I bring you a wonderful manifesto from Tulsa World that makes the case for Marion Cotillard's Oscar nomination.
"This is a complete transformation, a commitment both physically and in spirit. It forces me to recall Reese Witherspoon’s Oscar- winning turn as June Carter Cash and see it as an efficient, relatable creation. But Cotillard – perhaps best known to U.S. audiences as Russell Crowe’s romantic interest in 2006’s “A Good Year” – raises Piaf from the grave, burning an impression into your brain of an artist in near-constant free fall."More...
Friday, August 31, 2007
I bring you a wonderful manifesto from Tulsa World that makes the case for Marion Cotillard's Oscar nomination.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
AwardsDaily (formerly known as Oscarwatch) is one of my favorite Oscar prognosticator sites. They've been doing it for a long time and, to quote LL Cool J, doin' it well. Yes, I'm down.
In any case, here are their predictions in the Lead Actress category (based on films already released):
Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Julie Christie, Away from Her
Keri Russell, Waitress
No fifth spot yet, but I'd definitely put Cate Blanchett in that list--I just can't fathom the idea of her not getting nodded for The Golden Age.
That being said, I'd remove Ms. Russell from the list and put Keira Knightley in for "Atonement." I'd go even further and take Ms. Jolie off the list as well. That leaves the wild card spot, generally reserved for an astonishing debut (Keisha Castle-Hughes) or a well-established legend (Meryl Streep, Dame Judi Dench, take your pic). So my list would look something like this:
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Julie Christie, Away from Her
Cate Blanchett, The Golden Age
Keira Knightley, Atonement
Meryl Streep, Lions for Lambs or Rendition
Monday, August 27, 2007
Here's a short write up about the box office performance of "La Vie En Rose" in the UK. It's good news:
"The French films 'Tell No One' directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Kristin Scott Thomas, and Olivier Dahan's 'La Vie en Rose' starring Marion Cotillard, have both joined the ranks of international films topping £1 million at the UK box office. The success achieved by the two films takes them into the all-time top 10 French films at the UK box office, along with 'Amelie', 'Cyrano de Bergerac', 'A Very Long Engagement' and 'Cache' (Hidden)." More...
So, basically, Marion Cotillard has two films in the top 10 French films at the UK box office. Sweet.
Friday, August 24, 2007
There are some very nice fansites dedicated to Marion Cotillard out there. I'll be posting a few here and there. Particularly those that have G-rated content (let's keep it classy, eh?).
Of course there is the official Cotillard website, featuring some really nice photos, writings and other musings of those talented Cotillard siblings. Not really a fansite, per se, but a lovely site nonetheless.
A true fansite is Magnifique Marion Cotillard. It has an awesome collection of photos and is updated regularly. Check it out.
So go take a look but don't forget about this sad little blog and come back soon!
Here's a short piece by Style on Ms. Cotillard's style (did somebody say "redundant"?):
"Marion Cotillard's portrayal of Edith Paif captivated France when La Vie en Rose, as the film is known in the U.S., was released earlier this year. The actress nailed Piaf's mannerisms, including her love of little black dresses, a preference that seems to have spilled over into her real life." More.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
So Tuesday's news about the possibility of Marion starring in the film adaptation of "Nine" are all over the internet and being greeted with great excitement. Some folks are reporting that Bardem, Cruz, and Cotillard have all accepted the offers, while others report that they have merely been offered the part (i.e. no acceptance yet) or are in negotiations to accept.
I think I'll just wait until an official press release comes out--hopefully soon.
In the meantime, I'm going to go old school on y'all. Here's a video of Marion showcasing her own singing voice to the theme song from "Les Jolie Choses." Enjoy!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Fantastic news; Marion is reportedly in talks to star in the screen adaptation of the musical "Nine" alongside Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem (dreamy!). The film would be helmed by "Chicago" director Rob Marshall. Bardem would reportedly play Guido, the conflicted director, while Cotillard would play his wife, Louisa.
