Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
Message
Author
User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#51 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:51 pm

I’m sure someone can probably make a better argument than me for how the relationship between actions of cognitive dissonance and attempts to categorize oneself or forge identity through roles can be applied to La Demoiselle d'honneur, but I think that aside from the reading you give of
NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:45 am
Manic Pixie Nightmare girl leads sap who can’t keep his dick in his pants to purgatory.
this may be an example of where the reverse is the case. By this I mean that instead of sacrificing or altering beliefs, attitudes, or values to assign oneself to a role, our protagonist finds himself in a role (that of a boyfriend) and that only the slow realization of the significance of his partner’s dangerous psychology provokes that dissonance in whether to stay or abandon this role. Either way this process occurs (if he stays, he abandons his gut instinct and values, and if he leaves he abandons the value of loyalty and his word/pledge of love) and
SpoilerShow
he eventually does both!
Which I would argue humanizes the character as a realistic depiction of the difficulty of making such a choice, or being in any predicament in a relationship of the degree to which one sacrifices one’s individual code for the sake of the other. Cognitive dissonance occurs in every relationship, and while there is absolutely a societal element at play regarding traditional roles and obligations of these roles deep rooted in the characters, this is an example of a film in Chabrol’s filmography where these larger level systems are mostly absent (as you pointed out, less focus on the bourgeoisie and classism, though it’s certainly present in aspects of the story). The joke here is that while a relationship always involves two people who regardless of how their values match up are destined to define roles and these obligations differently, the ones defined by our protagonist are very different than that of his partner to
SpoilerShow
clinically insane levels
which feels like a purposefully radical method to exploit the complexity of relationship dynamics and the dangers from attempting to forge connection (including the result of cognitive dissonance, rather than using it as a source/triggering event).

I do think that if you don’t find the main relationship works, then the film doesn’t work, for the points you lay out in the bulk of your description of the underexplored family dynamics rings true and makes me wish they did more with it! But ultimately I believe that Chabrol’s choice to abandon even this mezzo family system to focus on the micro of the relationship is successful because of the way he toys with our own experiences with the cognitive dissonance that occurs only after being in this situation, when it’s too late to get out clean, either unharmed or without causing harm, or (most often) both. The scene where
SpoilerShow
she opens the closet and calmly explains her actions nonchalantly, as they subscribe to her own understanding of her value system, is perhaps the most sobering in Chabrol’s oeuvre, and all the more powerful for creating this process without the reliance upon manipulative tactics (if memory serves) such as sharp cuts or excessively suspenseful music. We sit with our protagonist as he is forced to stay in the room, pretending to be comfortable with this value system for his own safety, the ultimate act of cognitive dissonance to save his own life- all as a product of the risks of forging connection and entering into a relationship, as we all do, without truly ‘knowing’ the other.
What could be a more intense way to prove Chabrol’s outlook on the complexity of moral relativism as a product of inevitable socialization than exposing this ‘cognitive dissonance’ as the inescapable moments of hell every individual must face by forceful participation in life simply by being alive. How we are automatically damned for the choices we make in an existence we enter without a choice.

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#52 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:17 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:51 pm
I’m sure someone can probably make a better argument than me for how the relationship between actions of cognitive dissonance and attempts to categorize oneself or forge identity through roles can be applied to La Demoiselle d'honneur, but I think that aside from the reading you give of
NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:45 am
Manic Pixie Nightmare girl leads sap who can’t keep his dick in his pants to purgatory.
this may be an example of where the reverse is the case. By this I mean that instead of sacrificing or altering beliefs, attitudes, or values to assign oneself to a role, our protagonist finds himself in a role (that of a boyfriend) and that only the slow realization of the significance of his partner’s dangerous psychology provokes that dissonance in whether to stay or abandon this role. Either way this process occurs (if he stays, he abandons his gut instinct and values, and if he leaves he abandons the value of loyalty and his word/pledge of love)
You make me sound brutally dismissive and wish you had extended the quote to include "I am not sure whether it does not relegate the relationship to one of....." that precedes it. I did struggle with this and as noted had remembered it more positively from my my first viewing but as often happens once you have travelled with the plot points you enjoy the ride but the second time you start checking the motor. . However to address one central point you make regarding the pledge of love and abandoning core values. I am not convinced at the level of characterisation as well as performance that this is effective. Notably in that he lies twice which seem in both cases simply diplomatic . To the old lady about the complexity of the plumbing which placates his boss as well as silencing her complaining and to Senta regarding his implication in the fate of the tramp to fulfil the triste. Admittedly there's a world of difference quantitively in the net result but not qualitatively. Similarly the level of this pledge of love is not tested to the extreme given the nature of the ending which remains truncated and ambiguous. Not I may add far from being a bad thing in itself

You are quite right in that without belief in the relationship everything begins to crumble and so it was

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#53 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jun 18, 2019 8:11 am

