The art of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and the decadence avec elegance of the Parisian Belle Époque of the late 1800s are the subjects of a special free program of film screenings, which will be accompanying the National Gallery of Australia’s major retrospective of the works of the iconic French artist currently showing in Canberra. All films will be screened at the Gallery’s James O Fairfax Theatre.
John Houston’s 1952 classic Moulin Rouge was the first film to kick off the series of screenings that will include documentaries and contemporary classics celebrating the spirit of Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris and its famous cabarets, theatres and bordellos.
Bertrand Bonello’s House of Tolerance (L’Apollonide – Souvenirs de la maison close) divided audiences and critics when it premiered as one of the contenders for the coveted Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian described it as a ‘weirdly nasty film’ adding that ‘misogyny never quite goes out of style in cinema’, while critics such as Stephen Holden from The New York Times disagreed saying that ‘the heavy candlelit chiaroscuro paints the women as mobile Renoirs, Degases and Manets.’ House of Tolerance is a ‘frank, atmospheric account of life in a smart Parisian brothel in 1899 and 1900’. It was nominated for 8 César Awards (the French Oscars), winning Best Costume Design. House of Tolerance screens on February 10.
Hillary Chadwick’s Art lives: Henri Toulouse-Lautrec is an insightful documentary that profiles Lautrec’s life and includes rare archival footage of the original locations frequented by the artist as well as a trip to one of his exhibitions in London. Chadwick interviews a myriad of art historians, critics, collectors and artists to detail Lautrec’s eccentric artistic journey. The documentary is part of the acclaimed Arthaus’ Art Lives series that examines the greatest art movements and artists in history. Art lives: Henri Toulouse-Lautrec screens on February 17.
Woody Allen’s Academy Award-winning Midnight in Paris delighted audiences with its nostalgic and witty tale of an American screenwriter who mysteriously travels back in time to 1920s post-war Paris with his fiancée to rub shoulders with famous writers, artists and musicians of the time. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec is played by Vincent Menjou Cortez, and is one of the many talents portrayed in Allen’s romantic fantasy, his greatest box-office hit to date. Midnight in Paris screens on March 8.
A tribute to the world’s most romantic city, Paris, je t’aime united more than 20 of the world’s most revered directors including the Coen brothers, Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, Alfonso Cuaron, Alexander Payne, Christopher Doyle, Olivier Assayas and Gus Van Sant for an anthology of 20 short films celebrating the French capital. The ensemble cast is just as stellar featuring Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Steve Buscemi, Marianne Faithful, Fanny Ardant, Elijah Wood, Gaspard Ulliel, Gerard Depardieu and Natalie Portman. Paris, je t’aime screens on March 9.
Closing the program of film screenings is Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge, a classic featuring John Leguizamo in the role of Toulouse-Lautrec, whom the actor once described as a ‘a degenerate, debauched dwarf with syphilis’. In Luhrman’s fantasy, the underworld of Montmartre is portrayed in all its extravaganza with a contemporary soundtrack and inspired performances by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. Moulin Rouge screens on March 17.