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On emotion in film and real death...

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Item 1: A Man and a Woman
Release Date: 1966
Director: Claude Lelouch
Producer: Claude Lelouch
Screenwriter: Claude Lelouch, Pierre Uytterhoeven
Starring: Anouk Aimée, Jean-Louis Trintignant
Item 2: And Now Ladies and Gentlemen
North American Release Date: August 1, 2003 (NY, LA)
French Release (Cannes): Valentin, May 2002
Director: Claude Lelouch
Screenwriter: Claude Lelouch, Pierre Leroux, Pierre Uytterhoeven
Starring: Jeremy Irons, Patricia Kaas, Thierry Lhermitte, Alessandra Martines, Jean-Marie Bigard, Ticky Holgado, Yvan Attal, Amidou, Claudia Cardinale, Sylvie Loeillet, Patrick Braoudé, Constantin Alexandrov, Stéphane Ferrara, Samuel Labarthe, Paul Freeman
Item 3: Actress dies after alleged beating
August 1, 2003  PARIS, France (AP)
French actress Marie Trintignant has died of cerebral edema at the age of 41, according to a physician at the hospital where she died.

Trintignant, who had been kept alive for several days on an artificial respirator, died at the Hartmann Clinic in suburban Neuilly at 10:20 a.m., according to neurosurgeon Stephane Delajoux.

The actress, who hailed from one of French cinema's best-known film families and enjoyed a successful movie and stage career of her own, was flown to Paris on Thursday from Lithuania, where she had been filming a television movie with her mother, director Nadine Trintignant.

Trintignant's boyfriend, French rock singer Bertrand Cantat, is in police custody in Lithuania and is the prime suspect in her death. A Lithuanian judge on Thursday ordered his detention through Aug. 14.

Trintignant -- daughter of famed actor Jean-Louis Trintignant -- was brought to the Vilnius University Hospital early Sunday from the Domina Plaza Hotel, in the medieval quarter of the Lithuanian capital. She had been staying at the hotel with one of her sons, her mother and Cantat.

The actress, who had four children, was in a coma when she arrived at the hospital and underwent emergency surgery twice to ease pressure on her brain caused by cerebral hemorrhaging.

Cantat, lead singer of France's most popular rock band, Noir Desir (Black Desire), had been admitted to the same hospital Sunday after drinking heavy amounts of alcohol, authorities said. Discharged two days later, he was immediately detained on "suspicion of causing bodily injury."

Lithuanian lawyers say Cantat -- who denies beating the actress -- could face up to 15 years in prison if charged and convicted in this former Soviet republic.

She was completing two months of filming a television movie "Colette," based on the life of famed French writer Sinonie-Gabrielle Colette whose novels explored the plight of women in a male-dominated world.
This week Lelouch's new film And Now Ladies and Gentlemen opened here in Los Angeles.  The Los Angeles Times (Kevin Thomas) loved it.  The LA Weekly (Scott Foundas) was only a little less positive. 
But it seems kind of odd that the daughter of the star of the first film, A Man and a Woman, died this week, while making a film about Colette and the plight of women in a male-dominated world. 
It looks as if her boyfriend might have beaten her to death.  (Sunday, August 1, BBC and Reuters reported the results of the autopsy.  The cause of death was repeated blows to the head which caused the brain damage.)
If you don't remember A Man and a Woman the synopsis is this: While visiting their children at boarding school, handsome race car driver Jean-Louis meets movie script-girl Anne, a slightly sullen but beautiful widow. A widower himself, Jean-Louis discovers he and Anne have quite a bit in common. Remembering for the first time what it's like to feel overwhelmed by passion, they begin a rapturous love affair. It's a romance that may enable them to forget their painful pasts.
And the new film?  The synopsis is this: Jeremy Irons is Valentin, a criminal mastermind whose jewel-stealing business, despite having made him rich, does not offer him much room for personal growth. Hoping to find meaning for his existence, Valentin buys a boat and sets off on a one-man sailing trip around the world, with the police at his heels. At the same time, a burned-out jazz singer named Jane (Patricia Kaas) is in Morocco trying to forget an ill-fated love affair.  Valentin, after being struck by a serious illness, makes an emergency landing on the Moroccan coast. Jane soon crosses paths with the suave con artist, and they begin a relationship.
Events in Vilnius and Paris as reported by Araminta Wordsworth in the National Post (Canada):
It was intended to be a summer project for an actor from one of France's most famous show business families -- Marie Trintignant was filming a mini-series for French television on the spunky feminist writer, Colette, directed by her mother Nadine.

But after a fight in her hotel room late Sunday night in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius with her boyfriend, rock star Bernard Cantat, Ms. Trintignant, 41, slumped to the floor with severe head injuries never to speak again.

