Review: The Lady in the Portrait

With The Lady in the Portrait, French director Charles de Meaux takes a dazzling but conservative approach to dramatise a real-life occurrence: in 18th century China, Jesuit monk Attiret (Melvil Poupaud) is a court painter under Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. With its stiff rituals, closed-off palace grounds and social rigidities, life is a lot like it would be in Versailles, although Attiret and his fellow Jesuits repeatedly struggle with the courts’ mocking dabs at the Christian God and idea of chastity. Things start to stir when, during a memorial for the Emperor’s late wife, the new Empress Ulanara (Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing) has a bout of jealousy and decides to commission a Western-style portrait of herself to rekindle her husband’s interest (not an easy task in a palace brimming with a regular influx of pretty substitutes). Attiret gets the job – while quietly giggling onlookers and critics breathe into his neck during the first couple of sessions, they soon thin out to leave him and Ulanara in a setting of ‘inappropriate’ intimacy.

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Review: Mary Lattimore – Silver Ladders

As the legend goes, mermaid songs charmed their listeners so fully that they drowned them. The same tug is present in Mary Lattimore’s newest release Silver Ladders, where the LA-based harpist teams up with Slowdive’s Neil Halstead in his studio in an old airfield in Cornwall to create a haunting set of pieces that weave together local tales, personal travels and snippets from conversations.

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Josh David Jordan: You always want more but this film needed to be just this

With its echoes of Inside Llewyn Davis and Once, Josh David Jordan’s debut feature This World Won’t Break sets the unknown singer-songwriter’s struggle for recognition in the hot, dusty hues of the director’s hometown Dallas, Texas. The Fountain (TF) caught up with Jordan to chat about lessons learned, family projects and why making it big doesn’t necessarily prove you’re a great artist.

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Peter Sant: And like the land, the human characters remain nameless

Australian director Peter Sant’s Maltese-language debut feature Of Time and the Sea, which follows a small family living underground on a mysterious island, boasts gorgeous cinematography and reuses various abandoned filmsets dotted all over Malta. Talking to The Fountain, Sant shares his thoughts on genre, cinematography as a means of storytelling and the power of film.

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