"Nine" is based on Fellini's 8 1/2. Although I'm not that familiar with the musical version, I obviously love Fellini's film. Click here for more.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
This is a real treat. From "La Vie En Rose's" Production Notes, here are Marion Cotillard's thoughts about taking on the role of a lifetime:
LA VIE EN ROSE
by Marion Cotillard
In my early 20s, I really got into a number of singers of "la chanson réaliste" movement and I listened to a lot of Fréhel, Yvette Guilbert, Aristide Bruant and, of course, Edith Piaf. More than the others, her songs moved me because she sang of pure, true, absolute emotions with a voice that got you in the guts. At the time, I knew almost nothing about her, but I already knew by heart songs like Les amants d’un jour, L’hymne à l’amour and La foule. On several occasions since then, I've listened to her songs just before a scene in order to reach a vulnerable, emotional state. Piaf helped me as an actress long before I got the chance to play her.
Very early on, my agent told me that Olivier Dahan was writing a film about Piaf and had thought of me for the part, but experience has taught me not to pay too much attention to rumors like that until you have the script in front of you. In the next few months, from time to time I'd hear other rumors or push the whole thing out of my mind, and then one day, Olivier asked to meet me. We got on right away and felt very comfortable with each other, as if it was obvious that our paths would cross one day.
Before that meeting, I had glanced over a few photos of Piaf. I didn't want to be presumptuous and invest too much energy in a part I hadn't even been offered, but I couldn't help setting out to find her. When I realized that Olivier really wanted to make the film with me, I couldn't wait to get started. He gave me Jean Noli's book about the last three years of Piaf's life. My admiration for her only increased when I found out what kind of life she had had.
At the time, the script was longer, but already quite exceptional. Olivier had built an intimate, balanced, very human portrait of Piaf. His screenplay was full of powerful moments, life-changing encounters, breakups, desertions, hope and love. A regular movie only ever has one scene that reaches that pitch. This one is full of them. In fact, I think it's probably her intensity, in the good times and the bad, which explains why she only lived to forty-seven. It was an extraordinary role but I soon realized how demanding it would be to play Piaf from her early days to her death. I had never been given a role like that before. Nobody had ever asked me to play a woman like that, a life like that. It was all very new to me. I was nervous but I never felt a glimmer of doubt. That's probably down to not ever feeling any doubt in Olivier's mind. He had faith in me and that's all I needed. The other thing that stopped me totally panicking was that, although I imagined it would be difficult, but I never imagined just how difficult!
In October 2005, right after I finished shooting Ridley Scott's A Good Year, I got down to work every day. I would open the script, read these amazing scenes and close it immediately, hardly daring to think what was awaiting me. A little voice told me to open the script back up and read some more because one day soon I would be in La Brasserie Julien playing that scene. Or in the apartment on Boulevard Lannes reading Non, je ne regrette rien for the first time, and I would have to play that scene. Or I had be lying on her death bed and I wouldn't be able to back out! So I'd read some more of the script, with my heart pounding. Many times, I've been so apprehensive I feel like calling up a director to tell him to find another actress. But on this film, even when I was a nervous wreck, never, not once!
From the very beginning, I said that I would need to work with a coach. It wasn't about physical issues or needing reassurance, but I wanted somebody at my side to set out to meet Piaf with me. I'd already worked with Pascal Luneau and he showed me something that was absolutely vital. I had so much admiration for Piaf that some aspects of her were incomprehensible to me, especially the tyrannical aspect. Pascal helped me realize that my admiration prevented me getting to the bottom of her. Losing that admiration didn't mean not liking her anymore, but reaching another level. I stopped making myself so small in comparison to her and that's when I got a handle on everything I didn't like in her personality. Eventually, I came to really love her because I realized that the only thing she couldn't bear was to be alone. She would go to any lengths not to be alone, even if it meant tyrannizing the people she loved.
