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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Marcel Pagnol’s Incredible “Marseilles Trilogy” now Delicious Boxed Set on Criterion

What a delicious, French, binge-watching treat is ahead for all those Francophiles out there, cineastes all, who may not yet be familiar with one of the seminal works of French cinema! It’s the maestro of maestros Marcel Pagnol’s magnificent “Marseilles Trilogy”. Critierion is now issuing a delicieux boxed set of all three films, “Marius”, “Fanny” and “Cesar,” plus a hefty “Supplementaire” disc and book, so by the end of enjoying this summertime delight, you, too, can feel you really ARE on the French Riviera, albeit in the 1930s and in black and white.

Over the course of the three, two hour-plus films, we become enthralled with the star-crossed love story of Marius and Fanny, as their thwarted tempestuous amour fou echoes down the generations of this vivid-cross-section of French MIDI life.  The MIDI of France is the southern part. And the accents and the behavior of Les Marseilliase are VERY different from the Parisiens up north. Even a character, Monsieur Brun, who is from Lyon, gets the raspberries for being stuck up and too bourgoise for the VERY working class souls who frequent Cesar’s Cafe de la Marin, where much of the action takes place and his dreamer of a son, Marius works for him as a bartender/waiter.

The larger than life Cesar is played to perfection by the legendary Raimu, who Orson Welles described as “the greatest actor of our time.” Coming from the music halls and burlesque world of the MIDI, Pagnol really “discovered” him by making him the central character of the Trilogy, and also giving him one of the greatest roles of his, or anyone’s lifetime. Sort of a French Jackie Gleason, he mesmerizes whether he is shouting at his wayward son Marius (Pierre Fresnay) or trying to placate the confused young Fanny (Orane Demazis). He dominates all he surveys.

The dashing Fresnay ( he pronounced it “Fray-nay”) became quite the huge French movie star after the incredible success of “Marius.” The great Raimu was worried about him, as Marius, though, because he was the only lead actor from “the North.” He was Alsatian. But Fresnay was a total perfectionist and studied the quirky Marseilles accent for months.

When the cast was rehearsing, he was missing for three weeks, says Pagnol, in an interview, chuckling at the memory. Fresnay was working as a waiter at a sea-side bar in Marseilles, just like his romantic character, who is torn between his love for the sea and for his Fanny. His Marius is totally believable and moving in every aspect. “I knew he would be great in the role, and he was!” says Pagnol smiling.

And Fresnay’s accent is perfection. I couldn’t tell. Sir Alec Guiness called him his “Favorite Actor.”Marseilles Post Card

Pagnol was the great pioneer of location shooting, so we become VERY familiar with the grande charme of Marseilles, here depicted as a fishing town that is growing and growing into the thriving seaport it would become. That Pagnol loved his home town and the brilliant actors and technicians all from the South of France is evident in every frame. He is the one who revealed them all to the world for the first time. People were stunned that there were such good actors from “the South” and that not all the talent in France was concentrated in Paris!

I was lucky enough to be in La Belle Marseilles once myself. When in the early ’80s I was actually at the Cannes Film Festival with a movie I was actually IN with Divine.(I was Miss Bronx) It was Andrew Logan’s “Alternative Miss World” and still ranks as my only feature film.

ANYwho- I lost my passport and had to go to the American Embassy in Marseilles which was a delightful train ride along the Riveria. I still remember the beautiful sunshine and the smell of the sea. Marseilles is really the seaport town to end all seaport towns. I remember the subway stop having a fish-tank/aquarium set beautifully right into the blue mosaic-tiled wall of the subway station. I had bouillabaisse for lunch. And I still remember it as being the best bouillabaisse I ever ate! Bien sur! It was in Marseilles!

