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Posts Tagged ‘Charlotte Rampling’

Dolph Lundren, Grace Jones…photo by Helmut Newton

“HELMUT NEWTON: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL” My rating: B (Available July 24 on Kino Marquee)

93 minutes | No MPAA rating

As with few other photographers (Ansel Adams and Robert Mapplethorpe immediately come to mind) the late Helmut Newton’s images cannot be mistaken for those of any other artist.

Newton (1920-2004) worked in fashion  and his most regular employer was Vogue magazine. But even when his stated assignment was to capture on film some item of apparel he still managed to work his sexual preoccupations and perverse sense of humor into the equation.

Though he frequently photographed the famous (Margaret Thatcher, David Bowie), Newton’s main fame rests on his nudes.  Though they’ve been classified as erotica, many find them anything but enticing.

No come-hither looks. No languid poses.

Newton’s women usually present themselves to us in-yer-face naked from top to high-heeled bottom, appproaching the camera defiantly and largely indifferent to the viewer’s gaze. This is the nude body as chilly, intimidating bulwark.

Elements of sado-masochism are not uncommon.

Some critics (Susan Sontag, famously) found his work essentially misogynistic; others, including many of the young women who were his models, regard their time with Newton as empowering.

Getting to the root of that conundrum is the underlying thread of “Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful” by documentarian Gero von Boehm, whose six-part “A Brief History of the World” is one of the highest rated documentaries ever on German television.

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Alicia Vikander, Eva Green

“EUPHORIA” My rating: B (Opens June  at)

104 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“When a man knows he’s to be hanged in a fortnight,” observed Samuel Johnson, “it focuses his mind most wonderfully.”

How the siblings  at the center of “Euphoria” focus their minds (or refuse to do so) on imminent mortality is very much the concern of writer/director Lisa Langseth, who initially poses one mystery, only to have it supplanted by a much deeper one.

Ines (Alicia Vikander) returns to Europe at the request of her sister Emilie (Eva Green).  She hasn’t been home for more than a decade, during which time she built a career as an artist in NYC.  Never much of a family person, Ines has delayed this reunion; she’s only doing it now as a way of fleeing the bad reviews of her latest exhibition.

She finds her sister in a curiously spendthrift  frame of mind. Emilie has booked them into a posh hotel and treats her sis to a very expensive dinner. The money, Emilie claims, comes from the sale of her home.

But the big surprise is a trip to Switzerland where Emilie has booked the pair into a posh resort in the middle of a lush forest.

Only when they arrive at their destination does Ines realize what’s going on.  Unbeknownst to her, Emilie has been fighting cancer for years; this is less a vacation than a brief meditative retreat to be followed by a staff-assisted suicide.

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Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay

Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay

“45 YEARS” My rating: B+

95 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Everyone has a few secrets. Usually it’s a case of no harm, no foul.

But for the couple at the center of Andrew Haigh’s “45 Years,” long-kept secrets threaten a decades-old marriage.

Kate (Oscar nominated Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) are retirees living in a bucolic and green corner of England. They’ve never had children, doting instead on a series of dogs. They are comfortable and reasonably happy.

One day the postman brings a letter that upends their placid existence. Geoff learns that melting glaciers have revealed the body of his long-ago girlfriend, who was hiking Europe with him when she fell to her death in an alpine crevasse. Now, more than 50 years later, the authorities want him to come settle matters.

Kate knew of this shadowy woman only vaguely. Geoff has never talked much about her. But now she learns that way back then Geoff identified himself to the authorities as the dead woman’s husband. Actually they never married, but as far as the Swiss police are concerned, he’s still next of kin.

This revelation gnaws at Kate as she goes about arranging a party to celebrate her and Geoff’s 45th wedding anniversary (Geoff was ill for their 40th, so this is to make up for lost time).

But even as she must deal with renting  a banquet hall, selecting music for the dance, and creating a menu, she’s gnawed by doubts.

Just how well does she know this man who has shared her life?

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