EURO BEAT: On The Passing Of Theo Angelopoulos And The Prudish French

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EURO BEAT: On The Passing Of Theo Angelopoulos And The Prudish French
For the second time in two years, I am frustrated and a bit sad to begin discovering the work of a great, oft-overlooked filmmaker upon reading news of their death. Such was the case last year with Jean Rollin, whose passing prompted me to dig into his filmography and in turn discover one of the most unique genre filmmakers of all time. Now I suspect I'm about to repeat this story with the late Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos.

Angelopoulos died last week at, 76, after being hit by a motorcycle while working on location for his new film. The New York Times described his films as "dreamy, atmospheric and enigmatic...allegories that illuminate the painful history of 20th-century Greece..." But perhaps the most compelling endorsement I found came from Andrew O'Hehir's review of The Weeping Meadow. To wit:

"If you haven't seen any of Angelopoulos' acknowledged masterpieces -- I'd count 'The Travelling Players,' 'Landscape in the Mist' and probably 'Ulysses' Gaze' -- you owe them to yourself. I say that in total seriousness, and then I also say: Who the hell has time? These are the kinds of movies that demand your entire attention for an entire evening, and then want you to spend the next day hanging around with your friends, drinking coffee and talking about your role in the life of this planet, the past or future deaths of people you love, whether the evil of the 20th century outweighed the good and (not least of all) what that long movie you just saw has to do with it all."

And so the bittersweet silver lining to the tragedy is that I, and hopefully others, will now make time for these films.

Meanwhile. as The Artist continues its seemingly unstoppable Oscar march, it's also on track to hold its own at The Cesar awards in France. Though The Minister and Polisse both scored more nominations, the critical darling is still resting comfortably with ten nominations. Unfortunately, its star Jean Dujardin is under fire for the poster above advertising his even newer film, The Players, a raunchy comedy about male infidelity. For example:

The regulatory authority of professional advertising (ARPP) received several complaints from individuals about the posters of the film, and while, like everything else in France, actually moving to legally ban the posters will take them a bit of time, the posters are going to be removed soon and replaced with new artwork. To be fair, the posters are really nothing compared to the movie's NSFW red band trailer, embedded below.


Asked what he thought about the posters, Dujardin said, "I don't think anything. I simply clarify that those are not my legs on the poster. I'm not that flexible!" Ahh, the French. Despite the poster removal, these advertisements for the new Premiere magazine with Dujardin on the cover continue to adorn the walls of Metros and newsstands.

The European box office was mostly dominated by American releases just making their way overseas. War Horse at first continued to dominate in the UK and Ireland, having now pulled in $21,061,877 total, but it was overthrown by Chronicle this weekend. France's top spot went to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which only just opened, followed by The Descendants in a distant second. However, the Descendants is having a fairly strong showing in Europe overall, taking the number one spot in both Spain and Portugal and even topping Underworld Awakening in Spain.

Finally, The Intouchables (which is apparently the newly-decided-upon American translation) continued to reign over the German box office, while also taking the number one spot in Austria.

New York residents will have a chance to finally see what Europe is making all the fuss about when The Intouchables opens the Rendezvous with French Cinema program, which will take place at The Film Society, the IFC Center and BAMcinématek, March 1-11. Other program highlights include Paris by Night, a police procedural, which, while weak on plot, is about as good of a travelogue of modern Paris night life as you can get, The Last Screening, a clever thriller for cinephiles, and a restored print of Marcel Carné's Children of Paradise.

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