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Boorman’s ‘Queen’ could be his last ‘Old age is a series of retreats’

CANNES, France, May 24, (RTRS): John Boorman had always intended to make a sequel to Oscar-nominated “Hope and Glory”, his 1987 semi-autobiography set in suburban London during World War Two, and it could very well be the 81-year-old director’s last film, he said. “Queen and Country”, which premiered in the Director’s Fortnight category at the Cannes film festival this week, fast-forwards the action of “Hope and Glory” to 1952, following the now 18-year-old protagonist Billy Rohan as he is conscripted to fight in the Korean War. “I’m not sure I’ll do any more,” Boorman, who walks with a cane, told Reuters TV. “Old age is a series of retreats. Many of the things, the pleasures of my life have been withdrawn. I played tennis all my life which I can’t do anymore. You know, film-making is one of the few things I’m able to do, I’m still able to do.”

But old age does have its advantages, said the director of “Deliverance” and “Point Blank”, citing a conversation with legendary director Sir David Lean just before he died in 1991. “He said, ‘I hope I get well enough to make this film’ — you know, he was trying to make “Nostromo” which he didn’t of course make. But he said, ‘I hope ... because I’m just about beginning to get the hang of it’,” Boorman said. “I thought that was so wonderful and I think that most directors feel that ... you need to live to quite a great age in order to grasp everything that’s required to make a film, to hold a whole film in your head.” With “Queen and Country”, he used his signature directing style of shooting very little and rehearsing carefully.

“I always say, ‘Everything we shoot will go in the film,’ so you’ve got to be right, ready and at the top of your game.” “When I made “Point Blank” at MGM I shot the least footage of film in their history and John Ford used to do that, shoot very little, because his aim was to shoot the film in such a way so that the studio couldn’t recut it,” he said. “That was always somewhat on my mind too, that it could only be made one way.” “Queen and Country” features actors Callum Turner, David Thewlis, Richard E. Grant and Sinead Cusack.

Juliette Binoche confronts an issue every actress eventually faces in Olivier Assayas’s “Clouds of Sils Maria” — what happens when the casting call you get is for the older woman and no longer the starlet?
Men, as Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenneger and Sylvester Stallone proved by bringing the roadshow to promote their “The Expendables 3” over-the-hill mercenaries franchise to Cannes last weekend, can continue to play the same action heroes into their 60s or even 70s.
But a woman can’t play a starlet after a certain age, nor should she want to, Binoche, who reached global stardom in such films as “The English Patient” and “Chocolat” said at a post-screening news conference.
The film was the last of the 18 in competition for the top Palme d’Or prize to be screened before the main awards are announced on Saturday.

“Imagine if for 40 years you played the part of 20-year-old, you’d get very bored,” Binoche said. “Of course you can’t play the same parts all the time.” In the film, Binoche plays Maria Enders, an actress whose career resembles her own and who now is in her 40s. Enders’s first big success was playing an aggressive young woman who is employed by a middle-aged woman executive who runs a company. She seduces the older woman and destroys her. Assayas’s film shows Binoche’s character being asked 20 years later to play the older woman, while an aggressive, media-savvy young American actress (Chloe Grace Moretz of the “Kick....” films) will take the role of the younger one. Enders has a great deal of difficulty coping with doing the role of the older woman but as the film progresses she finally comes to term with it, and realises she can bring to the part something no younger actress could.

“I think the more experience you have, the more you focus on the really important questions, you open up, you mature, you become more skilled, more honed,” Binoche said. “Think about (Canadian pianist) Glenn Gould, when he played Bach at the beginning and at the end of his career he didn’t play Bach the same way. “In other words, something happens inside yourself, within yourself. You’re more aware of certain things because life shapes you. Fortunately we do change, we evolve.” Moretz said that unlike the character she portrays, who finds a way to humiliate Binoche’s character even while smiling at her, she had relished the prospect of working with Binoche and Assayas, whose films she has admired for years. “Obviously to work with Olivier, not on any project but specifically a French project with Juliette, would be so special,” she said. “I think there’s something so much more innovative about French cinema than American because it’s alive and there’s something that is very raw about it that we can’t capture in America yet.”

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