Though this 4-disc + booklet box of joy is complete in every aspect of Pagnol’s incredible work, and Fresay and Raimu both get more than their due, I thought it odd that the petite jeune fille, Orane Demazis who played the heroine , Fanny, in this tres masculine world, was all but completely ignored. Turns out she was Pagnol’s mistress who actually bore him a child during the making of “Marius” and “Fanny”! How totally French!Marseilles Trilogy 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hysterical Comedy “Oh Hello” on Bway!

oh-hello-1

One of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen on Broadway totally surprised me with its’ non-stop hilarity. It’s “Oh Hello” and there’s only two people in it! But they are the super superb sketch comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, who appear as their 70-something alter egos Gil Faison and George St. Geegland. Whether they are a gay couple or not is open to interpretation. The show was described as “very gay” to me, and it is, and it isn’t.

This is simply the story of two old men, who have lived together for over forty years in the same rent-controlled apartment on the Upper West Side ,”the coffee breathe of New York”, they call it. And they get an eviction notice in Act One. Except there is no intermission so there is no act one.

So much for the plot.

Their apartment, their domaine, as it were is high-ceilinged and so vast that they have spent a lifetime salvaging the sets of closed shows. Main among them the hair dressing salon of “Steel Magnolias”, and the staircase from “some Au-goost Williams” play that they can’t remember the name of. There is a front stoop from “The Cosby Show” on the opposite side of the stage. “We got that oh-hello-2because they were throwing it away and nobody wanted it.” Serena Williams and Tennessee Williams were brother and sister. And so it goes…

They are united in their love of theater and theater trivia. Gil claims to be a “multi-Tony Award viewer.” And tries, still, at his advanced age to be an actor, and go out on auditions, even though he has(we find out later in the play) an incontinence problem. They also are wearing white wigs to represent hair that looks like it hasn’t been washed in decades. Nor have their clothes. They are always waxing nostalgic for “That Great Decade, the 70s,.”which everything in their apparel and their apartment dates from(great design by the great Scott Pask, costume consultant Emily Rebholz.)

George sports wide wale corduroys that look like they were once brown, but are now sort of purplish with a shine. There’s no shine on his shoes because he is wearing sandals with not-so-white socks. They both look like they need a good bath, but there is no indoor plumbing visible or referred to. You can almost smell them from the front of house.

George is still trying to get his plays done. Largely to no avail, and he wouldn’t appear so preposterous a character, if he didn’t resemble Florence Foster Jenkins’ real life husband/companion in the recent Meryl Streep movie “Florence Foster Jenkins.” That foppish St. Clair Bayfield was played by Hugh Grant in the movie. A  real-life failed 1920s actor, he married money. But George St. Geegland and St.Clair Bayfield, they are cut from the same fading  theatrical cloth.

Except that George has no money and Gil has even less. You wonder how they manage at all at their advanced ages to pay their $75 a month rent. So the eviction notice heralds disaster .But they ARE spry, and as embodied by the 30-something comic geniuses of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, you love them to pieces.

There is not one comic beat that is missed. Their malapropisms are monumental. Broadway is pronounced “Brid-way,” a phone call is a “finn-call” and an homage is a “Home-page.” But they try and try to get into show business, still, and their constant rejection is our comic bonanza.

Their big “Brid-way”  break is just around the corner, and Nathan Lane is off-stage waiting to come on, they assure us. They have a favorite diner on the Upper West Side, but can’t remember its’ name, but they do remember that their menu has “fourteen plastic pages” and that one of the dishes is lobster.

“I was going to order that,” says Gil, “Just to see what would come out.” Mainly they venture outside to get throw aways from “Brid-way bombs. There’s so much to choose from.” The entire scrim from “Fiddler on the Roof”(which is still running BTW. How did they get it?) comes down, and they have to act through its’ gauziness towards the end of what would’ve been Act Two.

And their other culinary obsession is tuna. There seems to be Tuna everywhere on this set, but unlike Big and Little Edie Beale (of “Grey Gardens”fame), there are no visible cats. It’s like they’re the Collyer Brothers, with no piles of newspapers, but a trap-door from “The Diary of Anne Frank.”oh-hello-3

They also seem to have or have had a public access TV show called “All That Tuna.” And if this isn  ‘t enough to convince you to run right out and see it, every night, they pull an “unsuspecting” celebrity out of the audience, and make him sit down with them to a gigantic tower of tuna sandwich, delivered from the heavens with attached angel’s wings, which they assure us is from “Angels in America.”

