From Liz Taylor to Gal Gadot, too pale Cleopatra?

We can imagine the brainstorming between feverish agents stuck on Zoom: “What other ‘powerful woman’ could therefore embody Gal Gadot while keeping this empowerment mix, golden finery and miniskirt?” Cleopatra! Already done ? Not like that, swears the Israeli star, now one of Hollywood’s biggest cachets. “We are going to tell this story through the eyes of women, in front of and behind the camera”, enlisting Patty Jenkins, director of the two Wonder Woman of DC / Warner (the sequel saw its release pushed back by the pandemic) and screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis (behind theAlexandre d’Oliver Stone).

Ce pitch pseudo-woke (that is to say “progressive” according to the zeitgeist) will not have held a quarter of an hour on the ruthless social networks, triggering the most boring, even stinking controversy of the week, the grievances legitimate around the diversity on the screen finding itself quickly covered by antisemitic hints and endless debates on the color of the “real” Cleopatra, even more mysterious than the curve of her nasal ridge for archaeologists.


There are those who consider the Egyptian to be an Arab or African heroine, a historical figure again “whitened” by Hollywood. From Yul Brynner to Australian self-tanner Joel Edgerton in Ramses II at Ridley Scott’s, peplums, from the golden age to post-Gladiator, have always cast whites on thrones and minorities to hold the fan, while we now know the Roman Empire (of which Cleopatra’s Egypt was part) much more mixed than that.

The pro-Gadot troops, starting with the scribe Kalogridis, opened a counterfire by arguing that the descendant of the Ptolemies – even if several historians believe that the dynasty necessarily mingled with the natives by dint of orgies – was before all “Greco-Macedonian”.

Mediterranean therefore. Just like Gadot, his defenders advance. This is where the Israeli-Arab conflict takes place, far from the debate on the color chart. Israeli, Ashkenazi Jewish, the very smooth Gal Gadot remains for the majority of the Arab world an intruder in the Middle East (Wonder Woman was even censored in Lebanon), repeatedly referred to her military service in the ranks of the IDF and to her condemnations of Hamas during the 2014 war in Gaza. “After stealing the lands of the Arabs, you steal their roles”, launched on Twitter Sameera Khan, ex-Miss New Jersey who became a journalist at Russia Today.

More than yet another modern identity fight, the controversy is terribly vintage. In 1962, the choice of “Zionist” Liz Taylor to play the Queen of the Nile had ulcerated Nasser, Egyptian president and champion of pan-Arabism. The English actress had converted a few years earlier to Judaism and raised funds for Israel at charity galas, leading to the boycott of her films and the impossibility of filming in the land of the pharaohs. But in 1964, Cairo backed down. With 122 mentions of the word “Egypt”, Mankiewicz’s monumental kitchery was considered the best publicity possible for the country.

Guillaume Gendron correspondent in Tel Aviv


“Pink Films”, we parted good tatami

If the history of cinema often disdains the pink, associated with eroticism soft, watering clouds of standardized and juicy productions in Japan, this color, which is that of powdery flesh and offered nudity, finds its place in an underground and deviant history, where the pinku eiga (cinema pink in Japanese), although ultracodified, will give rise, from the 60s, to an explosion of formal experiments and will serve as a playground for many contemporary filmmakers, from Kiyoshi Kurosawa to Sono Sion via Nobuhiro Suwa. And especially the most rabid of all, Kōji Wakamatsu, who produced a phenomenal quantity but was also a fruitful producer, becoming the leading figure of this hybrid genre, crossing sexploitation, avant-garde, political radicalism and spirit of rebellion.

Because apart from the production conditions that define the outlines of the pink circuit (short films, shot in a few days for a handful of yen), its singularity is due to this lability of forms: the strict constraints – simulated sexual intercourse, hairiness and genitals cleverly concealed – also authorize a bubbling creative freedom, where sex is sometimes the seditious vector of political protest, pinpointing the shortcomings of a Japan under American tutelage, and of a sclerotic society, doomed to galloping capitalism. With consumerism as its only horizon, of which the very birth of pink and the reasons which conditioned its emergence seem to be an illustration.

Underground. The genre was born on the edge of the sixties and the decay of the big studios (Nikkatsu, Shochiku, Daiei, Toho, Shintoho and Toei) which then showed sharp losses in the face of the tidal wave of television inviting itself more and more into homes. To bring the public back to the theaters, the response will come from independent productions, in particular Okura Eiga, which favor touting B series where sex and violence go hand in hand. And from 1962, the flesh market by Satoru Kobayashi, with the luscious Tamaki Katori, inaugurates a genre whose devastating success will shake the industry on its foundations – to thwart this pink tsunami, Nikkatsu will also launch into the production of erotic films under the name “Porn novel” in the 70s, but by putting much more resources into it.