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:17 am
You make me sound brutally dismissive and wish you had extended the quote to include "I am not sure whether it does not relegate the relationship to one of....." that precedes it.
You’re right and reading it back I apologize as this was completely unintentional. I honed in on the line that explained what I saw as cognitive dissonance as a source for action and didn’t mean to be dismissive or imply you to be, though I can see now that’s how it reads in my context.
NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:17 am
However to address one central point you make regarding the pledge of love and abandoning core values. I am not convinced at the level of characterisation as well as performance that this is effective. Notably in that he lies twice which seem in both cases simply diplomatic
Your reply builds well on your point though and emphasizes the detail that I initially overlooked in that this dissonance and role-finding action are not linear processes. I did not mean to imply, as I suppose I did, that anyone is innocent in the matter by entering into this relationship and forced into dissonance, but rather that it’s a constant fluctuation, a chicken-and-egg situation. Sure, we are doomed to commit acts of this dissonance by the nature of existing in a social world, but one’s own emotions, selfish urges, fears, etc. jumpstart some of the dissonance as well unconsciously prior to simply ‘just finding ourselves in a relationship,’ which could be read as diffusing responsibility. Your examples extend this to not only relationships but interactions with all people and complicate this idea even further (but no less truthful to life) in exploiting this psychological process for all the nasty greyness it includes in its essence. I think you’re right in looking outside the box of the relationship and while I do stand by the central thesis at the end of my writeup above, Chabrol would probably chuckle at the attempts of words to summarize his intentions in focusing on the one micro-systemic relationship as he is always trying to show a more complex, bigger picture from a distance, and peeling back onion layers of the unexplainable secrets of the human condition to a wider perspective of which in the peripheries of his story you are giving deserved attention. Perhaps the hyper-focus on the central relationship is a facade for these other examples you give, while obviously intentional and no less significant, the facade being that this is the total vision. On an even more complex meta-level, who in a relationship doesn't feel like this micro-dynamic is the totality of existence until the rug is pulled out from under them to the sobering effects Chabrol employs here?

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#54 Post by knives » Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:38 pm

Comedy of Power
One of the best things to come out of this mini-Chabrol fest is the helpful reminder that Huppert can smile and laugh. She's so much fun here and having so much fun as a mundane living white collar crime fighter that all of the rest of this fabulous farce is forced to take a back seat. Even when Chabrol randomly tries to introduce a subplot of seriousness her sense of joy turns it into a Brechtian acting exercise. The film unlike some other amusement park films does have some weight as a little moral theater dealing with questions of justice and of course power. The justice stuff is a bit juvenile, but the stuff on Power is where everyone succeeds. Chabrol builds a world where power is inherited and born out of arrogance that leaves its possessor with no endurance. These of the most sickly bunch of fat cats you can imagine.

On an auteurist level it is interesting how Chabrol can't resist his desire to turn this into a domestic drama with the potential for violence becomes a central motif. It's out of place for the film and seems there mostly to relax certain artistic desires. That said it does work mostly as an interruption to the plot and thanks to high quality acting.

The Bridesmaid
This plays out less successfully, though my words are going to play out more harshly then my feelings which place this as an entertaining diversion. Strangers on a Train is my favorite Hitchcock so Chabrol doing his version of that is like playing with fire. Unfortunately he doesn't play with things nearly enough, as he did with his version of Vertigo, instead putting forth a literal version of what Hitchcock so expertly kept in metaphor. The story doesn't really work with their love affair consummated as it forces the male lead to act like a idiot. This tonally seems like one of Chabrol's more plainly dramatic films as well which further makes the lead's dick first impulses annoying rather than dramatically weighty. While some things here work the film on the whole seems too crippled by the central weakness to push the film to the potential greatness it has. There are definitely some stellar sequences in the movie such as with the younger Chabrol's cameo, but that just makes this a slightly weaker Bellamy.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#55 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:32 pm

knives, I don't understand your last line about Bellamy-- what is the connection?

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#56 Post by knives » Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:07 pm

That's an enjoyable, but mediocre film (in my eyes) as well. The comparison was only for quality, Actually, looking through the thread I see you said you'd place it high on your list, As a result I'm curious as to why. Like with a lot of films I have a shrugging reaction to I feel like I could easily be persuaded on this one.

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#57 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Mon Jun 24, 2019 2:52 am

I will add my voice to the consensus clamour for La Rupture, a project that Chabrol wanted as a a great role for his wife Stephane Audran. And she certainly delivers in what is probably one of her best performances , certainly Chabrol's most touching feminine character and rarely one with barely a shade of ambiguity of purpose.
Slight niggles are the zombie-like paper thin portrayal of the husband and a characterisation of the father-in-law played by Bouquet as flimsy as his wig. Chabrol's dissection of the bourgeoise in this instance has his scalpel somewhat blunt. His persecution of his daughter-in-law albeit predicated on custody of his grandson seems more driven as yet another financial deal rather than emotionally powered or indeed as harsh class expulsion as better explored in Betty. Both of which will figure in my top ten.
Enjoyed Cassell's performance as the venal agent of character assassination as well as Zardi's small role as the balloon man with its supernatural overtones that gives the finale its full expression of transcendence.

