Opposite Covid-19, the Théâtre de la Colline in the telephone handset

“Stay in touch.” “Let’s not leave each other.” Comédie-Française, which will launch its online channel “la Comédie continue!” At 4 pm tomorrow. (shows but also unpublished pastilles, readings), to the online programming of the National Scene of Valenciennes, messages from all theater scenes have been flowing since the start of containment. Most often, the solution chosen for “Save the relationship” is the recording of free shows, but some scenes innovate by also escaping from the prerecorded.

“In the hollow of the ear”

Thus, the National Dramatic Center of Valence has launched several participative projects including a narrative chain in the mode of the “exquisite corpse”. In Montpellier, Jean Valera, director of the Printemps des Comédiens, calls those who leave their number at reception to explain the program of the festival which he can hope will take place – it takes place from May 29 to June 27 – and the team also broadcasts an interactive web radio, with serials and vignettes of memories of audience performances, mixed by director Julien Bouffier. In Paris, among other initiatives including the confinement journal of its director Wajdi Mouawad (acclaimed by 218,000 people), the National Theater on the Hill invites spectators to be contacted by telephone by an actor, actress to read him a text. “In the hollow of the ear”. You are busy ? Does the ringing run out in a vacuum? The actor, the actress repeats like any other interlocutor who seeks to reach you.

Read alsoIntermittent: “I’m afraid to renew my plan with a rotten rate”

Since March 16, they are 70 actors trying this experience with strangers, whom they do not see, whom they do not know, and the converse is more or less true. Each actor is free to choose the texts he chooses, to converse or not, to continue or not the dialogue afterwards. A duration was however advised in order not to lock the listener in an inexhaustible reading which he could not put an end to. There is no risk, except in the case of an extreme misunderstanding, that the moment will turn into compulsory listening to the entirety ofOdysseus from Joyce. And each experience differs radically depending on the participants, their apprehensions, their tastes.

“Almost immodest sensuality”

Norah Krief, for example, chose to read one or two sonnets from Shakespeare “Because they were written during a plague epidemic in London”. She prepares for each “meeting” by reading aloud the first and last names of her interlocutors – in this case often interlocutors – in order to pronounce them correctly, and finds herself dreaming through what their onomastic suggests. “Perhaps because the voice is too intimate, few men are asking for this moment. The sensuality it reveals is almost immodest. But tomorrow, I have one or a Claude among the five people I’m going to call … “ The actress generally evades her own confinement. “For the moment, I don’t want to impose my confused Parisian language before Shakespeare. This stupidly unknown period, this flow of time which overwhelms us and which we cannot manage to curb, I want to experience it through live poetic expression. “ The unexpected was that all of her interlocutors spoke of the importance of poetry in their lives. Later, Norah Krief may venture to sing on the phone, an even more intimate gesture.

In all cases, this 15 to 30 minute sharing moment raises the question of listening. Silence is its sign, the noises of a dishwasher that you empty are ominous. The audience is wise, he behaves like in the theater, never interrupts. But what can I conclude from this? Dizziness at not being able to grip the infrasensations induced by a room, the micro-movements of the public, to assess the quality of silence. Patrick Le Mauff, for this first Monday, imposed his choice – a tale of Tolstoy “So as not to feel like self-service”. To an interlocutor, who wanted to continue the experiment, he improvised a reading of a short story by Calvino. With this question: how not to rush people while forging a bond? “Of the five people called, one man offered to put the speaker on for his friend.” Nothing can imagine the space, a ray of light in the room. The voice suggests (or not) an age, the most difficult – but not the most desired – being to imagine nothing.

Read alsoCinema: distribution facing the confinement puzzle

Unlike the other actors, actress Julie Julien leaves the choice between several texts, including her own, on confinement. An address that invites you to exchange a direct and surprising intimacy with strangers. The actress gives herself up just as much by asking essential questions. She duly thought about her confinement partners, choosing people who are close enough, distant enough, who avoid her wearing a social mask. All the actors, programmed on the Hill plateau, had a show in progress, a tour, and were interrupted in their tracks. The experience allows them to meet the public in a different way, while continuing their practice. They are volunteers.

