Also in today's edition of Euro Beat: Catherine Deneuve turns 70 and remains awesome, Alain Delon goes a little nuts at 77 (or has he always been?), promising films win at the London Film Festival, plus, Europe takes back its box office!
We'll begin with the first still from a project Euro Beat has tracked since it was first announced, and which appears to be actually happening! Yes, we now have photographic proof that Mike Leigh's biopic of the amazing painter J.M.W. Turner is indeed in production, and that Leigh's appreciation of the top hat has not diminished since Topsy Turvy.
Have a look:
Timothy Spall will be be playing Turner, alongside Marion Bailey, Dorothy Atkinson and Paul Jensen. The working title for the film is Untitled 13, which I actually find actually more intriguing than some uninspired choice like Turner.
The still-lovely Catherine Deneuve turns 70 today. There's a wide array of classics you could revisit in her honor including Belle du Jour, Tristana or her personal favorite, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
But it's almost Halloween! So maybe err instead on the side of the spooky, with her debut performance in Roman Polanski's haunting Repulsion. Or, if you're attention span isn't up to that slow-burn masterpiece, just watch her play a lesbian vampire in Tony Scott's The Hunger.
On the other side of the aging French icon spectrum is Alain Delon, who has certainly made enormous contributions to great cinema with his work in The Leopard, Le Cercle Rouge and Rocco and his Brothers, to name a few.
Only now, he's pulled a Gerard Depardieu and started going off about politics, which again has the French public slightly up in arms. Most recently, he's said that he finds the success of the ultra-right wing political movement The National Front "inspiring" and, in declared homosexuality "unnatural." And so, journalists rush to decode him.
As Thomas Sotinel at Le Monde points out, "There's that which Alain Delon says, and that which he does." The writer goes onto point out a number of contradictory acts by Delon, from funding blacklisted leftist director Joseph Losey's excellent film Mr. Klein to appearing in a number of police-thrillers adapted from books by right wing authors. Sotinel posits that Delon's ultimate goal is not necessarily political or even sincere, but rather to "put the world ill at ease."
And anyway, Le Cercle Rouge is still awesome.
The London Film Festival has just wrapped, and the top prize went to Pawel Pawlikowski for his film, Ida. Take it away, Philip French!
The jury greatly admired Ida, the first film made in his native Poland by a director who came to prominence while living in Britain. We were deeply moved by a courageous film that handles, with subtlety and insight, a painfully controversial historical situation – the German occupation and the Holocaust – which continues to resonate. Special praise went to his use of immersive visual language to create a lasting emotional impact.
-- Best British Newcomer: Jonathan Asser, screenwriter, for Starred Up
-- First Feature Competition - The Sutherland Award: Ilo Ilo, directed by Anthony Chen
-- Documentary Competition - The Griersons Award: My Fathers, My Mother and Me, directed by Paul-Julien Robert
-- BFI Fellowship for outstanding contribution in film or television: Christopher Lee
Normally, the European box office section of the column starts out with a matter-of-fact generalization about American blockbusters dominating in European countries. But not this week! Because European-produced films are currently killing it in their native territories.
First, in Denmark, the top three films were all Danish! Take that, Turbo (#5) and 2 Guns (#6)! In first place for the second week in a row was Klown director Mikkel Norgaard's foray into crime The Keeper of Lost Causes, a thriller about two police inspectors getting deep into a case about a missing woman. Opening at number two was The Olson Gang in Deep Trouble, an animated crime comedy directed by Jørgen Lerdam. In number three during its second week out was Ant Boy.
In Belgium, the number one spot went to The Verdict by Flemish director Jan Veheyen. The courtroom thriller chronicles a widower who murders the man that killed his wife after said murderer gets off because of a mistake in the prosecution documents. The avenging man then asks the law o decide whether he is guilty or not under the circumstances. Also, the French comedy starring Danny Boon, Eyjafjallaökull (not a typo) held strongly at number three in its second week of release.
In the Czech Republic, Ján Novák's comedy Kamenák 4 easily took first place with $0.4 million. Meanwhile, in Norway, Ragnarok, an action/adventure involving secret Runes, held the number one spot for the second week in a row, bringing its total gross to $2.2, which is quite good in Norway!
Finally, Planes still took the top spot in France, but two locally made films still had impressive openings. First up is Blue is the Warmest Color, which opened in fourth place with $2.3 million, an extremely impressive figure when you consider that the film is a three plus hour, sexually explicit melodrama. And local comedy star for the masses Danny Boon fared well with Eyjafjallaökull, which held the number two spot in its second week out, bringing its total to $7.8 million.