We never worked on the physical aspects of the character – the way she walked, move, spoke – and then, the first day on set, I heard "Action!" and this voice I had never heard before came out of my mouth. In fact, my preparation had focused totally on observing and immersing myself in Edith Piaf. I watched so many tapes and listened to so many interviews that they ended up feeding a kind of inner process. From the start, I knew I didn't want just to imitate her. My aim was to make enough room within me for Piaf to feel at home, without me disappearing completely. I had to welcome her in so that we could get on and create something together.
Part of being an actor is inviting characters in or summoning them up to share with you what you are. When you play Phedra, you kind of call on her. Of course, when you play someone as powerful and present as Piaf, it's even more overwhelming. Some people may find all that a bit mystical, but all I can say is that after spending so long watching, listening to and loving her, I often had the impression that she was there. I was so deeply steeped in the way she moved and spoke, down to the tiniest inflections of her voice, that it was as if she existed within me. I arrived on set to meet up with her again! I'm not putting any mystical or esoteric spin on all this, it was just an encounter, an extraordinary encounter. Something of her recreated itself in me. It lasted only as long as we were shooting. At certain moments, you felt her presence. I often felt like we were working together. And then, you leave your ego to one side and just go for it. It's frightening but absolutely thrilling. The first scene I had to play like that was set in the apartment on Boulevard Lannes, when Charles Dumont brings her Non, je ne regrette rien. I found myself speaking and moving as if Piaf were inside me. Even if we had to do it again and again, even though it was tough, that's when I realized that I was going to get a great kick out of playing her.
The make-up tests where sheer hell and a lot of make-up artists fell short! Each time, we had to start over with somebody new. That phase caused me so much worry because the results never came up to our expectations and I knew that, however good my performance was, if the make-up didn't work, it would be impossible for the audience to believe in it. Didier Lavergne did an amazing job, despite having less time than such a huge challenge usually requires. The make-up still took a certain time to get right and we had to shoot certain scenes again.
Playing Piaf when she was younger was less of a problem because I didn't have such heavy make-up. On set, Olivier uses few words but they are all spot-on. He directs visually, by describing things. That may seem mechanical, but it's totally intuitive for him and it worked perfectly for me. He offered us some magical moments, like the sequence shot when Piaf finds out that Cerdan is dead. I knew the dimensions of the set by heart – a long hallway that I had to prowl up and down. We had all rehearsed the scene. Everybody had to be in exactly the right place. There was a real buzz of excitement – exceptional, positive energy. We couldn't afford to put a foot wrong because it would mean having to start all over again. When I woke up that morning, I thought of Roberto, the steadicam operator, and Chris, the focus puller, and I said to myself that we were going to waltz together. When the scene was in the can, we all had the most wonderful feeling.
The crew members were the first to see my transformation and, to be honest, I felt a kind of stage-fright because I admire them all. I was especially nervous of the scenes when I played Piaf in her later years. I'll never forget my first scene with Pascal Greggory, Marie-Armelle Deguy, Elisabeth Commelin and Jean-Paul Muel. They were all wonderful. We were all headed toward exactly the same goal.
I like to sing, but the technical process of miming to a tape was the hardest thing for me, simply because I wanted it to be perfect. I worked with a singing teacher to learn how Piaf sang – her body and tongue movements, and breathing. It was so complicated it nearly drove me insane. If I had tapes of her singing a particular song, I analyzed her performance. I noticed that being in rhythm isn't enough when you're miming. Your breathing is vital. I would jot down the exact moment when she took a breath, then I'd put the music on and film myself singing to camera. I spent whole nights taking notes on what not to do! I wanted it to be Piaf.
There were some truly amazing moments on this film, like when we were shooting at the Olympia concert hall in Paris, when Piaf makes a wonderful return to the stage with Non, je ne regrette rien. Ginou Richer, who was very close to Piaf, was in the audience. It felt incredible being with her on set. It must have been strange for her. When I arrived on stage to sing that song, with Ginou there, it was absolutely magical.
I'll never approach a part in the same way again. Piaf taught me so much. In terms of my work, I think I'll enjoy it even more than before because now I know that characters truly exist in their own right. I'll have a way to bring them even more intensely to life.
