Archive for Isabelle Adjani

The fairest one of all

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on June 1, 2017 by dcairns

I first saw Claude Miller’s stylish MORTELLE RANDONEE back in the 80s in BBC2’s Film Club strand. They had a habit of pairing one recent film with an older one of the same genre, so maybe this was paired with QUAIS DES ORFEVRES or something (I remember they screened that at some point). My feeling at the time was “starts strong, goes off the boil, staggers to its conclusion.” I was worried that, seeing it again so much later, my opinion would be unchanged. Parts of the film had stayed with me, so I felt it had something going for it. I don’t like the idea that I might not have evolved.

I rather loved the film this time! Those aspects of it which go unexplained for most of the runtime — like the central character’s entire motivation — worked especially well for me now that I’ve built up my negative capability a bit. And fans of neat endings need not worry — the movie wraps everything up in a ball at the end, though with a sense of enigmatic, even numinous, maintained around the edges. There’s telepathy, but it’s more of a stylistic choice than a plot point.

Over at The Forgotten.

Optic Nervousness

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on August 31, 2016 by dcairns


I’m one of several contributors, with Daniel Riccuito, Jennifer Matsui and Tom Sutpen, to another piece over at The Chiseler — a collaboration where even I can’t tell which parts I wrote. Points to anyone who identifies a Cairns sentence correctly. I may not be the idiosyncratic genius we always thought — or maybe Daniel, Jennifer and Tom are too? Yes, I prefer that explanation.

I won’t say what it’s about — you may have to decide for yourself. But I will say that it’s here.


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on August 29, 2016 by dcairns


Zulawski’s SZAMANKA — translates, sort of, as SHAMANESS. His return to Poland after several years making movies in France and elsewhere. Completely bananas. Sometimes a strong central performance anchors a Zulawski film to some kind of relatable reality. Sometimes it blasts it off into space. In SZAMANKA, our attention is split between the male and female leads, and he’s rather dislikable — the critique of macho intended by Zulawski and his young female screenwriter comes across fairly strongly. The teenage actress cast as female lead delivers a compendium of Zulawski tics and fits, which alienates us a bit more than is perhaps wise. I admire Zulawski’s ability to get actors to go to insane extremes, but I also like it when he works with Sophie Marceau and you actually see human behaviour you recognize.

Zulawski’s discovery, Iwona Petry, with whom he enjoyed a somewhat stormy collaboration, at times seems to be channelling Isabelle Adjani in POSSESSION, which gives the crazy effects a second-hand feeling, despite the wild imagination on display throughout. As is generally the case with Zulawski, though, you’ll see a few things here you won’t see anywhere else… a shame that Hannibal Lecter borrowed so freely from the film’s climax…


All Zulawski films feel valedictory, because he always seems to be burning his bridges, his reputation, his relationships, himself.

More on this marvellous maniac soon…