Isabelle Huppert, She’s Not Smug

I’ve just finished watching the 2016 film “Things to Come,” and before this I had seen the movie “Elle,” a few months ago. Both were made (or released) in the same year, starring Isabelle Huppert. She has always seemed to me to be a very smug actress and yet I feel drawn to her. I find her characters deeply moving. No matter that she always seems to portray the perfect psychopath; it feels as if she is on the verge of an aneurism. Most Americans would call her characters intellectual snobs. Partly because she is not funny, unlike Woody Allen, who can make a discussion in philosophy seem like a night at a comedy club.  Also, because she is a woman and while we try to pretend we are modern here, we just can’t handle the honesty, portrayed by characters in French movies. We pretend to observe and honor freedom of speech in our constitution but only if people say what is popular for the times. In truth, there is no room for a good debate in America which is probably why the traditional “salons” of Paris never existed here. Once we made very good and intelligently written movies, now we have opted for special effects and pop culture actors who speak in slang because a cerebral film would not be considered a “date night” film.

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L’Art Du Crime: France TV Series

The Art of Crime, (2017 – present) stars Nicolas Gob (A French Village) and Éléonore Bernheim.

Murderers in Paris think about art before committing a crime – right? They have the Louvre, and so many famous French artists: Degas, Manet, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Rodin for starters. Aren’t all Parisians cerebral junkies who feast on literature, opera, art, fashion, wine, and jazz from the time they are born till the time they die? It is only natural to assume that they murder sometimes too. The average detective in France is probably not an art connoisseur,(probably brought into the city), and as a result, an art historian has to be brought in. She along with the occasional support from her father, who shares her knowledge and pedigrees, must work side by side with homicide to find the culprit behind each heinous crime. In the meantime, one learns more about art and the other about crime.

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Audrey Fleurot – The New Catherine Deneuve

Elle Magazine 20 July 2020

I love many French actresses but Mlle. Fleurot has a style that I have not seen since Catherine Deneuve. This is not putting any of the other women down, there is just a similar type of elegance and grace that comes with this lady. She appears tall and striking on screen and seems to tower over others. Her presence on camera jumps out at you whenever she appears and you almost forget everyone around her. Her demeanor comes across as a delicate flower, assuming she is a vulnerable woman and yet, there is nothing helpless about her. It is a mixed message that she plays in all of the roles that I have seen her in.

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An Impossible Love: Un Amour Impossible

I will not put this movie (French 2018), in “The Arts” section because it is a psychological drama that hits on the topic of sexual abuse, narcissism and women being left alone for several generations; much like Antonia’s Line (Netherlands, 1995). The film starts out in the 1950’s post WWII France. If you are a great film lover, as I am, you will know when you see the cover and the title, it just hits you – I must watch this film. What really piqued my interest was the title “An Impossible Love,” which hit home for me. I saw other things in the description that I ignored at first until it came up on the screen. I love the way Catherine Corsini handles abuse of a child in this film. Extremely subtle. The topic does not even come up until much later in the film. The child’s older lover tells the mother, not to let her daughter visit the father anymore. The shock on the mother’s face, to realize a man she has loved for 16 years, but who has rejected her all the same, is now sexually abusing their daughter. The shock to finally take in the missing pieces of this puzzle “Rachel” has created, her fantasy that he was a great lover, that they had something special together, suddenly unravels before her eyes. Virginie Efira (with the help of the cameraman), gives a somatic demonstration of soul searching, confusion, awareness and reality in just a few seconds of this film.

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Winter Garden – An Homage to Kristin Hannah

We three Leos’ have read your books which were handed down from one to another. First, it was Lia, who once was a little toddler that crossed the border from Hungary in 1956 with mommy and daddy. She was sick and they were granted passage on a plane to get her to America more quickly, I believe from an Austrian camp. Then it was her mother, Marika neni who read it next. Marika neni has told me her story many times of coming to this country. She was a woman I grew up with, who was like an aunt but more of a sister to my stepfather. Lia was our babysitter in my formative years. Marika neni and my stepfather met at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey, when a group of refugees decided on Wheeling for their new home.

