Live by Night
The key question behind Live by Night isn’t so much “Why did they bother?” as “What went wrong?”
PARIS--The Cesars were telecast Friday night and, as you know, there is no censorship to speak of on French TV. Emma Thompson, who speaks brilliant French (of course she does) was seated in the front row next to Sean Penn when a French comedienne I was unfamiliar with came out to give an award, with one breast exposed from the nipple up.
As in, the nipple was showing. Thompson was cringing for this lass -- biting her knuckles. Penn and Dustin Hoffman were slack-jawed that this was being telecast. Finally Emma couldn't contain herself and ran up on stage (the show is live) to help the young woman tuck herself in.
Turns out the exposed boob was part of the young woman's act -- she was playing an airhead starlet. Had I (and Emma) known that her real name is Julie Ferrier, then we would have noticed that when she was announced as "a rising actress you haven't heard much about but will be hearing more about soon, Sandrine Moule," we would have "known" this was schtick. It was a great cross-cultural moment when slightly matronly Emma in a very frilly outfit up to her chin couldn't contain herself any longer.
I also love that all the film clips for the foreign language noms inevitably have characters saying "fuck" or "fucking" a lot. And that the show's host said to Penn, about "Milk," in English, "And by the way, you were fucking great in that movie." And everybody in the theater, including the (female) Minister of Culture applauded in agreement.
They invited all the kids from "The Class" onstage to give one of the awards. As you'll recall Sean Penn was the prez of the Cannes jury that gave the film the most recent Palme d'Or. The kids took turns saying cute sassy things and one boy addressed Penn as "Mr. President" (since that's what you call the prez of a fest jury) adding "Couldn't you be our president for real? 'Cause we sure are ready for change."
This got a big laugh. (Compare and contrast with the apparently canned 'boos" that drove Michael Moore off the Oscar stage a few years back.) I guess when you come down to it, the French think any occasion is suitable for sex and politics.
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Footnote: "Sandrine Moule?" Mouler is a verb in French, meaning "to mould bricks; to cast a statue; to form, shape a letter; (of clothes) to hug, fit tightly."
Here is a video clip of the wardrobe malfunction:
Or, if that has been taken down, here is a shorter version:
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Lisa Nesselson is a film critic who has long lived in Paris, and was for many years Variety's correspondent.
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