Similar niggles for La Fleur du Mal . Suzanne Flon as Tante Line steals the show from a moribund cast in a story of bourgeois ambition in both the political and domestic arenas. Dull spices added in the 'is it incest or not?' plot and yet another smarmy predatory male who can't do his zipper up. Also too much exposition in the early part of the film given the revelations of the last act from Flon. The quasi flashback device of historic dialogue over contemporary scenes was a brave experiment but again seemed merely expositional rather than a mysterious key turning in the lock of guarded family secrets.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#58 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jun 25, 2019 2:48 am

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 2:52 am
I will add my voice to the consensus clamour for La Rupture, a project that Chabrol wanted as a a great role for his wife Stephane Audran. And she certainly delivers in what is probably one of her best performances , certainly Chabrol's most touching feminine character and rarely one with barely a shade of ambiguity of purpose.
Well put- Chabrol’s offering for us to align with her character without any strings attached, abandoning his normative complex consideration of virtue to a unidimensional allegiance with Audran as someone to trust, follow, and root for, makes this absolutely oil-drenched film feel warm. While he takes a sharp turn to focus on Cassel’s menacing yet pathetic villain for the bulk of the film, Audran is never outside of our thoughts even as time passes without her on screen. I agree about the depiction of her husband and do wish we got more than a (terrific) monologue to explain what she saw in him, or to show him in some respect acting not necessarily normal but not full-breakdown-insane; mostly because this would help fuel the complexity Chabrol does seem to be interested in exploring with her character which is why she remained in this dynamic (something he also loves to focus on, most obviously in La Demoiselle d'honneur- and one could stretch this interest to family system dynamics to a less successful degree in La fleur du mal). I appreciate the complexity of characters in his films as not all favorable, but it’s cathartic to be presented with a character that we don’t need to put any effort in to resolving feelings about on the path to acceptance; using her moral purity as a constant by which to expose the madness around her.

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#59 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:23 am

It was touch and go whether La Cérémonie would retain top spot on my list but I will come down in favour of Le Boucher. A magnificently realised piece of work knitting a tragic love story into a thriller format. Much has been written here already attesting to its power so I will just add that it''s a remarkably beautifully shot and paced film with elegant tracking shots choreographing the burgeoning relationship between Popaul and Mademoiselle Hélène. The use of real locals also adds an enormously affectionate rendition of village life at ease with itself which makes the murders seem that much more savage and inhuman. Here is also perhaps another mirroring couple who's shared emotional detachment fuels the symbiosis of need which they are unable to realise.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#60 Post by knives » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:19 am

Merci pour le chocolat is a pretty interesting study in genre as the only thing that makes this a thriller is that Chabrol directed it. It's a pretty standard domestic drama for much of its runtime with no real effort to establish tension, and yet it remains unnerving throughout. By this point it seems Chabrol knows his star power and uses it to establish and play with mood. It's a bit like casting Tom Hanks as an assassin. You know he's going to turn around eventually to being the good guy. Likewise, here even though everything is pleasant and handled in a friendly way from frame one you know somebody is going to get killed. It's just a matter of who and why. This also plays with the theme quite heavily since it's impossible to know how to analyze this particular look at bourgeoisie morals until the mystery is revealed.


Also this is probably going to be my last viewing for this list round giving me 42 films which is a nice number to end on.

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#61 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:55 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:19 pm
Image

Juste avant la nuit (1971)

This is different terrain for Chabrol in choosing not to focus on the psychology of the killer regarding what made him kill (and subsequent meditation on those emotional, societal and microsystemic factors) but instead entirely devoting his examination to the internal psychology and emotional processes that follow the act and their effect on such internal and external systems- a kind of reversal in approach. I relished spending this film sitting in moral ambiguity as our protagonist wrestles with his own feelings of guilt and what to do about them.
This should be. a dead cert for anyone's top 20 with Bouquet on top form and Audran maintaining a reserve that is essential for the drama to play out. The film is ripe in metaphor (a subject precisely analysed by Guy Austin particularly in the use of stains as in guilt / bourgeois mores versus criminal evidence).
I would also add to the list of mirrored couples /symbiotic relationships the characters of Paul and Charles lifelong friends and the former being the architect of his contemporary home and life-style.
Similarly visually Chabrol echoes the mismatch between interior fantasy and exterior pretence in mirrored cross cutting.. The sado-masochitic role play that Charles plays with Paul's wife with disastrous consequences is contrasted by the sedate domesticity of life with Audran and the kids. The game played here is mostly Scrabble. The tracking shots through the claustrophobic curtains of the love nest / crime scene followed by similar movements through the screens and drapes of Charles airy spacious home. Charles' struggle whether to purge his soul or maintain a respectable bourgeois front has Chabrol using his skill in emotional pacing well to the fore in this one of his major works.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#62 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:32 am

Sorry to say I can't join in on the love fest for Juste avant la nuit, which for many years I forgot even existed-- until I arranged reviewings for this project, I realized I'd mentally combined it with the very similar Les noces rouges. I think that one does a superior job at offering the same kind of peek at the extremes of rigid bourgeois conventions, and delivers a scenario in which the stifling trap of social conventions leads to murder rather than rendering said act meaningless. Juste is basically an inversion of Kafka's the Trial, in that instead of being persecuted but not being told what for, here someone repeatedly confesses and everyone refuses to persecute or punish him. It's an idea I admire in the abstract, but it doesn't work for me at all in practice here. And because the plot is so transparently schematic and dependent on the metaphor, none of the character beats work for me because these just aren't characters and I cannot for one second take any of their actions seriously beyond their larger function. So, unfortunately it's a lock for my bottom twenty! Also, without a doubt the mod monstrosity Bouquet and fam live in is the most hideous house I've ever seen in my life-- I must have blocked out the film to stop myself from remembering it...

