PARIS - When you want to escape to the Riviera without spending the vacation time, you can always catch a foreign film that captures the sea, sun and fun. The Girl From Monaco transports us to the principality nestled along the French coastline.
Fabrice Luchini plays a Parisian lawyer who heads to the coast to defend a client accused of killing a Russian mobster. He gets distracted from the courthouse drama by a local weather girl (Louise Bourgoin). Can he get his mind back on the homicide? Or has he gone on vacation?
The film is now out on DVD from Magnolia Home Entertainment. Director Anne Fontaine was willing to answer a few questions via email. Fontaine had been an actress in French cinema during the ’80s before stepping behind the camera as a writer-director. She also recently wrote and directed critically praised Coco Before Chanel.
Party Favors: What was it like to direct Fabrice Luchini? Where there any references you used for him to understand the mindset of his character?
Fontaine: I’ve known Fabrice Luchini for 25 years or so. We’ve been close friends all that time, and also worked together: I helped him to stage a monologue performance based on Louis-Ferdinand Céline. We toured the show here and there, including Monaco… The character of Betrand shares a number of traits with real-life Fabrice. So he had no problem understanding the part. His issues had more to do with the fear of exposing too much of himself. He was concerned with self-caricature, or self-indulgence.
Party Favors: What made you realize that Louise Bourgoin was the right temptress for the part?
Fontaine: I met with dozens of actresses, most of them more experienced than Louise… She combines several qualities, that are usually not going together: she is beautiful yet funny, sexy yet chic, versatile yet recognizable… It’s her ability to feature such diversity that makes her attractive.
Party Favors: Is her style in forecasting the weather popular in the region?
Fontaine: No, that’s completely fictitious. And, unlike in the US, France has no local TV stations worth the name.
Party Favors: What did you do to make sure the film didn’t become a sex farce?
Fontaine: I tried and led the actors to understand, support and care for their characters. I believe that when a relationship is genuine and “caring” between the actor and the part, the risk of being superficial (or “farcical”) is greatly reduced.
Party Favors: What made you want to keep the score minimal?
Fontaine: I don’t think it’s that minimal ( 20 minutes or so), but it’s restricted to the last third of the film. I wanted it to signal a change of tone, and a new shade in the story, as in “we’ve been mostly light and carefree until now, but there’s trouble ahead…”.
Party Favors: Is there a term for people who arrive on the Mediterranean coast and forget themselves like “going native”?
Fontaine: Not that I know of… the other way round (people from the provinces “going Parisian”) is more frequent, actually!
Party Favors: Do you ever look at a promotional still of yourself on the set with the actors and ponder if you should have cast yourself in a role?
Fontaine: I’ve been an actress a long time ago. Neither very successful, nor very good…And today, I feel much too busy on the set to think of myself in any other capacity. I’ve done a couple of cameos, not that long ago, for other directors. That’s fine. But I wouldn’t be comfortable casting myself!
Party Favors: How long did you scout locations?
Fontaine: The scouting proper was not very long ( two weeks, or so). But I’ve been to Monaco (which is tiny, anyway) a number of times, so I knew the area quite well.
Party Favors: Is it more expensive to shoot in Monaco versus Paris?
Fontaine: By and large, it’s comparable to the posh areas in Paris.
Party Favors: What did you learn from making “The Girl from Monaco” that you used in Coco Before Chanel?
Fontaine: Hard to tell specifically… I would only say that, in my opinion, unlearning is as crucial as learning.
Party Favors: Do French women actually not care if their husbands have mistresses or is that a myth spread by American husbands wanting to use your culture as a “good example” of why their wives shouldn’t attack them with golf clubs?
Fontaine: I’m not sure general rules really apply to these matters.
MICK IS STONED AGAIN?
With Ron Wood completely falling apart, seems the Rolling Stones are ready to cut him loose. Who could replace him without the Stones being reduced to a trio with backing musicians making another obvious cash grab tour?
Our dubious connection that watched an episode of Knights of Prosperity says Mick Taylor is coming back after splitting 35 years ago.
The Stones have had their spies lurking at Taylor’s club gigs scouting to see if he could be cleaned up and physically handle a World stadium tour. They understand the buzz of this reunion could help make this more than the usual “see the Stones before they finally retire” buzz.
The Mick Taylor era is when the Stones earned their title as the greatest live band ever. The man brought the voodoo chords to “Brown Sugar” and “Midnight Rambler.” Just dig up the King Biscuit Flower Hour recordings of their ‘73 European tour and feel the power.
The ultimate plan for the tour is to have Bill Wyman rejoin them for a massive Wembley Stadium special. It’s a ‘69 Stones reunion. One unnamed promoter declared that the TV rights would net as much as a Mike Tyson title fight.
Nothing is solid, but with the amount of cash and attention that could be gained from such a move, Jagger and Richards aren’t in their usual “we don’t want to look back” attitude. This will also patch up their public black eye from the recent articles about how the Stones screwed Mick Taylor out of his royalties.