Adam Driver (of “Star Wars:The Force Awakens”) was the celebrity guest the night I was there and I’m still shaking with laughter.  The theater was suddenly filled with screaming teenage girls in the second and  third balcony, and they wouldn’t stop shreiking as George, Gil and Adam sat down at their checkered red and white diner dining table for an interview. It got so bad, Gil just yelled at them “SHAD-DUP!” And they did.oh-hello-4Only slated at the moment to run through January, catch them now, while you can. It’s the perfect New York holiday show for misanthropes.

 

 

Oscar Upside Down ~ “Fences” Finally Screens & Changes Everything

fences-1Well, I don’t think any of the as yet unseen Oscar-seeking films is going to FINALLY screen with the impact that “Fences” just did on Saturday night in LA. I always said it would win everything. It’s certainly going to get nominated for everything under the sun, as I always predicted it would.

Denzel Washington, who directed as well as starred in this film, has done himself really proud this time, everyone says, by successfully managing the stage to screen transfer that was everyone’s bugaboo. Chiefly Jeff Wells at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere. But no more. He didn’t think it would transfer to screen well enough to be “an Oscar movie.” But now that he’s seen it, he’s crazy about it.

I, having seen it twice onstage, was just blown away by Denzel’s greatest performance. And Viola Davis’, too. Both of them at their best ever and evidently judging by all the early news. (See Anne Thompson’s piece on Indiewire) It’s nothing fences-3but huzzahs. According to Sasha Stone. http://www.awardsdaily.com there was a standing ovation!

Even though everyone who was at that screening was supposed to hold their critical tongues until the film’s review embargo is lifted. I was not there. I was here, in NYC, but I can tell you what all and sundry have been saying  and it’s nothing but raves. Just the way it was on Broadway. Just as I predicted.

And yes, even Jeff Wells admitted, that Denzel could win his third Oscar, for his re-creation of combative Detroit garbage man. Troy Maxon.fences-6

I never thought I’d ever hear Jeff say that. He’s been a staunch “Manchester by the Sea” supporter since he saw it at Sundance.  And “Manchester” is a wonderful film. I  loved it, too. I hope it wins Something.

“Fences” ascendance is very bad news for the “Manchester by the Sea” bunch. Casey Affleck will now not win his front-runner Oscar for Best Actor. He’ll lose to Denzel. And since Viola has determined to “go Supporting” she’ll win that category.viola-davis-1fences-5 And there goes Michelle Williams front-runner status as the injured ex-wife in “Manchester.” Viola has gotten the Supporting Category all sewn up now. Too bad for three, now maybe four time nominee Michelle. There’s nothing to stop Viola. Her role as Denzel’s injured, long-suffering wife is the type of role the Academy LOVES to reward.

The surprise to me is that there may actually be THREE Supporting Actors nominated from “Fences.” Stephen Henderson, who was in the original Broadway cast, but whose performance I don’t remember at all. Mykelti Williams who was also in the Bway cast but he made even less of an impression than Henderson. I mean, I remember Henderson, APPEARING in it. He was there. But I don’t remember what he did. And I don’t remember Williams at all.

I was too dazzled by Denzel and Viola, I guess. They really were electrifying. And then there’s the role of the son, which I remember vividly. It’s a large, juicy part, and as played by newcomer Jovan Edson, he’s up to be nominated, too.

The three of them could all be nominated and cancel each other out, like the three gran dames of “Tom Jones” did in Supporting Actress in another decade long, long ago. Dame Edith Evans, Joyce Redman and Diane Cilento all went home Oscarless, tom-jones-1while fellow brit Dame Margaret Rutherford won for the V.I.P.S.

And of course, it’s going to be nominated for Best Picture, too, and certainly Best Director. Denzel who has two Oscars already could win two more that night of nights.  Best Director and Best Actor.fences-2And the late August WIlson, who wrote the screenplay before he died, could win posthumously for Best Adapted Screenplay. Wouldn’t that be something? You heard it here first, folks! Below is a shot of the entire cast at the Q&A in L.A.