I actually thought Chabrol's late TV adaptation of La Parure also did a much better and more succinct job of pointing out the oppressive foibles of bourgeois conventions, as in that one Cecile de France and Thomas Chabrol make the intentional choice to ruin their own lives forever instead of having an uncomfortable two minute conversation with their social better!

I haven't really been talking about them, but there have been a lot of surprises for me in my revisits-- I never would have guessed À double tour would finally click for me, for instance. Despite it's obvious third act problems, the style leap from Les cousins to it is in some ways even more impressive than the leap from Le beau Serge to Les cousins. And shockingly, after my latest viewing I no longer rate Les cousins as one of Chabrol's best in a HUGE shakeup to my prospective list-- I still greatly enjoyed it, and it'll probably chart somewhere in there, but I got more out of it when I was younger and connected to it on a deeper level than I do now. I was definitely more sympathetic to Blain's predicament when I was in college myself, but looking at it now it's obvious to me that Chabrol places just as much blame on his shoulders as the fascistic Brialy. Which is fair, and helps bolster defenses of the Nouvelle Vague as a mouthpiece of youth, at any rate. How the film handles Mayniel's character is not a good example for dissuading any of the Nouvelle Vague detractors from claims of misogyny, though! But speaking of, nothing got re-ranked lower on reviewing than Partie de plaisir, a tortuous vanity project from Gégauff that a hoodwinked Chabrol regrettably indulged. I didn't like it the first time I saw it, but this time around I was utterly disgusted at how thoroughly Gégauff writes himself the most ego-stroking bullshit imaginable, waving off any just criticisms by amplifying his assholery in the finale as if to impishly say, "It's okay, I'm the bad guy." Yes, because you wrote and starred in this piece of shit. The kind of movie where a complete piece of shit leaves his wife for having the temerity to cheat on him below her class and then he immediately lands some hott millionairess who puts up with his shit and marries him after like two dates but just isn't his ex, man. Vom. A stunning portrait of overwhelming narcissism so inescapable that it forms a black hole of self-centeredness from which no light or movie can possibly escape. Second only to the Twist as Chabrol's worst.

I loved how the doc on MOC's Les cousins devotes a few minutes to interviewees talking about how mystified they were at Chabrol's infatuation with Gégauff (as a person, not a collaborator)-- between Partie and the ridiculous, slander-ific Gégauff interview excerpted in the booklet, I can understand their responses!

I'll be sure to share my thoughts on La Demoiselle d'honneur after it comes up to bat in the revisiting lineup, since there have been several requests for me to support my vaunted reverence for it. And who knows, I may agree with all of you on revisit given how so many of my rankings are fluctuating after recent viewings!

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#63 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:50 am