Friday, August 17, 2007
From The Roanoke Times:
"Marion Cotillard plays the troubled singer from her teens to her death in a performance that can only be called transcendent. Cotillard grasps the insecurity that plagued Piaf from her loveless childhood and the all-consuming egotism that came with her concert and recording success. She might be a shambles offstage, but asserting herself in the spotlight, her raspy voice soaring to the rafters, she transmutes her pain into glory." More...
Thursday, August 16, 2007
One of my stomping grounds on the web is a little place called "Goldderby." And while it can get pretty contentious in there at times, everyone loves and respects films. In any case, one of the current topics of discussion there is people's favorite performances by actresses. I posted my list there and well, things still being pretty slow, I figure I'd post it here as well. Here goes:
01. Vivien Leigh, A Streetcar Named Desire/Gone with the Wind (to me, the two greatest performances ever put on film)
02. Gong Li, The Story of Qiu Ju
03. Elizabeth Taylor, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
04. Sophia Loren, Two Women
05. Kate Winslet, Heavenly Creatures/Jude/Eternal Sunshine.../Little Children
06. Katharine Hepburn, Little Women/Stage Door/Bringing up Baby/Long Day's Journey into Night
07. Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth/Notes on a Scandal/The Aviator
08. Bette Davis, All About Eve
09. Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose
10. Juliette Binoche, The English Patient/Damage/Blue
11. Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker
12. Meryl Streep, Sophie's Choice/Kramer v. Kramer/Silkwood/She-Devil (seriously)
13. Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment/Postcards from the Edge
14. Halle Berry, Monster's Ball
15. Bibi Andersson, Persona
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Here's a mixed review (yes, one of those), but with a glowing review of Marion Cotillard's performance (yes, one of those, too)from Salon:
"Here, Cotillard copies Piaf's puppetlike mannerisms, her easy, bucktoothed smile, with eerie accuracy. This is the kind of biopic performance people often laud because they see how closely it mirrors the reality of its subject. But this is a good performance in spite of Cotillard's exacting mimicry: Any good actor can imitate tics and mannerisms, but Cotillard has so much life in her that the spirit of Piaf shines through the exaggerated, shrugging gestures and cartoonishly tweaked eyebrows. Cotillard makes the necessary leap between mere impersonation and a bracingly sympathetic rendering of one woman's suffering, as well as her occasional joys." More...
Monday, August 13, 2007
So things are a bit slow (that's an understatement), and I've pretty much exhausted what's already out there on the net. So to keep us entertained, here's a trailer for "La Vie En Rose." "What makes this different from any other trailer out there, anonymous blogger?" you ask. Subtitles, my friend, subtitles.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Since watching "La Vie En Rose" last month, I've been checking out other Cotillard films. So far I've seen "Jeux d'enfants," "Innocence," "A Good Year," and "Furia." I've pre-ordered "Les Jolie Choses," which will be released in the U.S. next month. In any case, here's the trailer to "Jeux d'enfants," a crazy, funny, and original film which if anything proves that Ms. Cotillard can give a mean comic performance (literally).
This film seems to be available pretty much everywhere, including Netflix. Check it out if you're in need of a quick fix until the DVD release of "La Môme."
Also worth checking out is this very moving short film Marion made 10 years ago entitled "La Mouette" (which translates to "The Seagull"). It co-stars Natacha Régnier, who along with Élodie Bouchez won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for "The Dreamlife of Angels" just one year after this film. The short is mercifully subtitled in English and runs less than 5 minutes.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Although this blog focuses pretty much exclusively on Marion Cotillard and her incredible performance in "La Vie En Rose," I'm also a big fan of the film itself. Marion aside, the film is rich in small yet memorable performances, from Emmanuelle Seigner as Titine, to Jean-Pierre Martins as Marcel Cerdan, to Gérard Depardieu as Louis Leplée. Let's not forget Sylvie Testud as Mômone, Catherine Allégret as Louise or Marc Barbé as Pygmalion himself, Raymond Asso.
