Monday, December 3, 2012

The Funhouse interview: Marina de Van and Bertrand Bonello (on Jean-Pierre Leaud)

I’m very happy to revisit the interviews done for the Funhouse TV show, as they often involve people who are honest to a fault (as is the case with the first subject here) and other times shed light on not only the interview subject’s work, but that of their colleagues (as is the case with the second).

Marina de Van is an actress-filmmaker best known to American “arthouse” aficionados for her terrific work in films by Francois Ozon (See the Sea, Sitcom, and the script for the very moving Under the Sand). She’s written and directed three features as of this writing (the second, Don’t Look Back, has come out on DVD in the U.S.; the third remains unreleased).

Her first feature, In My Skin, is a fascinating and very disturbing character study that focuses on a woman (played by de Van) who is “losing control” of her body. As a filmmaker, she offers up some impressively stylish scenes (that owe a bit to both Cronenberg and Bunuel) and a few quite harrowing ones in which her character, feeling alienated from herself in the extreme, begins to cut herself. When I interviewed her in 2003, upon the film’s NYC debut, I asked her about this aspect of the film. Her bluntness was quite refreshing:

Bertrand Bonello had a big arthouse success recently with House of Pleasure, but that was not his first piece of cinematic erotica. His 2001 film The Pornographer is an extremely well-acted character study that includes one hardcore sex scene that made certain the film would never appear on “arts cable” in the U.S. (to think, it was only a few years ago when we did still have such a thing).

The film starred the great Jean-Pierre Leaud, perfectly cast as a former radical filmmaker who has turned to commercial sex cinema. He has several superb scenes in the film, particularly a final monologue delivered to a reporter (Catherine Mouchet). I asked Bonello in my 2002 interview with him to talk about his motivation for casting Leaud in the film and what the “New Wave” icon was really like in person. I was fascinated by his answer:

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