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:32 am
Juste is basically an inversion of Kafka's the Trial, in that instead of being persecuted but not being told what for, here someone repeatedly confesses and everyone refuses to persecute or punish him. It's an idea I admire in the abstract, but it doesn't work for me at all in practice here. And because the plot is so transparently schematic and dependent on the metaphor, none of the character beats work for me because these just aren't characters and I cannot for one second take any of their actions seriously beyond their larger function.
There were moments in the middle of the film where I seriously swerved towards your way of thinking, principally because I objected to how seemingly bland and sketchy the home-life was and how specifically Audran's role was diminished. But then I allowed the schemata to kick in and become a force of skilfully precise construction that I found quite captivating - something I would normally not go along with. I think it is testament to Chabrol's art that revisiting these films that I have seen over decades take on a different hue when viewed en masse sometimes engendering newly found elements to admire or occasionally abject disdain, viz Bridesmaid.
I think that the artefacts of Charles' contemporary home, his dress sense, the black au pair et al contribute to the portrait of a desperate man vying for liberal bourgeois approval and realising his own inadequacy . Chabrol's use of mise-en-scene and stripped back depiction of his relationship with his wife and especially Paul enhance it in a way that doesn't make me feel bludgeoned by metaphor but grateful for it. And so not a masterpiece but well worthy of upper league division two status.
P.S. Like you I found the bunker-chic of the house hideous and fantasised that he was thinking about being sold such a pup whilst throttling the architects's wife.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#64 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:42 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:32 am
Juste is basically an inversion of Kafka's the Trial, in that instead of being persecuted but not being told what for, here someone repeatedly confesses and everyone refuses to persecute or punish him. It's an idea I admire in the abstract, but it doesn't work for me at all in practice here. And because the plot is so transparently schematic and dependent on the metaphor, none of the character beats work for me because these just aren't characters and I cannot for one second take any of their actions seriously beyond their larger function.
I agree that the film's concept is akin to an inversion of the Trial, but what I find to be so effective is that unlike the metaphorical illusory-nightmare of that story, Chabrol's film is just as much an inversion of that very metaphor as it is to the concept. By that I mean that instead of a protagonist grasping for holds on reality in the Trial, slipping deeper into a dreamlike uprooting of these signifiers for what is 'real,' Chabrol is more interested in the reverse: Charles believes that he is living in reality by embracing a worldview of guilt and seeking punishment due to social norms of law and order, but the dismissal of his confessions and lack of action-based consequences from other characters/systems exposes the truth that Charles was the one living in the fantasy and that he has created his own Kafka-esque nightmare as comfort all along, for it's all he's known given his socio-cultural context. The point isn't only that he attempts to find solace in bourgeoisie or socially-constructed beliefs and is not allowed to achieve this fake sense of catharsis, but that the barrier to this sense of catharsis is actually through authentic responses that don't fit the mold of these beliefs in reality. The film upends the fantasy of simplified emotional responses and action-oriented consequences given to 'crimes' and by his wife and friend not providing these expected responses (regardless of how negative they are) Charles is left psychologically impotent and enters a new meta-Kafka nightmare far worse than his own constructed narrative. This nightmare is not rooted in these people refraining from following Charles expectations, but that they are actually behaving expectedly (I actually see these characters as incredibly realistic to the way people respond to grief as one of the most complex and unpredictable processes one can go through, and thus take these characters and their actions very seriously); others barring him from catharsis is painful, acting against his worldview is soul-shattering, but exposing his entire worldview as a lie and providing him with no tools or schematic outline to re-engage with himself and the world is the worst nightmare. This is not simply 'hopeless' for hope is elicited from ideas and a schema for how the world works. This revelation has reduced Charles to an infant with no skills, no path, and no ideas of where to start connecting with a world now completely foreign, but one that has been the 'real' one all along. The more I think on the film, the more I admire the supporting players for giving complex and realistic depictions of how one may respond to Charles's confessions outside of most films. On an even more meta-level, Chabrol twists our own expectations of cinematic narratives with these characters's responses, denying us the same catharsis Charles seeks by exposing it as fraudulent as we align with first his pain, then psychological breakdown in the disruption of these 'rules,' and finally are left with him to sit pondering at where to go from here given said disruptions and no schema to work with toward a cathartic conclusion.
NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:55 am
I would also add to the list of mirrored couples /symbiotic relationships the characters of Paul and Charles lifelong friends and the former being the architect of his contemporary home and life-style.
This is a fascinating point I hadn't picked up on! How much more traumatizing this makes Paul's unexpected responses that destabilize Charles's sanity, as he was not only a friend (a role often responsible for helping to construct and shape our understanding of the world, socially expected responses and values, etc.) but a model who helped construct his literal "home and life-style," reaching beyond the influence of philosophical values to a metaphor for manifestations of his physical world, and since the house's use is - beyond bourgeoisie signifiers for his lifestyle - a protective shelter, his emotional and psychological world as well!

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#65 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:25 pm

Nice defenses! I still don’t like it, but I can respect what you guys got out of it. Very curious to hear thoughts from both of you on Les noces rouges when/if you get to it

As for La rupture, I think the film suffers from Audran’s character coming off like Sidney Poitier in the early 60s: so pure and good that no one could ever doubt a single one of her motives. I get that the joke here is that she’s so spotless and blameless that her husband’s family is forced to manufacture the most vile of frame-ups, but it’s too one-dimensional. All of the interest here for me lies in Cassel’s slimy perf and the inexplicable presence of Catherine Rouvel as a living version of one of those adult novelty pens who seems to lose more and more clothing as the film progresses and tips over. The last twenty minutes of this are what saves it, as the insanity teased in the opening finally comes to fruition and infects everyone on-screen. Ultimately the biggest question is: why is the mentally retarded girl made to look like Anna Karina in Anna?

Image

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#66 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:28 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 4:25 pm
As for La rupture, I think the film suffers from Audran’s character coming off like Sidney Poitier in the early 60s: so pure and good that no one could ever doubt a single one of her motives. I get that the joke here is that she’s so spotless and blameless that her husband’s family is forced to manufacture the most vile of frame-ups, but it’s too one-dimensional. All of the interest here for me lies in Cassel’s slimy perf and the inexplicable presence of Catherine Rouvel as a living version of one of those adult novelty pens who seems to lose more and more clothing as the film progresses and tips over. The last twenty minutes of this are what saves it, as the insanity teased in the opening finally comes to fruition and infects everyone on-screen.
Audran’s character is indeed thin, especially when compared to Chabrol’s other characters, but I suppose I don’t mind overlooking this detail by seeing her as the focal point by which we can bathe in the nasty characters and plots around her. The decision for Cassel to take control of the narrative makes the film special, and by sitting with his fallible but persistent and solipsistic character, his weaknesses are revealed simultaneously with his sociopathy to create an uncommon hybrid that feels all the more dangerous for being unexpected against the one-dimensional ‘evil genius’ type of villain a lesser film would offer. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t know if it would be as strong a film by fleshing out both characters, and I’ll gladly take this unique choice over the other possibility for it makes a wildly unusual viewing experience where our protagonist sits off screen for most of the film while we sit with a villain who is so pathetic he isn’t even worth rooting for in our subconscious!

