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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Aging Hollywood divas hit Berlinale red carpet

It was "Michelle Ma Belle" on the Berlin front pages this morning announcing the arrival on day six of still fairly pretty, 49 year old Hollywood star, Michelle Pfeiffer, here to rep her competition film "Chéri" in which she plays an aging coutrtesan (French euphemism for "high class hooker") in hopeless love with a much younger debauché -- French for "degenerate profligate", of masculin gender. The classy period piece set in "Belle Epoche" France (the period from the turn of the century to World war I) is based on a typical Colette tale of Gallic decadence and is directed by classy British director Stephen Frears, 67, most recently Oscarized for "The Queen". This picture is, in fact, kind of a reprise of another Frears-Pfeiffer collaboration, "Dangerous Liaisons" (Les liaisons dangéreuses) 1988, dealing with French boudoir dilly-dallying, in which Michelle played a much younger version of herself today. (In that one the older hooker was Glen Close)
In the current edition Michelle plays an over-the-hill former beauty, still attractive enough to ensnare the hopelessly debauched son of a former business colleague of hers, retired former courtesan Kathy Bates. The son, played rather convincingly by a handsome new-comer with leading man charisma, British actor Rupert Friend, is called "Chéri" (dear boy) in the story, whence the title of the film.
This is a very handsomely mounted moving picture and is very capably directed by veteran Frears. It only has one problem -- it's boring and uninvolving. Whatever sex-appeal La Pfeiffer once had (if she ever did have any) has now faded away and, in general, this is the kind of film that helps you catch up on your sleep at an early morning press projection, leaving you glad you caught it at a festival so you won't have to pay to sleep through it at a commerical screening later. In any case, this is no "Queen" and, alas, while still having vestiges of those famously fragile good looks, Michelle is no Helen Mirren.
At the press conference which followed the screening I must say that Michelle looked pretty damn good -- a lot better in person than up there on the screen. The picture, however, unless you are a dedicated Pfeiffer fan, is one to take a raincheck on.

That was Tuesday, and here on Wednesday, as the festival enters its latter stages, another older Hollywood Diva, and yes, undeniably a former sex symbol as well, fabulous Demi Moore blows into town with a true zilch of a film, an independent piece of work entitled "Happy Tears", directed by a guy by the name of Mitchell Lichtenstein. The story is about two fortiesh sisters and their raunchy redundant shitting-in-his-pants old father (Rip Torn, and does he ever look ripped in the role) and their meaningless lives together. Except for the fact that there are some recognizable San Francisco locations, this study in nothingness might as well have come from the Duchy of Lichtenstein. One observant critic from the Duchy of Luxembourg sitting behind me at the press screening remarked that the only reason for having a dull pointles picture like this in competition at the festival was, of course, as an excuse for having a big star like Demi Moore adorn the red carpet at the gala in the evening. In the picture Demi plays the responsible older sister in a decidely unglamorous mold, like pigtail hairdoes and ordinary jeans, but still looks good -- very good at 46 -- much better in fact than the younger sister played by an actres with the improbable name of Parker Posey. (voice role in "Superman Returns", 2006) . Even though this flick does nothing and goes nowhere it does have an eye-catching opening --the title sequence with a collage of brightly colored abstract paintings and catchy blues music -- but after that it goes steadily downhill into "why did they ever bother to make this movie" land.

The press conference, it must be said, was far more interesting than the picture, mainly because of the truly charismatic presence of Demi, who, packed into a black and white cotton print dress and sporting long flowing black hair looked --well - -- terrific!
I am tempted to say "better than ever", and, of course, the husky voice is just as fetching as ever. Dumb questions like like "Why does an actress of your stature bother to make an independent (i.e.,dumb) film like this", the actress handled with gracious aplomb (not saying, for instance, that she was in it for the money, ahem) Although Ms. Moore has obviously reached an age where she is not going to be offered the kind of sex-bomb roles that came her way earlier, she still has plenty of oomph, and I would hate to see her wasting away in more unfortunate misfires like "Happy Tears". I have never been a particularly devoted follower of Ms. Moore's career and exploits, but who can forget her appearing on the cover of a major national magazine nine months pregnant! She was once married to actor Bruce Willis which reminds me of another press conference I once attended here in Berlin at the 1996 festival. In that one Bruce, then at the height of his popularity, was here for a film called "Twelve Monkees". At one point in the confernce one idiotic scribe asked Bruce if his sex life off screen was as good as it seemed to be on screen. To this the action star with the sawed-off nose answered with an engaging grin, "Well, I wake up every morning next to Demi Moore ... What else can I say?". Gotta hand it to Bruce for that one ...

Alex, Berlin

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Chatelin Bruno
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