Sharp's "Super Cat's Eye" VLME100S viewcam
courtesy of Herald Communications
Reality redefined
by Georgina Oliver

Described as “unreal,” “surreal’ or “like a movie, only it's not a movie” – CNN's real-life real-time images of "America under attack," beginning with that relentlessly recurrent slow motion vision of an airplane penetrating into the World Trade Center, before literally igniting the third millennium's first planetary historical trauma... irreversibly made so much else irrelevant, or all too relevant. So-called “real-TV” soaps instantly appeared abysmally inappropriate, while a number of big screen productions relying heavily on special effects became virtually unwatchable. Columbia Pictures had to withdraw their “Spider Man” trailer which highlighted New York's twin towers, and Warner has canceled the release of “Collateral Damage,” the latest Schwarzenegger epic about a Los Angeles firefighter whose wife and son die in a terrorrist skyscaper explosion.

Movie Frenzy
Curiously – even prior to last month’s skyjackings – French cinema-goers’ priorities had changed. Many summer movie reports focused on nouveaux motion picture moguls. Above all, on Jean-Marie Messier who has added Paris' Olympia music hall to his Canal+/Vivendi-Universal empire, as well as on Luc Besson, now at the helm of Europa, a production entity whose current offering, "The Kiss of the Dragon," bears his "Big Blue”/“Nikita”stamp, though directed by somebody else. But, beyond the box office success of certain films-catastrophes, the emphasis had already shifted to what a previous Besson blockbuster defined as the “Fifth Element.” Namely, the prospect of intergalactic salvation via “the real thing,” i.e. L.O.V.E.

Amélie Mania
Every magazine under the sun – from L’Express to film buffs’ periodicals like Studio – had published a “Fabulous Fate of Amélie Poulain” special. In France, since last spring, in excess of 7.5 million cinema fans have seen this moving movie par excellence, starring Audrey Tautou as a beady-eyed Montmartre waitress who changes the course of the lives of people in her quartier by making their secret whims come true. The key to the success of this quirky, romantic cinematic experience? An alternative take on reality... Emotions usually associated with human vulnerability are depicted as our driving force, while technology is treated as something of a joke.

Brit Connection
“Human touch” comedies with a “Cool Britannia” connection are à la mode. News of a Frenchie version of “très British” television sitcom "Ab Fab" would have been intriguing enough. But, “Absolument fabuleux” is something else. A full-fledged multiplex feature starring Josiane Balasko dans le rôle d'Eddie and Nathalie Baye camping Joanna Lumley's ultra wacky Patsy persona. These champagne-swilling PR ladies are what the rag trade calls “fash trash,” but they're people too... And, that's what the public likes about them. Hugh Grant is in the fun flick adapted from Helen Fielding’s “Bridget Jones's Diary,” the English best-seller that sparked the “chick lit” trend. A 30-something London girl's nitty-gritty journal of city celibacy, in competition at Dinard's 12th annual Brit Film Festival (Oct 4-7/

Fathering Vanessa Paradis' love child has turned Johnny Depp into something of a Gallic icon... He’s the anti-hero of a flip side of the “American dream” saga presented at Deauville’s Festival du Film Américain. “Blow” is the true story of George Jung, a ’60s dropout who becomes a disco years cocaine magnate. Only to end up in a state penitentiary... Sentenced till 2015, so unable to see his daughter grow up.

Mulholland Drive
Hollywood's “Mulholland Drive” is the eponymous setting of David Lynch’s latest dark mise-en-scène and what’s more the inspiration of "La chambre rouge" ("The Red Chamber"), a multidisciplinary expo at Glaz’art (Oct 3 to Nov 3, 7-15 av de la Porte de la Villette, 19e, by appointment only: 01 40 36 55 65). DJ/video artist Thibaud de Barmon and Project 101 will emcee a variety of “Lynchian” events, kicking off with the show’s vernissage on October 10 and a “David Lynch Party #1” (from 8:30pm, Oct 19, 60F including a Mr Hospitality concert).

Hollywood CD
In the mood for “Broadway memories”? “Hollywood 1927*1950” is a double CD of American movie themes and tunes, sponsored by the France Telecom foundation. Judy Garland, Shirley Temple, Rita Hayworth... Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby... And, Maurice Chevalier!

Glitz and Glamour
"Les plus belles robes du cinéma" showcases 50 ravishing frocks belonging to the Cinémathèque Française film archive’s costume collection. From Garbo to Dietrich. From Vivien Leigh’s newlywed’s outfit in “Gone with the Wind” to the autumn leaf number Elizabeth Taylor wore as one of Dr. March’s four daughters. From Karl Lagerfeld designs to Anna Karina’s coat in Jean-Luc Godard's “Alphaville,” a rare piece indeed. (Oct 24 to Feb 24 2002, Pavillon des Arts, Les Halles-Porte Rambuteau, Terrasse Lautréamont, tel: 01 42 33 82 50, 18-35F)

Image by Image
To be seen absolument at at Saint-Ouen-l'Aumône’s Abbaye de Maubuisson — “Image par image,” an interactive exhibit focusing on the history of animation from pre-cinema pioneers to state-of-the-art technology. (Oct 1 to Feb 28, directions and screenings info: 01 34 64 36 10)

In Lumière brothers country as elsewhere, a new generation of “semi-professional” digital devices is empowering “people in the street” to be their own filmmaker. Sharp’s popular VLME100S mega pixel camera cum “viewcorder” comes with gizmos like a zoom mike, and a Super Cat’s Eye infrared detector that allows you to play movie director “Night and Day.”

"Image par images" animation exibit
© Solid / De Cercy

Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz in "Blow"

Double CD featring Holliwood's greatest theme tunes
courtesy Fondation France Telecom

Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) writing her diary in her dressing gown
courtesy of Universal / Studio Canal / Miramax