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#67 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:11 am

Re La Rupture . There were some contemporary critiques that suggested the divide between untarnished good versus the 'turpitude' of evil was too simplistic and turned what could have been a remarkable tragedy into a 'parody'. However let's not forget we are following the virtuousness of an ex-striptease dance in a battle for custody of her son who has been badly physically abused and stands to be morally abused if absorbed into the family of her in-laws.Therein lies a huge forgiveness, on my part anyway, for this apparent one dimensionality not least supported by this being part of a bulk viewing of Chabroliana where deviant and alternative versions of similar situations can be found and this white sheep amongst a flock of black can seem rather refreshing. I also agree with therewillbeblus(kies?) that it also allows us to wallow in Cassel's venality and sliminess all the more so. The ending is one of Chabrol's finest as well with Audran remaining 'grounded' despite her drugged state supported by her female cohorts . The cherry on the cake also being that it also allows Audran to be at her most beautiful throughout all the torment. Dom - good spot on the Karina wannabe. I can only attribute it to a Chabrolian in-joke but let's face it that Pinelli household is a pretty oddball affair that made me think he had been watching too many Ealing movies or as a pal of Clouzot was paying homage to L'assassin habits au 21.
Strangely Les Noces is the next on my pile. Fragments left in my brain from the last viewing in antediluvian times are of a rather insipid Piccoli and an unconvincing love affair with Audran where the performances owe more to De Mille than modern(-ish) day. However as has been multiply attested to by all these re- viewings, tastes, times and temperaments change. One aspect of Noces I'm looking forward to is comparing with both Le Boucher and La Fleur du Mal in the handling of provincial life and elections.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#68 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:49 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:32 am
Sorry to say I can't join in on the love fest for Juste avant la nuit, which for many years I forgot even existed-- until I arranged reviewings for this project, I realized I'd mentally combined it with the very similar Les noces rouges. I think that one does a superior job at offering the same kind of peek at the extremes of rigid bourgeois conventions, and delivers a scenario in which the stifling trap of social conventions leads to murder rather than rendering said act meaningless.
I see your point, and when looking through the lens of bourgeois conventions affecting the range of actions from murder to confession, Les noces rouges is the more well suited example of that idea. There is more meaning in the crime and Chabrol’s cheeky irony delivers one hell of a punchline when
SpoilerShow
the lovers confess to authorities and honestly respond to the police about their lack of imaginative creativity in how to preserve their love by leaving their social structure: a simple solution only people clouded with an inability to perceive surrendering customs of societal status coupled with an absence of original thought could fail to access, even on a subconscious level! That they robotically follow the polite laws of high society in their blunt confessions, telling the truth but for the most inauthentic reasons, begets Chabrol’s optimum paradoxical joke, heaping the icing on the cake in piles.
However, since I view Juste avant la nuit as a much more complexly layered film than this one beyond these bourgeois links to murder and confession, I still find it to be far superior and see these films as very different from one another. Ultimately what separates these films for me is that in Les noces rouges there is meaning in everything: the murders, the confessions, the actions along the way, and all are tied to an exposition on bourgeois ideas and attitudes. In Juste avant la nuit the meaningless act that kicks off the plot is, in my eyes, the film’s strongest asset and is what moves it beyond Chabrol’s other films as it becomes both about these bourgeois conventions and the more psychologically dense processes one faces when grasping for meaning in a meaningless act, culture, social environment, and so on. Les noces rouges isn’t interested in this depth, which is not to say that it’s “simple” or a weaker film in achieving its aims, but those aims are more concrete, clear, and concise, interested in remaining cosily within the film itself. Juste avant la nuit isn’t satisfied with staying in these restraints and as our surrogate character becomes enveloped in the existentially shattering darkness that leaves his head spinning the more he engages in asking these questions, consequently the more questions there become and the less clear the film’s intentions are, placing us (or at least me!) right there with him. Disguised as another one of his moral relativity plays on social customs, it is in this meaningless act that Chabrol throws a wrench in his signature wheel and allows himself and us to become completely undone, hurling toward the stars while still fitting in his thesis of life as impossible to comprehended in its complexity and how that truth elicits unbalance in its subjects. I don’t know how purposeful or accidental Chabrol went about carving this dense piece of charred discomfort but he succeeded for at least one person regardless of his intentions!