Anne Diatkin


At the Berlinale, pearls of plenty

Now that the prize list has fallen, the time has come for a final review of this successful 70e Berlinale, to evoke a few films that have been able to float in the memory of the festival critic exhausted by an overflow of images, German coffee and stuffy pretzels.

Mental space

Siberia by Abel Ferrara

ITA, DEU, MEX 2020, Competition
2020 Vivo film. Maze pictures. Piano

Siberia of Abel Ferrara. Vivo film. Maze pictures. Piano

Let’s start with an aberration, which we cannot say whether we like it or not, one of the most awaited films of the competition which created an almost general perplexity: Siberia by Abel Ferrara. It is a series of enigmatic visions and encounters experienced by an American, Clint (Willem Dafoe), running a bar in the middle of Siberia. Memories, dreams, nightmarish or mystical apparitions are linked together in this trip where we guess the clear influence of Andrei Tarkovski. Many critics found the film grotesque, and most of the spectators in the very large room of the Friedrichstadt-Palast, where we saw it, had apparently chosen to consider that they were facing a comedy. We do not hide the fact that certain situations or ideas made us smile and that it is quite difficult to genuinely adhere to this mystical-psychoanalytic peregrination in which Ferrara immerses us in the obscure depths of his imagination. But, in addition to the fact that the film arouses in us the sympathy of unclassifiable and netless objects, it is undeniable that the one who produced it is a real filmmaker, who knows how to create singular images, invent a complex mental space or seize us by a simple connection between two planes. And in a festival where there are so many films in one day, sometimes of great platitude or shapeless blistering, this Siberia so mocked at least had the audacity to explore in its own way nothing less than the twists and turns of cinematic time and space, through those of dream and memory.

Malmkrog by Cristi Puiu

ROU, SRB, CHE, SWE, BIH, MKD 2020, Encounters

Malmkrog by Cristi Puiu. Mandragora

It is in a completely different way that we recognize a strong sense of duration and framework in the long, complex and sometimes sumptuous shots that constitute Malmkrog (presented in the Encounters section), the new film by Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu (discovered in 2005 with the extraordinary the Death of Dante Lazarescu). Shots that are not just the result of a skill in framing and photographing, but that are constantly tended by life and the words that unfold therein. Adapting texts from the Russian philosopher and poet Vladimir Soloviev, this 3:20 am film takes place in a unique place: a mansion in Transylvania where Nikolai, a large landowner, welcomes Christmas friends of aristocrat friends, of different nationalities. Between meals and board games, their main activity consists in sharing their visions of the world, essentially in French, around subjects as big as death, progress, religion, morals. We think of Manoel de Oliveira, with less humor although the film is not devoid of fantasy and strangeness. You can get lost in conversations but it is the very word that matters, the need to keep talking, to think out loud even if it turns out to be increasingly complex and perilous.

Rizi | Days by Tsai Ming-Liang

TWN 2019, Competition
Homegreen Films

Days from Tsai Ming-liang. Homegreen Films

Days by Tsai Ming-liang (in competition) marks the return to fiction after seven years of absence (since stray dogs, in 2013) from another great filmmaker of the plan, of their slow deployment over time. He is equal to himself in his new film where, far from Puiu’s talks, almost no words are spoken. Again, he becomes attached to solitudes that will eventually intersect. In the countryside, a man (Lee Kang-sheng, the filmmaker’s favorite actor since his first film) with tired and slow gestures, seems to be bored and suffering physically, requiring baths, massages and acupuncture sessions; in the city, a younger man, on the contrary, is distinguished by the dexterity of his gestures, especially when he is washing food and cooking it. In the montage that shows them evolving in parallel, elements visible in almost every plane already unite them: water, fire, plants, present in many forms. The film is tied to the meeting of the two men where, for the time of a sensual and then sexual massage, the skillful hands of the first relieve the tired body of the second, until enjoyment. It is very clear and very beautiful, no offense to the impatient.


