Showing posts with label Anna Karina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anna Karina. Show all posts

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Anna Karina and Band of Outsiders (1964)

Anna Karina in Band of Outsiders (1964)

Band of Outsiders, known in French as Bande à part, is a Jean-Luc Godard film from 1964 starring  Godard muse Anna Karina. She plays Odile, a naive young woman studying English with fellow students Franz (Sami Frey) and Arthur (Claude Brasseur). Odile becomes the object of fascination for both Franz and Arthur. They lust after her and when she reveals a crucial bit of information about a store of money in her aunt’s home, they use her as a means to an end. Arthur owes his uncle some serious cash to his uncle so he needs to get his hands on this money right away. Things spiral out of control as the urgency grows and things don’t go according to plan. There are some lighthearted moments in the film including the iconic scene of Karina, Frey & Brasseur dancing in a nightclub. That scene inspired Uma Thurman and John Travolta's dance in Pulp Fiction and the film as a whole made a mark on director Quentin Tarantino.

I first saw this film at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. It was a very special event because the film’s star Anna Karina was in attendance and the audience was treated to an interview with her by Ben Mankiewicz of TCM. This event had been buzzed about for months before the festival, especially by me and other fans of French cinema and Karina herself. Mankiewicz kicked off the interview by saying “we're celebrating a movie that's over 50 years old and... the buzz at this festival from the moment we announced you were here was palpable." French New Wave films like Band of Outsiders still resonate today because of actresses like Anna Karina. She was a major influence on culture and is mesmerizing to watch on screen. Karina remains modest about her influence saying "I'm very excited to see that so many people still like the film".

Anna Karina and Ben Mannkiewicz at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival

From a young age, Karina loved the movies. She started off singing and dancing in her native country of Denmark. She was an extra in Danish films as a young teen. Karina remembers, "One day someone saw me in the street and he said would you like to be in my film?" She said why not but had to ask her mother because she was 14 years old. She got her mother's permission and made the film The Girl with the Shoes, aka Pigen Og Skoene (1959)  . Four years later the short got a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. By that time she was already an established actress in France.

Karina moved to Paris while still a teen. She didn't have much money so she did some work in TV commercials including one for Palmolive soap. Godard saw the commercial and offered Karina a part in his upcoming film Breathless (1960) and he said "but you have to take your clothes off." Karina’s response was direct, "I'm not talking my clothes off." She later reminisced about turning that iconic film down:

"I didn't want to do it so I didn't do it. [Godard] didn't understand because he thought I was nude in the soap film. But you only saw a bit of shoulder... It was in his imagination.” - Anna Karina

Anna Karina at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival

Three months later she got an offer for a lead part in a Godard film. By that time she had forgotten all about him. She consulted her friends who pointed out that Godard had made an amazing film called Breathless with Jean Paul Belmondo. She went to meet Godard and asked him if she had to take her clothes off. His response was, "no it's a political film". Karina was concerned because she was so young and still learning how to speak French. How would she make a political film? Godard responded "Don't you worry about it, you just do what I tell you to do". There was a bit of a snafu because Karina was still underage and needed permission. Her father wasn't in her life anymore and her mother was living in Copenhagen. Godard offered to bring her mother to Paris. Karina hadn't seen her mother in 8 months and called her up saying "Mommy I'm doing a political film in Paris with a great director called Jean Luc-Godard. You have to come to sign the contract.” Her mother didn't believe her and hung up the phone. She finally convinced her mother to come to sign the contract and the rest is history.

Ben Mankiewicz asked if Karina had ever auditioned for Godard. She hadn’t. She signed the contract and that was it. There was a test where Godard filmed a sort of interview with Karina to see how she’d do on screen. One of the questions he asked her was how many boys she had been with and she told him it was none of his business.

Karina eventually let her guard down and she and Godard fell in love. He was a romantic and she was his muse but they still had to work together. Mankiewicz asked Karina if Godard was a difficult director. "In a way yes", replied Karina. For Band of Outsiders, they had no script and had to learn their dialogue every morning. The dynamic between the actors and director meant that they knew what to do and what Godard wanted even without a script. Godard said that if he had a script in the end he wouldn't have wanted to do the film. He made a kind of script for the producer so they knew what to do.  Karina remembers that Godard didn't direct very much because he trusted the actors. Karina likened the acting to music. You just felt it and it made sense.

Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina

And about that famous dance scene Karina remembered that they had to rehearse for three weeks. Every night after shooting, they would go to a night club and practice for an hour before the night club opened to patrons.

Note: this piece was transcribed from the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival interview with Ben Mankiewicz and Anna Karina. Quotes and paraphrasing are used.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

TCM Classic Film Festival: Day #5 Recap

The Saturday of the TCM Classic Film Festival was packed with amazing events and movies. I still had plenty of energy and by sheer luck made it to everything on my schedule.