As for Les noces rouges, there is a lot to like that I won’t do service in highlighting by comparing it to a film I not only like far more but don’t recognize the same strengths between or apply the same degree of thematic analytical processes to! This film is special in its ability to find percipient methods to subvert expectations; while keeping us mostly at a disconnected distance to the characters as par for the course for Chabrol, he snaps us into the dance of binding and unbinding to emotional connection with them in more surprising ways than usual. Three examples from the film come to mind, though I’m sure there are more. The shot of the sun shining off of the lake in the first scene of passion between Piccoli and Audran, a bright light in a cold film, could be viewed as obvious and intrusive use of mise-en-scene, but instead is inserted so passively without emphasis that only after the film ends do we remember how cold and dark it was. The sun becomes less apparent after each tryst we see outside, darkening the environment, and then even less light when they move indoors. The more the characters act with cognitive dissonance, the deeper the characters move from open spaces into closer quarters inside closed spaces (bourgeois homes) creating visual-spatial claustrophobia to express what the characters can not.

The second scene is one of an unexpected emotional surge of passion between Piccoli and Audran. The way they pull at one another and their faces, particularly Audran’s, looks pained and full of love and desire all at once, is a perfect summation of explosive emotional dysregulation that occurs when one has no ability to recognize or simplify their emotional response, and Chabrol wisely just allows this to be, and forces us to sit with that reality sans explanation.

Lastly there is Audran’s daughter, which adds an emotional element that awakens her and us to the effects actions have on innocents, hostages taken in the comings and goings of human behavior. Chabrol doesn’t judge his characters but he slyly lets us know that even if he or we cannot be god and pass this judgment, harm occurs. He frequently meditates on this truth as the price of admission for existing in a social world, but here gives more space for the relationship to flesh out instead of reverting to the message alone, inserting atypical doses of compassion into an otherwise typically objective approach. I liked this film quite a bit but it landed somewhere in the middle of Chabrol’s filmography for me, which still makes it a very good movie.

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#69 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:53 am

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:32 am
Les noces rouges. I think that one does a superior job at offering the same kind of peek at the extremes of rigid bourgeois conventions, and delivers a scenario in which the stifling trap of social conventions leads to murder rather than rendering said act meaningless.
A reviewing of this only led to even more dismay I'm afraid and I can only summon up a rather brusque dismissal.
therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:49 pm
However, since I view Juste avant la nuit as a much more complexly layered film than this one beyond these bourgeois links to murder and confession, I still find it to be far superior and see these films as very different from one another. Ultimately what separates these films for me is that in Les noces rouges there is meaning in everything: the murders, the confessions, the actions along the way, and all are tied to an exposition on bourgeois ideas and attitudes. In Juste avant la nuit the meaningless act that kicks off the plot is, in my eyes, the film’s strongest asset and is what moves it beyond Chabrol’s other films as it becomes both about these bourgeois conventions and the more psychologically dense processes one faces when grasping for meaning in a meaningless act, culture, social environment, and so on.
Agree
therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:49 pm
The second scene is one of an unexpected emotional surge of passion between Piccoli and Audran. The way they pull at one another and their faces, particularly Audran’s, looks pained and full of love and desire all at once, is a perfect summation of explosive emotional dysregulation that occurs when one has no ability to recognize or simplify their emotional response, and Chabrol wisely just allows this to be, and forces us to sit with that reality sans explanation.
I must say that I find the 'scenes of passion' ludicrous and bordering on the nauseating and did zero to elicit any empathy in their relationship.
therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:49 pm
Lastly there is Audran’s daughter, which adds an emotional element that awakens her and us to the effects actions have on innocents, hostages taken in the comings and goings of human behavior. Chabrol doesn’t judge his characters but he slyly lets us know that even if he or we cannot be god and pass this judgment, harm occurs. He frequently meditates on this truth as the price of admission for existing in a social world, but here gives more space for the relationship to flesh out instead of reverting to the message alone, inserting atypical doses of compassion into an otherwise typically objective approach. I liked this film quite a bit but it landed somewhere in the middle of Chabrol’s filmography for me, which still makes it a very good movie.
The daughter seems to come across like some precocious seer /wise woman with her insights into the truth of the act of violence without any real grounding in the events affecting her. (The staging of said act was so ham-fisted a blind man could see through it let alone trained detectives). As for her involvement in allegedly seeking justice for her mother fatigue set in and I neither cared if this was cynically disingenuous or merely miscalculated . There are eminently more to choose from to make up a top 20.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#70 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:40 pm

