English actress Charlotte Rampling has been much in the news lately, due to her starring role in a trite, pretentious French film called "Heading South." There is a short piece about Ms. Rampling in this week's New Yorker magazine (pp.37-38), and reviews in newspapers. Today's New York Times sums it up: "The Ache of Blinding Lust in a Sexual Paradise Lost." Except the reviewer, Stephen Holden liked the movie, alot. Set in Haiti in the 1970s, the movie explores sex and politics, power and oppression, and middle-age desire for erotic rapture: I'll take World Cup soccer. One is happy, though, for Ms. Rampling (she is 60 and plays a 55 year old in the movie). She has lived in France since the 1970s, around the time of her most famous role, in the Night Porter (1974).
This leads, of course, to the late Lewis Flacks, a former international copyright specialist at the Copyright Office. Lewis was a huge fan of Ms. Rampling's. In his office he kept a book of revealing photographs of her by Dirk Bogarde (her co-star in The Night Porter), called "Charlotte Rampling: With Compliments." In addition to her feral, erotic qualities, Lewis was particularly taken by her role in The Night Porter: given the subject matter of that movie and Lewis' background, there were some deep problems with this fascination. And Lewis was a very complex man, combining haut and bas as if they all part of the same instinct: he dressed like a government lawyer's version of David Lindley, yet appreciated nuances of French couture (especially on Ms. Rampling); smoked disgusting cigars, yet loved fine wine; had an encyclopedic knowledge of movies, yet loved to fritter away time playing simple console video games and drinking bad beer in the basement of a dive near the Copyright Office on Pennyslvania Avenue.
He had an astonishing intellect and feel for how to address international issues in an era when few were interested in them. Indeed, it was Lewis who was responsible for the Copyright Office's important role in the government's use of intellectual property as a component of trade policy, due to his relationship with Emery Simon, then at USTR. In the end, Lewis left the Office after a long career and joined IFPI in London. He is sorely missed as a true original.