Although she was rushed to hospital, doctors in Vilnius had said there was no chance of recovery. Nonetheless, she underwent two operations and a top neurosurgeon travelled from France in a desperate bid to save her.

Yesterday, her family announced the actor had died at a clinic in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris, to which they had brought her against doctors' advice so she could die in her native land.

"She died this morning ... from the consequences of a brain edema, despite the intensive care which has been administered since her arrival at the Hartmann clinic," neurosurgeon Stéphane Delajoux told reporters.

The 39-year-old Mr. Cantat, whom investigators suspect may have beaten Ms. Trintignant while high on drugs and alcohol, has been placed in preventive detention in Lithuania until Aug. 14.
Prosecutors said he was being investigated for a serious crime.

In a Vilnius court on Thursday, a tearful Mr. Cantat, lead singer with the top French rock band Noir Désir, said, "I reject the term 'crime.' It was an accident after a fight and a stupid thing to do, but not a crime."

He admitted he had slapped the actor, but said he did not realize she was badly hurt when she fell to the floor.

Then, he picked her up and placed her on the bed. He even put a glass to her face to see if she was still breathing.

"I thought she was sleeping," he said, explaining his delay in summoning help.

His lawyer Virgilijce Papirtis called the incident "an accident on both sides, a tragedy, a human conflict between two people, two artists with strong temperaments," but rejected any notion of criminal intent.

"I am trying not to hate him -- I know that is a destructive emotion," Nadine Trintignant told reporters before she left for Paris with her daughter.

"I am trying, despite everything day and night, when I see my child in a deep coma as a result of being violently beaten. That's what the doctors say happened."

She added Mr. Cantat had a history of violence against women.

"If someone had done something to help him, we wouldn't be here today," she said. "There were other battered women. I only found out afterward."
Lelouch, who loves to open his films with literary quotes scrawled on the screen, this time picked one from 19th-century poet and playwright Alfred de Musset: "Life is a deep sleep of which love is the dream."
There are movies and there is real life.  Lelouch makes gorgeous, sad films.  Real life is not even that nice.
A conversation in the late eighties with a friend at work - we were discussing the Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) - Jacques Demy's film from 1964 - and he commented that there were no French films with happy endings.  We couldn't think of a one.  This was before Amélie of course.
In the studio system out here in Hollywood you have to fight hard to produce a film without a happy ending.  The list of "downer" films where the studio insisted on tacking on a happy ending is endless - the most obvious example could be the baseball film The Natural.   It's marketing.  Audiences here, as judged by the studios, will not pay good money to see the boy lose the girl, or to see he bad guys win.  The opposite seems to be the case in France.   The Cannes folks would not allow Amélie to be screened at their festival - too commercial.  Why?  Everything worked out?
American films opening this week included American Wedding, the third in that series of gross-out comedies.  And we've been through The Hulk and the second Charlie's Angels and the latest Terminator thing. 
The French give us sad, over-the-top romantic, hopeless emotional stuff.  Odd. 
Seems they are an emotional folk, while we're more comfortable with the hero-machine that kills the bad guys, who may or may not morph into our next Governor out here in California.
Going to the movies?  So what will it be?  Endless tragedy of real folks, or the mechanical man who saves the world?
There's no getting the two cultures together.
Marcel Proust said it this way: "The life of nations merely repeats, on a larger scale, the lives of their component cells; and he who is incapable of understanding the mystery, the reactions, the laws that determine the movements of the individual, can never hope to say anything worth listening to about the struggles of nations."

Minor Notes:
Francis Lai did the score for A Man and a Woman its pretty famous.  This new film, And Now Ladies And Gentlemen, is scored by Michel Legrand, who wrote the score for the Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Lots of us who picked up extra money playing in piano bars in the late sixties and in the seventies used both those early scores extensively.  Great melodies. 
This latest film stars Patricia Kass - the singer from Alsace - who has been hugely popular in the last decade or two.  She sings in this film, the old good stuff like Le Mer.  This is not the Bobby Darrin version Somewhere Beyond the Sea.  The French lyric is a bit more about loving the earth and sea and sky of the true France.
My friends know I have all of Patricia Kass's albums and am fond of putting the top down and cruising Sunset Boulevard, through Sunset Plaza, blasting her version of Regarde les Riches from the 1998 Bercy concert.  Seems fitting.  You could look up the words - use Google and you'd find them.  Funny, angry stuff. 
Kaas was out here three months ago at Universal Amphitheater a few miles down the way.  I missed that.  Oh well.
Last time the French voted for who was going to be the new Marianne that Casta woman won, and Patricia Kass came in second.  If you don't know what that vote is about, don't worry.  It's a French thing.  Bridget Bardot won a long time ago.

August 1, 2003, edited August 3, 2003