Tuesday, May 24, 2011


My fascination with Claire Denis, Vincent Gallo and pretty much film in general has reached a new plateau. Last night during a quick 24 hour visit to Paris (just to get out of Barcelona for a day) I ended up hanging out with one of my favorite actresses (and an actress who is usually associated with Denis); Alice Houri. She had recently been reading “Pinnland Empire” and sent me a nice message after reading my review/praise of ‘U.S. Go Home’ (a film she acted in when she was 14). Due to the fact that my movie blog is very “Claire Denis-Friendly”, I’ve written about a few movies that she’s acted in (although I still haven’t written anything on ‘Nenette & Boni’, because all that needed to be said about that film can be found in the write-up done by my friends at the pink smoke (http://www.thepinksmoke.com/nenetteandboni.htm). 
You know how there’s that saying about how you should never meet an artist or someone you admire in person because you’ll be disappointed? Well she completely smashes that myth. Alice Houri is probably one of the coolest, sweetest and most fun people I’ve met in a while. I’m sure it’s no big deal to her (and she probably thinks I’m a bit of a weirdo), but for the lover of cinema that I am, she represents a lot more to me than I think she realizes. She’s co-starred in 2 of my favorite movies (‘U.S. Go Home’ & ‘Nenette & Boni’), she essentially represents my introduction to the films of Claire Denis (‘Nenette & Boni’ was the first film of hers I had ever seen), and she’s also responsible for my favorite (heartbreaking) scene in Abdellatif Kechiche’s ‘Secret of The Grain’. And let’s not forget the fact that she’s been in three movies with Vincent Gallo (anyone who knows me well, should be more than aware of my “mancrush” on him). I also don’t think she’s aware that there’s been a growing interest in the films she’s been in recently. The criterion collection recently put out ‘Secret of Grain’ on DVD here in the U.S. And due to Claire Denis’ recent popularity (’35 Shots Of Rum’ and ‘White Material were both released within a year of each other in new york), there have been retrospectives and screenings of her films in New York over the last year (in fact, for a big retrospective that IFC did, they used Alice’s image from a scene in ‘Nenette & Boni’ for the program flyer).

I’m still amazed at how cool she is. Let’s be honest, if you were an actress, and some random guy from another country hits you up out of the blue to hang out, wouldn’t you think that was a little strange? Well, apparently she didn’t think so. A few days before leaving for Paris, I contacted her, asked if she was free to meet up while I was in Europe, and that was pretty much it. Once I got to Paris, I meet up with Alice, her boyfriend and her friends, who are all just as cool as she is, and we ended up hanging out for most of the night (in fact her boyfriend and I share a common interest in making music). I was kinda relieved that Alice and her friends liked movies as much as me. You know, I didn’t wanna be that one nerd talking about movies all night, boring everyone to death. From what I remember, we all discussed our mutual love for Jim Jarmusch, Denis Lavant, David Lynch, Alex Descas and Michael Mann between dinner, a photography exhibition and eventually making our way to a low key lounge/club. To my surprise, Alice doesn’t like Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, but I won’t hold that against her. Naturally we discussed more than just movies, but at the same time, it’s the movie conversations that stuck with me the most. For someone who is essentially a stranger (…me), they certainly took care of me while I was out there and showed me a good time. Are all French actresses this nice? 
So thank you Alice for making my first visit to Paris (which was a quick one) a fun and memorable one. I hope my next visit is much longer, so we can do it again.

Sorry, but this video doesn't have English subtitles. But try to put that aside for a moment, and just look at the acting. This is the scene from 'Secret Of The Grain' that i mentioned earlier (to sum this scene up, she's had enough of her husband cheating, so breaks down and unloads everything on her father-in-law). Amazing acting. Also, anyone who considers themselves a fan of John Cassavetes should watch this film. A lot of independent directors are influenced by him and use his style, but not many do it well like Abdellatif Kechiche.

And here'a scene from 'U.S. Go Home'...



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