The back up player if Mick Taylor can’t handle it: Eric Clapton. They don’t want to have to pay out Clapton cash. After Clapton the rumored guitarist will be a recent graduate of the School of Rock as part of an internship deal.
Bob Crane Father of the Year Award goes to Tiger Woods. For months it seemed like Jon Gosselin had locked this title up. But in a historic post-Thanksgiving run, the golfing great came out of nowhere to inhale all the bad will generated by Jon upon his dumping a wife and 8 kids for a slew of skanks. On a fateful night Tiger went from the most boring superstar this side of Roger Federer to a meltdown masterpiece worthy of John Daly emotional trainwrecks. Turns out the father of two and husband of a hot Swedish wife was messing around with party girls, porn stars and a Perkins waitress. And loving it bareback with most of them. The best “denial” came from a porn star who claimed she wasn’t one of his mistresses since they’d only screwed during Tiger’s bachelor party. I bet there was rejoicing at this good news at Tiger’s house. For flaunting his family while banging a cellphone full of skanks, Tiger Woods is a Bob Crane kinda guy.
Break Thru Actress is Eva Amurri. After years of toiling in minor roles, she took over the camera on this season of Californication as the college student by day and stripper by night. Sure she was fourth on Hank Moody’s totem pole of lovers, but she had the most upward possibilities. Her ability to turn up the sass and tease should lead to her playing a few amazing ex-wives in her career.
Comeback Kid also goes to a Californication guest star: Rick Springfield. There are a lot of fans of “Jesse’s Girl” that had their eyes burned by seeing Rick in a devil’s three-way with Evan Handler. And it wasn’t any simple sex scene - Rick is pouring wax on her back while singing his hits.
Nice Vagina Award goes to Billy Bush. I’m disgusted at Billy Bush being disgusted at everything he reports on his show. If you don’t like the filth, get out of the sty and let another news piggy wallow in the “truth.”
Olympian to Watch: Katie Uhlaender has me skeleton crazy for the 2010 games. Why isn’t there a couples skeleton? The most exciting time you can have with a partner lying on top of you that doesn’t involve sponsorship from Trojan Condoms or Zippy Lube.
MY TLC SHOW
10 Things I Hate About You: 10th Anniversary Edition reminds us that Heath Ledger was always a cinematic stud. The film is a high school version of The Taming of the Shrew that holds up a decade later. Joseph Gordon-Levitt ((500) Days of Summer) wants to hook up with Larisa Oleynik. The problem is she can’t date until her sister (Julia Stiles) also has a boyfriend. She’s not as sweets as her sister thus it looks like this day will never come. A solution comes in the shape of bad boy Heath Ledger being hired to woo Stiles. Can she resist his Aussie charms? The trio of Ledger, Stiles and Gordon-Levitt elevates this film above the average Shakespeare adaptation. The Blu-ray image brings out the elements that made Ledger a star. He did glow. The bonus features include deleted scenes and a fresh documentary that includes Ledger’s screen test. This is much more engrossing than your dull English teacher walking you through the text.
All About Steve brings us back to Sandra Bullock’s creative focus on playing ugly characters that transform. In this case she’s emotionally ugly as a stalker. And not just any type of stalker, but one that is obsessed with a local TV news cameraman played by Bradley Cooper (The Hangover). Thomas Haden Church (Wings) is the reporter that isn’t getting Sandra’s groupie love. How can this be? The film is more goofy than witty. This isn’t a great comic follow up to The Hangover for Cooper. But it’s a dopey lazy Sunday afternoon Blu-ray for when Tiger Woods wants to unwind with his latest Las Vegas conquest. The high definition transfer makes me wonder how many man can resist Sandra no matter how insane she might be. The audio commentary includes all of the stars. A gag reel, deleted scenes and other bonus features are secondary to Cooper and Ken Jeong’s duet. These two ought to get their own lounge act in Vegas. There’s also a digital copy of the film so you can watch stalker Sandra while waiting in the airport.
The Clint Eastwood Collection gives us the four films that made Clint a cinematic cowboy icon. A Fistful of Dollars was his first spaghetti western with Sergio Leone in the director’s chair. The film remakes Yojimbo with Clint playing two rival gangsters for fools. This wasn’t like the usual horse opera. Eastwood drops his persona from Rawhide to become an amazing bad ass under the hat. For A Few Dollars More is a second dose of Sergio and Clint. He’s now a bounty hunter teaming up with Lee Van Cleef to go after a big time outlaw. Klaus Kinski is one of the baddies. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is an epic of the spaghetti western genre. Clint’s The Good, Lee is The Bad and Eli Wallach is The Ugly. The DVD in this collection is the 179 minute cut from the 2005 special edition. Hang ‘Em High was Clint bringing his Italian cowboy action back to Hollywood. He’s a survivor of a lynching who wants to bring them to rope justice. Director Ted Post did the Saturday morning cult fave Ark II. Clint’s Sergio Leone trilogy and first major Hollywood is an essential part of any DVD collection.