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:53 am
therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:49 pm
The second scene is one of an unexpected emotional surge of passion between Piccoli and Audran. The way they pull at one another and their faces, particularly Audran’s, looks pained and full of love and desire all at once, is a perfect summation of explosive emotional dysregulation that occurs when one has no ability to recognize or simplify their emotional response, and Chabrol wisely just allows this to be, and forces us to sit with that reality sans explanation.
I must say that I find the 'scenes of passion' ludicrous and bordering on the nauseating and did zero to elicit any empathy in their relationship.
therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:49 pm
Lastly there is Audran’s daughter, which adds an emotional element that awakens her and us to the effects actions have on innocents, hostages taken in the comings and goings of human behavior. Chabrol doesn’t judge his characters but he slyly lets us know that even if he or we cannot be god and pass this judgment, harm occurs. He frequently meditates on this truth as the price of admission for existing in a social world, but here gives more space for the relationship to flesh out instead of reverting to the message alone, inserting atypical doses of compassion into an otherwise typically objective approach. I liked this film quite a bit but it landed somewhere in the middle of Chabrol’s filmography for me, which still makes it a very good movie.
The daughter seems to come across like some precocious seer /wise woman with her insights into the truth of the act of violence without any real grounding in the events affecting her. (The staging of said act was so ham-fisted a blind man could see through it let alone trained detectives). As for her involvement in allegedly seeking justice for her mother fatigue set in and I neither cared if this was cynically disingenuous or merely miscalculated . There are eminently more to choose from to make up a top 20.
I see your counterpoints and actually agree with you on both accounts, but my reactions were more curious than put off. Re: the scene of passion: What I appreciated was the audacity to show this, something that looks totally ludicrous yes, and thus leaves itself vulnerable by forfeiting any set-up and without expected signifiers. Perhaps I allowed it to succeed because so much of the film wasn’t exceptional, albeit still very solid, so this stuck out like a sore thumb which I welcomed but was fully aware of how watching it on another day I could close the door on it. Re: the daughter: I didn’t think her involvement in the plot or her character was interesting as much as the effect her presence had on Audran’s character, emphasizing her awakening beyond the bourgeois trappings of her tunnel vision. I felt her character obnoxious and her involvement in the story almost ruined the film, but her presence lingering for longer than comfortable in some scenes lent itself to Chabrol’s interest in exposing these affected parties as potential casualties. After letting it sit for another day, I like this film a lot less and, especially regarding the daughter, would probably take back my point if I bothered watching it again!
__________________________________________________
Alice ou la Derniere Fugue (1977): I thought this was unexceptional but an interesting departure for Chabrol with moments of greatness sprinkled within a bland dish. It was a curious film to analyze in fitting with his other works until the end, when a character previews an explanation by stating that it won’t align with her logic because it doesn’t play by the rules of the logic she knows, followed by the line: “we have our own reality.” In this way it’s a perfect narrative to play with a Chabrol favorite theme of the inaccessible unknown, and alternate perspectives as alternate realities often explored through moral relativity but here through literal fantasy as its own reality.
__________________________________________________
domino harvey wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:20 am
I’m curious to see the English-version of Le scandale (1967), because the French version’s dialogue and plot mechanations by Paul Gégauff are sleep-inducing— the English version’s dialog was written by a pair of American film critics selected by Chabrol, so I’m curious to see where they steer the film within the same plot perimeters. However, the last twenty minutes of Le scandale self-correct marvelously— the basic plot is Maurice Ronet (in a truly abrasive perf) continuously blacks out and finds himself in the general vicinity of murdered women, so no points for guessing there’s a twist and who’s involved, though perhaps extra points could be awarded for also guessing who’s not— but then the ending hits like a TKO and I was completely stunned at the confident audacity of the INSANE finale. When the screen went black and I realized that was the ending, I can’t even tell you how much joy it gave me. This may be, in a career filled with amazing and sudden endings, his masterpiece in this (and only this) regard.
I felt similarly about the flaws of this one, for after a stylish and thrilling beginning (perhaps even the best of this period, which included La rupture and Que la bete meure) it becomes a rather dull film until the last act. If only the similarly plotted bore Ten Days Wonder (coincidentally (?) the other Anthony Perkins/Chabrol collaboration) went out with a bang like this, they’d make a great double feature. I can’t say that I was as impressed with the entire ending as you were, but the final 5-10 minutes and last shot in particular were stunning, and very Hitchcockian even for Chabrol, though echoing De Palma (Dressed to Kill came to mind) in its campy wildness, and making me wonder who really inspired that film. I’ll still take the finale (including final shot) of Le Cri du hibou any day of the week, but now I feel like rewatching the last 15 minutes of my current top 20 to compare!

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#71 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:31 pm

I can’t fault loving that ending more. Depending on the day and my mood, I might even agree with you

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#72 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:31 pm

A quick footnote on Cri du Hibou which is inescapably top 5 material and effectively a perfect synthesis of Chabrol and Highsmith. I can't think of another film where the entire cast comprises such disturbed characters ranging from the merely distressed through to the utterly unhinged and yet remain eminently plausible.
Enjoying this exercise for the new game of Zardi spotting too. here as a belligerent gobshite neighbour.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#73 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:58 pm

Zardi Spotting is so addicting that now it leaks into watching other auteurs' work too. Just in the last couple days he has popped up for me in several Vadim movies and an Oury-- directors I'm not likely to ever mistake for Chabrol! But no one delivers a baseline consistent level of Zardi like Chabrol

nitin
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:49 am

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#74 Post by nitin » Sat Jul 06, 2019 9:26 am

Any opinions on A Girl Cut in Two?

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#75 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:53 pm

nitin wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2019 9:26 am
Any opinions on A Girl Cut in Two?
Watched it twice to see if I could find anything of interest. I would have been better off eating glass. Ultra-poor and confined to the lowest of lower echelons of Chabrol's output.Thank god he didn't go out on this one Bellamy is no great shakes either but at least is not a mess.
Coming up strongly on the rails in the final furlong are Violette Noziere, A story of Women and Betty.

Post Reply