French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

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dda1996a
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#151 Post by dda1996a » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:03 am

One of the biggest hate to love transitions in my cinematic journey has been Godard. When I was younger and just starting, I didn't get Godard, while Truffaut was a revelation to me. And while I need to revisit the later, ever since i seriously started to understand cinema I've been "getting" Godard. One of the reasons is Caboose's wonderful "Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television" on which Godard pre Historie(s) du Cinema talks about his entire early oeuvre (minus one or two films).

A Woman is a Woman
What a delightful film. It would be interesting to pair this with one of Demy's film, since Godard deconstructs the entire notion of a musical while having a blast.
I think an entire book could be written on the film's brilliant use of both music, sound and the lack of them. It's a musical without any singing, with the brilliant bed room scene with the books a wonderful example. The music is wonderful, and sets itself as if the characters are going to start singing once they open their mouths, and then... No music, just dialogue.
It's filled with Godard's non sequiturs, editing games, lush colors and a truly wonderful story.

Paris Nous Appartient
I famously couldn't get through Out 1,and Va Savoir was just decent, but here Rivette uses everything he would use again in his future films. But here it worked.
Sure the film is needlessly overlong. But the theatrical production and rehearsals somehow work here, and the paranoia lurking around these characters finally managed to sway me to its liking. Yes the ending is a bit of a fizzle, but Rivette's direction for once felt attuned to the film's actual needs and not the endless improvising he would favor later.
His long takes serve a purpose here, he stages multiple planes of characters to further the paranoia and mystery of the world. It's like a Pakula film in the New Wave world, and I loved it.
I'm guessing everything by him goes downhill from here (will give Celine and Julie a chance) but while everything that epitomizes what I disliked about the two other films of his I watched are present, this was a delightful watch.

I might manage to sneak in Shoot the Piano Player which I always liked, but sadly I couldn't fit in the 60s Godard watchlist I planned.
Also I know this isn't entirely relevant, but having just rewatched Pulp Fiction, it amazed me how much Tarantino straight out stole from Godard.

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zedz
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#152 Post by zedz » Mon Oct 30, 2017 2:42 pm

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:Well zedz that's 6 of my top 20 covered so I don't have to do any more writing. Mind you your marathon must have left you a bit woozy as Rivette morphed into Resnais at one point.
Ha! Duly edited.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#153 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:35 pm

I just want to let folks know I am reading and enjoying all these reviews -- even if I no longer have sufficient gumption to make long lists. ;-)

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#154 Post by alacal2 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:35 pm

Jean-Gabriel Albicocco

La Fille aux Yeux D'Or
(1961) - rooting around in my collection of bootlegs I thought I may have discovered an unsung New Wave gem that I could show-off about. Fat chance. There doesn't appear to be much information on this director. Imdb lists him as having only made 2 features between '59 and '67 (the other one being Le grand meaulnes in 1967). He made a lot of documentary shorts during the relevant New Wave period. Bosley Crowther in the New York Times called it a
jackpot of intentional obscurity
which made it (sort of) interesting.
The only thing going for it is some pretty impressive b/w photography (by the director's father). Not impressive enough to redeem it. It's based on a novel by Balzac about a private cult of appalling over-privileged men who dress up with cat masks at their meeting (for those of you UK-based think Bullingdon Club!). One particularly wealthy member (apparently a fashion photographer but who never appears to take any photos) gets his gang to kidnap (interestingly one of the reviews refers to him "meeting") one of the models from a fashion house and with whom he is obsessed. Her refusal to say much about herself or even admit to a name leads him to pressurize a colleague and coutourier called Leo for more information. No surprise to find out that she and The Girl With Gold Eyes are lovers. None of the main characters are remotely sympathetic and the mysterious young woman alternates between tears and laughing maniacally in all the wrong places.
My viewing wasn't helped by some pretty poor subtitling straight out of Google Translate. A sample of the dialogue: on their way up the Eiffel Tower the male protagonist says to his chum that he used to go up "twice a day - once in the morning with the sun and once in the evening with a woman". Maybe this is how they talk in a Balzac novel. Needless to say it all ends in tears. This is the sort of French film that gives French parodies of French film a bad name.
Albiccocco's other main feature is probably more well-known but whilst the colour photography is sumptuous this is little more than a soapy melodrama. That ends in tears too.