Domangchin yeoja | The Woman Who Ran | Die Frau, die rannte by Hong Sangsoo

The Woman Who Ran from Hong Sang-soo. Jeonwonsa Film Co. Production

In Hong Sang-soo, the precision and rigor of the plans is not as obvious as in Puiu or Tsai. The Korean filmmaker, who claims Rohmer’s influence, again appears in The Woman Who Ran (presented in competition) a lightness and a simplicity that the frames, panoramas or zooms scrutinize with acuity but without will to artificially embellish their obviousness. A young woman (the magnificent filmmaker’s muse Kim Minhee) takes advantage of her husband’s business trip to visit three former friends. Through their conversations mixing very concrete and material subjects – the price of things, neighborhood problems, food, vegetarianism -, Hong deals in his own way with very contemporary questions, with a humor that gradually turns to melancholy . Ultimately, this film in which the few men who appear are troublesome and essentially filmed from behind, evokes a certain female solitude, chosen or suffered. To cold surveillance camera shots, Hong sets his gaze on the lookout, available to prodigious chances, such as this camera movement which reveals a perfectly placed and attentive cat at the end of a long shot where the stake of the conversation was precisely the presence of cats in the vicinity. A plan so miraculous that it sparked applause in an entire room of criticism in Berlin.

In the recesses of the parallel selections, a few films with modest means made, like Hong Sang-soo, of their economic poverty an engine of freshness and vitality. In Boarding (Panorama section), the new film by Guillaume Brac, declared admirer of the Korean filmmaker, we follow the summer getaway of two friends going to find in the Drôme the conquest of an evening of one of them. As in July tales (2018), Brac turns again with young actors from the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art, rediscovering something of the adventurous spirit of Jacques Rozier’s films but by matching it to the languages, cultures and customs of a very contemporary youth . As always with Brac, under his apparent humility the film is precise and dense, in addition to being funny and extremely endearing.

Magnifying glass

In Isabella (presented to Encounters), the Argentinian Matías Piñeiro films another friendly adventure, but coupled with an ambiguous rivalry. Two young theater actresses apply for the same role, that of Isabella in Measure for measure of William Shakespeare, while the brother of one is the lover of the other. It is a film about envy, in the double sense of the word – desire and jealousy – where the Rivetian play with the theater is made more complex (something new in Piñeiro) by a play with chronology and a formalism which sometimes leads to on an abstraction of colors and shapes. A captivating and confusing film that will perhaps be enjoyed above all by those who already know Piñeiro’s cinema, all the elements of which (theater, friendship, acting, speech) are here reorganized in a more free and mysterious way.

Finally, one of the great discoveries of the festival was A metamorfose dos pássaros, the first feature by Portuguese catarina Vasconcelos (presented at Encounters), shot for less than 100,000 euros. It is a biography of the filmmaker’s own family, of his grandparents and parents, reconstituted in beautiful fine-line shots essentially framing gestures, objects, photographs, and playing on materials, colors, simple visual effects (the recurrent use of a magnifying glass, for example) while voiceovers follow one another to evoke moments in the life of each. Imagine a Cavalier film filmed by Manoel de Oliveira (still him) to get an idea of ​​the beauty and originality of this minimalist and poetic family novel. The kind of unexpected little pearls that we always hope to find in this clutter of films that is a film festival as bloated as the Berlinale.

Marcos Uzal


Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand will star in Joel Coen’s Macbeth | Movie

Denzel Washington will star alongside Frances McDormand in a new adaptation of Macbeth.

The film will be directed by McDormand’s husband, Joel Coen, based on his original script, without any confirmation of the involvement of his brother, the frequent collaborator Ethan. The latest version of William Shakespeare’s tragedy will be produced by Scott Rudin, who has previously worked with Coen on the best No Country for Old Men award-winning film, Inside Llewyn Davis and the True Grit remake.

The last major adaptation was in 2015 with Justin Kurzel directed by Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. He got mostly positive reviews with Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian who praised Kurzel’s “operational verve”.

Washington was last seen in the hit sequel The Equalizer 2 and is the lead actor in the crime thriller Little Things before directing Michael B Jordan in the fact-based drama Journal for Jordan. Washington has experience with Shakespeare’s adaptations, playing Julius Caesar on Broadway in 2005, as well as a role on Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 big screen on Much Ado About Nothing.

McDormand won her second Oscar last year for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and will be heard as God in Amazon’s Good Omens series before starring in the drama with the nomination of director Chloe Zhao, Nomadland.

McDormand previously starred as Lady Macbeth in a 2016 Berkeley Rep production and a high school production when she was 14 years old. Previously he worked with Coen on numerous projects including Fargo and Blood Simple.