The good news: SIFF is bringing this Catherine Deneuve series to Seattle. The bad news: It's a totally weak representation of the great actress's body of work. SIFF is showing only four films, two of which are by the same director, François Ozon (Potiche, 8 Women), and two of which are as common as the leaves of grass (Lars von Trier's lousy Dancer in the Dark, Luis Buñuel's uninspired Belle de Jour). To make matters worse, Potiche is getting a full Landmark release in the middle of spring, so everyone will get a chance to see it. In short, this series has almost no value. And we are not talking about some obscure artist, some somebody nobody has ever heard of. The star of this series is a prolific actress with a 40-year career!
Let's leave Seattle and go to New York City, to Brooklyn, to BAM. The Catherine Deneuve series happening at this location is really something else. It contains five times more films (25), many of which I have never heard of (Marco Ferreri's Don't Touch the White Woman!, Jean Aurel's Manon 70), and many of which I would love to see on the big screen again (Raoul Ruiz's Genealogies of a Crime, Jean-Paul Rappeneau's Call Me Savage). Finally, the jewel on the crown of this program is the absence of Dancer in the Dark, a film that's too common and artistically weak for an occasion of this scale and importance.
"One of the most versatile actresses of her generation," declares SIFF on its website, "Catherine Deneuve has been a luminous presence in some of the greatest films of the last 50 years. SIFF is proud to honor her work, past and current." This statement makes sense for the program at BAM, not for the puny and valueless one that's happening in our city.