OscarsSoWhitefences-4,no more. At least not this year!

 

 

 

 

“Young Montalbano” ~ Sicily & Michele Riondino star in MHz’s latest crime series

Young Montalbano 1I must say, I’m quite entranced  and delighted with the latest MHz series “The Young Montalbano” starring Italian heartthrob Michele Riondino and the beautiful island of Sicily. I’ve never seen a police potboiler set in so romantic a location. Vigata, a fictional town, is just breath-taking. When the stories sag as they sometimes do, the incredible Sicilian backdrops to even the most mundane police procedural scenes, more than make up for it. “The Young Montalbano” is imminently watchable.

And its’ young star Michele Riondino is definitely on the rise. He is playing the dedicated, younger version of Salvo Montalbano, who is something of a folk hero in Italian television in “Inspector Montalbano” the wildly popular, older iteration of the same Sicilian police chief. Riondino is a hunk, but a sleek, metro-sexual, 1990’s kind of hunk. He often wears purple shirts.Or maroon. You can’t get enough of him, the sign of a true star. Bellisima!

And the island of Sicily itself is enchanting, always. Having been spared the ravages of World War II, all of its’ magnificent period architecture is intact and it’s a thrill to see it all. No scene is ordinary when played against backgrounds like these and of course the Mediterrean Ocean is in every shot possible. Young Montalbano 2

Salvo Montalbano’s apartment overlooks the sea and many, many scenes are played out against this beautiful sea-scape where the sun is so often gently setting. And every one is always drinking a glass of sparkling wine. Libiamo!

And the food! Even more than catching wrong-doers, Salvo always is salivating over the next mouth-watering meal he has to consume accompanied always by a rich, flavorful Italian wine. Which is to say, “The Young Montalbano” is a much more light-hearted look at police work than its’ other European series counterparts.

The police station, for instance, has white wall-paper, with tiny flowers and butterflies on it, and usually we’re used to seeing dreary police settings (like in “The Bridge” set in Sweden & Denmark) or simply Ikea-like industrial ( as in “Blood on the Docks”, Le Havre, France). But no, no, not “The Young Montalbano.”Salvo’s office is dark wood paneled, unlike any other municpal TV cop’s desmaines.

And there’s a very strong, tender love story front and center with blonde Italian beauty, with the un-Italian name of Sarah Felberbaum, turning in a charming performance as Livia, Salvo’s on-again, off-again romantic interest who is an architect and lives in Genoa, not Sicily.Young Montalbano 3

Livia and Salvo’s scenes always sizzle in a very civilized, Sicilian way.Combining the themes of food and love, they go to a restaurant mid-season, where there are exceptionally large tables, even though there are only two diners. And the courses just come at them, decided by the restaurant itself. And the tables are so big to accommodate all the upcoming dishes. I was dying.

The series starts off very strongly with “The Man Who Followed Funerals” about the murder of a disabled vagabond, which gives “The Young Montalbano” a kind of metaphysical, psychological heft as Montalbano and his assistant team of less-than-stellar cops, discuss the philosopical meanings behind his senseless murder.

The best episode of the six I watched(all a solid 90 minutes each) was the central one, “The Transaction”, surrounding a circus and a fatal fortune teller. And the series ends with “The Apricot” where a young model is murdered, yes, by an apricot. Don’t ask.

The plots sag, as I’ve said, but mostly “The Young Montalbano” is enjoyable. And all the supporting parts are played by actual Sicilian actors, which lends the series a unique versilimitude. The fruit selling woman on the sidewalk who sells the fatal apricot to the dead supermodel is just exactly right. You want to go up to her and buy some apricots, too.

Mostly “The Young Montalbano” makes you want to immediately visit the magical, dream-like island of Sicily, and that’s an unexpected bonus from your usual European crime series.

