Reviews - August 2009

Reviews - August 2009

DVD Release BY Pierre de VilliersParadeDirector: Jacques TatiStarring: Jacques TatiCertificate: URunning time 85 minutesRelease date: July

In a circus theatre in Sweden, filled to the brim with hippies in brightly coloured clothes, French filmmaker Jacques Tati is holding court. “It’s our great pleasure to introduce a show that everyone is invited to participate in,” he tells the audience. “The performers and clowns are you and I, all gathered here for Parade.”  What follows is a fascinating spectacle as the line between the public and performers is blurred in Tati’s last completed movie. Filmed at the Cirkus Theatre in Stockholm in 1973, Parade is essentially a series of variety acts performed for a family audience and hosted by Tati. In an effort to democratise the gag’ (something the filmmaker always strived to do), the director constantly moves the camera between a series of acrobats, jugglers and clowns performing in the ring and the people who have showed up to cheer them on. No storyline, just a memorable night at a surreal circus. Audience members (some who turn out to be plants) are invited to take part in a donkey rodeo, they step into the ring to sing like �dith Piaf or deliver a rousing trombone solo while acrobats, using an upright piano as a vaulting-horse, tumble around them. And then there’s Tati himself, interrupting the chaos every now and then with the mime acts (the goalkeeper, the tennis player, the fisherman) that first made him famous. As skilled a mime as Tati was in his old age, his performance in Parade has a hint of desperation, as if the director is trying to rescue a film that’s been flung together. Still, there are enough amusing moments in Parade to make it a suitable swansong for an icon of French cinema. Our rating: ***Books BY EVE MIDDLETONDoisneau: Portraits of the ArtistsForeword by Antoine de Baecque, Flammarion, �35 A world-renowned photographer, Robert Doisneau is best known for his images of daily life on the streets of France, including Le Baiser de l’H�tel de Ville depicting two young lovers kissing in front of Paris’ town hall. His lesser-known work also encompassed photojournalism assignments for the Alliance Photo agency and Vogue, enabling him to gain access into the private world of leading artists living in Paris from the 1930s onwards. This book compiles his best portraits, including those of Picasso, David Hockney, Marcel Duchamp, and Le Corbusier. Published in conjunction with Doisneau’s daughters and with a foreword from historian Antoine de Baecque, this is a memorable tome that perfectly pays homage to the great artists of the city, and to Doisneau’s skill in capturing their essence.  Our rating: ****

The Olive TreeCarol Drinkwater, Orion Books, �7.99 Former actress-turned-writer and FRANCE Magazine columnist Carol Drinkwater has successfully documented her experiences as an olive farmer on her Proven�al farm in the Olive Farm series of books. Now available in paperback, her latest offering The Olive Tree documents the author’s travels across Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Italy in search of the evolution of olive cultivation throughout the centuries. Stemming from a desire to rise to the challenges experienced by her own farm – virulent pests, premature ripening of fruits, use of chemicals and changing patterns in the world’s climate – her journey takes her across the far reaches of the western Mediterranean, leading to a greater understanding of the origins of one of the world’s most revered and symbolic fruits. Our rating: ****