Onward and upward.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#155 Post by zedz » Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:14 pm

Two more re-watches:

Le Bonheur (Agnes Varda, 1965) - The first time I saw this I was quite skeptical about it (a weird word, but seems like the right one for me) as a mix of shallow beauty and provocation, but the film has grown on me over time and plays better each time I revisit it. The beauty really isn't that shallow: even though there are copious references to the commercial art of the time (the closing scene looks exactly like a 1960s knitwear catalogue come to life), Varda does interesting, disorienting things with the editing and focus throughout. And the provocation is complex and uneasy. This time through, the film played like an incredibly sunny, tonally bold horror movie, with the complete erasure of the wife in the closing minutes the ghastly 'twist'. Varda is imagining a fantasy world that's completely dominated by egomaniacal males, whose need for instant gratification overrides the agency of all women. Oh, wait a minute. . .

Les Biches (Claude Chabrol, 1968) - Not my favourite of Chabrol's great late-sixties / early-seventies run, but it's the only one eligible, and it's a rollicking catfight of a film constantly skirting the abyss of camp, which is good enough for me. But ouch, the dated master on that old Arrow disc is not a great way to see this sharp, glossy film. Have any Chabrols from this period had a restoration or HD transfer?

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#156 Post by Shrew » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:13 pm

I need to rewatch Le Bonheur, but I do remember loving it. Like Les bonnes femmes, it plays like a rejoinder to a lot of the misogyny or chauvinist assumptions that lurk throughout the New Wave. Chabrol hides his critique in the trappings of just another New Wave spree, while Varda wraps it in slick commercialism. I highly recommend it, and everyone should certainly prioritize its viewing over La pointe courte, which very much feels like a talented photographer’s first film.

Le combat dans l’ile
Unlike zedz, I found this to be a bore, though I can’t decide if its depiction of a disaffected, wealthy young man turned right-wing assassin is just right for our current state of affairs or just wrong. Trintignant and Cavalier commit to making the character look awful, but his banal evil is also just dull (compare to Taxi Driver, in which Bickle is repulsive but, perhaps troublingly, not dull). As such, the first half spent with Trintignant drags, except for a few moments of horrifying military fetishization. It doesn’t help that Schneider’s character is primarily a trophy, passed from Trintignant to Henri Serre, who embodies all the good leftist ideals of pacifism, patience, and not abusing women (there just might be something a false binary here). Rewatching/watching these new wave films this time around, I find much distracted by questions of why the men and women are together when they all seem to hate each other, but this is probably the prize winner in that category. The climactic fight is a good action sequence on a budget, as is an efficient aside of Trintignant on a man hunt, but the film’s central metaphor of political division as a fight over a woman is tired even before Schneider apologizes for being a bitch after getting slapped.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#157 Post by domino harvey » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:32 pm

As I said elsewhere in the board, whatever film you think is the worst to come out of the New Wave, if it's not La fille aux yeux d'or, you're wrong

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#158 Post by dda1996a » Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:36 am

Domino have you ever compiled a complete ranking of Godard? I'd be curious to see it

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#159 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:46 am

So I also decided to stroll though the nether-regions of the prescribed list and stumbled on 'Le puits aux trois vérités' (1961) by François Villiers and thought to put its NV credentials to the test. The cast looked quite promising with Brialy seducing a Mother / Daughter combo and having a stunning squeeze on the side (Catherine Spaak criminally underused and saddled with a thick Italian accent). The action starts with a pistol shot and Brialy on the run for his life allegedly from his pistol toting teenage bride, who it transpires provides the dead body on the lounge floor. From then on the testimonies of the three 'verités' of the title are explored through Mum (Morgan's) interrogation by the investigating inspector who also finds the deceased's diary and finally Brialy's version of events to girlfriend Spaak.
And so Rashomon-lite like we proceed like leaden clockwork through Jeanson's script. Rather unfairly one of the whipping boys of Truffaut et al it has to be said that Jeanson has had better days. It gives Brialy the opportunity to roll out his repertoire of the roguish charmer, drunken rages ,hissy fits and manic piano playing and Morgan to show a capricious side that alternates between vaguely intriguing to highly irritating. At best it has encouraged a hunt for some more Spaak but as for anyone's Top 20 NV list best train your sights elsewhere.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#160 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:47 am

BTW I have refrained from contributing some Chabrol stuff under the impression that will be a dedicated thread.
Am I wrong in this assumption?

alacal2
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#161 Post by alacal2 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:08 am

Maybe we should have a Bottom 20 if only to compensate us for those lost hours of our lives that we can never get back.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#162 Post by knives » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:22 am

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:BTW I have refrained from contributing some Chabrol stuff under the impression that will be a dedicated thread.
Am I wrong in this assumption?
Dom mentioned at the start that though he wanted to do it it seems the board isn't all that interested.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#163 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:24 am

knives wrote:
NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:BTW I have refrained from contributing some Chabrol stuff under the impression that will be a dedicated thread.
Am I wrong in this assumption?
Dom mentioned at the start that though he wanted to do it it seems the board isn't all that interested.
BOARD - SHAME ON YOU!!!