I got up early and headed to Grauman's Egyptian Theater for the 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone presentation.

Me and Joel of TCM Party
This was the only time I got to see Joel during the festival. Sometimes the chaotic schedule prevents you from seeing the people you want to see and that's where waiting in line comes in handy. You can spot familiar faces in the crowd. Joel and I took a selfie for Vanessa of Stardust who wasn't at the festival but was there in spirit. While waiting in line I also met Ray, one of the TCMFF volunteers who regaled me with stories of Robert Mitchum.

My only TCMFF Snapchat. Me at the Vitaphone screening.
The Vitaphone presentation was hosted by Ron Hutchinson, co-founder of the Vitaphone Project. It included a 30 minute lecture with slideshow on the history of Vitaphone, the technology and the films and soundtracks too. Then Hutchinson screened 7 Vitaphone shorts, one of which was my favorite short of all time Shaw and Lee's The Beau Brummels (1928).

The Beau Brummels at Grauman's Egyptian
All seven shorts were a hit but the most talked about after the festival was The Beau Brummels. It was also the one short out of the bunch that received the most laughs. I'll have a full report on the experience here soon. If you want to watch this short, it's available on Vimeo and also as an extra on The Jazz Singer (1927) Blu-Ray set. I was so excited to watch The Beau Brummels on the Egyptian's giant screen that I discreetly took the above photo to memorialize the event (if you must take a photo during a screening keep your phone to your chest, turn off the volume and make sure the brightness is at it's lowest setting). I really wanted to sing along with Shaw and Lee but held back so as to not annoy my neighbors.

There was a Q&A after the films but I had to skip out early to grab a unch. And I'm glad I did because my stinky McDonald's meal (sorry Jay!) ended up keeping me full until late in the evening. Making time for food is always an issue at these festivals and I was very lucky to fit in meals when I could. As I said before, luck was on my side during this trip!

The line for An Afternoon with Carl Reiner and featured screening of Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) at the TCL Chinese Theater was already super long. It snaked all the way from the courtyard, through the Hollywood and Highland mall and around to the other side of Madame Tussaud's. I was in line with Jay and we had a good long chat. We were so engrossed in conversation that we forgot to take a picture. He's a fascinating guy, very intelligent and your go-to expert if you have any questions about the James Bond series.

Carl Reiner and Ileana Douglas in conversation
TCL Chinese Theater was packed with eager fans excited to see Carl Reiner. Once we got our seats I headed to the bathroom and of courses who did I see? Carl Reiner himself! Previous TCMFF bathroom trips have put me in the vicinity of stars such as Mickey Rooney, Margaret O'Brien, Tippi Hedren and producer Walter Mirisch among others. I now use the hashtag #alwaysgotothebathroom when I tweet about these encounters!

I'll have a full report about this event soon but what I'll say for now is that it did not disappoint. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid was hilarious, the tribute video was great and I loved Ileana Douglas' 45 minute interview with Carl Reiner himself. But the best part was...

Karen shaking hands with Carl Reiner

The book signing! It was held in the foyer of the TCL Chinese Theater which probably wasn't the best choice. I stood in line for a while, even though I had already purchased my book, and was worried I'd miss my next screening. Those of us at the beginning of the line got to take pictures with Carl Reiner. 

Millie taking a selfie with Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner autographed my copy of his memoir I Remember Me (which I read on audio shortly before heading to TCMFF). I asked him for a selfie and he was eager to take one. He said "get in closer!". I told him how much I enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of I Remember Me and he thanked me for that. I shared my selfie on Twitter and Facebook and it was my most popular social media share. Millie wrote to me on Facebook saying that everything before this moment should be labeled BC (Before Carl). It really was a life changing moment.

Raquel Stecher and Carl Reiner
My selfie with Carl Reiner
I met a really nice lady from Boston while in the book signing line and we had a good chat. She's been to all seven festivals! I gave her my card at the closing night party and I hope she contacts me soon.

I hoofed it over to the Chinese Multiplex to get in line for Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2015). I had 20 minutes to spare and they were already seating passholders. I got there just in time and even proclaimed to one of the TCMFF volunteers "this is my number one pick!".

And guess what. I had to go to the bathroom again. And I had another #alwaysgotothebathroom moment. On my way back I saw director Daniel Raim, producer Jennifer Raim, film researcher Lillian Michelson and actor and executive producer Danny DeVito at the entrance of the theater. DeVito was a surprise guest and he introduced the documentary.

Danny DeVito introducing Harold and Lillian at TCMFF

Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story is one I've seen before when I reviewed it for my blog. But seeing it on the big screen with an audience was magical. At the end of the documentary there was nary a dry eye in the house. We were all wiping away our tears when director Daniel Raim and film researcher Lillian Michelson came out onto the stage for an interview and brief Q&A. And of course there was a standing ovation.

