Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Montreal Film Festival Diaries
Montreal Diary - Day 1

by Henri Béhar

August 23, 1996

Few people know how to work (and conquer) an audience as Jeanne Moreau. Depending on the language in which the question is asked, she answers in French or in English, which she speaks absolutely fluently (her mother is a Brit).

Any comments on the opening-night film, Ed Burns' ''She's The One''? ''I cannot voice any, the film is in competition.''

How does she feel about the future of international cinema in front of the global invasion by the Hollywood industry (an perennial preoccupation at this Festival)?

''I would be wary of using such a war-like term as 'invasion'. I have known other invasions that were life-and-death situations, and the word 'Resistance' would have to come in the very next sentence...

''I would be more inclined to use the word 'power'. There is an undeniable savoir-faire to American films, and far weightier financial means put to use.

''However, there are today far more important conflict throughout the world; there seems to be no point in fanning a useless quarrel. I sometimes deplore the manner, but what can I do? I am not here to discuss that, or I'd be a president--a real president.''

Louis Malle's ''Elevator to The Scaffold'' is being screened during the Festival as a tribute to Moreau. ''It's the first film Louis and I made together. I'm very fond of it.''

Of all the characters she portrayed on screen, which is her favorite? ''None. All.''

Her most magic moment? ''Every time I am in front of a camera. A series of tiny moments, culminating in what lasts no longer than a blink. But I'm sure it's the same in your own life, isn't it?''


Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Juzo Itami's ''The Funeral'', a Japanese hit a few years back, ''Farewell, My Darling'' by South-Korean director Chul Soo Park, is a howler, as the arrival of modernity in a traditional culture causes havoc in what may be one of the most rigidly choreographed rituals, yes, a funeral. ''Truculent'' may not be the word one associates most with Asian cinema, yet ''Farewell...'' is, and it should have no problem finding a US ''niche'' distributor.


Brace up, however, and make major room for British actor Rupert Graves. Richard Spence's ''Different for Girls'' is a fresh take on Neal Jordan's ''The Crying Game''. Karl and Paul were best mates at school in the '70s and Paul always protected Karl as they both contested authority, from the principal down to the Students' Body. Years later, they meet again in present-day London, but the ever-so-charming and ever-so-promising Paul has become a social disaster stuck in a dead-end job (he's a messenger), and Karl, well, has become Kim. A woman. The friendship will (slowly) be renewed, but on definitely different terms.

As Karl/Kim the transsexual (looking like an odd combination of Maggie Smith and Margaret Thatcher with a touch of Julie Waters), Steven Mackintosh is exceptional (he had also appeared in ''Memphis Belle' and ''Princess Caraboo'').

Rupert Graves is no less extraordinary. The guy got his break in James Ivory's ''Room With A View'', segued with ''Maurice'' (also Ivory), in which he co-starred with Hugh Grant. He was also in Louis Malle's ''Damage'' and in Nick Hytner's ''The Madness of King George''.

You always thought he was a stuck-up kind of fellow? Think again. If you haven't seen him on a London stage, nothing he's done in films quite prepares you for his punk-de-charme performance. Extrovert, energetic, vulnerable -- and a total mess -- he is so spontaneous you never realize there's a huge intelligence at work here, and strong instincts for split-second decisions and high-wire acts (but then what do you expect? He dropped out of school to join the circus!). He's so good he could elbow Hugh Grant out of frame and give Robert Downey Jr. at his most romantic quite a run for his money.

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