Skipped the Golden Globes and watched this non-award-winning Rohmer movie instead. Rohmer’s lead characters aren’t always cool cats. In this case, kinda obsessive, immature Francois sees the ex of his girlfriend Anne (Marie Rivière, star of Autumn Tale) leaving her apartment, then runs into him again later and stalks him to the park. While inexpertly following this guy (Mathieu Carrière, a German who appeared in some Volker Schlöndorff movies and India Song) with another girl, clueless Francois runs into super-cute (too young) Lucie, who figures out what he’s up to and helps out as a laugh. Francois stays on the trail after they part, finds out the ex was just walking around with his sister, goes to meet his fellow spy but catches Lucie with her boyfriend and sends a postcard instead. So the title refers to the ex (a pilot), whose wife isn’t even in the movie.

Lucie:

“It is impossible to think about nothing.” The first of the six-film Comedies and Proverbs series. Pretty fun little adventure, but not sure that I got anything meaningful out of it, least of all an illustration of why it is impossible to think about nothing.

Ebert:

The story … reveals little of the texture of this film, which Is about how goofy, sad and driven we can be, especially when our hearts are fueled by self-made loneliness. There’s a lot of talk in this movie … There needs to be a lot of talk, because The Aviator’s Wife isn’t about actions but about reactions, speculations, false leads, hurtful suspicions and romantic insecurity. We need to live within these weaknesses for a time in order to understand them. … The ending, in which the hero chooses alienation over the simplicity of accepting happiness, is sad, and sadder still in that we immediately identify with it.

Francois and Anne:

Lead guy Philippe Marlaud had been in a Maurice Pialat film, died at 22 in a camping accident a few months after this opened, and the young Anne-Laure Meury would return in Rohmer’s Boyfriends and Girlfriends.

Last of the Four Seasons, and the only one I had to watch at home (in HD, at least) since I missed the theatrical screening. Still a total pleasure. Maybe the happiest of the four, with no heartbreaking decisions to make, just a will-they-or-won’t-they with a couple that’s obviously good for each other.

Magali:

Actually there’s a bit of craziness in the middle, when Isabelle reveals to the man she’s dating that she’s actually married. Isabelle (Marie Rivière, star of The Green Ray and The Aviator’s Wife) has posted a personals ad and attracted Gerald (Alain Libolt of Lady and the Duke, also thief Renaud of Out 1), then after screening him on a few outings, she admits she was acting on a friend’s behalf – prickly vineyard owner Magali (Béatrice Romand of A Good Marriage and Claire’s Knee) who is lonely but refuses to go looking for love.

Gerald & Isabelle:

Magali finally meets Gerald at Isabelle’s daughter Emilia’s wedding, where, not knowing of Isabelle’s plot, Rosine (Magali’s son’s girlfriend) also tries to hook her professor ex-boyfriend up with Magali. That fails immediately – after all the build-up, the two spend about thirty seconds together then the professor wanders off to talk with younger women. Magali misunderstands the Gerald situation and runs off angrily, then she and Gerald return to the wedding looking for each other, and all is well.

Rosine introduces Magali to the professor:

Interesting that all three leads are Rohmer regulars, since the other movies were mostly cast with unknowns. Maybe the Béatrice Romand-starring A Good Marriage should be my next Rohmer, since she was such fun to watch in this movie. This played at Venice alongside Run Lola Run, New Rose Hotel and Black Cat White Cat, winning best screenplay.

An inverse of Summer? In Summer, guy is waiting for girl 1, dates girls 2 & 3 in the meantime, when girl 1 finally arrives they don’t stay together. Here a girl is waiting for guy 1, dates guys 2 & 3, when guy 1 finally arrives they stay together. A fairytale true-love/soulmate movie, which seems an odd fit for the series. I was annoyed at the magical ending early on, since I saw it coming a mile away, but had time to prepare for the inevitable, and it’s hard to stay mad when things turn out so nice and deserved. But the characters seemed less real than in Spring and Summer – it felt academic. Maybe some of this is explained by the play-within-the-play, as our characters watch a production of Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale, which is known for its abrupt happy ending.

Opens with Felicie (Charlotte Very of Blue and Lady and the Duke) and Charles (Frederic van den Driessche of Brisseau’s Exterminating Angels) very much in love. A few years later Charles has disappeared and Felicie is raising their daughter alone. He had the wrong mailing address for her, then both of them moved and they couldn’t find each other. She’s in Paris, dating academic Loic (Herve Fulric of a 1982 Les Miserables) and also her hairdresser boss Maxence (Michel Voletti, lately of The International), but doesn’t really see herself with either. She’s convinced to move away with Max and start their own business in another town, but she quickly decides that her loyalty and love are for Charles, moves back to Paris and runs into him on a bus.

Won some prizes in Berlin, playing alongside La Vie de Boheme, Center Stage, Naked Lunch and big winner Grand Canyon.