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The Perfect Host; not a Perfect Movie

The Perfect Host stars David Hyde Pierce as Warwick Wilson, in an outstanding performance as a first-class creep. He has gone a long way from Niles on Frasier, our first cerebral goofball to see on television. As a psychotherapist, I always reveled in that show and the intellectually snobbery between he and his brother. In this role as Warwick, he has stepped into a new dimension (perhaps he has done this in another role, but this is my first time to see him in this type of character portrayal) and mesmerized me the entire time. The dissociative identity disorder idea was flabby in the storyline but made sense, nonetheless. He could have been schizophrenic as well, but I think the writer wanted to portray DID instead.

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The Dawn of a New Era – Out of the Darkness Comes a Light

Red River Gorge: Stanton, KY

In this past year, the world has been at war with a virus. Everyone has been included: nurses, psychotherapists, doctors, lawyers, no one has been excluded from the fear that has besieged us. Being with our clients and patients we are in the same boat and this has challenged us to be strong in the face of fear. There was no where in the world we could run to; to get away. We all had to face what was happening individually and as a collective. We all handled this in our own way. A way that made us feel comfortable with our beliefs, our culture, our environment and what we knew to be right.

It has been a time when our faith in ourselves, others, and our spiritual beliefs have been put to the test. Some people have been afraid, so very afraid that violence ensued. Other people went into hiding hoping for the best. Some people felt a need to stand up to this fear and assert their privilege as a human being. No one was wrong because they were being true to themselves. Mistakes were made that will have to be paid for in the long term. This year will begin to show its true colors, in the future that is to come. An awareness after we have had time to sit back, discover the lessons and realize what price was paid for our actions. At the moment, everyone feels that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

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L’Apparition – France 2018

I am a huge fan of the Song of Bernadette with Jennifer Jones (1943). In fact, that movie changed my life spiritually. More recently, I read the non-fiction by Franz Werfel and this moved me even more – his story was included; another miracle from the Lady of Lourdes.  I am also a psychotherapist for a living and if a movie is made correctly, I can figure it out from the get go. If you have ever watched the Poirot series by Agatha Christie, recall the scene where he is watching a play with his side kick, Inspector Hastings. Poirot is telling Hastings what will happen but it doesn’t and he is confused why it was written that way. That is me in a nutshell. This was written correctly (spoiler alert!) but the ending was way over the top and unnecessary. It was almost like an American film where they have to make everyone feel good. The ending closed up character plot lines but this could have been done in a dialogue – perhaps with his wife. She needed her husband back!

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Balthazar: French TV – Sexy Cop Show

Raphael Balthazar played by Tomer Sisley, an Israeli-French male, has become my new fascination. I am going to spoil it for you though, but this has not been indicated in the series (at all). My suspicion is and maybe you will prove me wrong, maybe they will, but I think he is the one who killed his wife. At the end of Season 2; there were too many weird things at the ending segment that suddenly made me quite curious. His friend was dead, he was a ghost talking to him and they finally told us another clue – it had to be a doctor. Red Herring of a TV show? We shall find out in Season 3; as Acorn TV has indicated there will be one. Hard to tell with foreign TV.

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Monsieur and Madame Adelman

Monsieur and Madame Adelman, a movie (Kanopy/Roku), starts off with the ending. It is predictable that Madame is going to tell someone at the funeral her life story. This is the last time you can be pretty sure of what is going to happen, well, until the

ending that explains the ending. At this point, the characters personalities have been built and so one can trust the obvious. As she begins to tell her story, which begins in the 1970’s, it seems as if this will be a typical love story. You can imagine this, though from the onset, Madame comes across as a cynical woman. She is begging you to pay attention. What comes across to the viewer are exceptional performances from Doria Tillier and Nicolas Bedos (he also wrote the score for the film, directed it and they both wrote the screenplay). Or did she, while he supervised? This is an inside joke from the film.

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