Provincetown Award Winners 2016

Ptown 2016 1With great regret and sadness, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to attend this year’s Provincetown International Film Restival. Though I was enthusiastically invited. Things that I don’t want to bore you all with stopped me, but suffice it to say, I look forward to attending NEXT year and going to to the Montreal and Toronto Film Festivals in August and September. It just killed me to miss two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee. who I adore /and whom I have so much to talk about with His”Brokeback Mountain” changed my life, as I always say. He was the guest of honor as this year’s “Fimmaker on the Edge.”

But anywho, here’s a list of the award winners that were announced last night.

NOW ANNOUNCING OUR FESTIVAL WINNERS
HBO AUDIENCE AWARDS
JOHN SCHLESINGER AWARDS
BEST SHORTS
FESTIVAL SPECIAL MENTIONS
2016 PROVINCETOWN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS ANNOUNCED
HBO Audience Award/Best Narrative Feature: 
THE INNOCENTS directed by Anne Fontaine
HBO Audience Award/Best Documentary Feature (tie):
THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE 
directed by Morgan Neville
POLITICAL ANIMALS directed by Jonah Markowitz and Tracy Wares
HBO Short Documentary Award:

TERRITORY directed by Eleanor Mortimer

The John Schlesinger Award, presented to a first time feature filmmaker (narrative): 
BLOOD STRIPE directed by Remy Auberjonois
The John Schlesinger Award, presented to a first time feature filmmaker (documentary): 
OFF THE RAILS directed by Adam Irving
Here Media Award – Best Queer Short Film: 

ONE LAST NIGHT directed by Kerem Blumberg

Best Narrative Short Film:

THUNDER ROAD directed by Jim Cummings

Best Animated Short Film: 

GLOVE directed by Alexa Haas and Bernardo Britto

Best New England Short Film: 

BLACK CANARIES directed by Jesse Kreitzer

Best Student Short Film:

THE MINK CATCHER directed by Samantha Buck

Special Mention:

¡MAIS DURO! directed by Camila Saldarriaga

Congratulations to all our winners and to all the hardworking artists and filmmakers on the edge who attended this year’s 
18th Annual Provincetown International Film Festival!
The Short Film Jury consisted of Ian Samuels (filmmaker, MYRNA THE MONSTER), Lisanne Skyler (filmmaker, BRILLO BOX (3¢ OFF)) and Kim Yutani (Senior Programmer, Sundance Film Festival).
Save the date and join us for next year’s festival!
June 14-18, 2017
Making Provincetown the Global Destination for Creative Exploration In Film!
The Provincetown Film Festival| 508.487.3456| info@ptownfilm.org |www.ptownfilmfest.org/

Mac’s Seafood restaurant P-town Will Make You Hunnngry!

Mac Hay 1 One of the best seafood restaurants in Provincetown, Massachusetts is owned and operated by seafood chef & oyster entreprenuer extraordinaire Mac Hay. At his Raw Bar, Mac demonstrates how to shuck a Welfleet. oyster and also a Littleneck Clam. He also takes us backstage to his kitchen were he demonstrates how to make sauteed mussels. Yum! He also has two other seafood restaurants in Welfleet and Provincetown.

This video is guaranteed to make you HUNNNNGRY!

http://www.macsseafood.com

Camera ~ Phil Sokoloff

Editing ~ Kevin Teller

Past Best Picture Oscar Winners I Adore (& Own & Re-Watch)

Oscars Now that’s it all over but the shouting (on Oscar night, this coming Sunday, Feb.28), I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic about other films that have one Best Picture in the past and really won my heart. Some I’ve watched over and over and over again. Some I own. I love them so much I always want them to be with me or near at hand anyway to play at any time.

  1. Gone With the WindGone With the Wind
  2. All About EveAll About Eve
  3. Tom JonesTom Jones 1
  4. The King’s SpeechThe King's Speech
  5. The ArtistThe Artist
  6. Lord of the Rings Part 3, Return of the KingSam & Frodo
  7. Twelve Years a Slave12 Years a Slave 2
  8. RebeccaRebecca 1
  9. Midnight CowboyMidnight Cowboy
  10. No Country for Old MenNo Country for Old Men 1

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