The Mickey Rourke Collection brings us back to the time when Mickey was a good looking guy whose face didn’t resemble a rump roast with eyeballs. The four films have star turns with the man whose career became dominated by boxing and little dogs in his pockets. “Pope of Greenwich Village launched Mickey and Eric Roberts as a dynamic duo. They’re hustlers working angles except one of them loses their thumb. A Prayer for the Dying teams him with Bob Hoskins for an IRA bomber tale. Desperate Hours is a hostage taking film that involves Anthony Hopkins. It was another of Michael Cimino’s comebacks. Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man is brilliant cheese with Don Johnson as the breaded cowboy biker. Mickey is the leather clad Harley. It’s kinda like a movie that Easy Rider’s Billy and Captain America would have made if they wanted to remake Cobra. It’s one of the Action Trash Masterpieces during the Planet Hollywood Era. For newcomers eager to see the latest Iron Man villain, The Mickey Rourke Collection is a low budget peak to his origins.
United States of Tara: The First Season brings together the talents of stripper/screenwriter Diablo Cody and theme park maven Steven Spielberg. The Showtime series is about a mother with dissociative identity disorder and a very understanding family. Toni Collette is amazing as she slips between being a drunken trucker, sassy teen and a ’50s TV mom. John Corbett (Northern Exposure is the husband forced to roll with the personality punches. Collette pulls off a difficult role without making it seem like a Jonathan Winters’ multiple personalities sketch. Sadly enough, the show is already dated since it seems to think MySpace is cool. How 2006. The boxset has all 12 episodes on 2 DVDs along with the season 3 first episode of The Tudors. The big bonus is an interview with Diablo Cody.
Disney’s Winnie the Pooh, A Valentine For You: Special Edition bring together three episodes of the cartoon series. This is a fun gift for any little kids you might feel obligating in introducing them to the holiday without it getting mushy. “A Valentine For You” reminds us that a person doesn’t need to be limited by who they can love. You can add others without chucking out the old. This is a good message to little kids who think there’s best friend rationing. “Un-Valentine’s Day” deals with Tigger being over-zealous in giving out heart shaped cards. Remember that you’re best giving out more candy to people you like instead of flooding them with cards. “My Hero” has piglet going airborne with his kite. He saves Tigger from drowning and discovers the burden of being a hero. The bonus game is called “Catch the Love Bug. “You click to catch the bug in a jar. Included in the DVD is 6 little Pooh themed Valentine’s Days cards to give to your special friends.
The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse: The Complete Series is the 1987 revival that had Ralph Bakshi (Cool World) and John Kricfalusi (Ren and Stimpy) in control of the rodent hero. While the series was intended for little kids on Saturday mornings, the humor leans a bit toward the attitude that now dominates Adult Swim. The 19 episodes poke fun at things like Rocky and Bullwinkle. When this originally aired, uptight parent groups swore there was a cocaine joke in the series. They include three original cartoons: “He Dood It Again,” “Gypsy Lifeand “Mysterious Package.” The best bonus feature is a 30 minute documentary about the show featuring all the key players discussing the revival. This is the perfect DVD set to blow a few gift cards on.
Becker: The Third Season gives us another 24 visits with America’s crankiest doctor. John Becker (Ted Danson) doesn’t cure with kindness. He gets extra testy in “Smoke ‘em If You Got ‘Em.” He attempts to quit smoking and the charm level dips. “Dr. Angry Head” is the Christmas special that involves Becker screwing up his back at a department store. “The Princess Cruise” has him booked on a gay cruise. Because it is ordered by the FCC, Brian Posehn appears in “The Ugly Truth.” Star Trek fans will get their ears in a point on “The TorMentor.” Turns out Becker’s favorite professor at Harvard was Leonard Nimoy. “Small Wonder” gives us Regis Philbin as a homeless man. This was his nightmare when Kathie Lee split. The season finale “Trials and Defibrillations” has Marvin Kaplan, the voice of Choo Choo from Top Cat. He can handle Becker after 8 seasons of Vic Tayback’s food on Alice.
Kendra: The Complete First Season explores the union between Hugh Hefner’s ex-girlfriend and NFL receiver Eric Baskett. The couple’s beginnings are a bit hazy since they met well she was still one of Hef’s “active” girlfriends as seen on The Girls Next Door. But after she left the mansion, they made their love public. Even though she was considered the wildest of the three girls, she quickly became a one woman guy with Hank. The episodes here go from their engagement on the Space Needle to their wedding at the Playboy Mansion. There’s also a secret surprise as the bridal shower becomes a baby shower. Can a relationship survive being constantly filmed? And how long can Hank handle the flaming Jonny Makeup? He’s like the rollerskating guy on Reno 911. The show is educational when it comes to a party girl’s lessons in becoming semi-domestic.
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