“Simple conversations engender complicated human interactions,” says the IMDB plot description. Copy/paste to every Rohmer film.

Restless Jeanne doesn’t want to stay at her boyfriend’s place while he’s out of town but she has lent her own place to a cousin (wearing major shoulder pads), explains this to random teenage girl Natacha (Florence Darel, Joan the Maid 2) Jeanne meets at a party, ends up coming home with her. Natacha’s busy father (Hugues Quester, a crazy person in City of Pirates) has a nice place in town and another in the country, but young Natacha is usually left alone while he stays at his new girl Eve’s place. So after initial meetings, the rest of the movie is the four of them meeting in various combinations in those two locations. Natacha is not fond of Eve, would like dad to date her new friend Jeanne instead, despite both their protests. It ends the way you would expect a Rohmer movie to end, with the main character making a decision, declaring their values and the reasons for this decision aloud. I don’t know why I love these movies but I do, and am very glad the whole Seasons series is playing Filmstreams this month.

IMDB says no award nominations. Link must be broken.

Currently my favorite Rohmer movie. I’ve always thought his movies looked nice, but never thought they looked glorious until now, and I’m worried that’s because I watched this one in theaters, which I’ve got little chance of doing with the others. Either way, the color cinematography, its look naturalistic but never at the expense of style and framing, was perfect.

The story doesn’t seem like all that, but the lead boy’s girl problems become increasingly engrossing. Don’t know how this fits with the Moral Tales, since we wait for our hero to make moral (or at least hastily-justified) life decisions, but he can’t seem to manage, finally ditching all three of his women to pursue a music career.

Melvil Poupaud (of Genealogies of a Crime and Mysteries of Lisbon), with black tousled Garrel-hair, is at the beach awaiting his girlfriend Lena. He befriends Margot (Amanda Langlet, title star of Pauline at the Beach), they hang out, go on long walks and once to a dance club where he sees Solene. Margot claims to be in a relationship, boyfriend is away for the summer, but doubts that Melvil’s is gonna last since his girl is a week late, encourages him to date Solene instead. Lena finally shows up, they have a great day then a less-great day, and Melvil has to decide if he’s taking his long-anticipated trip to a nearby island, and if so, with which girl (at this point, he’s invited each of them separately).

Not officially released in the U.S. until this year.
Third of his four seasons films, which I’m now tempted to watch all of.

G. Kenny:

As Gaspard tries to juggle his girls, he fails to perceive that he’s sinking into the quicksand of little white lies. And the more confident he gets, the more insufferable he becomes. Looking at the picture’s mostly sun-drenched and drolly cheerful surface layer, one marvels at Rohmer’s unerring sense of what drama kings and queens young people can be. But not too far below that surface is an ironic parable about how people, regardless of their age, use their romantic lives to construct their self-images.

Berenice (1954, Eric Rohmer)

An Edgar Allen Poe story about a talky, sickly shut-in who stares at everyday objects all day is an odd choice for your first film. The guy (Rohmer himself!) lives with an epileptic cousin, becomes monomaniacally obsessed with her teeth, and eventually they get engaged since neither can deal with the outside world. But she dies one night, and he takes this very melodramatically, then awakens from a fugue days later having dug up the grave and stolen the teeth. It’s all narration and sound effects, shot by Jacques Rivette, still a couple years before his debut short.

Khan Khanne (2014, Jean-Luc Godard)

“This is not a film anymore, although it is my best.” What Godard sent to this year’s Cannes instead of appearing in person. Godard is his usual latter-day self, acting the scatterbrained professor, possibly quoting Hannah Arendt and/or referencing Chris Marker, cutting in excerpts from Alphaville and King Lear, using camera shots and sound editing that make it seem like he doesn’t know what he’s doing, ultimately making little sense to me, but with a weirdo bravado.

Adieu a TNS (1998, Jean-Luc Godard)

Swaying, smoking, Godard recites a singsongy poem over gentle accordion in three parts, the framing tighter each time. I’ve read that this was “a bitter and mournful farewell to the National Theater of Strasbourg.”

The Accordion (2010, Jafar Panahi)

Two brothers play music for spare change, not realizing they’re outside a mosque. A guy threatens to report them to the police, takes their accordion and runs. But it turns out he’s just a poor bastard hoping to earn money with the instrument, so the kids join him instead of killing him with a rock, which had been the other option.

The Nest (2014, David Cronenberg)

Single-take nine-minute shot from first-person perspective of surgeon (Cronenberg) interviewing patient (Evelyne Brochu, Tom’s ally/coworker in Tom at the Farm) who claims she has a wasps nest inside her left breast. Doubles as a commissioned short for some exhibition and a trailer for his first novel, Consumed, out this fall.

Gradiva (2014, Leos Carax)

Another gallery commission featuring a naked girl. This time the girl has gone to buy cigarettes, returns and has a short conversation with Rodin’s The Thinker.