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#164 Post by knives » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:28 am

I agree, but what are you going to do? At best pestering people by calling him my favorite French director might breed more interest, but I suspect unless somebody does a massive restoration work on his films and puts more of them out there he's going to remain less than loved.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#165 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:39 am

knives wrote:I agree, but what are you going to do? At best pestering people by calling him my favorite French director might breed more interest, but I suspect unless somebody does a massive restoration work on his films and puts more of them out there he's going to remain less than loved.
There doesn't seem to be a massive movement in France towards full scale restorations -perhaps Tenia might testify one way or another on this However L'oeuil du Malin is slated for a resto by the same lab that did Wages of Fear so that's heartening at least.

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zedz
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#166 Post by zedz » Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:05 pm

Two more, short ones:

Pere Noel a les yeux bleus (Eustache, 1966) - This is the only eligible Eustache 'feature' - and it's not even a feature, but I'll take what I can get. Real-life behavioural observation is one of the cornerstones of the New Wave, and it features heavily in a lot of my favourite films of the movement (at least the ones that aren't icily cerebral), and nobody does it better than Eustache except for Pialat, but he really belongs to the next chapter in French cinema.

Eustache evokes listless life in a small town through roving long shots, with Jean-Pierre Leaud traipsing the same familiar streets in a way that subtly orientates us and allows for the occasional fluid flashback. Leaud is kind of monomaniacal, applying himself diligently to transient employment so he can afford a duffle coat that, the film very lightly implies, he'll just be mildly dissatisfied with afterwards.

It's beautifully observed, but what really gives the film its essential edge is that his new job, as Santa Claus in a busy retail precinct, just happens to give him a very marginal advantage over women, in conferring a modicum of mystery and giving him license to approach and embrace 'strangers'. It also allows Leaud to quickly reveal himself as a creep, in a scene that casts everything else in this goofy, naturalistic film in a darker light and drastically undercuts his natural sympathy as central protagonist.

Antoine et Colette (Truffaut, 1962) - Eustache's film plays very well as an alternative reality Antoine Doinel film (and even features a shot of Leaud examining a movie poster for Les Quatre Cents Coups at the local cinema), so I thought I'd follow up with my favourite of the Doinel films. Truffaut's direction is breezy, and the film is cute, but. . . that's it, really. I found it pretty colourless and slight this time around.

Getting back to what I liked so much about Eustache, 'real life behavioural observation' is signalled very heavily in this film (location shooting, use of extras, presumably real 'live' activities into which the characters are inserted), but all I got from it was a sentimental facsimile.

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knives
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#167 Post by knives » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:36 pm

Landru
And just to make people feel real guilty I actually put a little bit of effort into this. Neupert really emphasizes how petty a figure Landru is, but even with that there's real way to prepare for how comically aloof a figure Denner cuts. He basically looks like a comic version of Georges Melies with the color, a first for Chabrol, only further emphasizing how much a cinematic figure he is. There's a certain cheapness to his whole body that summarizes the main ideas of the film so well in an instant you almost don't need the movie it occupies. Which as also one of Chabrol's longest is unfortunate as the movie does get stretched a little thin at times and could have used some mild tightening. Still, Denner's performance is a thing to behold. His voice, for instance, manages to both be effete and a gravel leading to a cynical desire to all his words. It also further emphasizes, and I believe Neupert makes this point as well, that Landru really only gets away with his stupid and obvious plan because the women are so sex starved even as pathetic and ugly a man as him could win over women just by being a vibrator they could talk to.

The film is also, in case the above descriptors didn't hit you over the head with it, absolutely hilarious. Even during some of the more wearing portions of the film the repetition provides something to laugh at. There's an understanding of the inherent absurdity of just living as a member of the middle class that is nearly of a like mind to Wodehouse though obviously to more dastardly ends. Like Wodehouse he fills the film with all sorts of jokes that you honestly have to catalog them by type. They're also frequent enough that even if one sort doesn't work for you (e.g. the close up of the book in Audran's introduction is exactly the sort of thing I dislike) sometimes in the same instant there will be an entirely different breed of joke that is sure to work. If anything it is surprising how slowly the film moves given how quickly the jokes occur.

