Tag Archives: france

MIFF 2016: Monsieur Mayonnaise (2016)

Director: Trevor Graham
Featuring: Mirka Mora, Phillipe Mora, Georges Mora, Marcel Marceau (archival footage), Hitler (archival footage)


In this documentary we follow Phillipe Mora as he retraces the history of his family through World War II and before while painting the scenes for a graphic novel about his families’ experiences and finding out things he never knew before.
During the Q&A after the film the director said he did know some of the things that Phillipe was going to find out beforehand, but he wanted his genuine reactions on film when he found out things so he did not tell him exactly what to expect.

Mirka Mora is also interviewed throughout the film and reveals some surprising things about why she paints a lot of ducks and birds (phallic symbols) and the significance of fences in her works that they represent the people left behind in the camps after she was rescued.

Phillipe Mora’s film career is covered including his debut at Cannes that caused a commotion for “humanising” Hitler with colour close up footage of him sourced from the CIA archives. I knew that he had directed the Howling III and Mad Dog Morgan with Dennis Hopper but not the other movies.

There are some very touching scenes with Phillipe meeting one of the children rescued by his father and the daughter of the family who sheltered his mother’s family during WWII. As he said he had to make the film as the original witnesses were starting to get thin on the ground.

When the story gets into Phillipe’s fathers work with the French Resistance it is also very interesting as it turned out Georges Mora worked with Marcel Marceau on some operations involving rescuing children from the Nazis. While they may have had differences in their mayonnaise recipes, their work with the children was never in doubt.

Marcel Marceau was Phillipe’s godfather and a frequent visitor of the family when they were in Australia. Phillipe thought he was a “weirdo” when he was younger due to him wanting to rub the left over olive oil all over himself whenever they had a salad. He did get to know him when he was older and they became good friends.

I don’t actually know when the graphic novel featured in the story is coming out as it is not mentioned in the documentary or during the Q&A afterwards. I am sure it will do very well when it is released.

There was a question of how Mirka Mora’s family was released from the camp when only 100 other people managed to be released. The answer was the French resistance was involved falsifying documents and also the Nazi officials where receptive to bribes.
This was a really enjoyable and interesting documentary about a family I had heard a lot about but didn’t really know their history. As Phillipe and the director said they had wanted to make a story together on the topic before, but didn’t want it to be so serious you would come out of the experience depressed.

The screening I saw it at was the world premiere with a lot of the family in attendance including Mirka Mora who got a lot of applause for yelling out and waving her bouquet around.

It was quite a shame that this documentary did not get a presale into television in Australia and had to be backed by a TV station in France, but they recognise the importance of their history.

MIFF 2014 – Irma Vep (1996)

Director: Olivier Assayas
Starring: Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Nathalie Richard, Nathalie Boutefeu, Antoine Basler

Maggie Cheung stars as herself in this odd duck of a movie about a remake of a silent film that is falling apart even before she arrives with a neurotic director René Vidal (Jean-Pierre Léaud), the crew abandoning the main star as they are so keen to leave the set and the costumer Zoe (Nathalie Richard) who has a crush on her.

This film seems like a mockumentary even before they were popular as it is hard to work out which scenes are real and which are part of the movie. The fake interview that Maggie Cheung has during the film seems to be her telling her real thoughts about the directors and films mentioned.

My favourite part is at the party where the host is talking to Maggie in broken English and asks her if she likes girls. From her reaction it looks like they really asked her and she didn’t know it was going to be used, or Maggie Cheung is an even better actor than I have realized.

The whole film is more of a character study and a statement on how the film industry in France was operating at the time. The director in the film has had past success, but seems to be floundering and they have to bring in a replacement. The journalist in the interview scene is very down on traditional French cinema and praises the action genre.

Maggie Cheung really did not know French when she first came to work on this movie and ended up marrying Olivier Assayas after the movie. The number one reason to watch this film is if you are a Maggie Cheung completist and want to see her walking around in a latex cat suit. Any reason to watch Maggie Cheung is good enough for me and the clips shown from Heroic Trio in the movie are most welcome.