Director Daniel Raim and film researcher Lillian Michelson at TCMFF
I'll have a more detailed report about this screening soon. Watch the Harold and Lillian website for details on upcoming screenings. If you have a chance to see this, do so. You'll thank me later.

The Chinese Multiplex was my home base for the rest of the evening. I got in line for
another documentary The Endless Summer (1966) which is a new-to-me favorite. I had seen it for the first time a few weeks before the festival and was happy for an excuse to watch it again and hear more about the film from director Bruce Brown.  It happens to be a personal favorite of TCM staffer Marya and it was fun to hear her wax poetic about the film and what it meant to her.

Raquel Stecher and Endless Summer director Bruce Brown
Me with Bruce Brown, director of Endless Summer
After the screening Bruce Brown was kind enough to hang around in the lobby of the Chinese Multiplex for a meet-and-greet with fans. I got my picture taken with him and congratulated him on making such a wonderful film. He replied "it's old!". And I said, "it doesn't seem old. It's timeless." I don't think he believed me but seemed to appreciate what I said. Besides some comments made in the film that were deeply rooted in the period (price of gas, references to race and sex, etc.), the film really does transcend time. More on my experience to come!

When I thought the day couldn't get any better, it was time to see actress Anna Karina and The Band of Outsiders (1964). Karina superfan Kate Gabrielle had camped out at the multiplex hoping to get the #1 queue ticket. Some rude passholders beat her to it even though that number should have been hers.

I really did think that this screening would sell out but it didn't. It was about 75-80% full at the largest of the multiplex' theaters which was still a good turnout. Kate Gabrielle, KC, Jandy and I sat in front for the interview then moved to the far back to join Jessica, Angela and others for a better view of the screen.

Anna Karina and Ben Mankiewicz at TCMFF
Again, luck was on my side and I was able to say "we love you Anna!" to her as she was getting a standing ovation from the audience. I thought I had dreamed it but she looked right at me and said thank you. I didn't quite believe it had happened until Kate confirmed it to me later. Much more on this special screening to come.

One last TCMFF recap, my opinion post as well as in-depth coverage of specific events are coming soon!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My Top Picks for the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival

It’s that time of year again when classic film fans from all over the world flock to Hollywood to enjoy a weekend packed with once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The TCM Classic Film Festival is something I look forward to all year round. When you go to this festival you feel like you’re part of something important. You develop a deeper and richer connection with the past while being part of history in the making.

This will be my fourth time attending the festival and I’ll be covering it once again as a member of the media. I’m very grateful to TCM for the opportunity to once again be a part of the fantastic team of individuals who painstakingly and lovingly capture and share each of every moment of the festival. It is truly an honor.

Now that the full festival schedule is posted I can share my top picks with you (fun fact: I was the first to tweet about it). It was much easier in 2015 to put together a schedule. This year there were some major conflicts and some difficult decisions had to be made.

Here are my selections. I’ve included a bonus video of me discussing my top five picks.


TCM Press Conference – I’ll be live tweeting and providing full coverage on this press conference which will include Ben Mankiewicz, Charles Tabesh, Genevieve McGillicuddy and Jennifer Dorian. Sadly no Robert Osborne this year. He was the highlight of the first two press conferences I attended.
(2014 Press Conference with Robert Osborne)


Red Carpet for All the President’s Men (1976) Opening Night Gala – I was a spectator for last year’s Red Carpet and had a blast. I hope this year I can do more extensive coverage. Stay tuned!
(2015 Red Carpet at the TCM Classic Film Festival)

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) or Los Tallos Amargos (1956) – It’s a toss up between these two. Katharine Houghton will be at the Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner screening and it would be great to hear her discuss the film. But it’s hard to turn down watching an obscure Argentine film noir!


Francis Ford Coppola Imprint Ceremony – If I get in this will be my fourth hand and footprint ceremony. These are so much fun and you feel like you are part of history in the making.
(Jerry Lewis Imprint Ceremony and Christopher Plummer Imprint Ceremony)

From Headlines to Ticket Lines: Journalism on the Big Screen – I’m from the Boston area so a chance to see Ben Bradlee Jr. and Spotlight (2015) screenwriter Josh Singer discuss journalism on film along with James Vanderbilt of Truth (2015) and journalist Mary Mapes is too good to pass up.

Mark Vieira signing Into The Dark: The Hidden World of Film Noir, 1941-1950 – One of the perks of TCMFF is the exclusive book signings. This one is at the top of my list to attend.
(My review of Mark Vieira's Cecil B. DeMille book)

Tea and Sympathy (1956)Darryl Hickman has been on my wishlist for TCMFF special guests for a long time. He’s been at the festival before but not one I’ve attended. I can’t pass down the opportunity to see him in person when he presents his film Tea and Sympathy.

