Summary of episode 2 of the mini-series “Irma Vep”: The ring that kills

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Irma Vep

The ring that kills

Season 1

Episode 2

Editor’s note

4 stars

Photo: Carole Bethuel/HBO

A question that is never satisfactorily answered in the film Irma Vep, and now the miniseries, it’s just “Why?” Why dust off this century-old French soap opera for a contemporary audience? What is the real artistic motive at work here? What twist is put on it? For Olivier Assayas, the director of the film and creator of this series, not having an answer is essential. A redesign (pun intended) The vampires is his commentary on the French entertainment industry biting its tail, as a more pretentious version of the creative stasis that has led Hollywood to remake, reboot and otherwise plunder existing intellectual property. For the film’s René Vidal, played by Jean-Pierre Léaud, it was a desperate effort by a has-been filmmaker to recapture the magic of yesteryear. And it ends with him slashing his own images into ribbons.

The René of the series, played by Vincent Macaigne, seems to have an even more pitiful motive: he has a weakness for women in catsuits. As he explains to his therapist, he watched Diana Rigg in The Avengers on television as a child and became obsessed with her – although he would make it clear that he respects Rigg as an artist and it was her character, Emma Peel, who turned him on. Rene dodges the question of whether he indulged himself thinking of her, but the therapist’s office is clearly the only place he can go to confess that he’s building an entire limited series TV program around a basic fetishism. Perhaps more will be said later about René’s grander and more sophisticated vision, but that’s all he has for now.

And that’s barely enough. After last week’s episode, there was panic and uncertainty in production because Rene’s past erratic behavior – and current selection of mood stabilizers – spooked the insurance company. For Mira’s agent, Zelda, played with delectable nastiness by Carrie Brownstein, this represents a golden opportunity for her client to evade a project she has always hated. “judgment Day is a huge success,” she says. “It’s time to cash out.” It’s not in Zelda’s interest to help Mira take small projects, of course, because Mira has a chance to restart Silver Surfer in reverse which will take less time and earn her much more money. . She doesn’t necessarily defy Mira’s wishes either: there may be a narrow window to stardom in Hollywood, especially for women, and if Mira squanders that opportunity in favor of a French art series, that window could begin. to close.

And how well does Mira know what she wants anyway? “The Ring That Kills” opens with her assistant, Regina, visiting Mira’s cozy new hotel room, which has two bedrooms and a terrace with a lovely view of Paris, though the bathroom with curtains opens directly onto the living room. That won’t be enough. “It’s fine,” Regina concedes, “but it’s a fucking junior suite,” and she knows Mira won’t be happy, even though she knew it was a modest French production. Maggie Cheung has no complaints about her even smaller digs in the original Irma Vep, but there seems to be a consensus between Regina and Zelda, who otherwise hate each other, on what suits their client. This alliance with international cinema is perhaps not for her.

Still, Mira’s demeanor in those early days on set is mostly committed, even as she has to sit through ugly feuds between her French hosts. Stepping into this role once played by the enigmatic Misadora is a challenge that completely seduces her once she gets the chance to work there. She feels good about the slight improvisation she adds to a spellbinding choreographed dance, and when the cinematographer brings her in for a lighting test, she can’t help but sneak in like a thief, even if she slips off camera. Keep in mind that Mira came The vampires not simply (or even mostly) as a chance to stretch herself artistically, but to hide from her ex, Laurie, and the scrutiny she would expect to find in Los Angeles. The actors disappear into the roles. There is something therapeutic in this idea for her.

Much to Zelda’s alleged chagrin, The vampires doesn’t lose his manager as Rene goes to see another doctor for a second opinion, and that doctor seems determined to give him the green light, despite his admissions that he “can’t stand interacting with people” and that he has panic attacks. (Many TV critics will also tell you that Rene is a lunatic for calling the series an “eight-piece” movie.) Although Rene hasn’t blown up at Mira yet – he even tolerates her pointing out holes evident in the script – there’s already evidence of his hilariously petulant behavior behind the camera, especially with Edmond, who had spent the previous week begging him for a better motive for revenge. This week, René is fed up. “Next time you say ‘motivation’, I’ll choke you,” and he doesn’t even wait long to go to the throat. Later, Edmond complains that René hit him on the head with a monitor.

To summarize: The vampires is an eight-part film directed by a borderline psychotic, barely insurable auteur who never got over seeing Diana Rigg in a catsuit at a formative age. Mira only gets a small glimpse of the malfunction to come.

• The funniest subplot of the week involves the arrival of Lars Edinger as Gottfried, a German theater actor who makes an unusual request of the production: he has a crack addiction and needs to score some extra to play. (He foolishly mistook someone for a customs officer on his three-day train journey from a film festival in northern Finland and flushed his stash down the toilet.) He threatens to jump out of the window. he can’t get any, which leads Carla, his escort from the station, to issue a discreet request for a room on the ground floor of the hotel.

• A “feminist high-concept female-led superhero film” from a guy who made a video of Grimes. It certainly looks like Hollywood in 2022.

• “I’ve never really tried crack.” “Don’t believe what they say. It doesn’t fry your brain. Not entirely.”

• D’Herman, the director of judgment Day, Mira said, “He’s a good guy. But I wouldn’t pay to see one of his films. Surely there are plenty of A-list actors who privately say the same about their biggest films.

• “Why would vampires write all their secrets in a notebook?” “Who hired Irma Vep as a maid? Simple logical questions that, in the French way, aren’t worth honoring with an answer.

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