With Adaptation he changed what a feature film script could be, with Where the Wild Things Are he did the impossible in making audiences cry along with animatronic monsters, and in his new short film Mourir Auprés De Toi, director Spike Jonze has us falling in love with a pair of horny skeletons.
Co-directed by Simon Cahn, the film was conceived by French accessories designer Olympia Le-Tan, whose intricately hand-sewn bags feature the covers of great works of literature. Her nimble fingers got a workout creating the 3,000-odd felt parts that made up the books on the shelves of Paris’ Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, in which our story takes place.
At night, when the bookseller (played here by Olympia’s father Pierre) goes to sleep, the characters from some of history’s greatest works do a little bed-hopping. Jonze voices Macbeth, a limber skeleton who unstitches himself from his cover and bounds over to the bed of Dracula‘s Mina (French singer Soko). He’s intercepted, though, by the vicious whale of Moby Dick, and the tough Mina risks her life to rescue her beau.
We’ve been waiting for Mourir Auprés Des Toi (which roughly translates to To Die By Your Side) to arrive in full for some time now and, after premiering in May at La Semaine de la Critique in Cannes, then playing as part of New York’s IFC Center’s “Short Attention Span Cinema” program, it finally received its online premiere today on NOWNESS. The film has been a long time coming, Olympia told us last week.
“We first started talking about it in July 2009 when I met Spike. And I think we started writing it in December 2009. It’s been a while! I met Spike through mutual friends and asked him (almost as a joke) if he would be interested in doing a film with me. Surprisingly he said yes! Then Spike asked Simon to help on the project and he ended up getting really involved and co-directing with Spike. Of course working with Spike was an amazing experience. He’s such a genius but he’s also so laid back, easy and funny. It really didn’t feel like work. Simon I’ve known for years. He is very shy and discrete but he’s also lots of fun. There were sometimes moments when we were stuck in this freezing cold animation studio for hours outside Paris, so it was great to be there with a friend.”
The film is silly in the best possible way; after Mina cheekily promises Macbeth oral sex, he fights his way to her and is rewarded during the closing credits to the strains of Soko’s fitting Hump and Jump. This is Le-Tan’s favorite moment in the film, but it didn’t always get the giggly reception it should have. “Cannes was amazing but also a bit scary,” she told us of the film’s worldwide debut. “It was a real cinema and it was packed with mostly people I didn’t know. I loved watching their reactions and waiting to hear if they would laugh at the right moments. It was screened just before a great but really depressing film called Walk Away Renée. Everybody left the cinema in tears! I feel like they should have screened it after to cheer people up.”
After recently seeing pictures of Olympia carrying one of her signature bags shaped like a traditional cardboard milk carton, we asked if this meant a shift in focus from literature to food.
“I’m not moving away from literature yet, I’m just adding a few new things to keep people interested! This season my collection is called “Still ill” (after a the Smiths song of course) so there are books about diseases, books by troubled authors and also little embroidered pill boxes like Wiagra or Brozac.”