The color aids in the comedy as well. Unfortunately like with so many Chabrol's the color in the print I saw is faded, but the idea behind the use of color couldn't be clearer and shows what a master of light Chabrol was. Already a lot of motifs are present. The film starts off with a lot of browns suggesting a sort of security of setting and genre. This is Monsieur Verdox in color Chabrol declares. The film moves away from that drab though very slowly. First with some blues, then that devilish white which always seems to equate with death for Chabrol, and even a truly bizarre purple which almost morphs the set into an over large mansion for tiny people. Finally we get a blast of color as we run towards the end looking like a Renoir painting and removing us entirely from Chaplin into something almost like EC Segar. It's a sort of aesthetic shock, and a funny one at that, which motivates the film forward just when the plot and Landru get bored with themselves.

The film also continues to play up the rural Parisian divide if there was any doubt. This is probably the most extreme yet with Paris set up as a place of manners, responsibility and life as an act of obligating boredom while outside you have color, violence, humour, and yourself. The idea really hits a crescendo here and just in time as it is clear that Chabrol is ready to move over to a the more political realm that would occupy much of his career from Les biches forward. Though of course rural realities do still appear in his later works (one of my favorites, This Man Must Die, really stings with it). I still have one more left in what Neupert reasonably argues as Chabrol's New Wave period, but in a lot of ways this does feel like the concluding chapter so I must wonder if Ophelia comes on as a coda, transition, or maybe another conclusion?

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#168 Post by zedz » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:00 pm

knives wrote:He basically looks like a comic version of Georges Melies
That sounds about right, except that Melies didn't look quite as sinister.

Landru:
Image
Melies:
Image

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#169 Post by knives » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:46 pm

I guess it was a popular type of baldness.

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domino harvey
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#170 Post by domino harvey » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:14 pm

I won't have room for it, but I second the recommendation for the Eustache. Here's my writeup from the 60s Thread (in which I then placed it outside of the movement):
Le Père-Noël a les yeux bleus (Jean Eustache 1966) Eustache captures the ugliness of male youth as painted in the dingy cafes and street corners, now removed of any fawning light shown by the Nouvelle Vague. Jean-Pierre Leaud is marvelous as the titular teen, an unappealing shit who cluelessly navigates the field of his peers (his pathetic pick-up routines are agonizing) until offered the chance to hide behind a Santa Claus outfit on a street corner. The anonymity the suit affords him gives Leaud a false sense of control and power over his social stock, but of course once the outfit is shorn, so goes his appeal. The materialism of youth is given smart treatment here by Eustache, as Leaud works only to procure a desired (and rather hideous-looking) garment that, as his friend reminds him at the end of the film, will only go out of style in a few months. The naive dream at work here being that the cloak like his Santa Claus outfit will solve his problems, ignoring as only the immature can the inevitable result of the external surface forces of consumerism on internal deficiencies.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#171 Post by domino harvey » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:26 pm

dda1996a wrote:Domino have you ever compiled a complete ranking of Godard? I'd be curious to see it
This is how I'd rank all his films from this era:
SpoilerShow
À bout de souffle (1960)
Pierrot le fou (1965)
La Chinoise (1967)
Masculin Féminin (1966)
Week End (1967)
Une femme est une femme (1961)
Vivre sa vie (1962)
One Plus One (1968)
Alphaville: une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965)
Charlotte et Véronique, ou Tous les garçons s'appellent Patrick (1957)
Le Mépris (1963)
Charlotte et son Jules (1958)
Une femme mariée (1964)
Le Grand escroc (1964)
Bande à part (1964)
Les Carabiniers (1963)
Made in U.S.A. (1966)
2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle (1967)
Le Gai savoir (1968)
La Paresse (1961)
Le Petit soldat (1960)
Il Nuovo mondo (1962)
Anticipation, ou: l'amour en l'an 2000 (1967)
Montparnasse-Levallois (1965)

Unseen (I think-- I may have seen these and just can't remember them): Reportage sur Orly (1964), Caméra-oeil (1967), L'amore (Andate e ritorno dei figli prodighi) (1967)