However, the pink productions were able to take advantage of a poor economy by redoubling their inventiveness, as evidenced by the box set published by Carlotta, bringing together five films unseen in France, accompanied by a fascinating booklet by Dimitri Ianni relating a brief history of cinema. Japanese erotic. Works with a fragmented aesthetic, including An inflatable doll in the desert (1967) d’Atsushi Yamatoya et Ecstatic prayer (1971) by Masao Adachi offer the most subversive forms of the lot – the two filmmakers, gravitating in the stable of the iconoclast Wakamatsu, with whom they share a same desperate and gloomy vision of Japan and connections with the political fringes. Blossoming on a soil flirting with the underground of a Matsumoto or a Seijun Suzuki (he was the screenwriter of killer’s mark), Yamatoya, borrowing from film noir the figure of the tortured private and yakuza eiga the dazzling action scenes, delivers a mental and labyrinthine maelstrom, where present, past, dream, reality, women loved, raped, disappeared, found, merge in an absolutely fascinating proleptic dilation.

Less surreal in its form, and more anchored in the daily life of depressed youth, in a misty, melancholy and devitalized Japan, Ecstatic prayer raises the question of sexuality (pleasure, prostitution, procreation), perceived as the extension of capitalism, shaping bodies to the dimensions of a normative society, as the latter muzzles individuals. A disenchanted vision echoing the revolutionary commitment of its author – Masao Adachi was a member of the Japanese Red Army, fighting for the Palestinian cause in Lebanon for thirty years.

An Inflatable Doll in the Desert (1967), by Atsushi Yamatoya.An inflatable doll in the desert (1967), d’Atsushi Yamatoya. Photo KOKUEI.

Psychedelics. Song for a woman’s hell (1970) de Mamoru Watanabe et A misguided family (1984) by Masayuki Suo, on the other hand, explores two mannerist sides of the genre, drawing on the compulsive cinephilia of their authors. Rare foray of pink into jidai-geki (film in costumes), the first renews, in a polished and sensual black and white, with the magical dreaminess of the great Japanese dramas (Mizoguchi is not far), the two heroes, incarnations of antagonistic god and goddess, being attracted towards each other by the sheer force of the tattoos marked on their backs … A misguided family, on the other hand, is a tribute to Ozu’s cinema, the grammar of which he uses (domestic setting, still shots, static game, dull voices, camera flush with the tatami mat). A style exercise playing on the contrast between the hieratic style of the style and the crudeness of the sex scenes, offering a deviant rereading of the family according to Ozu.

Finally Two Women in the Hell of Vice (1969) by Kan Mukai, one of the most prolific pioneers of pink, who signs here the only truly erotic and exciting work, magnifying in an explosion of psychedelic colors the body of his sublime heroine. Close to giallo in its formalist approach, only the baroque staging matters (languid superimpositions and intelligent use of repetition as a figure of speech echoing the mechanics of prostitution to which the young girl indulges). A sumptuous discovery.

Nathalie Dray

5 Pink Films Blu-ray or DVD box, Carlotta, € 40.


Bastia, bubbles and blues

The majestic galleon advances on the waves. Suddenly, a huge wave. It rises, so high that it merges with the clouds. The sails fly away, the masts waver, a flash of lightning strikes. The ship ran aground against a rocky islet. End of the adventure?

Arriving at the Una Volta center where the BD festival in Bastia takes place for almost four months, it is almost the first drawings that we discover, those of Portrait of a drinker by Ruppert, Mulot and Schrauwen. The original plates, in large format, allow you to plunge again with delight into this magnificent work for three, where pirates, real people, alcoholics, the lost, the bad guys, the martyrs, the poor, the downgraded, are put to honor. We glimpse, through the collages – like this scene of looting an enemy bridge where the characters emerge from the fog – the multiple back and forth between the authors. But, strolling through the rooms, one wonders if we are not all this stranded boat.

Relevance. As with other areas of culture, most comic book festivals don’t take place. Angoulême, the most important meeting of the year for the sector, next January, is canceled in its usual form. In this pandemic atmosphere, others have tried to maintain their position, such as Bastia, postponed to September instead of April. Until the end, the director, Juana Macari, and her associative team were afraid of being sunk at the entrance to the Corsican port by a virus shot.

