Three women are into one guy – I’m not sure if he loves and leaves each one of them in series, or if he flits between each in his suicidally fast car. Pearl is a rich socialite, Athalia a rich artist, and Lucie an ordinary city girl, and he affects different personas around each: a strong tyrant type, a weaker type, and a caring type – until his reckless driving finally catches up with him.

Our dude, carefree:

I’d forgotten most of the plot by the next day, rewatching scenes now to remind myself, was just paying attention to style – Epstein bringing his great flair for composition and editing and overlapping images to the kind of melodrama he was making earlier in the decade. It feels like he wanted the climactic speed-and-death montage to go on forever.

Athalia worrying aloud to a friend:

Based on a novel by white supremacist Paul Morand, who also adapted Don Quixote for GW Pabst… Lucie appeared in Renoir’s The Sad Sack, and our main dude starred in a possibly-lost 30’s version of Judex.

Watched for Cannes Month before the actual festival began… this is from the year of The White Ribbon and Broken Embraces, A Prophet and Antichrist. Another story of a doomed poet, this time from the perspective of a girl who loved him, and maybe that’s what made the difference, because I liked A Quiet Passion a fair bit, but fell for this one completely.

Lovely, sensitive Abbie Cornish (Somersault) is in love with frail poet Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas, Nathan Barley, Ariel in The Tempest), and I’m sure that due to social class difference this is a terrible scandal, because it always is in movies, but I appreciate that they downplayed that element. We vaguely recognized Ben’s sardonic friend Paul Schneider, but didn’t realize who he was, since we haven’t thought about him since Water for Elephants. He was great, and indeed he won fourth place in the Skandies that year. Abbie’s mom, Kerry Fox, starred in Shallow Grave, which I guess I haven’t seen in twenty years. Really nice music, and the Australian Film Institute thought so too, but apparently not as nice as the music in Animal Kingdom. The writeup in Film Quarterly is good, so maybe come back to that, since I took poor notes on the story and characters myself.

I thought about watching this, then rewatching Vertigo, then rewatching this… but I’m not made of free time here, so I just wikipediaed Vertigo then watched this once. It’s 90+ percent footage from San Francisco movies and shows (credited at the end in a dizzying rush of title cards), with some added effects: manipulated TV and film screen images, dialogue chopped out leaving behind only pauses and breaths, and the titular fog. Everything is fit into 4:3, a few bits of dialogue or voiceover are left in, and the whole thing is accompanied by great string music by Jacob Garchik and the Kronos Quartet.

I probably would’ve enjoyed this just as much without knowing the story concept, but having the Vertigo storyline to follow makes it more memorable. Favorite sections: the “women looking at paintings” scene, the “Chuck Norris being pensive” footage, and especially the ending, a montage of bickering couples and earthquakes leading to the final death plummet. Good use of screens and tape recorders, and humor throughout – this isn’t as extreme as Tscherkassky or Martin Arnold in its found-footage manipulation, but just as enjoyable. David Cairns points out there’s a Bill Morrison equivalent, Spark of Being as a found-footage Frankenstein.

Relatively normal-seeming indie film – it took me a while to recalibrate my expectations to the lower budget, the subdued Denis Lavant, these two artists still so young and unaware of the great works they’d eventually achieve. It’s new-wavey, and in love with love, and just wonderful, so it’s my problem that I can’t help but compare it to the later films.

Mireille Perrier (later the sorta-narrator of Chocolat) is “Girl” – both of them are going through breakups when they meet and hang out at a party after Alex has a long night walking dazed through the city. He goes off on his own again but comes back, too late to save her from bathtub scissor suicide.


Mr. X (2014, Tessa Louise-Salome)

A talking-heads interview doc about the films of Leos Carax, with clips. I watched this after catching up with Boy Meets Girl, the last of his major features I hadn’t seen before, and revisiting clips of his other films was pleasure enough, but this doc was remarkably good on its own, projecting interviews visually over film footage and showing outtakes and on-set footage and rehearsals and auditions.

Richard Brody: “[The] enduring enemy in his films is ordinariness, routine, mediocrity. And just as the men in his films are willing to go to dangerous extremes to poeticize their life, so the kinds of women his male characters are attracted to are also poetically extravagant.”