Month: June 2007

Temporary Version

I’m very sorry for this rather boring look here. But I’m working on the site and to be able to do background work this version is needed. It is only temporary though and I’m really trying to get the new version up soon. Many thanks for your patience.

Breakthrough Actress of the Year

This great news just came in via Variety:

The Hollywood Film Festival has tapped Marion Cotillard to receive its Hollywood Breakthrough Actress of the Year Award.

Kudo will be presented at the festival’s Oct. 22 awards ceremony at the Beverly Hilton.

The org cited Cotillard’s performance in Olivier Dahan’s “La Vie en rose.” Previous recipients of the Hollywood breakthrough honors include Jamie Foxx, Jake Gyllenhaal, Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley and Naomi Watts.

21st Cabourg Romantic Film Festival

Everyone who has had the pleasure of seeing Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose already (the film has just opened in the UK and USA) will agree that her performance is worthy of every award out there. So it will come as no surprise to us that Marion Cotillard has been awarded the award (Swann d’0r which means Golden Swan) for Best Actress at the 21st Cabourg Romantic Film Festival in France on June 16. This is certainly the first of many more to come. Congratulations!!!

Awarded the Best Actor trophy was Guillaume Canet. The 2 visited the festival before – also together – in 2003 to promote Love Me If You Dare.

Considering Marion Cotillard hasn’t signed up for a new project to follow up ‘La Môme’ yet and her statement that she would like to take a break for a while you may find the following interesting: A local newspaper reports her saying at the festival that she still has “a ‘hunger’ for new roles and more beautiful stories to tell”. Isn’t that a relief?

Many thanks for the help with the pictures goes once again to Mariana!

005 21st Cabourg Romantic Film Festival – Various
036 21st Cabourg Romantic Film Festival – Ceremony

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A rosy future French actress’ research allows her to inhabit Piaf role

from Back Stage West / by Sarah Kuhn

Even before taking on the role of Edith Piaf in the biopic “La Vie en Rose,” Marion Cotillard felt a connection to the iconic French singer. Cotillard often uses music to prepare for particularly emotional scenes and has a few of Piaf’s songs in her play list. “I had a personal relationship with her songs, which have helped me a lot for other movies,” the French actress said. “But I really didn’t know anything about her life. I had to discover everything.”

Director Olivier Dahan had Cotillard in mind for the role from the beginning, even as he was writing the screenplay.

Cotillard, meanwhile, felt an immediate bond with the filmmaker. “When we met, magically, something very natural, something obvious appeared,” she said. “We understood each other. … On the set, we had the same vision of Piaf without talking. We never talked about the script; we never talked about the character. Of course, we talked about Piaf — but like two fans.”

In preparing for the role, Cotillard did extensive research, learning all about the singer’s colorful life. The film follows Piaf’s journey from her poverty-stricken youth through her blazing stardom and tragic later years. Cotillard read books and studied old footage, but she also did a lot of “inner work” to capture Piaf’s distinctive essence. The result is a ferocious performance that doesn’t merely mimic Piaf; Cotillard inhabits the role so fully, it almost seems she’s channeling the legendary singer. “I didn’t want to imitate her,” she said. “I never tried to have the same voice or to move like her. My aim was to understand her heart and try to understand her soul.”

The Paris-born Cotillard got her start in a 1993 episode of the TV series “Highlander” and became well-known in France after winning a lead role in the Luc Besson-penned film “Taxi,” which spawned two sequels she appeared in and landed her a nomination for most promising actress at the 1999 Cisar Awards (the French equivalent of the Academy Awards). She considers her role as vengeful prostitute Tina Lombardi in 2004’s “A Very Long Engagement” a breakthrough of sorts, as it netted her a Cisar for best supporting actress, gave her the opportunity to work with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and got her noticed on an international level.

Cotillard likely has other great opportunities ahead of her, but one thing is certain: Playing Piaf is something she will remember forever.

Marion Cotillard vs. the Calendar

from FilmStew.com / by Brett Buckalew

It’s already a strong year for female lead performances. Too bad the Academy generally only has eyes for the fourth quarter.

The last four months of each year is a time for the film industry to quit its summertime tomfoolery and start putting out the serious-minded prestige films that get the Academy’s attention.

All one needs to do is look at the recent Oscar winners in the acting categories to confirm the legitimacy of this seasonal trend. Last year, only one of the four victorious performers – Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine’s Best Supporting Actor – had a film that was released before September. The year before, all four acting category winners did their prize-winning work in the fall-winter period.