If a dozen authors did come, many have given up, sometimes at the last moment. There are many reasons for the general atmosphere: covids, the quarantines imposed when coming from another country, those who have lived for six months far away and who no longer want to return – like Ruppert, on a videoconference from Thailand, the hypochondriacs who stay at home or those who are overheated, in a feeling of implosion, tired of all the sudden bursts of current uncertainty. In the public, too, who came to the conferences last weekend, we saw that there were fewer people.

Wouldn’t this be the very model of this kind of festival which will eventually disappear? In Bastia, the programming is demanding, showing the best of current French-speaking (and sometimes international) comics, free of charge, without the hubbub of endless signing sequences or price pressure. Here, the authors have time to present their work and, also, to discuss among themselves, creating social and cultural bond in a place which does not abound in them. “Should we continue to come?”, wonders Frederik Peeters, discussing in visio of Switzerland with Benjamin Legrand, the screenwriter of Snowfall and of Tribute, him well present. L’Helvète avoids the plane and questions the ecological relevance of this type of event, while recognizing the risk of creating cultural deserts. If everyone stays at home, what will we have to say to each other? The work of the two authors is presented in an interesting collective exhibition on science fiction, “the Factory of Futures”, with those of Benjamin Adam and Thomas Cadène (Soon), Hugo Bienvenue (Préférence system) and Boulet and Aseyn (Bolchoi Arena ). Pessimists abstain: they will come out of the room, panicked by the future. The beautiful boards of Rampage by Frederik Peeters, successions of full-page paintings, without dialogue, are an apology for all our apocalyptic anxieties, from the explosion of Chernobyl to the relational crisis between man and animals.

The theme returns, in filigree, through several exhibitions, the poetic walk in the forest of Loren Capelli from his album Cap !, to the colorful vermeils of Camille Jourdy, through the stories of wolf in misunderstood underpants by Maïna Itoïz and Wilfrid Lupano.

Finesse. Isn’t it our fault, us humans, sagoons among sagoons, who have used the planet as a gigantic trash can? “Yes”, answers Benjamin Legrand, saddened to see that all his concerns written in the 80s, and in particular in The Transperceneige, between ecological catastrophes and class struggle, seem so topical. It’s even too late, he would tend to think. While waiting for the end of the world, which will come when it comes, we must go to the Bastia museum to see the flagship exhibition of this festival dedicated to the work of Blutch, where the delicacy of the line and the intelligence of the bubbles amaze us, as in every time. We can appreciate a drawing that appeared in Libé, others in the Figaro, where he mocks literary prizes and the figure of the writer, the boards of his resumption of Tif and Tondu, with his brother Robber, and other magnificent from Variations. In this album, he plays with the great classics of Franco-Belgian comics, sticking to history or blithely diverting it. Obviously, we find there the blue tunics, from which it takes its artist name. The conflict is over, Sergeant Chesterfield and Corporal Blutch have been discharged. The first, who has become a paunchy butcher, spends his days complaining in the second’s bar. He hides there all day long, to escape his wife and children, but his son, Calvin’s face by Bill Watterson, always ends up finding him and denounces him with a smile as wide and thick as the shell of a pangolin. “One of these four, I’m going to re-stack Blutch!” You will see… I will properly pack my trunk ”, mumbles the sad sire. His comrade replies: “Calm down ! You have a kind of life that we never desert. ” Ah! it will be fine.

Rens .:

Quentin Girard Special Envoy in Bastia

Comics in Bastia until December 23. Rens. :


Michel Piccoli at “Libé” in 2013: “The directors delegate their secrets to me”

While we learn of the disappearance of Michel Piccoli at the age of 94, we republish the portrait that painted Release on the last page, in 2013, and titled “Valive, the monument

In September 2011, in the (complimentary) criticism that Released devoted to Habemus Papam by Nanni Moretti, the reader was challenged: “Do you know the expression” sacred monster “? It is played there, in front of you. ” Michel Piccoli of course, who, on the day of the meeting, is there before us, for real, in the empty hall of the Cinémathèque française, where a month-long tribute (screenings, lectures) is paid to him. Less tired by age than what his last appearances had suggested, he comments on a few movie posters, has fun with an “Operating Room” sign: “Exploitation, what a funny word!” In an impersonal space, he sits on an office chair his tall waist, hunched over by his 87 years, but carrying a flamboyant past. The voice is serene, oscillates between humor and gravity. He thinks long before each answer, out of a taste for precision, for fear of being incorrect. The practice of the interview does not please those for whom notoriety has “Never, never ever” was any kind of engine, but it sticks to it. He explains : “I find it immodest to talk about yourself. But I rarely say no, because it is so cheeky that someone asks you to talk about your life, that it becomes very pretentious to refuse. “ A nice trick of mental sleight which he will use all along with brilliance. About this tribute from the Cinémathèque française: “I don’t like decorations. So, I felt compelled to say no. And then I said to myself that it would seem presumptuous to refuse. ”

