"Je photographie toutes les personnes qui viennent m'interviewer."
You know how in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the characters all had visions of the Devil's Tower in Wyoming and were inexplicably drawn to it? Alien mind games aside, have you ever seen a picture of a person, place or thing that is so beautiful or compelling, that you have to go and see it (or see them) up close and in person?
Well, the other day I saw this photograph of this woman, this out of this world goddess, and suddenly I want to go to France, and learn French and eat fries and do other French things:
I've always had a mommy thing for "petites brunettes," but this time this new infatuation goes far beyond your run of the mill Oedipus Complex, beyond all Freudian explanations. For one thing, on her best day mommy never looked so good, and for another, Oedipus stuck a needle in his eye, which should count for something.
Her name is Audrey Tautou, pronounced toe – TOO, she's an actress, and for the last 10 or 15 years she's been making movies in France, and quietly establishing herself as the next Audrey Hepburn of the fashion world, and perhaps the next French woman to win an Oscar.
Quite a few of Tautou's movies are available on NetFlix, and several of them can be streamed over the internet for Instant Viewing. You've probably already seen her in The Da Vinci Code and Amelie, but there's some other good ones too, that you may not have heard of.
The other day I watched Priceless, a Breakfast at Tiffany's knock-off, in which Audrey plays Irene Mercier, a sexy gold-digger seeking a wealthy gentleman to provide for all her fashion wants and needs, but who can't help falling for a lowly bartender who is more her speed. One person who saw the movie, twittered online "the best movies end with Audrey Tautou on a scooter!" That is soooo true. And who knew Audrey had such nice boobs? Amelie is inarguably a modern classic, but Priceless (Hors de Prix) is a good movie too, not great, but fun. It's the kind of movie you want to watch again and again just to watch Audrey brag about all the beautiful dresses in her closet, or listen to her dispense her street-smart advice, "prendre prendre maxi-muuuuuum!!
The next day I watched Happenstance, where she plays a somewhat frumpy figure, a pretty, "homerically" challenged Parisian girl working in an appliance store, who is getting jacked around by the Fates in a string of missed encounters, not unlike Odysseus in the classic Greek tale.
"Un long dimanche de fiançailles," a WWI historical piece with Audrey playing the part of a gimpy bride-to-be seeking to learn the fate of her fiancee, should'a could'a would've been her best film to date, were it not for the guillotine scene; it was a little troubling for me – I don't like to see women beheaded. Even in Anne of a Thousand Days, where Anne Boleyn's execution was handled a little more poetically, it still bothered me, and I came away from the movie feeling a little queasy.
Audrey is very modest about her fame, or so I've read, and very down-to-earth, and sweet, or so I imagine. In an interview by Angela Doland for KnoxNews.com, she admitted that "she doesn't really see why Hollywood directors would seek her out." I have a theory about why Hollywood and America, in general seem to go for obscure French girls – I call it my "Brigitte Bardot, Anna Karina, Leslie Caron, Catherine Deneuve Theory". I have a similar theory to explain why Christine Kaufman and Senta Berger were popular too, but I haven't thought of a name for it yet.
"I'm not at all against the idea of doing a movie in English again," Tautou said [in the article]. "The only thing I don't feel capable of doing is going off to conquer Hollywood. I don't think I have the strength for it, and I don't feel the desire … And I really don't see why someone would say, hey, I'm going to go hire that little French girl from (the provincial town of) Montlucon, who has almost never set foot in Los Angeles." If you ask me, that's not very Napoleonic of her. Where's that old, "we'll be in Moscow before the snow," spirit? Please Audrey, come to America and conquer us.
Whatever!! I think she'd be great in LA, and I could follow her around Beverly Hills like a lost puppy, and pretend to be a paparazzi.
Be that as it may, she clearly possesses a certain "Je ne sais wow" factor. Last night I watched Priceless again, and then I watched it one more time. Afterwards, tearing myself away from my DVD player before I could watch it a third time, I dug out one of my old textbooks, and started relearning French. And even that little melodic line from Close Encounters, the one that used to make me think of alien beings and Erich von Daniken, well, I still can't get it out of my head, but now it goes something like "Do-Do-Do tau-TOU"!!
I missed out on the recent contest in Elle Belgique, an international fashion magazine, to win two tickets for next "samedi nuit" to the AVANT PREMIERE de « COCO AVANT CHANEL » at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Paris, "en présence de Audrey Tautou et Marie Gillain." That's her new movie. That evening would have been a dream come true.
I'm still not completely over having to miss that shindig, but if I ever am able to get to Europe and the stars align themselves in our favor (I'm a Leo, like her), perhaps I'll go to Paris and badger or bribe her agent, and perhaps I'll get my chance to sit down with Audrey Tautou one day at a little sidewalk cafe and interview her. I read in an Elle article that she takes a photograph of everyone who interviews her and keeps them in a scrapbook – how sweet is that? Admittedly, I'm not very photogenic, and I don't really have what could be called a good side, but still it would be worth it and I'll try to keep the sun always at my back. I'd love to meet her on some level, for the same reason I would love to have met Audrey Hepburn, or Marilyn Monroe or seen the Taj Mahal or the Chateau de Versailles or witnessed a UFO. I'd love to surprise her, or make her blush, or cause her to have to thoughtfully purse those delicate, bow-like lips , or perhaps even test her French temper, to take away some real remembrance from the meeting, something personal, not like a doorknob from the palace or an alien artifact or even an autographed picture that I would frame and hang to collect dust beside the one I already have of Liselotte Pulver. Oops, I fear I may have just dated myself out of the running, but don't French women like old things, like old wine, old cheese, and old Maurice Chevalier movies?
Most likely I probably won't remember any of the interview, I'll be so giddy and gobsmacked by her extraterrestrialness, there'll be barely "un recherche du temps perdu." Unless she performs a Vulcan mind-meld on me, or reads my mind or my blog, then she'll surely see how sincere I am and perhaps I'll gain her trust, and be able to learn all about her planet, and hear some of her most intimate wants and desires. Isn't that in essence what a close encounter is, a symbiosis of two disparate beings, of two different worlds? And if that encounter, that perfect moment ever comes, if the earth ever does literally stand still for long enough, I'll share my stories and my screenplay with her, and ask her to Twitter me and offer to be her online chevalier. And then I'll offer her a cigar, because it's so adorable the way her people say "cigaaaaarrrrrrrr," in fact it's Priceless.
That would be some close encounter.
[Reprinted from my blog at http://dobee.wordpress.com]
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