are now being made public.

BOLOGNA — A young man from the province of Bologna buys a ticket and enters the Kursaal cinema in Porretta Terme to see a brand new film by director Bernardo Bertolucci. The date is Dec. 15, 1972, and what the 32-year-old sees up on the silver screen shocks him, so much so that he rushes to a nearby prosecutor's office to put it down in writing.

"Individual scenes and sequences have offended my moral sensibilities and my ideal aspirations as a citizen," he writes. "There are scenes that perturb the moral sense of the honest citizen."

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LA STAMPA
Gabriele Romagnoli

Bicycle Thieves Of Italy, Yesterday and Today

The 1948 neo-realist cinematic masterpiece can be a key to understand Italian society today. With a digital twist.

-Essay-

BOLOGNA — "This is not a movie, it's reality..." A filmgoer in Milan wrote those words to director Vittorio De Sica after watching Bicycle Thieves when it was released 71 years ago. I for one had always thought the same: that the 1948 neorealist masterpiece movie was a good representation of reality of how life was back then — neorealism as a mirror of the past that cannot be applied to the future. I was wrong.

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China
Feng Qingyan and Yang Xuemei

The 'Yin-Yang' And Bad Economics Of China's Movie Industry

BEIJING — Fan Bingbing, China"s highest-paid actress and star of the 2014 blockbuster X-Men, recently received some unwanted public attention—an accusation of tax evasion. The Chinese actress was accused by Cui Yongyuan, a TV presenter and producer, of signing "Yin-Yang contracts' for the films she stars in. This allows her to pay lower tax via the public part of the contract, the "yang," while being paid several times more in the untaxed private "yin" contract. As later exposed by the Chinese press, this is a common practice in the film and TV industry, and it has prompted a probe by state tax authorities into the sector's fiscal affairs.

In mid-August, in a joint declaration, China's three major online video sites — iQiyi, Youku, and Tencent — and six major film and TV production companies declared that they will, in the future, "cooperate to block actors' unreasonable rewards and resist unhealthy trends of the industry."

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