NEWS: SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2007 

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  11 October 2007
 

Browsing through some of the film's reviews, it's evident that Si j'étais toi is not faring well in France, receiving either one or two stars out of four. Aurélien Allin of Monsieur Cinema writes, "For his second full-length feature after Peau d'ange, Vincent Perez seems to be in the same situation as his heroine: locked up in a body which is not his, unable to seize the situation completely. The first half hour of the film resembles formulas specific to the American cinema - the emotions, unreal, are underlined with pathos. Thereafter, Perez is unable to draw the least juice from situations to their potential, however immense (the scene of the burial, the father's sexual disorder). But, in spite of these flaws, one feels good that the sensitivity of Perez fights to create beautiful moments of strangeness, and to exploit interesting narrative ideas. It is thus with grace that he films the way in which the personalaties of the girl and her mother merge little by little, and with tact that the film approaches the idea of a second chance brought about by the possession of a younger body. In the last third of the film, Perez seems finally free, but because of a treatment, often too impersonal and cold, the film is not completely convincing."

I find it ironic that other reviewers have faulted him for his sentimentality. There is a more positive review by Hélène Grumbach of France 3 in which she says, "Vincent Perez succeeds in making everything very clear and credible." Guillemette Odicino-Olivier of Telerama writes, "After Peau d'ange, Vincent Perez continues to intrigue with this drama... He treats the phenomenon with a realism and almost without special effects." Film critic Rob Gordon honors Vincent by his talent in choosing Olivia Thirlby. He also believes Vincent is very gifted behind the camera and his direction of his actors rather remarkable. And in the only English critique of the film thus far, Bernard Besserglik of The Hollywood Reporter, writes,  "Duchovny's playing of Ben is too wooden, the screenplay's handling of the life-and-death issues too prosaic and the ending too contrived and sentimental for the movie to be truly affecting. On the plus side, Thirlby does an excellent job in the mother-daughter role, one minute a graceless schoolgirl, the next a mature, married woman stuck inside a teenager's body. Cinematographer Paul Sarossy adds the requisite sheen, while Perez, an actor making his second feature, knows enough not to overdo the sugar coating."

Here are more photos from the premiere of Apocalypse Code:

 

You can also check out the video coverage, which has some film clips from the movie as well as clips from co-star Anastasia Zavorotnuyk's TV series "My Beautiful Nanny". In an interview relating to the premiere, Vincent explained how Moscow had changed since last working there. He described the city-lit streets and beautiful restaurants. In fact, he is presently in negotiations to star in a film about the Russian pianist Rachmaninov. When asked what language he and Anastasia and his director spoke on the set, he responded, "English" but usually with an interpreter. When asked about his former girlfriend, Italian model Carla Bruni, he explained that despite the fact that they're both married, they remain very close and now that Carla is producing albums, she will call on his help. He also admits to being Catholic. However, he's not a zealous believer, nor does he attend church or consider himself Catholic spiritually, but he has a very strong faith in God. Director Vadim Shmelev was asked about working with Vincent - "He is incredibly nice. Very cool. A decent guy. We are close friends. He's a busy actor. Professional, tough, strong. I am simply delighted with him." Co-star Anastasia called Vincent "a huge star, but a humble man." She described him as having a wealth of projects and ongoing talks on the phone. He apparently was pleasantly surprised that the film production crew worked so quickly.

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Check out this link to watch a video interview with Vincent from last May. And read the new interview about the making of his latest film,  Si j'étais toi.

   
  8 October 2007
 

On a rainy October 5th evening, Vincent attended the premiere of his film Apocalypse Code. It was held at the Pushkinsky Cinema Hall in Moscow. As you can see, our Swiss star was surrounded by a bevy of lovely girls at the film's MTV party. It is Russia's most ambitious domestic film, shot in France, Italy, Norway, Malaysia, Russia and Ukraine. Check out the new publicity photos. In accepting this role, Vincent said, "The decisive factor for me was a good script and the multifaceted nature of my character." He added, "For a long time I had dreamed of playing such a character - complex and demonic... My character has ever-changing masks. I don't play predators very often, so it would be foolish of me not to use this opportunity to enhance my creative range." At an earlier press conference in June he admitted that he had his doubts that his co-star Anastasia Zavorotnuyk could play this heroic character since she's such a small woman. However, he says he can guarantee you that the strikes he received from her were very serious! He adds that they worked 12-hour days and Anastasia had great strength, both physical and emotional. As usual, Vincent did much of his own stunt work, once falling off a two-deck yacht, and in one scene, he falls down nine times in a row. He says he was satisfied with his work in the film and happy that he and his co-star became good friends. Anastasia told the press that Vincent and "evil" are almost mutually exclusive concepts because his charisma is so great. She kiddingly related her fear that women will hate her by the end of the film.

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Here's a photo taken in Cannes this year from the Madame Figaro Festival. Several cast members (including Vincent) from Arn: The Knight Templar attended the Cannes Film Festival as part of a press-junket to promote the film to international buyers and the press. At the time, Ann-Kristin Westerberg from SF International closed several deals and confirmed that buyers had been impressed by the 10-minutes promo-reel.  After SVT pulled out of the production in August, Swedish TV4 fortunately came to the rescue two weeks later. They have joined forces with Svensk in producing the $30 million epic. The first of the two "Arn" films will open in Sweden on Christmas and the second one in the fall of 2008. The TV series will air later. Vincent plays Brother Guilbert. Here is a brief synopsis - the film about Arn and Cecelia is set in Sweden as well as the Middle East, and offers a rich gallery of brave knights, powerful queens and treacherous kings. It is a tale of war and intrigue, friendship and betrayal, but also an unforgettable love story. Arn Magnusson is born in 1150 on Arnas farm in West Gothia in the western part of Sweden. He grows up to become an educated young man and a skilled swordsman. He meets Cecelia, the love of his life, but a cruel and jealous world forces them apart. Cecelia is imprisoned in a monastery and Arn is sent away as a Knight Templar to the Holy Land, where war is raging between Christians and Muslims. They both have to fight to survive, they have to learn how to confront evil and overcome physical hardship. Their painful separation causes their faith in God and his goodness to waver - though not their faith in each other and their confidence that they will one day be reunited. When Arn returns home, he has to fight for his love and what has become his life's mission: to unite Sweden into one kingdom.

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There's a video interview with Vincent regarding his upcoming film,  Si j'étais toi, at the Allocine web site. The film opens in France on Wednesday.

   
  3 October 2007
 

Vincent and his Si j'étais toi star, Olivia Thirlby, were presenters on Monday night at the NRJ Cine Awards, held at the Grand Rex in Paris. I've posted some photos below from that evening. I've read two reviews on the film and neither one was positive. Film critic Kevin Dutot faults David Duchovny for his lack of screen presence  with the only glimmer of hope in the film being the young Olivia Thirlby, who manages to remain credible, bringing a sensitivity and softness to her role. He describes the story, caught between a family drama and fantasy, as having a number of incredible sequences giving minimum consistency. Thus, Duvot calls the screenplay "particularly bad". Cirtic Frédéric Mignard writes that unfortunately all the good intentions of the screenwriter are not enough to give consistency to the script. He believes as director, Vincent was too impersonal and too careful, dragging the film into a naive sentimentality.

All three of the film's actors speak very highly of their director. Apparently, Vincent's career as an actor was of primary importance. Lili Taylor thinks, "the fact that he is an actor gives him a sensitivity which explains why he is so good. He is a true director. I think that during his career, he was already a director, but without the knowledge." Duchovny recognizes that "Vincent always listened to our ideas and instilled confidence. Olivia Thirlby declares that "words are not enough to give him justice"! Vincent admitted that he felt freer the second time around, "trusting my instincts, while seeking to avoid many traps." The film will premiere one week from today before French audiences.

Before being interested in the cinema, Vincent had wanted to be a photographer, which is evident in the cinematography of his films. To obtain the visuals he wanted, he collaborated with the famous Canadian director of photography, Paul Sarossy. As a starting point, Vincent focused on the art of American painter Edward Hopper. His young star was personally chosen by him. The New York actress had only worked on the stage, but Vincent didn't hestitate for a second, admitting, "I was ready to give up the film if she wasn't in it, but Luc (Besson) immediately found her perfect". And he didn't regret his decision because directing his young starlet was a true revelation. Vincent describes her as "brilliant, invested, intelligent and generous." Olivia has since made ten films in the past two years.

   
  25 September 2007
 

On September 8th Vincent visited his birthplace of Lausanne, Switzerland, and gave an interview regarding his new comic strip, La Fôret. The story, which mixes enchanting characters with humor and surprise, hit the French bookshelves in May with great success. Book critic Mathieu Laviolette-Slanka described the story as "losing oneself in pleasure" and certain to "charm young people." Vincent spoke about writing the adventure. "I like tales very much. They reflect my adolescence and the giddiness one can feel about life. This kind of tale enables me to speak about all of that. It also makes it possible to use metaphors to convey certain ideas. My attraction to the stories of Celtic origin is enormous. I really fell in love with Brittany. It took me more than a year to write the story... I write by need, sometimes into the middle of the night. It is both torture and recreation. I did not have the pressure of the Parisian intellectuals when I wrote. I could not, for example, ever develop a novel. I leave that for others. Critics favored my story and that obviously delighted me. I put much love into it and I am very glad to have carried out this project. When I was adolescent, I wanted to destroy the cocoon in which I had grown in and, thus I put my origins aside. Today I have a heart which beats when I show this area to my children. And when people ask me  where I come from, I answer with pride that I am Swiss. I am very excited to return to this country. I will be able to re-kindle childhood friendships. Let us say that I have found a form of freedom for some time and it is possible for me to refuse projects which inevitably do not interest me. I work on various screenplays, and I will be promoting the full-length film which I directed,  Si j'étais toi, which opens in theatres in October."

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In another couple weeks Si j'étais toi will be premiering in France - finally! Originally titled "The Secret", directed by Vincent and filmed with English-speaking actors, David Duchovny, Lili Taylor, and Olivia Thirlby, it is odd that the movie gets slapped with subtitles and is shown in French theatres first. Is it "too French" for American audiences? Many of us await the reviews. With the film's opening, the French edition of Premiere magazine interviewed Vincent recently and you can find three video clips at this link. I particularly like the one where he imitates artist Salvatore Dali and the second in which he invokes his delicious laughter.

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Vincent is presently shooting eight episodes of the second season of the successful TF1 TV series, Paris Enquêtes Criminelles. Filming, under the direction of  Jean-Teddy Filippe, began on August 16th and will continue through October 17 in and around Paris. And Revel (Perez) has a new partner. Actress Audrey Looten will play Melanie Rousseau, replacing Sandrine Rigaux, in order to boost audience ratings. The first episode had more than seven million viewers and has since attracted a rather wide fan base. Check out this web site for more information. The DVD of the first season is now available at Amazon.fr.

   
   
 

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