Hypnotic actor Brady Corbet’s unnerving directorial debut, “The Childhood of a Leader,” which he co-wrote with Monica Fastvold, proceeds with increasing dread, in counterpoint to its sumptuous photography (by Lol Crawley) of the dark and elegant rooms of a large provincial French house and the lovely landscape.
Prescott (Tom Sweet), a pretty young boy with an unfortunate haircut, is first seen in angelic white rehearsing a Christmas pageant at the local church. He’s the son of a Paris-based American diplomat (Liam Cunningham) working closely with President Woodrow Wilson to end the carnage of World War I and a beautiful, anxious French/German mother (Bérénice Bejo).
The film is divided into four sections, the first three of which chronicle tantrums of increasing severity as Prescott, often affectlessness, begins to manifest his monstrous nature, paralleling, even as a lavish peace celebration is held at the house, fascism’s rise in Europe.
“The Childhood of a Leader” (which won both Best Director and Best Debut Film at the 72nd Venice Festival-Horizons Section) will open on Friday, July 22 at the IFC Center (as well as being available on VoD), and in Los Angeles on Friday, July 29, with further roll-out to follow.
Brady Corbet, who played the seductive sociopath of Antonio Campos’s “Simon Killer” (2012), arrived at my studio with Shane from Cinetic. I knew it was going to be a fun shoot. I asked Brady what VOITH, white letters above his left pocket, meant. It sounded like a lisped pronunciation of the alternative weekly for which I had long photographed. He didn’t quite answer, but said that the shirt was also a good pajama top.
Somehow we next talked about kimonos and I retrieved the vibrantly-embroidered robe that Jane had brought back from Tokyo for me. And Brady wanted to wear it for some of the photos.
In August 2004, Mark and I (and Grover and Leo) spent a week in Cleveland registering voters (mostly Democrats) and having great meals in small owner/chef restaurants in the Fremont and Ohio City neighborhoods. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton (room rates from a different universe than New York), the only hotel in town that took dogs.
Poor Cleveland, hosting the RNC madhouse this week. Such an upsetting display of profoundly crazy vitriol, alternating with vacuity, coming from the stage, and from the delegates on the floor, alternating between mob behavior and boredom. (And I’m writing this before Trump delivers his so-called “speech of a lifetime.”)