Wednesday, April 28, 2010

San Francisco International Film Festival 53 (SFIFF53) - Gainsbourg and Coco and Stravinsky, Oh My!

The 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival screens April 22–May 6 at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, the historic Castro Theatre, the Landmark Clay and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. For tickets and information, go to or call 925-866-9559.

I guess I am just not a musical romanticist or something, but, oh, those salacious composers...

Firstly, Elisabeth Lecqueret, who seems to be the "French selections consultant" of some sort for the San Francisco Film Society, comes as close to the good old days of Rrrrroxanne(!), in her ability to toss away a program introduction. Apparently, Serge Gainsbourg needs NO introduction? Well, no introduction to anyone over 50 years old, perhaps. But for those of us walking into GAINSBOURG (JE T'AIME . . . MOI NON PLUS) (dir. Joann Sfar, France, 2009, 135 minutes) blind, Joann Sfar's film did little, if anything, to enlighten us unfamiliar with his 'legacy'. Apparently, Serge Gainsbourg was a pop-idol of the sort that had numerous affairs with some of France's top actresses of the 1960's and 70's, i.e. Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, etc. These names I recognize, however, they were never exactly introduced as such, so one had to be familiar with the history to know WHO these women were. The end result for myself, was watching a chain-smoking Lothario, dabble a bit in the recording industry while sleeping with some gorgeous women. Mixed into this, Joann Sfar has included his "id" in the form of an overly costumed creature, who leads Serge down his path of self destruction. It was as if a bit of DONNY DARKO was thrown into a pop-idol bio-pic and it just confused things more and slowed it down. All that said, Eric Elmosnino gives a credible and age defying performance as Serge.

Then, on the opposite end of the 'familiarity scale' is COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY (dir. Jan Kounen, France, 2009, 115 minutes), which begins with a riotous premiere of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" for the Paris Ballet, as choreographed by Nijinsky, and witnessed by Coco Chanel. She immediately offers herself as a patron and moves the struggling Stravinsky family (wife and kids, included) into her home, where Igor and Coco promptly have an affair. Yep. That's about it. We do get a lot of Stravinsky banging away his frustrations into a piano, and some of Coco taking hers out on her milliners, but other than that, and some gorgeous clothes, the film could have been an hour shorter and nothing would have been missed.

Maxxxxx says re GAINSBOURG... and COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY: "Is it bedtime?"

You can contact Maxxxxx or myself here: JayCBird@AOL.COM

No comments: