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Toronto International Film Festival – Review # 10

aintmisbehavin_03

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Screening: Sunday 15 September 2013 @ Jackman Hall

Director Marcel Ophüls was in attendance

There was a hilarious introduction by Marcel Ophüls before the film. He ripped apart the Producer for cutting the film to pieces and not giving him the finished product as promised. Due to this he had to stay and watch the film with us;

“I have to stay to see all the fucking cuts”

He is not sure if the film will be released but he is doing his best to “get his way”. Hopefully you will have the opportunity to view this excellent insight into the life of Marcel Ophüls.

Before this film (I use the word film but I think this can also be classed as a documentary) I had only watched one of his previous works, the world famous The Sorrow & The Pity. I also knew about his famous Father, Max Ophüls.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ follows Marcel as he visits various people and places as he recounts his life.  He classed his last film as a flop but the critics loved it.  He often wonders if they genuinely do like his work or is it because he is the “Son of Max”?

Childhood – He speaks lovingly of his childhood throughout and how his Father took all the work he could get his hands on.  The move to the USA opened up a whole different world to Marcel and he classes himself as an American film buff.  Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take It With You and the Marx Bros rank at the top of his list.  His Father was always pushing him towards reading and studying Brecht when all he wanted was Humphrey Bogart!!

World War II – At the time of WWII, Max was actually on the Wehrmacht’s hit list and marked for execution by the German Army.  To avoid be branded a traitor the family returned to France.  Despite working in Hollywood the family was not well off and an encounter at a bistro in a small town square left a lasting impression on Marcel.  The kind owner of the bistro made them some food, a simple omelette with ham and peas.  This act of kindness, at a time when food was short, reduced Marcel’s Mother to tears.

Film:

The Sorrow & The Pity – As I mentioned at the start, I have only ever seen The Sorrow & The Pity and this is an area that is given, rightly so, a fair amount of coverage.  I forget the place where this incident occurred but the title of the film was lost in translation.  A banner outside the theatre had been erected but instead of Sorrow they had used the word Shame.  Marcel decided it was easier to do the job himself so they covered it and wrote the word Sorrow.

Hôtel Terminus – The documentary he made about Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo chief of Lyon.  Marcel had an interesting message for anyone thinking of watching:

“Please don’t come and see this shit”

Not exactly what you expect to hear from a Director when talking about his own work.

Famous Directors:

Woody Allen – This is in connection with The Sorrow & The Pity.  If you have seen the film Annie Hall you will know about the numerous occasions where the film the referenced.  One day, after the film was released, Woody wrote a short letter to Marcel thanking him for the film and allowing him to use it in the film.

Stanley Kubrick – A letter was received when his Father died in 1957.  Kubrick wrote to offer his condolences and as a mark of respect, halted production on the set of his classic anti-war film Paths of Glory for a day.

François Truffaut – Marcel talks a great deal about is legendary French Director

“Truffaut has had a great influence on my life. He did a great deal for me. He was like an older brother, even though he was younger than me.”

He also divulged information of alleged “partner swapping” between both couples.  Whilst watching & listening to him speak you clearly understood his infatuation with Madeleine Morgenstern.

Suicide – A personal fact that was revealed, to me anyway, was that on multiple occasions, Marcel has attempted suicide.  It is highly unusual for this subject to be spoken about so openly and in particular, by a man.  It is very unfortunate that even today, mental health still has a stigma attached so I was very impressed that someone would talk about this subject with no shame.  I found this to be a very intimate part of the film for me.

Bosnia – During the film I was actually able to put a name to a face, and that face belonged to Marcel.  I remember watching the news in the 1990’s during the Yugoslav wars and the BBC reports by John Simpson.  I also remember watching an interview with Slobodan Milošević, former President of Serbia.  I now know that the man who interviewed him was Marcel.

Q&A session – After the film Marcel again took to the stage and answered a few questions.

He is most proud of The Sorrow & The Pity

You cannot beat Paris

His favourite time period is “my own time” the 20th century

He is not a fan of modern technology, finds Facebook “indecent” and that information is gained “too fast” and that people do not learn for themselves anymore.

This was a very insightful film and an excellent way to conclude my evening and with it, my TIFF experience.

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