He was editor-in-chief of French film magazine Midi Minuit Fantastique (1962 – 1971), the first magazine dedicated to genre cinema and cinema fantastique.
It has come to my attention that the first issue of Midi Minuit Fantastique is online in full at Archive.org.
That issue is dedicated to Terence Fisher, who still seems to be a bit underrated and of whose film The Stranglers of Bombay it is said:
“More clearly than any other Hammer effort, The Stranglers of Bombay lays bare the foundation of voyeurism, scopophilia, misogyny, castration anxiety, repression, sadomasochism, and “the male gaze” which informs the construction of Hammer’s output.”
The Charm of Evil: The Life and Films of Terence Fisher (1991) by Wheeler W. Dixon
One thing leading to another as they say, I stop here, because it is leading me too far.
Bertrand Tavernier is known for such films as Death Watch (1980), a French science fiction film in which Romy Schneider plays a dying woman whose death is recorded on national television in an ongoing soap opera of morbid reality television.
In France, the actor Michel Robin died. He turned 90. He played in more than 120 films. Always bit parts. You can recognize him by his bald head and the banal characters he usually had to portray.
Favorites are Mais ne nous délivrez pas du mal (1971), a film about two beautiful adolescent girls who start indulging in a satanic love for evil. Robin plays the simple gardener whose parakeet is killed by the diabolic duo.
There is L’Invitation (1973) in which Robin plays a simple and clumsy office worker who, after inheriting a fortune, invites his colleagues to his new estate. There, those good bourgeois men and women are intoxicated by a spiked drink at the hands of a rogue bartender. The situation escalates. Cult movie.
And then there is the genius animal head puppet film Marquis (1989) in which Robin voices a certain Ambert, a rat prison guard who is eager to be sodomized by the Marquis de Sade, something Colin, the living and talking phallus of the Marquis does not wish to indulge in.
Michael Lonsdale was a British-French actor who mainly worked in France, one of my favorite actors. He played in many films, though rarely as the protagonist. He turned 89.
In the English-speaking world, he was known for his role as the villain Hugo Drax in the James Bond film Moonraker, and for his appearances in The Day of the Jackal and The Remains of the Day.
As a character actor with a penetrating gaze, he can be admired in auteur films such as Le fantôme de la liberté (1974) by Luis Buñuel, Glissements progressifs du plaisir (1974) by Alain Robbe-Grillet and the unforgettable 5×2 (2004) by François Ozon.
I would like to take this rather sinister opportunity to highlight the story “Bartleby” (1853) by Herman “Moby Dick” Melville. That short story was adapted for film four times, and in the 1976 French version, Lonsdale plays the bailiff.
The hero in “Bartleby” is called Bartleby. He is a clerk who is recruited at a law firm to copy documents, but soon after his arrival at the firm refuses an assignment with the legendary words “I would prefer not to”. From then on, Bartleby the clerk basically refuses everything, which means that he refuses to live.
This hero is reminiscent of other impossible, frustrated novel characters such as the nameless hero in Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground (1864) and Julien Sorel in Stendhal’s The Red and the Black (1830).
In the clip, Lonsdale visits Bartleby in prison where he urges the latter to make a last effort to live. In vain. We see Bartleby die while standing up.