Piccoli is a brown body with a strange presence in its normality (or vice versa), which served as film material for Renoir, Godard, Buñuel, Ferreri, Rivette, Sautet, Brisseau, Vecchiali, Bonello, Carax… Without no contemporary equivalent, he has built a feline career, leaping all over the rooftops of cinephilia, striving to never fall back in the same place, to reinvent himself, to shoot constantly. “I have only one desire: never to be stuck in my acting profession. You always have to find innovations, know that you have to change everything, put things in jeopardy when they have become admirable. ” He evokes the idea of ​​”travel” and explains: “I’m talking about an internal journey, between different worldviews.” He has this magnificent word: “The directors delegate their secrets to me.” He got carried away in a concentrated enthusiasm: “An actor and a filmmaker are two people who constantly watch each other. I’m working with a director to understand why he chose me, how far he allows me to go in his utmost secrecy. ” It is a nice slip, replaces “director” by “Senator”, conferring on the profession will have legitimacy and power. “I knew the secrets of all the senators I worked with, I questioned them, bypassed them, and I never missed one”, entrusts the one to whom the masters of the image, Godard, Ruiz or de Oliveira have entrusted, precisely, their role and therefore their image.

His secrets, he is careful not to tell. “Am I modest?” Yes, yes and yes.” Does he just recall his childhood in the XIIIe arrondissement, in a bourgeois family, his discovery of theater at boarding school, his beginnings during Simon, his first roles in cinema at the turn of the 1940s and 1950s. Nothing about his family life, the women he loved (Eléonore Hirt, Juliette Gréco or his current wife, the screenwriter Ludivine Clerc), of his children. He describes his own daily life as “very calm”, lives in the Bastille district of Paris. He evokes a family drama, a brother who died before his birth, an event which founds his atheism: “It is incomprehensible that children are denied the right to live and continue to be unlivable.” On the dramas of his time, he sees himself “To arrive in an era which upsets him in a new way compared to other times”. A staunch opponent of the far right, a long-time companion of communism, now a friend of the Socialist Party, he supported François Hollande, to whom he “Pay very close attention”. He wonders : “He managed to become a chef” at the limit “. Isn’t it even more admirable? “ He gives his definition of the left: “Be constantly vigilant about our place in the world.” The engagement was born out of adolescence in the 1940s and the memory of Hitlerian vociferations on the radio. “I grew up in an extravagant, monstrous era, which fascinated me and worried me. Living without politics is lazy. “

There is a Piccoli mystery, which goes beyond human modesty. His unique place in European cinema, his virility which has always dodged machismo, the impression of having always known him as an adult – seen today, he knows his first main role with the public contempt at 38 – make the man intrigue. For the current spectator, he is the man of a cinema that has disappeared today. He is not moved, if not (logically) from a personal perspective: “Alas, given my age, most of the people who made up my movie family are missing today.”

This 87-year-old man does not only fascinate by his physical presence, nor by his glorious appearance, nor even by the pleasure taken by the journalist to interview a “legend”. If Piccoli impresses, it is because he has been able to operate an almost semantic shift. The actor became an author. Of certain films which he certainly made, but above all of a general corpus of roles, of an image of which he himself drew, painted, the features. When so many of his colleagues got caught up in the vanity of being beautiful objects, he worked to become a subject. He explains it, qualifies a film set of “Place where creators – screenwriter, machinist, editor, script or actor – meet where everyone has to produce something”.

His memory stumbles. He searches for proper names, lingers on a few words, including the charming one of “Difficult” that he repeats often. But it only takes a few seconds, a narrowing of the eyes, a vocal flight for Piccoli to become Piccoli again, an old sage and vagabond. And funniness trumps age, these years that are beginning “at bother and tease. “ He solves the problem by talking about Manoel de Oliveira, 104 years old: “Why not do like him and continue for years?”

He does not want to resign. Cinema, why not? But of life, no. Abandonment is the theme of Habemus Papam which he is asked, for the record, if he was amused by the similarities between the film and the resignation of Benedict XVI. He answers : “Ask this admirable filmmaker Moretti to become pope. And let the real pope make films, let him finally explain to us how to be happy. ” A sleight of hand, another one.

Michel Piccoli in 5 dates

December 27, 1925 Birth in Paris.

1944 Become an actor.

1963 Contempt.

From 1950 to the 2000s He has appeared in over 200 films.

Until October 4 Tribute to the Cinémathèque française.

Clement Ghys