Jacques Rozier

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#27 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat May 25, 2019 10:42 pm

Finally bought and went through this set after seeing Rozier’s terrific Adieu Philippine and Du côté d'Orouët a few years back. Some thoughts:

For the short films, Rentrée des classes was an endearing snapshot that captured some of the magic of an acute and realistic childhood adventure. Blue Jeans on the other hand did nothing for me, though I can appreciate how it fits into the style of the early New Wave as well as an obvious precursor to Adieu Philippine. I don’t have anything to say about his first feature that hasn’t already been said. It’s terrific fun and poignant about the sobering realities that coincide with the whimsical pleasures of life.

Du côté d'Orouët has been and probably always will be my favorite Rozier, as is the general consensus, and for good reasons, most of which have already been gushed about at length in this and other threads. I will only add that I don’t think there has been a more genuine film made, with completely authentic mannerisms, emotional expressions, and subtle actions of people as they co-exist. Rozier lets the camera linger on his actors in situations for what seems like both no time at all and forever, though it doesn’t feel like lingering; there is nothing intrusive or forced about his compassionate and humanistic filmmaking. I remember when The Mother and the Whore had a permanent spot in my top 10, because despite the unlikeability of its characters, there was a captivating aura bursting with truth in every scene. While I still love that film, this takes the best parts of the Eustache and molds them into something fresher and even more welcoming; and though I don’t know if it’s any more inviting, it’s certainly the movie where I want to stay, for as long as it’ll have me.

The Castaways of Turtle Island, on the other hand, is missing much of the meditative feel of real life exchanges while still carrying the floating, playful vibe, albeit one that’s meandering rather than exhilarating, especially in the first part before the ‘adventure’ begins. There are plenty of ambient scenes of characters just “being” with themselves and with others, but something is missing here. I felt disengaged during many of these drawn out scenes of people hanging out that had the opposite effect in Du côté d'Orouët. I suppose going for natural moments of banality risks the possibility of landing as a ‘miss’ vs. ‘hit,’ treading a vulnerable line that depends heavily on how everything clicks into place, particularly a reliance on strong actors and interesting characters vs. story. Many of the laughs had here seemed forced and unnatural- which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but doesn’t exactly align with the methodology Rozier often imposes. This felt like a half-baked midpoint between the Rozier who is content and interested in just sitting with and examining his characters through a natural eye, and the Rozier who wants to provide avenues for his characters to jump from scenario to scenario, interacting with others or their environments in a low-key zany rhythm for comic relief. As he tries to push his vision in both directions, Rozier winds up stretching himself too thin, making each process feel short-changed and lacking the heart of his other work (thankfully Rozier does strike this balance perfectly in his second best film: Maine Ocean). I’m being rather harsh for someone that actually did like the film: it’s funny, containing some repetitive visual gags and solid jokes on processes of socialization and communication. However, the lack of cohesive strategy and mood made for a confusing experience. I wasn’t sure what this film was trying to be, and taken as a whole it didn’t mesh beyond half-measures, creating a good but far from great picture.

The final film in the set was the biggest surprise. From the very beginning of Maine Ocean we engage with characters on a universal level through visualization of moods based on reactions to stimuli, often in the form of other people. There is a language barrier, which leads to some hilarious exchanges on a train, but we connect to, and watch the characters connect - or attempt to- via their facial expressions, tone of voice, body language. This is a film about people interacting and the individualistic routines, tools (including language), and attitudes that serve as barriers and gateways to harmonious connection and understanding. From erratic, impulsive behavior in a courtroom, to obsessive one-track professionalist rule enforcement on a train, to several attempts at flirtation, characters fluctuate on a scale of patience and flexibility of tolerance with one another. We get to have fun either way, as the argumentative scenes are a scream, but there’s a lot more charm and natural pleasure when we get moments of multiple people hanging out, patient, willing, and motivated to drop their culturally or personally-imposed guards and engage with one another freely. Sure, this occurs with verbal language, but also through eye contact, touch, physical proximity, and in one scene playing music and dancing together. This film breathes deeply like all the best moments in life that feel effortlessly satisfying and wind up forming our fondest memories.