There’s no reason to believe that 2007 will play out any differently. Javier Bardem seems to have at least a nomination secured for his villainous turn in the November release No Country for Old Men, thanks to the acclaim his performance received at the film’s Cannes Film Festival premiere. And a number of other actors – including Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) and Halle Berry (Things We Lost in the Fire) – are generating Oscar buzz for films that no one has even seen yet.

It’s only fair to give the fourth-quarter-release award-season hopefuls the benefit of the doubt and assume their work will indeed be trophy-worthy, but still, there’s a major downside to favoring their chances: doing so overlooks the quality work that actors have turned in during the first eight months of the year.

Will Chris Cooper’s arguably career-best work as a tormented, neo-conservative FBI turncoat in Breach be recognized with a Best Actor nomination? Will Robert Downey Jr.’s typically excellent performance as a crime beat reporter who falls into a self-destructive spiral in Zodiac earn him a deserved slot in the Supporting Actor category?

And what of all the great, fearless lead-female performances that have graced the screen throughout the first half of 2007? Carice van Houten gave real urgency to a Dutch-Jewish resistance fighter’s struggle for survival during WWII in Black Book, though the film’s sexually risqué touches may freak out older Academy members. Julie Christie played a cheated-upon spouse’s descent into Alzheimer’s with sensitivity and ambiguity in Away From Her, but the similarly themed, more accessible The Notebook didn’t land any nominations for its cast three summers ago. Meanwhile, a de-glamorized Ashley Judd is in a movie (Bug) that will be seen as too dark, while the endearing Keri Russell is in one (Waitress) that will be seen as too light.

Add Marion Cotillard’s performance in La Vie en Rose to the list. One advantage she has that these other early-’07-release leading ladies don’t have is that she’s playing a historical figure – revered mid-20th-century singing star Edith Piaf – which certainly worked wonders for last year’s lead-acting Oscar winners, Forest Whitaker (Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland) and Helen Mirren (Elizabeth II in The Queen). Factors that slightly diminish her chances are that the film is French-language (actors speaking in a foreign tongue are rarely recognized by the Academy) and, of course, that it opened in early June instead of late November.

If Cotillard’s staggering embodiment of Piaf isn’t rewarded with at least a nomination at year’s end, it won’t be for quality-based reasons. As with every great portrayal of an existing person, Cotillard’s performance works because she finds the vulnerable humanity within the larger-than-life icon.

Standing at a tiny 4’ 8” (her stage name, “Piaf,” translates to “sparrow”) and with a body that had an unfortunate tendency to attract disease (a case of conjunctivitis that befell her as a little girl left her temporarily blind, and she died of cancer at the tragically early age of 47), Piaf was a commanding stage star possessed of an incongruous physical frailty. Cotillard, whose natural beauty in real life has been on display in American films like Big Fish and A Good Year, not only commits to the character’s wobbly physicality but has the creative audacity to suggest that Piaf’s heart was just as fragile.

The actress enlarges her eyes to near-dinner-plate size, using them to aid her interpretation of Piaf as someone constitutionally incapable of concealing her emotions. Those massive peepers seem constantly on the verge of tearing up in rage, sadness, or delight. Cotillard also gives Piaf a fierce, raspy cackle of a laugh that erupts out of her, sometimes against her better judgment.

But given the nature of show business, Piaf wouldn’t have risen to fame if she didn’t also have a strong, diva-like will, and Cotillard gets that just right too. Whether criticizing the pastrami sandwich at her lover’s (middleweight boxer Marcel Cerdan, played here by Jean-Pierre Martins) favorite deli for being not haute cuisine enough for her refined palate, or carelessly sloshing around her champagne glass at a dinner party held in her honor, Cotillard’s Piaf is someone who needs to perform and assert her dominance even off the stage.

As a film, La Vie en Rose doesn’t quite keep up with the grand showmanship and emotional complexity of the performance at its center, but it has a few impressive tricks up its sleeve. Writer-director Olivier Dahan’s evocative visual design and refreshingly unconventional fractured-chronology storytelling flow go a long way towards keeping the feeling of musical-biopic fatigue at bay.

Though other recent examples of the genre, such as Walk the Line and Ray, have been just as well-crafted as this one, the fact that all three of them strain to cram decades of their respective subjects’ life into just two hours and change leads to the conclusion that maybe it’s time for a more inventive, more focused approach. Look at Gus Van Sant’s ingenious study of a faux-Kurt Cobain figure, Last Days, which kept its timeframe limited to, well, the last days of a tortured musician.

But just as Ray and Walk the Line led to Oscar victories for their respective stars, Jamie Foxx and Reese Witherspoon, it’d be nice to see La Vie en Rose follow suit and nab a Golden Guy for Cotillard. That’s one musical-biopic trend I wouldn’t quibble with.

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