Add to that list the performances of the two young actresses who play Piaf as a child--Manon Chevallier and Pauline Burlet--and you have all the right ingredients to create one of the best biopics in recent memory.
Here's an excerpt featuring Pauline Burlet and Jean-Paul Rouve, who is simply wonderful as Edith's father, Louis Gassion. It is the first time in the film we see young Edith sing. The moment is simple--one of pure cinematic magic.
Here's another review of the film courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press. It's a four star review, by the way.
"The various decades of the 20th century are recaptured wonderfully in "La Vie en Rose," but what makes it an important film to be savored by any film lover is the tour de force performance by Cotillard. It isn't often an actress in a foreign production is thought about at Oscar time, but I'll be shocked if she doesn't get a nomination for this." More...
Please beware that, as with any review, it may give away some parts of the film. Personally, I gave up on reading film reviews before seeing a film last year. This has drastically improved my movie-going experiences, no joke. But I digress :)
Here's another rave for both film and performer, this time from the Modesto Bee. The writer really hits it right on the nail on both fronts. Here's a sample:
"The actress ("A Good Year," A Very Long Engagement") brings new meaning to the word transformation: There isn't a second of screen time when you'll find yourself thinking that you're watching an actor at work. With Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose," you are witnessing some kind of unexplainable, extraordinary inhabitation." More...
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I've managed to unearth yet another interview of Marion's (in English). The writer states: "Simply put, Cotillard, as Piaf, gives the most remarkable performance you'll see on film this year." Well, I can't argue with that! Here's the link.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Adding its voice to the chorus, blog TLA is making various Oscar predictions, which include the following:
"La Vie en Rose, if nothing else, should see a Best Actress nom for French actress Marion Cotillard, who is superb as singer Edith Piaf." More...
I was also informed that "La Vie En Rose" won the Audience Award for Best Film at the Philadelphia Film Festival. Accolades galore...and this is just the beginning.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Here's a wonderful interview with Marion Cotillard, courtesy of Goldenfiddle. In it she talks about her role, preparation, and the possiblity of an Oscar (which she refers to as the "O" word--love it). Click here for the interview.
I wanted to reflect back on the woman behind the film. I knew very little about Edith Piaf before seeing "La Vie En Rose." That is, I knew a handful of songs--I can't think of a time when I didn't know the tune to "La Vie En Rose" or "L'hymne à l'Amour"--about a few of her love affairs (Yves Montand, Marcel Cerdan to a certain extent), and was able to quickly recognize the small lady in the black dress. Olivier Dahan's film opened up my eyes to La Piaf's life--as someone said before, Piaf makes Judy Garland's life seem like a walk in the park. I've rediscovered her unique talent and have been enriched in the process. I don't claim to understand the woman, but I can certainly empathize. For a nice primer on Piaf's life, here's a helpful link. Enjoy.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Here's another treat. Someone put together two excerpts and the trailer for "La Vie En Rose." The first excerpt shows Piaf, in 1959 (I believe), ill and exhausted but always wanting to go back to her audience. The second excerpt is Piaf's performance of "Non, je ne regrette rien." Chills. Finally, there's a short teaser trailer. Call it 3 1/2 minutes in heaven.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Newsweek is already handicapping the Oscar race. Reflecting back on the summer offerings, the magazine singles out various performances:
"There are already three possible best-actress nominees from films released since May—Julie Christie for "Away From Her," Angelina Jolie for "A Mighty Heart" and Marion Cotillard for "La Vie en Rose." More...
Personally, I tend to disagree about a possible nod for Angelina. The film fizzled out pretty quickly and (unfortunately) her private life tends to overshadow her work. Julie Christie, on the other hand, is definitely a contender. Add Cate Blanchett to the list (even though "The Golden Age" does not come out until the Fall), I bet she'll get in. She's always excellent, and the previews look amazing.
There's a famous anecdote involving Marlon Brando's Broadway debut. Brando, probably the greatest actor to grace the screen thus far, revolutionized the art form. Although remarkable actors like James Cagney, Clark Gable, and especially Bette Davis, predated him by a few decades, it was truly Brando who galvanized an entire generation of actors, including James Dean and Paul Newman.