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domino harvey
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#28 Post by domino harvey » Sun May 26, 2019 3:04 pm

I don't think much of Blues Jeans either, but a few months back I was doing some reading in one of the Cahiers issues from when it was released and apparently the Young Turks took it as a personal offense when the film was greeted with somewhat hostile responses from elsewhere in France (unsurprisingly the leftist critics and festival and theatre programmers didn't "get" it) and accusations of it being vulgar (which it was...)-- in a way it looks in hindsight to have been a warning shot of the coming Nouvelle Vague invasion that would soon blow open the floodgates. Perhaps this explains why it took Rozier so long to secure distribution for Adieu Philippine after filming ended. I imagine the short will probably get thrown on the Blu-ray for AP whenever the new restoration gets released, but it'd be nice to hear more about its initial response from a scholar rather than the short itself being treated as a stand-alone bonus

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#29 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri May 31, 2019 10:34 pm

That makes a lot of sense considering the timing of its release and the nature of the films the Young Turks were already preparing to release themselves (or did Chabrol release Le Beau Serge first?) - I’ve always found Rozier’s placement and participation in the New Wave puzzling due to lack of historical information forcing attempts to fill in the blanks, but he was clearly involved with the more popular and celebrated filmmakers of the movement just looking at his various collaborative projects. I agree that more scholarly material, or general information, about Rozier during the 50s-70s, would be appreciated in some form. And are there any circulating copies of Fifi Martingale or The Blue Parrot out there? Letterboxd has no reviews for either, or even a page for the latter!

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domino harvey
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#30 Post by domino harvey » Fri May 31, 2019 10:48 pm

As I recall, like with Lola a few years earlier, part of the shoot for Adieu Philippine was made possible by Godard’s donation of film stock (and maybe he helped secure funding— I can’t remember exactly right now). And it’s worth emphasizing that Adieu Philippine graced the cover of Cahiers’ own mega issue devoted to the New Wave in 1962 (and I think the film had already graced the cover earlier in the year before it was even released), so it is about as close to a Young Turk-adjacent film as you’re going to get.

I have unsubbed copies of Fifi Martingale and Comment devenir cinéaste sans se prendre la tête recorded off French TV, but as far as I know no other Rozier works not included in the French DVD set are circulating (and I’m very interested in the short TV series Rozier made with his usual leading man, comedian Bernard Menez— Rozier actually accompanied Menez on a book tour a few years back, it would be interesting to read these memoirs for any insights into their working relationship)

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domino harvey
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#31 Post by domino harvey » Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:54 pm

English subs for Fifi Martingale, for which I paid way too much, are claimed and forthcoming on back channels!

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rockysds
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#32 Post by rockysds » Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:42 am

Le Cinéma Club is showing a restoration of Rozier's 1962 8 minute short Dans le vent this week.

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zedz
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#33 Post by zedz » Fri Sep 06, 2019 4:33 pm

Thanks for the heads up. A charming short and it looks fantastic in the new restoration.

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domino harvey
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#34 Post by domino harvey » Fri Sep 06, 2019 4:43 pm

And fully downloadable from the site with any of the usual Firefox add-ons, for those who want to watch it on their TV or keep a copy for when it disappears

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#35 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Fri Sep 06, 2019 5:25 pm

You don't even need an add-on, when the site came back they dropped the Vimeo-based player they were using and it's now possible to download through a standard browser interface by just right-clicking on the video and choosing "Save Video As..." (or the equivalent command). I was pretty surprised to discover that.

dda1996a
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#36 Post by dda1996a » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:28 pm

I totally missed it, any chance anyone here downloaded it and can share it with me?

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barryconvex
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#37 Post by barryconvex » Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:18 am

Du côté d'Orouët is the strangest movie I've seen in years. I'll try and write more on this great film once it has fully sunk in but for now...Three young women travel to the French seaside for three weeks of vacation. Any further attempt at description will make it sound as dull as dishwater and by all rights, it should be. But it's not. In fact it might be the most fascinating document of female friendship I've ever witnessed. How Rozier turned two and a half hours of subtle observation into the profound and universal drama that this is, I'm not sure I completely understand. Or would be able to communicate even if I did. My best attempt: Rozier has captured the elusiveness of youth in a way no other film has.

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furbicide
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#38 Post by furbicide » Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:29 am

Beautifully described, barryconvex – it's one of a kind, isn't it? Interesting that Rozier followed such a near-unsummarisable work with one (The Castaways of Turtle Island) that, I reckon, has just about the most Hollywood-bankable synopsis of any film from French post-New Wave cinema. Of course it's a much stranger film than that and I'm not surprised that it wasn't a box-office success, but I'm astounded that nobody in the US ever tried to remake it.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#39 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:38 pm

barryconvex wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:18 am
Rozier has captured the elusiveness of youth in a way no other film has.
What makes this film stand out for me in the way you aptly describe is that in capturing this elusiveness, Rozier uses the absolute simplest of moments to signify authenticity. I don’t know if I’ve smiled so wide during any scene as I do every time from the giggle fest that occurs as the girls eat pastries in bed. Other films have captured joy like this but never without a clear agenda or with so much space provided that deliberately forsakes any traditional narrative goal beyond meditation. Scenes like this are expected to end after a brief expression but they don’t, and in that refusal to conform to any (here thankfully absent) pressure to move the story along, Rozier expands our peripheries to a new truth: that it’s a disservice when these moments are sidelined. Narrative becomes trivial, emotions and the energy emitted from natural endorphins are given validation and become the arcs themselves.

