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In Brief: "Place Vendôme" and
"The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack"

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Catherine Deneuve plays the alcoholic widow of a debt-ridden diamond merchant in the moody, well-paced Place Vendôme, directed by Nicole Garcia, and she's captivatingly seedy. Deneuve has acquired a world-weariness in her recent movies that seems more lived-in than her usual decorous rue. Watching her fill up her glass with the half-filled drinks of others at a party is a sight to behold: She's a radiant slattern slumming in her own sadness. Later, when she becomes involved in a scheme to sell her husband's stolen stash of diamonds, the film turns into a thriller of redemption. Crime, it appears, is good for the soul, and also not a bad way to kick the sauce. . . . The legendary Ramblin' Jack Elliott, epitome of the folkie singing cowboy and compadre of Woody Guthrie, was born Elliott Adnopoz, the son of a Jewish doctor in Brooklyn. Elliott's screwy digression of a life is lovingly, skeptically documented by his daughter Aiyana Elliott in The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack, and as Kris Kristofferson makes clear in an interview here, that ramblin' refers as much to Jack's jabber as it does to his itinerancy. The reinvention of Elliott Adnopoz into Jack Elliott comes across as the most American of makeovers: His inauthenticity is the most authentic thing about him.


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