“Terror’s Advocate” (“L’Avocat de la Terreur” in French) by Barbet Schroeder is not for everyone. This documentary about the infamous French lawyer, Jacques Vergés, who defended Klaus Barbie could be unsettling for anyone who believes a character study should reach a definitive conclusion about its subject. Is this friend of the deservedly friendless (like Pol Pot, Carlos the Jackal and other charmers) a fellow traveller of evildoers, a misguided fool, an unscrupulous lawyer who could justify anything, an egomaniac, an agent of the French secret police, a fortune hunter? This meticulously researched and subtle documentary lets you decide. Vergés comes across as a highly intelligent, engaging character whose inner motivation remains mysterious. He begins his career defending an Algerian woman accused of bombing a cafe during Algeria’s struggle for independence. His sympathy for the Algerian cause and love for his client (they later married) immediately engages the viewer. Through interviews with Verges and several long-time friends his sincerity is obvious. Matters then become murkier. An old friend insists that he is “sentimental, very sentimental”. She repeats the word several times. Then we learn that Verges abruptly abandoned his family and “disappeared” for seven years. The gap is not completely explained but it appears that he spent some time in Cambodia with his good friend Pol Pot and then returned to Paris and became involved in the Palestinian cause. He’s broke and then suddenly not at all broke. He’s throwing cash around, buying furniture, paying with small bills. His defense of … Continue reading →
The festival began in true French Riviera style: a gorgeous, warm sunny day and a train strike. So, new? Everyone seemed to be just getting their bearings today, especially me, but it looks like an exciting line-up of films. The opening night film “My Blueberry Nights” of Wong Kar Wai did not get particularly good buzz despite the presence of jazzwoman Norah Jones and heartthrob Jude Law. Speaking of directors with three short vowel-ridden names, what struck me about this year’s filmmakers is the strong presence from Asia. China, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Korea have sent quite a number of films in competition and out-of-competition. Others of the non-Western European persuasion include Christian Mungiu of Romania, Carlos Reygadas of Mexico, Fatih Akin of Turkey, Bela Tarr of Hungary and Alexander Sokurov of Russia. I am most abashed to see Kadri Kousaar, a 27-year-old (27!) from Estonia showing a film in the “Un Certain Regard” category. I’m trying to get my priorities in order by reading the daily Variety-Cannes edition for the scoop on notable movies. I’m stoked. Even the background details read like poetry. Check this out: Fay Grimm US Germany a Magnolia Pictures release in US of an HdNet Films presentation of a Possible Films production in association with This Is That and Zero Fiction with the support of Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg. (only the punctuation has been changed) Could the film be as cool as the production credits? Inquiring minds want to know.