Two similar(ish) films, the low-budget and Tinseltown titan go tassle to tassle today. The former has goose bumps and tattoos and all, its star Mimi tells Tara Brady
IT IS NOT uncommon for two rival Hollywood studios to develop two identical projects; in the early 1990s, Patrick Bergin and Kevin Costner were competing Robin Hoods; in recent years family audiences plumped for Madagascar’s runaway zoo animals over those in Disney’s The Wild.
It is more unusual, however, to find a small, independent movie playing chicken with its Tinseltown equivalent. Back in 1996, the government of Argentina took a stand when it released its own film biography of Eva Peron to coincide with the opening of Alan Parker’s Evita. Their unorthodox move generated headlines, publicity and, indeed, more revenue than one might have anticipated for a small, foreign-language title.
Few have repeated the trick since. Counterprogramming, once the sneaky salvation of the low-budget sector, is now hugely oversubscribed, while its effects are diminished in a marketplace where the number of weekly film releases keeps on growing.
In the increasingly frantic world of film distribution, can David still slay Goliath? We may well find out this coming weekend as two very different but similarly themed movies go head-to-head at the box office. In the indie corner we find On Tour, a freewheeling, Cassavetes-inspired comedy from Mathieu Amalric featuring fabulous nouveau burlesque performers in all their tattooed, goose-pimpled glory. That film faces still competition from Burlesque, a glitzy Hollywood demi-musical featuring Christina Aguilera and Cher and nary a goose pimple kind.
“I haven’t watched Burlesque yet,” says Tour’s star and global burlesque sensation, Miranda “Mimi” Colclasure. “I’ve heard there’s no actual burlesque element. It’s just a cabaret show that uses the name.”
Though On Tour’s director remains bestknown in this part of the world for his starring roles in and this is Amalric’s fourth film at the reins. He received the bestdirector award and the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes for his troubles, making this one highfallutin’ peepshow. His stars, including Colclasure and her avant-garde cohorts from the Cabaret New Burlesque troupe, were equally well-received by the fairy-tale seaside resort.
“Cannes was unbelievable,” recalls Colclasure. “Suddenly all these A-list celebrities were coming up to congratulate us. Tim Burton, who was head of the jury, was just amazing to us. It was so glamorous and surreal. And we do glamorous and surreal for a living.” A pleasing vérité romp about a rambunctious troupe of American striptease artists lost in the French provinces, this Franco-American effort feels a little more, well, authentic than the Cher vehicle.
“That’s because we didn’t even know we were going to be in the film,” laughs Colclasure. “Mathieu came to see our troupe when we were touring in Nantes in 2007. He came out with another writer and a producer and stayed for three days. We weren’t even too sure who he was. He’s huge in France but we’re not necessarily hip to French trends. He was very interested in learning about burlesque and started hanging around, turning