Saturday, March 26, 2022

Petite maman

Céline Sciamma: Petite maman (FR 2021) starring Joséphine Sanz (Nelly) and Gabrielle Sanz (Marion).

Maja lapsuuden reunalla / Lilla mamma.
    FR © 2021 Lilies Films / France 3 Cinéma. PC: Lilies Films. P: Bénédicte Couvreur.
    D+SC: Céline Sciamma. Cin: Claire Mathon – color – 1,85:1 – DCP. PD: Lionel Brison. Cost: Céline Sciemma. M: Jean-Baptiste de Laubier / Para One. S: Julien Sicart, Valérie de Loof, Daniel Sobrino. ED: Julien Lacheray. Casting: Chrisel Baras.
    Theme song: "La Musique du futur" (comp. Jean-Baptiste de Laubier, lyr. Céline Sciamma).
    C: Joséphine Sanz (Nelly), Gabrielle Sanz (Marion), Nina Meurisse (La mère), Stéphane Varupenne de la Comédie française (Le père), Margot Abascal (La grand-mère).
    Loc: Cergy-Pontoise (Val-d'Oise, France).
    72 min
    Visa n° 153434
    Festival premiere: 15 June 2021 Berlin International Film Festival.
    French premiere: 2 June 2021.
    Finnish premiere: 25 March 2022, released by Cinemanse with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Janne Kauppila / Michaela Palmberg.
    Corona precaution: full capacity, hand hygiene, face masks.
    Viewed at Finnkino Strand 2, Iso Kristiina, Lappeenranta, 26 March 2022.

Official synopsis:

" Nelly a huit ans et vient de perdre sa grand-mère.
Elle part avec ses parents vider la maison d’enfance de sa mère, Marion.
Nelly est heureuse d’explorer cette maison et les bois qui l’entourent où sa mère construisait une cabane. Un matin la tristesse pousse sa mère à partir.
C’est là que Nelly rencontre une petite fille dans les bois.
Elle construit une cabane, elle a son âge et elle s’appelle Marion.
C’est sa petite maman
. "

AA: There is a sympathetic tradition in French cinema of film directors as songwriters, including Jean Renoir ("La Complainte de la Butte" in French CanCan), Julien Duvivier ("Quand on s'promène au bord de l'eau" in La belle équipe), Henri Colpi ("Trois petites notes de musique" in Une aussi longue absence), Jacques Demy (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort) and Leos Carax (Kylie Minogue's "Who Were We?" in Holy Motors).

Céline Sciamma brings a distinguished contribution to this legacy with her "La Musique du futur" sung by a child choir in Petite maman (see beyond the jump break).

Petite maman is a wise and profound exploration in the great adventure of childhood and motherhood. The death of a beloved grandmother opens a flood of memories at the mother's childhood home. The viewpoint is of that of her daughter Nelly (Joséphine Sanz).

There is a wonderful forest and a river next to the house, and there Nelly meets her mother as a child. Time travel is a topical theme in today's cinema with Christopher Nolan as the reigning specialist in playing with time. Céline Sciamma brings an original and engaging approach to the preoccupation.

Grounded in everyday realism, Sciamma offers a novel cinematic concept of the dream play. For a moment I was thinking about Florian Zeller's Le Père / The Father where we move unobtrusively between hallucination and reality in the consciousness of a man at the end of his life. Here Sciamma does something similar with a protagonist whose life is still ahead of her.

Petite maman is a celebration of childhood as a golden age, a privileged stage of life. The actors Joséphine Sanz and Gabrielle Sanz convey this remarkably well.

The forest milieu is essential. The director confesses that she was asking herself what Hayao Miyazaki would do. Petite maman has been conceived also for a child audience. A Finnish viewer can discover a lot to identify with in Sciamma's subtly pantheistic view of a benevolent forest experience.


We Make Movies Better (AMC campaign commercial starring Nicole Kidman)

We Make Movies Better (US 2021): Nicole Kidman starring in the AMC campaign commercial promoting the cinema experience.

