o for baroque
Trevor Johnston talks to Alain Corneau. French director of Tous Les Mafins Du Monde.
llaving swept the boards at the
annual (,‘esars ceremony and topped f
the year‘s box office chart into the bargain. Alain (‘orneau‘s film is a French mega-hit to rival Cyrano dc Bergerac. This achievement is made all the more remarkable given that the moviemakers themselves
imagined this intimate drama of 17th -
century viol de gamba players would find its best audience among a coterie of baroque music aﬁcionados. More than anything. Corneau himself— whose ongoing
fascination for this music sparked the
project off in the first place — is
chuffed that the film‘s popularity has
proved the catalyst fora similar surge of interest in the authentic performances on the soundtrack. powering ace violinist Jordi Savall and The Concert of Nations into the French pop charts. ‘I didn‘t actually
believe it until they dragged me offto
a record shop to see it for myself.‘ enthuses the director. ‘but there was Queen at number one. Jordi Savall at number two and Michael Jackson
at number three!‘
Adapted from a novel by Pascal Ouignard. the known biographical details of Louis XIV court composer Marin Marais (Gerard Depardieu) and his enigmatic contemporary. reclusive master ofthe viol Sainte Colombe (Jean-Pierre Marielle). provide the basis fora story exploring the mystery ofcreativity and its relationship to romantic obsession. Told from the vantage point ofold age by the latterly much-lauded Marais. Corneau has persuaded Dcpardieufils. music student Guillaume. to play the part of his dad‘s younger self. approaching the sternly ascetic Sainte Colombe for lessons yet constantly berated for putting
technical display before intensity of self-expression.
‘It was a great advantage for me to have both the Depardieus. because it helped both the audience and the other actors to believe that they‘re playing the same man.‘ explains the 49-year-old. who previously worked with Ge’rard on the 1983 Foreign Legion epic For! .S‘aganne. ‘Guillaume is very serious about his music and doesn't really want to be in movies. but for this he said “Okay”. The crew treated him a little differently because he was Gérard‘s son. but ofall the actors he was the only one who really played the viol on set. The music track was obviously recorded beforehand. but
I we always had a violinist there just
behind the camera and Guillaume was able to match him note for note.‘
Refreshing and slightly astringent. the music sets the mood of the film as a whole. the unsentimental and undemonstrative tones of this predecessor ofthe modern cello evoking a vein of reflective melancholy that slowly but surely draws the audience under its spell. "l'his baroque style was about regret. its ultimate ambition was to make
; you cry and so that's deeply
ingrained in the film too.‘ explains Corneau. a long-established figure on the French movie scene now achieving international recognition
with this. his ninth feature. ‘Music is
our inner voice. It's a way of going back to all the people who’ve been a part of you.‘
Ofcourse. wonderful music does not on its own a fine film make. and Corneau‘s trick is to have achieved a rare chemistry with the elements at his disposal. With a visual style artfully reproducing on celluloid the French paintings ofthe time. Sainte Colombe and Marais‘ ongoing conflict tracing the balance between the introspective private persona and compromised public figure. and the presence of both Depardieus and Anne Brochet recalling the romance of Cyrano. it‘s a film for the head and the heart. the eyes and the ears. ‘And terribly. terribly French.’ beams Corneau. ‘because the only way for Europeans to get our cinemas full and our film industries back on track is to return to our roots and make the movies that no one else can make. To stop copying Hollywood. we have to make our work very French. very Spanish. very Scottish too. l think.’
; :— : Wayans to go
According to writer-star and co-executive producer Damon Wayans, the ‘action-comedy-romance’ that is
Mo’ Money grew out of his own
' experiences a few years back when he was working for a credit card company. . ‘I didn’t leave work without it and I got
. caught,‘ he recalls with a rueful smile.
2 ‘l’d worked my way up from the mailroom to be supervisor, but then I
; got greedy and learned how cards can
t; be used and abused. It turned out to be
research, but I still have a very minor felony on my record.’
On screen, Damon and juniorsibling Marlon play brothers in the art of the con, with Wayans the elder and a few flexible friends behaving badly in order to win over career foxtress Stacey Dash. So much for comedy and romance, but in the process our heroes incur the violent wrath of some ruthless villains out to exploit the same criminal territory as themselves, ensuring a slew of dead bodies on the way to an action climax- one where director Peter (Rambo Ill) Macdonald’s touch is rather more assured than the comic (mis)timing that has gone before.
‘lt’s not a socio-politicai message movie, it’sfun!‘ claims Wayans, but
the result, surely only of interest to students of calculated cinematic crassness, has to go down as a disappointing movie follow-up to Wayans's previous turn as Bruce Willis’s ex-lootball player sidekick in The Last Boy Scout. The star of US TV's young black satirical sketch prog In Living Color doesn‘t entirely rule out a sequel to the slick Joel Silver special, but, perhaps surprisingly, remains rather cool on the whole subject of the Jimmy Dix role. ‘I would’ve been funnier. The guy had a dead girlfriend, a dead kid and a drug habit, which was a bit much. There’s more comedy in Mo’ Money because I wanted to give the audience what they expected from me and had come to know me doing.‘ With a welcome return to live stand-up in the offing (‘It's a quicker laugh, a quicker pay-off’) and plans to produce a ‘predominantly black’ drama forAmerican television, the remarkable Wayans family profile (brother Keenan Wayans wrote and starred in blaxploitation spoof I’m Gonna Git You Sucka!) could be set to rise higher and higher. As one often children, and with the hinderance of a club foot to deal with too, our Damon hasn’t done at all badly for someone
, who reckons ‘comedy is something you i do when you’re confused and you can't
do nothin’ else.’ (TrevorJohnston)
Mo' Money opens across Scotland on Fri 18 Dec.
The List 18 December 1992 ~ 14 January 1993 27