Film critic Pauline Kael attended a performance of "Truckline Cafe," a play in which then unknown Brando was starring. The scene that followed was this:
"Critic Pauline Kael saw Brando on Broadway, during one of the 13 performances of a 1946 flop play titled Truckline Café. Brando played a soldier who has just murdered his wife out of jealousy. Kael wrote that she looked away—she thought this young actor was having a fit onstage." (Source)
I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that many hardened reviewers are having similarly visceral reactions to Marion's performance in "La Vie En Rose." This is a watershed moment.
For years I had grown numb as to what great acting could be. Sure, a few performances came along which impressed me enormously--Kate Winslet, for one, always seems to put in performances that belong in that great thespian pantheon. Add to that list the great Juliette Binoche and the criminally underrated Gong Li. Peter Saarsgard has been doing some consistently wonderful, subtle work. Penelope Cruz was magnificent in "Volver."
But to watch Marion is to watch something leagues above the competition. It shocks the soul.
Famously mercurial critic Rex Reed from the New York Observer loves "La Vie En Rose." That's no easy feat, my friends, so enjoy:
"Ms. Cotillard has more faces than Piaf’s saga has chapters. Flawlessly lip-synching the icon’s passionate voice, she synchronizes Piaf’s energy, eyes, body language, madness, tragedy, triumphs and outrageous humor until you are galvanized by her greatness. The veins in her neck bulge like helium whenever Piaf reaches a note that shatters, and she even inhales when Piaf does. The non-linear style can be jarring, but somehow, in the scope of Mr. Dahan’s direction and the range of Ms. Cotillard’s virtuosity, you always know where you are and what period it is in Piaf’s life." More...
Just for kicks, here's another Piaf performance. This time she sings a personal favorite, Milord. Piaf projects so much energy and is such a great presence, so it's always a bit of a shock to see just how short in stature she was--especially when she's standing next to the not-so-tall-himself Ed Sullivan.
Greatness lives on.
Friday, August 3, 2007
A recent interview of Marion's has come to my attention. It's interesting in that she talks about her process pretty in-depth. I found it fascinating that she's not a "method" actor, per se. Here's an excerpt:
"I have never used, nor will I ever use, my personal life to feed a character. I don’t want to do that because I think it’s dangerous for me to think of sad events in my life to achieve certain emotions. I’m not the person who will be sad about someone’s life and go into that kind of emotional state. I see Edith’s entire life and, yes, parts of it were sad but she was also a very “living” person. As an actress it gives me great pleasure playing tragedy because it involves huge emotions where you can express a lot of things and really let go." More...
Thursday, August 2, 2007
This is a wonderful little essay in which Emanuel Levy makes a case for Marion's Oscar nod.
"It is with great pleasure that I nominate Marion Cotillard, the brilliant French actress who embodies the legendary singer Edith Piaf in the biopic "La Vie en Rose," as the first bona fide Oscar contender in 2007." More...
When a review starts out with the line "The problem with La Vie en Rose..." we know it won't be pretty. Still, the reviewer keeps in line with the aforeto universal praise bestowed on Marion with gems like this:
"Piaf is played by Marion Cotillard, in a fierce and brilliant and finely controlled performance that you actually don't have to be French to understand. The endlessly allusive, ruefully jaunty charisma radiating from her heavy-lidded eyes seems congruent with that of the sparrow's voice, which Cotillard lip-synchs easily and impressively. Better still, she makes good, strong choices to show how the life Piaf absorbed informed the artist she became." More...
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
When news are slow, turn to footage. Here's an interview (for French television) that Marion gave to promote the opening of "La Môme" in France this past February.
Marion's film, Les Jolies Choses ("Pretty Things"), will be available for purchase through the Barnes & Noble website beginning September 11. It will be in wide-screen format, and I assume it will come with subtitles. It's fantastic that some of Marion's previous films are becoming available here in the US. No word yet on when (or if) Mary will ever be released in NTSC format.