Finally! The Nice Jazz Festival is returning to jazz. After an increasingly pop-rock-funk program the last five or six years, the new director, Gerard Drouot is returning the festival to its jazzy roots. Here’s a preview of the 2008 Jazz Festival that runs from July 19 through July 25. July 19: Archie Shepp, Avishai Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, Stacey Kent July 20: Ibrahim Maalouf, Barbara Hendricks, The Magnus Lindgren Quartet, Hocus Pocus, George Benson. July 21: Sanseverino, Stefano De Battista, Diana Krall July 22: Maria Schneider Orchestra, Leonard Cohen, Maceo Parker July 23: Nigel Kennedy, Jean-Luc Ponty, Return to Forever (Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, Lenny White July 24: Hubert-Felix Thiefaine, Paul Personne, Michel Portal, San Francisco Jazz Collective, Alain Bashung July 25: Garry Burton Quartet with Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, Antonio Sanchez, Johy Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Yael Naim, AaRON July 26: Bonobo, Pink Martini, Craig Adams, Joan Baez What a pleasure. OK, the tickets are a little more expensive than usual, ranging from €31 to €51 on “prestige nights” (such as the first concert by Leonard Cohen in 15 years) but this is a good thing. The last few years the concerts have been a crowded, miserable mess in which you spent more time dodging hyped-up toddlers than listening to the music. As in previous years, the concerts will take place in the Arenes de Cimiez, the verdant hill with Roman ruins in east Nice. Tickets are on sale now; see the Nice Jazz Festival site for … Continue reading →
“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.