Archive for Bernard Natan

The Monday Intertitle: Intro

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2014 by dcairns

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“Let us always remember that the country, our home, is born from the heart of a woman, her tenderness and tears, the blood which she shed for us.”

Intertitle from LA MERVEILLEUSE VIE DE JEANNE D’ARC, directed by Marco de Gastyne, produced by Bernard Natan.

Thanks to Emory University film professor Charles David for introducing NATAN, the documentary by Paul Duane & myself, at the Atlanta Jewish Film festival, and to Brandon of the excellent Deeper Into Movies for recording most of it — you can, as a result, have a listen here.

The Monday Intertitle: Loose Lip Synch

Posted in FILM, MUSIC, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2014 by dcairns

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There’s a lot to enjoy in Alain Resnais’s PAS SUR LAS BOUCHE (I’m slowly familiarising myself with his post-sixties career, aided by the fact that Fiona seems to enjoy all of them, despite never having cottoned to MARIENBAD.) In fact, what is there NOT to enjoy in it? But most enjoyable of all may be Lambert Wilson (above, right).

Lambert is playing Mr. Eric Thompson (NOT Emma Thompson’s dad, the one who re-voiced The Magic Roundabout for the BBC), an American in Paris, and with his exquise comic timing he is partaking in a proud French tradition — the unconvincing American. For while his attempts to speak French clumsily and with an American intonation are quite good, they’re not exactly believable, and that adds to their hilarity.

The first French talkie was LES TROIS MASQUES (1929), a Pathe-Natan shot at Pinewood by special arrangement with John Maxwell, the Scottish lawyer-turned-exhibitor-turned-producer who had been working with Alfred Hitchock. Pathe head Bernard Natan seems to have gotten along well with Scots — his TV company was co-founded with John Logie Baird. But LES TROIS MASQUES is a dreadful film, stilted and static in the manner associated with the worst of early talkies. It’s as if British reserve somehow soaked into the celluloid and stifled any Gallic joie de vivre.

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Much, much better is CHIQUÉ, a forty-five minute comedy set in a Montmartre dive and exploiting that old joke about the American tourist who doesn’t realize the apache dance is an act. Adrien Lamy plays the American, who says things like “Pas Anglais! Amurrican I am!” He’s wonderfully, hilariously awful. The film is everything its predecessor is not — fluid, rhythmic, pacy, atmospheric, alive. Pierre Colombier directed it, and went on to make Pathe-Natan’s best comedies.

Another early precedent for Lambert’s perf must be the 1931 film version of the same operetta, co-directed by Nicolas Rimsky, who also plays Thompson. A Russian playing an American in France — I assume he’s enjoyable, but I haven’t tracked down the film.

My faulty memory tells me there are other examples of Frenchmen playing Americans, also Brits playing Americans, and also Americans who aren’t actors playing Americans, but I can’t seem to put a name to them. Let me know if you think of any!

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Everything in the Resnais film is in quotes — a theatrical piece from a bygone age performed, archly, on artificial sets by artistes who disappear by slow dissolve each time they start to exit a scene, with a sound midway between applause and a batting of wings. Such artifice courts sterility, but in Resnais’s hands it’s both funny, the way it would have been on stage in 1925, and something else — a scientific experiment in temporal bilocation, perhaps.

Yarn-Bomb Paris / Phantom Filmmakers Over New York

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2014 by dcairns

In Paris –

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Our friend, Shadowplayer Marvelous Mary was touched by NATAN, the documentary Paul Duane & I made, and by the thought that there’s no memorial at La Femis, the French film school, to mark the fact that the studio it’s built from was founded by Bernard Natan. Now, Mary happens to be in Paris on her hols, and this woollen banner appears overnight — I’m not saying you should draw any cause-and-effect relationship to these two facts. Not at all.

But it’s a Great Thing.

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Meanwhile, or actually a little later, NATAN will screen at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York on Sunday, Jan 19th — please buy tickets and attend, New Yorkers. The screening is part of the First Look event, and we hope you will get your chance for a second or third look if and when we get wider distribution, but for now, this is your only guaranteed shot at seeing the movie, so please, SEE THE MOVIE. Paul, by happy chance, will be in New York and will attend the screening for a Q&A and in hopes that someone will buy him a drink.

A welcome thumbs-up from Richard Brody in the New Yorker.

Also, write reviews/previews, tell your friends, make it an EVENT! If you’re interested in writing about the film ahead of the screening and need to see it, get it touch below.

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