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A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Joseph L. Mankiewicz |||
Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Mankiewicz directed 20 films in a 26-year period, and was very successful at every kind of film, from Shakespeare to western, drama to musical, epics to two-character pictures, and regardless of the genre, he was known as a witty dialogist, a master in the use of flashback and a talented actors' director.

The 1950 Oscar for Best Picture and Screenplay brought Mankiewicz wide recognition as a writer and a director, with his sardonic look at show business glamour and the empty lives behind it. This well orchestrated cast of brilliant and catty character actors is built around veteran actress Bette Davis and Anne Baxter as her understudy desperate for stardom.

One of Mankiewicz’ more intimate films, this highly regarded and major artistic achievement is a spirited romantic comedy set in England of the 1880’s about a widow who moves into a haunted seashore house and resists the attempts of a sea captain specter to scare her away. This is a pleasing and poignant romance that is equally satisfying as a good old ghost story.

Mankiewicz wrote and directed this witty dissection of matrimony that has three women review the ups and downs of their marriages (with all its romance, fears and foibles) after receiving a letter telling them that one of their husbands has been unfaithful. Once again Mankiewicz deftly utilizes the skills of a well-chosen ensemble, which includes a young Kirk Douglas at his dreamiest.

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Mon Idole

By EdwardHavens

July 5th, 2003

One of the most often asked questions in cinema is what one would do if they were given the chance to have everything they always wanted, if they were just willing to sacrifice some kind of moral price. In his feature directing debut entitled "Mon Idole,” French actor Guillaume Canet, best known to American audiences for his costarring role in “The Beach,” mostly plays it safe in answering this question. Most viewers will probably be able to answer the questions themselves before the end of the opening credits, and figure out the fate of the major players by the start of reel two. A minor film upon its release in its native France last Christmas, the film is still without an American distributor a year after its completion. If there will ever be any interest generated for “Mon Idole” in the future, it will be due to the newfound success of model turned actress Diane Kruger, also known as Mrs. Guillaume Canet, should her turn as Helen of Troy in the upcoming Trojan War epic “Troy,” starring Brad Pitt and Eric Bana, bring her the same stardom recently propelled on Monica Bellucci.


The focus of “Mon Idole” is on Bastien (Canet), a lowly technician on “Take Out the Tissues,” one of the top shows on French TV. Bastien also works as the assistant to Phillipe Letzger (Philippe Lefèbvre), the bastard child of Oprah Winfrey and Morton Downey Jr. host of “Tissues,” regularly finding himself humiliated by his boss, if only to allow himself access to his idol, the show’s legendary producer Jean-Louis Broustal (François Berléand). After work one Friday afternoon, Broustal invites Bastien out to his home in the country to discuss the concept for a new show Bastien recently pitched to Broustal. The pair arrives at the resplendently designed country home, where Bastien is introduced to Clara (Kruger), Broustal’s sexy young wife, who takes hospitality to new levels. Thus, the wheels are set in motion for Bastien’s temptation. Broustal will give the young lad the chance to host the new show, if only Bastien will agree to a unique personal services contract. When Bastien declines to participate, he finds himself not only out of a job but on the run for his life.

If there is anything remotely interesting concerning “Mon Idole,” besides the lovely Ms. Kruger, is the lengths director/co-writer/star Canet allowed his character to be shamed. Very few American stars would ever allow these kinds of moral degradations to be foisted upon them, let alone create them to be done to themselves, so Canet must be applauded for that. However, the bulk of the film is an uninteresting mess. As a satire on the reality television craze, it comes nowhere near the absurdity of most shows on the air, making its condemnation worthless in comparison. As a statement on the lack of morality in the entertainment industry, it pales in comparison to the savage beatings given by the likes of Paddy Chayefsky and Woody Allen. And as a first time director, Canet shows no kind of personal style that helped give neophyte directors like Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson a fan base through their debuts.

I give “Mon Idole” a C for effort and a D for execution.

"Mon Idole" Scorecard
Director: Guillaume Canet
Writers: Guillaume Canet, Philippe Lefèbvre
Producer: Alain Attal
Cinematography: Christophe Offenstein
Featuring: François Berléand, Guillaume Canet, Diane Kruger, Philippe Lefèbvre
MPAA Rating: Not rated by the MPAA
Running Time: 110 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Flat (1.85:1)
Sound Format: Dolby Digital, DTS

My rating: D