PARIS - During the early ’90s, Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet were the toast of French cinema with Delicatessen and City of Lost Children. They created a bizarre universe that was a step up in visual weirdness from Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam. However the pair’s creative partnership split when Hollywood came calling with a shot at Alien Resurrection. Jeunet became sole director on the Winona Ryder meets the monster film. People wondered what happened to Caro while Jeunet released Amelie and A Very Long Engagement.
Marc Caro is back with Dante 01, a claustrophobic rush of science fiction cinema on the edge of the universe. Lambert Wilson (The Matrix Reloaded’s Merovingian) arrives in suspended animation on a distant space center. He’s a prisoner who will be a guinea pig for a treatment involving nano-technology. His fellow patients include Dominique Pinon (City of Lost Children). The new medicine is extreme and highly unethical. But who is to argue so far away from a government watchdog group? In space there is no whistleblower hotline. The film is intense with its tight sets, quick edits and unnerving audio effects. Everyone in the film has a shaved head and looks like they’re about to explode. This is not peaceful Sunday afternoon viewing. Instead of a space station, these people should be floating around in a can of Red Bull. The end of the film is 2001 in overdrive.
The location and story does make Dante 01 comparable to Alien Resurrection. However nothing in the Sigourney Weaver was this agitating. Dante 01 reveals that Caro understands how to apply pressure in zero gravity. The movie is being released on DVD by the Weinstein Company’s Dimension Extreme label. The Party Favors was able to interview Caro. Instead of the usual phone interview that would have involved a few UN translators, we sent Caro a list of questions and he emailed them back. Here’s the exchange.
PARTY FAVORS: When you write a script, is it text or a mix of text and storyboards like an animator would use?
MARC CARO: At the beginning it’s a text and the script was written by the co-author Pierre Bordage, a famous French sci-fi novelist…. Then the storyboard was drawn.
PARTY FAVORS: What ignited you to create Dante 01?
CARO: Finding money for “SciFi genre film” is very difficult in France.. so we try to find a story we are interested in with a limited number of characters and a unique set.
PARTY FAVORS: Did your production designer background assist you in creating the space station so that it worked within your budget constraints without losing visual impact?
CARO: It’s help a little… for example for budget constraints I have to change the space station design from “Ouroboro’s style” very round to the final squared version less expensive… without losing visual impact… I hope ???
PARTY FAVORS: At what point did you ask Dominique Pinon to be in the
CARO: From the start, when the fuzzy idea of the film appear in my weird sick mind… the character of Dominique Pinon was soon there…
PARTY FAVORS: How is your working relationship with Dominique Pinon?
CARO: We don’t need words to communicate together… It’s just an ancestral
PARTY FAVORS: How did you maintain the claustrophobic feel between takes? The actors really did look stuck in the space.
CARO: We didn’t feed the actors during the shoot and I would tell really bad jokes!
PARTY FAVORS: Viewers in America are used to Lambert Wilson being the cool headed character in The Matrix movies. Did you have to do much coaxing to get him be so raw on screen?
CARO: It was a great pleasure to collaborate with Lambert Wilson… I have his trust and he came with enthusiasm in the film universe…
PARTY FAVORS: Did you ever have moments when you needed to leave the soundstage to bask in the sun?
CARO: I am not a huge fan of the sun because my skin is so delicate…
PARTY FAVORS: How hard was it to get actors to shave their heads for the
CARO: No problem at all for men and not so difficult for the two actress. Everybody understood the purpose.
PARTY FAVORS: Do you think it is harder for actors to work with shaved heads since they don’t have a fictional haircut to hide behind and create a character?
CARO: No , I think the shaved head helped to create the character… it is a change, lots of actors have never done it before… each actor feels himself different so, may be, it’s easier to be involved in a different world ???
PARTY FAVORS: Did any of the crew members shave their heads to make the
cast feel normal? Did you?
CARO: Unfortunately not but the crew had to wear helmets and I was born without hair.
PARTY FAVORS: What do you think of people who prefer to watch foreign films with dub tracks instead of reading subtitles?
CARO: Every taste was in the Narure.
PARTY FAVORS: How influential is Chris Marker’s La Jetee on French Science fiction?
CARO: I am a huge fan of Chris Marker… but except for me I don’t know the impact of La Jetée on the French Sci-Fi….