Two Pre-Codes – I’m glad I’ll be able to fit in two films from my favorite decade the 1930s. Pleasure Cruise (1933) and 6 Hours to Live (1932) are showing back to back and they are short enough that I can fit both screenings in before the major event of the evening.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) – This might be the most sought after film screening of the festival because living legend Angela Lansbury will be there. I can’t pass up an opportunity to see her and watch this fantastic mind-bending film on the TCL Chinese Theater’s gigantic screen. I'll have a lot of competition though.

90th Anniversary of Vitaphone – Ron Hutchinson, founder of the Vitaphone Project, will be hosting this presentation of the history of Vitaphone complete with Vitaphone shorts. My favorite short of all time The Beau Brummels (1928) with Shaw and Lee will be screened and I’m beside myself with joy.

An Afternoon with Carl Reiner/Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982) – This four part extravaganza is hard to pass up. Not only do you get to see this film at the TCL Chinese Theater there will also be a Carl Reiner tribute video, a conversation with the man himself and a book signing immediately afterwards.

Harold and Lillian : A Hollywood Love Story (2015) – This is my number one pick for the festival. I can’t believe my hero Lillian Michelson will be there along with director Daniel Raim. I had to give up seeing Buona Sera Mrs. Campbell with Gina Lollobrigida to watch this but it’ll be worth it.

(My review of the Harold and Lillian Michaelson documentary)

The Endless Summer (1966) – If you know me you know that I love documentaries and The Endless Summer is one of the most influential documentaries in film history. It’s a stunning color film narrated and directed by Bruce Brown, who will be in attendance, and follows two surfers as they travel the globe searching the best waves. I can’t wait to see the gorgeous colors of this film on the big screen.

Band of Outsiders (1964) – I dare anyone to stop me from seeing Anna Karina in person. This French New Wave icon will be touring to support the new restoration of this Jean-Luc Godard classic. It’ll be my first time seeing this film and wow what an experience it will be.

(Anna Karina comes to LA and New York City)


The Art of the Film Score – I’ll miss the morning screenings but hope to catch this at Club TCM.

A Conversation with Gina Lollobrigida - I’m not kidding when I say Gina Lollobrigida is my favorite Italian. Conflicts will take me away from special screenings of Buona Sera Mrs. Campbell and Trapeze but that’s okay because I’m perfectly happy to sit and listen to Lollobrigida talk for a straight hour. This will be glorious!

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966) – I love madcap comedies and this one looks like a lot of fun. Eva Marie Saint will be on hand to present and maybe Carl Reiner, Walter Mirisch and/or Norman Jewison will surprise us with an appearance?

Network (1976) – Unless a TBD calls my name, I’ll be staying around the Egyptian to catch this contemporary classic. I saw Network for the first time last year and loved it.

Closing Night Party at Club TCM – This party is always bittersweet and usually I have to leave early. But this time I hope to stay longer for one last hurrah with my friends.

What are your top TCM Classic Film Festival picks?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Anna Karina to visit the US for Band of Outsiders (1964) Restoration Premiere

Anna Karina in Band of Outsiders

French New Wave legend, Jean-Luc Godard muse, style icon and all around goddess Anna Karina is making a rare visit to the United States. She’ll be in California and New York to promote the US premiere and theatrical release of a new restoration of Band of Outsiders (1964). This film is one of several collaborations between Karina and her ex-husband director Jean-Luc Godard which also include A Woman is a Woman (1961), Vivre Sa Vie (1962), Le Petit Soldat (1963),  Pierrot Le Fou (1965), Alphaville (1965) and Made In USA (1966).

Anna Karina in Band of Outsiders
If you’ve ever wanted a glimpse at Anna Karina in person, now is the time! I’ll be at the TCM Classic Film Festival and seeing Anna Karina at a screening of Band of Outsiders is very high on my wishlist. I’ll have lots of competition for the coveted seats in the theater but if I make it in I’ll make sure to report back here.

Now is your chance to see Anna Karina in person and to watch the new restoration of Band of Outsiders!

Anna Karina – Band of Outsiders appearances
April 28th – May 1 – TCM Classic Film Festival – Hollywood, CA
April 29th – Cinefamily – Los Angeles, CA
May 3rd – BAMcinematek – Brooklyn, NY
May 4th – The Museum of the Moving Image – Queens, NY
May 6th – Film Forum – New York, NY (in conjunction with a Karina-Godard one-week festival running 5/6-5/12)

Karina’s tour is funded by Turner Classic Movies, French Cultural Services and Unifrance. The Band of Outsiders was restored by film distributor Rialto Pictures.

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