Sunday, November 16, 2008

Foreign Film bouquet

Last night, from England, The Killing of Sister George (1968), at the time of US release, so shocking that it was given an X rating! On one viewing, I found it disquieting, since all the women were so hard and manipulative, with the exception of the small part of the neighbor, a whore, who was .... friendly, in the best sense. Since I'm still thinking this film over, and it has such high marks from so many people on IMDb, I guess I should see the DVD version before I give an equivocal rating. Props to Robert Aldritch, the director, for making a landmark lesbian film in the Sixties -- before Stonewall! And to Beryl Reid (June 'George' Buckridge), Susannah York (Alice 'Childie' McNaught) and Coral Browne (Mercy Croft) who gambled their careers on these roles, and did such a superb job.

Another shocker, this one from Germany and Hungary - Mephisto (1981). What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lost his soul? This is the bargain made by Mephisto, which is a slightly fictionalized story of German actor Gustaf Gründgens who gave up his ideals to remain an actor once the Nazis took power. Completely excellent.

From France, charming Ma Vie en Rose (My Life in Pink) (1997), about a little boy who must express himself as a girl to be happy and himself. I loved the depiction of French family life, especially the neighborhood parties. And young Georges Du Fresne (Ludovic Fabre) is completely charming.

Finally, from France and Italy, the hilarious comedy La Cage aux folles (1978) which is based on the musical play of the same name, and most Americans know by The Birdcage based on the same play. Superior in many ways to the remake, it left me wishing yet again that I knew French! I was sad to read on the IMDb message board that Michel Serrault, who played Albin Mougeotte /'Zaza Napoli' so magnificently, with such dignity, hysteria and love, has died. Also, Rémi Laurent who played the son, died of AIDS in 1989. RIP.