BEAM ME UP IN BLU-RAY
Before we get a new version of the crew origins of the U.S.S. Enterprise, take a fresh look at Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 Blu-Ray. The boxset contains the first 29 episodes featuring Kirk, Spock and McCoy when they were middle aged. This isn’t the original time the first season was released for 1080p. However that boxset was the HDDVD-DVD flipper set which featured the new High-Def remastered version of the show. As part of upgrading the original series to HD, they replaced the model shots of the Enterprise with CGI to take advantage of the new resolution. Purists were upset and swore they stick with their old DVDs even if the transfers were scratchy and blemished. The good news is Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 Blu-ray contains both the HD enhanced and the original special versions. You don’t have to chose.
The first season kicks off the show with “The Man Trap.” McCoy discovers that his old girlfriend isn’t seen the same way by the rest of his buddies. A monster is sucking the salt out of people. The things that happen during a tequila bender. “Charlie X” has an intergalactic brat destroying the crew when he can’t get his way. “Mudd’s Women” introduces us to the first interstellar pimp in Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel). He’s got three ladies that are due at a mining colony. What happens when the pimp meets the Galaxy’s biggest stud in Kirk? Pure magic.
“The Menagerie” is the two-parter where Spock kidnaps his old captain. He wants the invalid leader to return to an uncharted planet. The show is amazing in that they were able to use the original pilot for the series without having to explain why Kirk wasn’t in the captain’s seat. Do wonder how they’ll explain Captain Pike in the new Star Trek movie.
Unexpected love is a theme in this season. “This Side of Paradise” has Spock want to get nasty with Jill Ireland. Although this rush of emotion comes from his taking a hit of a flowery Spanish fly. “The City on the Edge of Forever” has Kirk and McCoy falling for a relatively young Joan Collins (Dynasty). This is always picked as a classic of science fiction.
The bonus features are taken from the last two season set releases. For this boxset we get pieces on William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. They’re nice, but it’s a low level crewman who really puts the experience of the show into perspective. “Billy Blackburn’s Treasure Chest” gives plenty of memories from a supporting actor who filled in wherever was necessary on the ship. He was a navigator, DeForest Kelly’s stand in and monsters in rubber suits. He breaks out his home movies that he shot around the set. Amazing how many different roles he played on the show.
Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 Blu-ray is what fans have been waiting for since they introduced home video back with the Betamax. The image quality brings out the details of the sets and costumes without exposing the strings. Spock’s pointy ears and Kirk’s hair still look “natural.” The 1080p heightens my appreciation for the series by enhancing the elements that made it special. Even the enhanced effects aren’t overdone in a George Lucas mode. This is the Blu-ray treat of the month.
ALI ROUND 2
Don’t throw in the towel before watching HBO’s Thrilla In Manila. This is the evil side of Muhammad Ali. The boxing legend was lionized in When We Were Kings with his Rumble in the Jungle defeat of George Foreman. The Champ has become a fixture as a great American and a humanitarian. What gets exposed in this documentary is how Ali can be a cruel man. Joe Frazier was the champ at the time that Ali was banned from the sport for his refusal to be drafted during the Vietnam War. Frazier pleaded with President Nixon to let Ali back into the ring. He funneled money to Ali during these tough times. And how did Ali pack Frazier back for all his help when he got his gloves back? By calling the guy ugly, stupid and Uncle Tom. It’s rather disgusting to see Ali’s rants about Frazier in the film. He painted Smokin’ Joe to be a suck up to the white man. When they finally fight in Manila, you will fully understand why even the risk of death made Frazier want to go out for the 15th round (even if calmer hands threw in the towel to protect the blinded fighter). What’s upsetting is how certain fight folks think that Frazier was stupid for not backing off and risking it all. But watching the footage, it’s easy to see that Frazier in kill or be kill mode. He wanted to pay back the pain and teach Ali a lesson.
At the end of the fight, we learn that Ali sent messages to Frazier that he didn’t mean all his defamation. The Uncle Tom talk was merely to sell tickets. But Ali was never man enough to say it directly to Frazier. If this film wins the Emmy, you won’t see Ali and Frazier clowning at the podium like Ali did with Foreman. Frazier will take one last swipe at The Greatest.
Thrilla in Manila is right now on HBO’s OnDemand. Watch it instead of a marathon of America’s Next Top Model on Oxygen.
THE COMEBACK KID CONTINUES
The folks at Party Favors are excited with the news that Jackie Earle Haley is going to be the new Freddy Krueger in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Bring on the bladed gloves for Kelly Leak. Normally we’re not happy at Hollywood studios being less creative, but they’ve cast this one right. Haley as Rorshach was the reason why Watchmen was watchable. His fight scene in the prison lunch line should get him a role when they make Oz: The Movie. We’re still waiting for him to do the film where he’s the owner of a stripclub investigating what happened to his top dancer. Oddly enough we caught Robert Englund (the original Freddy) as a gentleman’s club owner in Zombie Strippers!”
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