Why do people think that anytime they use life in Ireland as a backdrop, the resultant film will ooze the same kind of charm as John Ford's The Quiet Man? All this one did was demonstrate that Boorman still has enough money to live like a prince.

It reminded me of something John Huston once said about how far wrong filmmaking can go:

"I don't know what my best friend or my wife would like. I only know what I like, and I hope there are enough people like me that feel the way I do about it."
I couldn't get into Boorman's world. I lasted little more than 30 minutes and then fled the theatre. I wasn't alone in the rush for the exits.

Boorman has experienced disappointments before. He has learned how actors with reputations for box-office appeal become so powerful that they can control the way a film is made.

In 1990, Richard Gere approached Boorman and asked him to direct a film that was ultimately called Final Analysis.

Boorman hired people to help him, and he spent a year sharpening the script. When Gere looked at the project a second time, he hated it. He told Boorman the story was no longer right for him.

He refused to play in Boorman's version. Boorman realized that what the studio and Gere wanted was to attract the same audience that loved and flocked to Fatal Attraction.

So Boorman had wasted a year on a project he couldn't direct because the leading actor had control. It ended with the studio's hiring of a 30-year-old director who was only too happy to make it Gere's way. The film was a box-office flop, but that didn't help either Boorman's psyche or his bank statement.

The French director Bertrand Tavernier was also on hand.
Tavernier directed and even helped write the script for Round Midnight, the 1986 film about Dexter Gordon, which brought the jazz musician overnight stardom late in his life. It is a film you can watch over and over again. You don't have to know anything about jazz and, in one sitting, it will teach you to love the music of Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk.

Tavernier is not only a successful director in France, but was for years a leading French cinema critic.

I suspect he is badly in need of a hit film. Tavernier came to the festival a couple of years ago and presented an autobiographical film called Daddy Nostalgia. I loved it. The critics hated it, and it disappeared.

Tavernier spoke passionately about his new film, L627. It is a long, dispassionate probing of the inner workings of the Paris police's drug squad.

What L627 clearly shows is that the whole police operation is caught up in red tape and staffed by department heads who are seeking glory for themselves.

French politicians are no different than our own self-serving county attorney, Richard Romley.

Tavernier reveals that French officials care more about making themselves look good on the record than they do about stamping out the drug problem.

Think back on the role Romley played in the temple murders. Every move made by Myrna Parker and Paul Ahler, his lead prosecutors, was designed to heap glory on Romley's shoulders.

It never mattered to them how many innocent people they detained behind bars. What did it matter? None of the victims had any political clout.

Tavernier seemed pessimistic.
"So far, my film has been turned down by all the distributors in America," he said. "They say it is too bleak."
He smiled sadly.
"But, after all, this is what I have been hearing about my work all my life."

He explained that the unusual title L627 refers to the French law passed to prescribe punishment to drug pushers.

"I was very angry when I did this film. My son was involved in drugs at the time, and he introduced me to a cop on the drug squad.

"I spent months with this cop, who was totally dedicated to his job. He was obsessed by his work. I went around with him day and night. I learned how he lived.

"You will see that this film is not only about drugs, but about the state of life in France in 1992."
Tavernier ran his right hand through his long, gray hair. He took a breath.
"Let me tell you a story. I had lunch one day with the French prime minister. He was a socialist, a man for whom I voted.

"The politician made an effort to take me into his confidence. He asked me what subject I thought was of enough importance that it must be dealt with before everything else.

"Excitedly, I began to tell him about what I learned about drug trafficking on the streets of Paris.

"He cut me down at once.
"I told you to speak about important subjects,' he said.
"I got so angry, I decided that I must do this film."

Unfortunately, L627 actually is bleak. It is a French version, with subtitles, of all the drug procedurals we have watched for years on nightly television.

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