NY Mirror

 FRANÇOIS OZON is the movie-star-handsome art house director who pops a different French twist out of his fascinating noggin every year or so. "Every genre [he does] is completely different," his friend JOHN WATERS told me at a froggy-woggy party for Ozon at an official French building, "from a fake Fassbinder to a musical to a comedy. His work is stylish and fun and everything I go to movies for." Me too—plus the family-size Milk Duds!

Ozon (Under the Sand, 8 Women) has just genre-surfed again with 5x2, the absorbing story of a couple's disintegrating relationship, told in reverse, so it starts with the divorce papers and ends even more hopefully. I usually hate that particular gimmick—from PINTER to SONDHEIM to the way I read the Times—but I got into it this time, since I need the extra work. Adding to the interactive action, the couple (adroitly played by VALERIA BRUNI-TEDESCHI and STÉPHANE FREISS) happens to be as sketchily detailed as a blueprint for that doomed BLOOMBERG stadium. "I wanted to have the audience fill in the gaps," Ozon told me. "This gives the freedom for everyone to make his own movie." (Fine, but I want co-screenwriting credit!) "At the end, people will think they understand why they divorced. But I don't even know the answer. It's many small things." Unlike divorce in America, where it's usually the result of just one big thing—ANGELINA JOLIE.

The lead actor, Freiss, actually feels the breakup is partly because his character is one of them gays, and though Ozon doesn't really buy that, he told me, "Maybe he'll become gay after the story. It's up to you to imagine. I have no problem with that." OK, he's a giant nelly queen!

Mais oui!: François Ozon at work
photo: Museum of the Moving Image
Mais oui!: François Ozon at work

By the way, très-gay Waters knows legendary JEANNE MOREAU (she's in Ozon's next film, wouldn't you know), and in fact they've had some classic exchanges that are fun even when not told in reverse. After Waters showed A Dirty Shame at Cannes recently, he informed Moreau, "We had censorship problems with this in America." "But why? It's poetry!" exclaimed the actress, as Waters picked himself up off the floor. "That's the first time anyone told me that," Waters said to me, laughing.

Apparently, art house films can be forward-moving and in English too—like Heights, in which the fine-boned JAMES MARSDEN is freed of his Cyclops eye-wear from X-Men, playing a lawyer with good vision and a sexy secret similar to the one two paragraphs ago. "It's my first gay twist, but not my first gay movie," Marsden told me at the premiere party at Frederick's. "That was The 24th Day with SCOTT SPEEDMAN." I made a frantic mental note to rent it on the way home, but first: Did Marsden take less money to do this arty thing? "Hell, yeah," he said. "Not that I normally get crazy money. But I would have paid to do this movie, though I would have been astonished if they'd have accepted it." Please! Never underestimate hungry-director types. They like lotsa de casha! As I gurgled on about my video obsession with Boogies Diner, a cheesy but fun syndicated show from the '90s that Marsden immortally played Jason on—it's poetry!—he smiled and said, "You gotta get rid of that tape."


NAKED CAME THE STRANGERS

I walked backward—I'm really getting into that gimmick now—all the way down to Paper's party for Lacoste's new boutique in Soho, where the gay twist was that everyone was coming at me with nudie talk. Paper's MICKEY BOARDMAN revealed, "I'm going to a nude beach in Miami for the Daily. I'm going to ask nude people what swimsuits they'd wear—if they wore swimsuits." That's like asking NICOLE RICHIE what toppings she likes on her hot-fudge sundaes—and I absolutely love it! The naked chitchat kept spewing when photographer SPENCER TUNICK showed up and told me his Poz magazine cover session of unclothed people with HIV is now the basis of a 40-minute documentary. What was the biggest, um, revelation? "Feeling life and loss in a physical sense heightens your vulnerability," he said, "especially in a city setting." In that case, dressing in a tunic, out; undressing for a Tunick, in—and so are lame jokes.


LAST TRAIN TO CLARKSVILLE

I hear pop culture critic TOURÉ is out at CNN, though he always manages to land in his key light. And of course oldies radio is out, according to WCBS-FM, which just chain-chain-chainsawed that format right out of there, heartlessly axing DJs like MICKY DOLENZ. But the ex-Monkee isn't going the tiniest bit apeshit over it. In fact, he's taking the high road—dammit—and in a phoner last week, he refused to do a RUSSELL CROWE, and not just because he got an outside line. "I'm fine," Dolenz assured me. "I worked with a lot of wonderful people. I knew nothing about the industry and I don't know any more to this day about the business of that industry, but I did pick up a little watercooler talk while I was there. Given what I heard and what I know about the state of terrestrial radio, I wasn't surprised by their decision."

See, radio's changed its face due to satellite, iPods, and other technology that basically makes everyone his own DJ. In the wake of this development, Micky has just auditioned for a Broadway show and he might also develop and produce a reality show for the U.K., among other kooky projects. The memory of TV series stardom is not all delicious for him—"Getting up at 6:30 a.m. and trying to be funny on a set with nine electricians has its own set of problems"—but he's totally open to that medium too. The friggin' high road again!

That night, I must have taken the same road as Dolenz—28th Street—because we both ended up at Crobar for the birthday bash of Celebrity Bulletin editor BILL MURRAY. (No, not the actor. This guy's never been bitten by a groundhog.) There, RITA COSBY told me about her own TV project; she'll host a one-hour live show on MSNBC later this year, and there'll be plenty of hot-button topics to gnaw on by then.

"There is life after MICHAEL JACKSON, I'm sure of that!" she exclaimed, triumphantly. (Interjection: John Waters had sensibly told me, "Whatever the verdict is, I'll be shocked." It's so true. No matter what the outcome, I would have been screaming and throwing things.)

There's life after John Lennon too, even though at the same party MAY PANG told me she feels "airbrushed out of" the imminent Lennon musical. Pang was Lennon's lady love for two years in the '70s, but she's not even a slide projection in the Yoko-approved show. What's more, Pang feels the musical portrays that period as Lennon's drunken years, but they were actually his most creative ones, with her as his muse. Producer ALLAN MCKEOWN responds, "Lennon is a two-hour theatrical experience whose narrative drive comes from the words and music of John Lennon." Honey, I'll be happy as long as I'm included in the upcoming jukebox musical Lenin.


LITTER BOX

ISSUES ARE LIKE TISSUES

Last week's Nylon music event went on, but without cover girl and guest host KELLY OSBOURNE, who a magazine flack said "has entered a facility due to personal issues." No, not issues of Nylon . . . Don't take issue with the fact that I hear JODIE FOSTER and MICHELLE PFEIFFER considered playing Jadis the White Witch in the upcoming flick The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but the part went to TILDA SWINTON, who seems glacially perfect. You don't get scorching hot gossip like that anywhere but here!

And here's some more, you jaded witches. Let me take you backstage at the Tony Awards once again and remember that LIEV SCHREIBER admitted, "I thought [The Pillowman's] MICHAEL STUHLBARG would win." So did Michael Stuhlbarg! . . . The censors should have won something for the moment when NORBERT LEO BUTZ sang, "The fashion plate I date'll give me hummers in my Hummer," and they carefully bleeped the first hummer and left the second. But you still left humming the hummer . . . I'll also never forget CHERRY JONES thanking "my Laura Wingfield," meaning her girlfriend SARAH PAULSON, who plays Laura in The Glass Menagerie. I guess Cherry didn't want to out Sarah by name, though she did give her a giant, slurpy kiss on camera. Actresses!


musto@villagevoice.com

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