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#172 Post by domino harvey » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:40 pm

knives wrote: I still have one more left in what Neupert reasonably argues as Chabrol's New Wave period, but in a lot of ways this does feel like the concluding chapter so I must wonder if Ophelia comes on as a coda, transition, or maybe another conclusion?
Ophelia is a bizarre mess. It's got some interesting tangents, but it plays like Chabrol was bored and phoning it in, and it shows. It is a summation of little more than the failures of the Nouvelle Vague to connect to audiences (I believe this is the lowest grossing NV film from all of the "canon" figures). I feel like László Szabó just showed up on the set one day to hang out and Chabrol made up a part for him to kill time

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#173 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:37 am

domino harvey wrote:
knives wrote: I still have one more left in what Neupert reasonably argues as Chabrol's New Wave period, but in a lot of ways this does feel like the concluding chapter so I must wonder if Ophelia comes on as a coda, transition, or maybe another conclusion?
Ophelia is a bizarre mess. It's got some interesting tangents, but it plays like Chabrol was bored and phoning it in, and it shows. It is a summation of little more than the failures of the Nouvelle Vague to connect to audiences (I believe this is the lowest grossing NV film from all of the "canon" figures). I feel like László Szabó just showed up on the set one day to hang out and Chabrol made up a part for him to kill time

Chabrol considers Oeuil du Malin, Godelureaux and Ophelia as his joint ticket out of the Nouvelle Vague and into his period of 'shame'. Each had a chronic fall in sales with Ophelia weighing in at only 12,000 seats sold.
I think it's possible to view these as an interesting trilogy of destruction with each central character's target the perceived love rival, the bourgeoisie en masse and the singular bourgeois family in turn. It would definitely be destructive in career terms if nothing else. Personally I find Ophelia mildly amusing if only to see André' Jocelyn's simpering Nelly take on Brialy's Situationist prankster role and try and bring his household crashing down around him in mock Hamlet style.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#174 Post by alacal2 » Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:14 am

Resnais x 3

Hiroshima Mon Amour
I think I may have seen this before (!) in my student days, but along with Marienbad I probably felt very smug without knowing what the hell was going on. If anyone had come up to me and asked me what I thought I'd have mumbled "interesting" made my excuses and left. Today it seems and feels like a brilliant and memorably troubling film. I puzzled awhile about the ending and was helped by the excellent Senses of Cinema review but given that memory is so important to identity it made sense that "He" and "She" gave each other the names of "Hiroshima" and "Nevers". I know its already been stated in many reviews but forgetting is genuinely horrifying. This is a film I shall enjoy re-watching for more insights.

Last Year At Marienbad

Is this the New Wave's first and only haunted house movie? I only ask because it brought to mind Nigel Kneale's 'The Stone Tapes" where the walls of a building have 'recorded' some past horrific event. Accepting the 'rape' analysis of the film, it seems that the whole architecture of the film's setting has been traumatised by such an appalling event that all the 'witnesses' come out at night to repeatedly re-enact the events. The trouble with a film like this is that you want to look for meaning in everything but I wondered if there was any significance in the way Delphine Seyrig held her head at an angle (which is reflected in her diagonal haircut) throughout most of the film. I watched my copy on the Studio Canal Blu where the b/w photography positively crackles. On second viewing this is a masterpiece to admire rather than like.

Muriel

Just when you think its safe to dip into more Resnais I watched this! I don't know whether its because of the large number of characters but I couldn't get into this at all. I'm afraid that the inpenetrable (my fault pobably) reviews included in the my MOC copy didn't help much either. Delphine Seyrig is brilliant and very moving in the character of Helene trying to keep everything and everyone together whilst slowly falling apart herself. What I also found interesting was Alphonse's attempts to intimidate Helene about their past which parallels X's attempts on A in Marienbad. Men attempting to impose their particular version of reality on women seemed eerily prescient given the current Weinstein etc situation.
This isn't mean't to sound facetious but given Resnais's penchant for Alan Ayckbourn later on in his career this did feel a bit like a farce but without the laughs. See the shot where Helene draws back a (stage) curtain to reveal her dinner guests. If anyone can point me to some other helpful reviews I'd appreciate it.

Time for some light relief I think. A bit of Rivette or very late Godard perhaps!

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#175 Post by the preacher » Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:18 am

As a convinced MacMahonist, I wonder if you really want a ballot from me. I mean it would be very unnouvellevaguish. :P
Durant les trente dernières années, deux cinéastes ont eu, par leur succès et le nombre élevé de leurs imitateurs, une influence particulièrement catastrophique sur l'évolution du cinema : Jean-Luc Godard et Sergio Leone.
Jacques Lourcelles, Dictionnere du cinéma, 1990

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