" We come to this place for magic,

that indescribable feeling we get

when the lights begin to dim.

Dazzling images on the huge silver screen :

somehow, heartbreak feels good in a place like this,

and stories feel perfect and powerful,

because here, they are.

We make movies better. "

For months in every screening at the Finnkino Strand Lappeenranta I have seen the Finnkino edition of the 2021 AMC Theatres campaign commercial starring Nicole Kidman. This is reportedly the biggest advertising campaign any theatre has ever made.

Checking the commercial online I discovered that there are various versions: the AMC original, the Odeon version, etc. I find the Finnkino version the best of the ones I have seen. I have actually come to look forward to it, and I never get tired, even on a five film weekend binge at the Strand.

Nicole Kidman may have been made to look a bit like digital animation, but her Australian accent is irresistible.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Samantha Geimer: The Girl : A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski (a book)

Samantha Geimer : The Girl : A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski. Cover photograph of Samantha Geimer at 13 by Roman Polanski.

Samantha Geimer : The Girl : A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski. Together with: Lawrence Silver and Judith Newman. First Atria Books hardcover edition. ISBN: 978-1-4767-1683-1, 1476716838. New York : Atria Books, 2013

Simon & Schuster: "In this searing and surprising memoir, Samantha Geimer, "the girl" at the center of the infamous Roman Polanski sexual assault case, breaks a virtual thirty-five-year silence to tell her story and reflect on the events of that day and their lifelong repercussions."

"March 1977, Southern California. Roman Polanski drives a rented Mercedes along Mulholland Drive to Jack Nicholson's house. Sitting next to him is an aspiring actress, Samantha Geimer, recently arrived from York, Pennsylvania. She is thirteen years old."

"The undisputed facts of what happened in the following hours appear in the court record: Polanski spent hours taking pictures of Samantha-on a deck overlooking the Hollywood Hills, on a kitchen counter, topless in a Jacuzzi. Wine and Quaaludes were consumed, balance and innocence were lost, and a young girl's life was altered forever-eternally cast as a background player in her own story."

"For months on end, the Polanski case dominated the media in the US and abroad. But even with the extensive coverage, much about that day-and the girl at the center of it all-remains a mystery. Just about everyone had an opinion about the renowned director and the girl he was accused of drugging and raping. Who was the predator? Who was the prey? Was the girl an innocent victim or a cunning Lolita artfully directed by her ambitious stage mother? How could the criminal justice system have failed all the parties concerned in such a spectacular fashion? Once Polanski fled the country, what became of Samantha, the young girl forever associated with one of Hollywood's most notorious episodes? Samantha, as much as Polanski, has been a fugitive since the events of that night more than thirty years ago."

"Taking us far beyond the headlines, The Girl reveals a thirteen-year-old who was simultaneously wise beyond her years and yet terribly vulnerable. By telling her story in full for the first time, Samantha reclaims her identity, and indelibly proves that it is possible to move forward from victim to survivor, from confusion to certainty, from shame to strength.
" (Simon & Schuster)

AA: An important and illuminating book by Samantha Geimer, published four years before the global Me Too movement.

Sexual abuse by Roman Polanski was harrowing enough, but that is only the beginning of Samantha Geimer's account of her 36 year ordeal.

Arguably, far worse abuse took place in the miscarriages of justice and in the media harassment suffered by Samantha Geimer and her family.

To state this does not diminish Polanski's guilt and responsibility one bit.

But it helps understand why women who suffer sexual harassment and exploitation prefer to stay silent.

Even today, in Finland's current "Spedegate" debate, women who testified acts of sexual violence by the top entertainer Spede Pasanen, were insulted and vilified.

Media attention can be the worst punishment.

Nobody wants to become famous as a rape victim of a celebrity.

A rape trial can be worse than the rape itself.

I am grateful for Samantha Geimer for this direct, honest and dignified memoir.

Everyone commenting on l'Affaire Polanski should read this book. Judging by what has been written, nobody has.