It’s been a long wait but well worth it. The Musée Massena (Massena Museum) in Nice finally opened after a nine-year restoration. For years, I would stroll by the stately exterior wondering when (if ever) I could see what’s inside. I waited a while after the opening ceremony in March to pay a visit. I took advantage of the special €2.50 fee (it’s usually €4) and chose a Saturday instead of the first and third Sundays of the month when admission is free. All in all, it was a charming excursion into Nice history. Although the museum claims to own some 15,000 objects displaying the history of Nice, only a fraction were on display. My favorite was the display of photos and paintings showing Nice up through WWII. It gave an excellent idea of a less developed and more relaxed city. My only complaint (and it’s not a small one) is that there was a lack of labelling on the objects. In many cases, it was not really clear what you were looking at. Ah, but that’s why admission is only €2.50, the ticket seller told me. In another month or so, all will be in order and the museum will be even more fascinating to visit. … 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.