3 items from 2017
Iconic actress Jeanne Moreau’s death this week at 89 received muted American coverage, with remembrances that hardly captured Moreau’s essential presence and influence in world cinema. Overshadowed by the passing of Sam Shepard the day before (more contemporary, American, prominent in multiple fields, and younger), she received back-page obituaries in major papers. Her lack of any Oscar nominations, or a deserved honorary award, didn’t help the cause.
Even more unfortunate is the treatment of her death reflects American audiences’ ever-increasing disinterest in French-language film. Jeanne Moreau is significant for her transcendent artistry and the directors with whom she worked, but she also represented the iconic qualities of her country’s cinema.
Though the boom in “art houses” (a term popularized in the late 1940s) came more from Italian films (“Rome, Open City,” “Shoe Shine,” and particularly “Bicycle Thief”), French film became a steady part of the subtitled market by the mid-1950s. »
- Tom Brueggemann
Confession: There are times when I've been loyally in Luc Besson's corner – the visual splendor of Subway (1985), The Big Blue (1988) and La Femme Nikita (1990) established him as a master of what the French call Cinéma du Look. And 1994's The Professional – with Jean Reno teaching the assassin's game to a very young Natalie Portman – went deeper, blending style with a nurturing sense of humanity. Plus, there's a lot to be said in favor of both his sci-fi extravaganza The Fifth Element (1997) and last year's next-level ScarJo-evolution whatsit Lucy. »
EuropaCorp has been on a white-knuckle ride over the past three years, but the struggling French studio hopes that “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” will end its recent run of flops and propel it back into the box office stratosphere.
If the hugely expensive science-fiction epic flames out when it debuts this summer, it could be disastrous for the French studio behind “Lucy” and “Taken.” Launched by director Luc Besson in 2000, the company had grand ambitions to become one of the world’s biggest film players. But EuropaCorp’s trajectory has taken a downward turn since it started self-distributing its movies in the United States in 2014. The results have been sobering. The studio has struggled to find hits, releasing one dud after another and losing tens of millions of dollars in the process.
The setbacks come as the company is preparing to release “Valerian,” the story of »
- Brent Lang and Elsa Keslassy
3 items from 2017
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