I’ve seen this film many times and yet I couldn’t tell you which character gets upset with whom and for what off the top of my head. What’s important is that they feel these emotions and experience isolation and connection repeatedly without sacrificing attention to each state. The film’s power lies in an ability to show how moments are transient without allowing them to fleet by so quickly. They become both impermanent and permanent because they’re captured on film and we can return to them time and time again to connect to and engage in our own nostalgia. More than anything though, this is a reminder that despite the ephemeral nature to life’s best and worth experiences, emotion is the driving force, and that these become memories, shape us, and are the primary reason why life is worth living. They are not be sources of despair but to be celebrated. That’s not the relationship most have with nostalgia but Rozier reminds us that it’s a truth we can all access with the right perspective.

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barryconvex
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#40 Post by barryconvex » Sun Nov 24, 2019 4:52 am

Blu, can we pretend I wrote your entire first paragraph? I can totally make it worth your while. And thanks fur, I'm inclined to agree. It took me an hour to write that paragraph last night-partly to organize my thoughts and partly because I was trying to come up with a comparison film. The best I could do was Pauline At The Beach. While it does share some commonalities with côté (The two share a focus on innocence and experience. In his film Rohmer pits innocence against experience while in Rozier's innocence is not yet aware that experience even exists) but in tone and execution is not very similar at all. This really is a brilliant movie. It's a measuring stick to use not against the quality of other films but as a way to gauge and celebrate one's own experiences.

My favorite scene was the dinner after Patrick returns from his fishing trip. Poor Patrick! Watching him slave over this elaborate dinner only to be treated like something invisible kind of struck me as what the film was all about and also one of the many things that makes it so very singular. Patrick has a crush on Joelle, but she's interested in Gilbert who has taken Kareen out sailing. Caroline is just exhausted and can barely keep her eyes open. She retreats upstairs after eating one or two mouthfuls. Joelle sits sullenly, barely speaking. It may seem as though they're being thoughtless or even cruel towards Patrick but their actions actually stem from an innocence that hasn't been corrupted by broken hearts or betrayals. These young women have a total lack of experience. This is why Joelle doesn't toy with Patrick (that would've been cruel) and Kareen can't be seduced by Gilbert. The epilogue set in the restaurant back in Paris suggests an encroaching cynicism as the girls make snide comments while watching Patrick eat lunch with a woman who seems genuinely interested in him. The message is clear: If these same characters were to make this same trip exactly a year later a lot of things would be a lot different.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#41 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Nov 24, 2019 12:26 pm

The dinner scene is wonderful because it shows how harm can be caused without intent, and also doesn’t condemn any character for acting in their own self-interest, instead simply drawing attention to different perspectives. One character may be more attuned to taking a position of empathy, but the others are not worse people for not going that route- that’s just human behavior, everyone has a distinct personality made up of unique degrees of qualities. It’s a beautiful picture of the inevitable realizations of the individualization of identity, without incorrectly assuming this to be a fixed state, for these women will continue to have laugh fests that break down this uniqueness and connect them to others throughout their lives. Life, and the possibilities for joy, will prevail, which is why I read the final scene differently. Patrick is giving a watered-down, half-false account of his vacation in flirting with the new woman. I took the giggling from the girls to be what probably anyone’s response would be, signifying both their knowledge of the truth, the silliness of the lie, and the unbelievability of Patrick overcoming his meekness to flirt back and issue some confidence. Like all relationships, the dynamic between Patrick and the girls is defined, and their own knowledge of, and relationship with, him is what triggers the laughter which insinuates connection between them. I thought their laughing at the end was the innocent playful teasing that they probably intended through most of their interactions (rather than mean-spiritedness that was mostly felt not meant), and proof that they can all survive beyond isolative states of perceived rejection and achieve a social resilience. Patrick may still be meek, but he’s learned a lot about himself and come out the other side of the trip not only unscathed but more self-assured. The trip was a positive experience for all, even if it wasn’t always positive during each moment. Some negative emotion to work through is often the secret ingredient that makes the most significant experiences in our lives so positive in hindsight.

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barryconvex
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Re: Jacques Rozier

#42 Post by barryconvex » Mon Nov 25, 2019 2:26 am

I should add that that I didn't think the girls actions were mean spirited during the epilogue just that a specific time had passed and with it episodes that had occurred just days before were beginning to dissolve into oncoming adulthood. Your points about Patrick are well taken and I totally agree with your last thought. I need to chew on your comments awhile longer and spend some more time with those scenes. It's a really interesting read and this is that rare movie that allows for multiple valid interpretations.

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