Yes, that's right: iconic French film actress Catherine Deneuve was at the table next to ours at Marco Polo (a little Italian restaurant around the corner from Saint-Sulpice that I've been wanting to go to for years) this evening. Alison was no farther from her than you are from this computer screen. Granted, this photograph is from 1995, but I tell you what, she is still absolutely striking and fantastic. We were very dignified and stately, thank you very much, and let the dear woman eat her meal in peace (fish, spaghetti, gelato). BUT WOW! CATHERINE DENEUVE!!! That's like eating next to Lauren Bacall. Except it was Catherine Deneuve. Ok, if you need to watch a couple of the best scenes from Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1964 - she was 21 years old) like I just did, here you go:
Ok - put away the Kleenex - for we had a great day!!!
We started our day at the Pompidou, where I missed Mac tremendously for his wit, acumen, and incredible depth of knowledge (and for remembering the hours that he and I had spent before countless works of art in there). The Expressionists were hidden (no Kirchner), but many of the other greats were there: the Delaunays and Kandinskys and Sylvia von Harden by Otto Dix and many others. We had great conversations about art and knowledge, about rebelling against academic knowledge and using only sensual knowledge, about what an artist asks of an audience, about what an audience can give, what an artist can give. It was, as ever, wonderful to talk with Alison and Mallory.
After a lovely lunch at Dame Tartine, we couldn't quite face the Marais and its skinny sidewalks, and so we took the conversation to the Rodin Museum, where the roses were in full bloom, and the people were plentiful but relaxed (lots of kids). Mallory took some great pictures of the Thinker, and the Three Shades from the Gates of Hell, as we as the (still, always) incredible Kiss. There was also a huge work by the witty, provocative Belgian artist Wim Delvoye (really, check out his website). It's pretty fantastic for the Rodin to exhibit contemporary art like this - made me happy to know it was reaching out (now if only they could get some heating and cooling going in that old house...).
Dear Alison went to have a little lie-down and Mallory and I took off for the Cinématèque Française (but a prelude to the fact that we had dinner next to.... Catherine Deneuve!!!). The building is by Frank Ghery, and it is a treasure house: machines from the 1780s that made images appear to move, Etienne Jules-Merey's "gun" that he used to shoot photographs in rapid succession, original costumes from 1920s movies, and lots and lots of old film equipment - and even more photographs of all of the people involved in making films in Paris, Berlin and Hollywood. And all around, a beautiful park in the Bercy area - tremendous! They also have screening rooms which show (at least in June-August) at least 7 films a day, each more cult and classic and interesting than the last (Kurosawa and Dennis Hopper festivals going on now). You could get a complete film education just hanging around the front door, I tell you.
So, as ever, Paris gives and gives. Cheers, and sweet dreams to the tunes of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg!!!
3 days ago