The Legend of Hallowdega (2010, Terry Gilliam)

Unfunny fake investigation into haunted goings-on at the Talladega racetrack from a Daily Show writer. Just terrible. I won’t give away the twist comedic ending because I’m too embarrassed. Ends with a nice Wolf Parade song, at least.

On demande une brute (1934, Charles Barrois)

Early Jacques Tati, who wrote and starred as a hapless actor who accidentally signs up to be a wrestler. Despite all the time spent on audition scenes and the wrestling match, the only good bit is when he tries to keep his shrew wife from absentmindedly eating a pet fish at the dinner table.

Gravesend (2007, Steve McQueen)

Beautiful shots that seem to go on longer than they should, check, yep it’s the guy who made Hunger. One of those art installation pieces that is very cool to read about and less fun to watch. I wanted to like it, and almost did…

From the official description:

Gravesend uses a documentary approach to focus on the mining of coltan, employed in the manufacture of cell phones, laptops and other high-tech apparatus. The film cuts between two sites: a technological, highly automated industrial plant in the West where the precious metal is processed for the final production of microelectronic parts, and the central Congo, where miners use simple shovels or their bare hands to extract, wash and collect the ore on leaves. .. coltan, traded at an extremely high price, represents one of the key financial factors in the armed conflict of the militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where decades of civil war have cost several million human lives.

Away From It All (1979, John Cleese & Clare Taylor)

Fake travelogue disguised to look and sound like a real one (unless you recognize John Cleese’s voice), very gradually straying from the company line, slipping in notes of humor and aggression. Stock footage takes us from Rome to Venice to Ireland to Bulgaria to Vienna to New York, back to Venice to Acapulco, to a rapid montage of vacation spots as the narrator begins ranting about existential terror. Accompanied Life of Brian in British theaters.

Finally out on video, I got to watch this seven years after seeing Out 1 in theaters.

Rosenbaum calls the two films “radically different,” but to me, it often felt simply like a shorter version of Out 1. Of course, having seen the longer version, I can’t help noticing major differences. The two theater groups’ rehearsal footage is almost entirely gone. Renaud’s disappearance with Quentin’s money is obliquely shown, and the ensuing city-wide hunt for him is even more obliquely included, in the form of black-and-white stills from those scenes inserted between regular scenes, accompanied by a low buzzing noise. There are other appearances of stills, some from deleted scenes from the longer version, sometimes callbacks or flash-forwards to scenes within Spectre.

Admittedly the 13 group felt like a much bigger deal in Spectre, more of a central conspiracy to the film, and I was able to follow the relationships and stories of offscreen characters Pierre and Igor much better, but I can’t tell if they’re really more sharply in focus in Spectre than Out 1, or if during Out 1 itself I was too busy trying to keep the many onscreen characters straight to follow much Igor drama. But looking through articles I quoted in my original Out 1 writeup, Rosenbaum said Out 1 was shaped by “the successive building and shattering of utopian dreams” and Lim says it “devotes its second half to fracture and dissolution,” and that theme and structure didn’t feel as true of Spectre.

The buzzing stills interrupt and fragment primary scenes, and there appears to be more cross-cutting between scenes than in the long version. Conversations sometimes cut off in the middle and never return. The stills appear in greater frequency at times, and disappear for long stretches at others – for instance, when Thomas first visits Sarah at the beach house and convinces her to return to Paris, the whole scene with its long shots plays out without interruption. Sometimes the editing is telling different stories than the dialogue – when Rohmer’s Balzac scholar says “secret societies,” it cuts to the Prometheus group, not returning to Rohmer for a long while.

Obade is far, an 8-hour drive southeast from Paris

Rivette:

They aren’t single frames, but simply production stills. When we tried a shorter version, our first montage ran five and a half hours. Then to make a commercially feasible length, we used the stills to tighten the editing, much the way that Jean-Luc uses titles more and more in his films, as in La Chinoise. Every time there was an editing problem he had recourse to a title. But finally we spent more time on these photos than on anything else, because there were a priori so many possibilities. We wanted the relation between the film and the stills to be neither too close nor too distant, so it was very difficult to find just the right solution. Then we added the sound to the stills. They didn’t work without sound, because the silences interrupted either noises that were very loud or others that were just murmurs. Silence didn’t produce the effect we wanted. I wanted something purely artificial: what we have is just a meaningless frequency, as if produced by a machine, which interrupts the fiction — sometimes sending messages to it, sometimes in relation to what we’ve already seen or are going to see, and sometimes with no relation at all. Because there are stills from scenes, especially toward the end, which don’t appear in the body of the film and are frankly quite incomprehensible.

Hand-off:

At the halfway point, after Colin, Frederique and Emilie/Pauline just appeared in the same scene, it lets loose with a whole montage of the buzzy stills. When Rivette says “there is a moment, one single shot even, in which almost all the fictions intersect, as if all these lines had to pass through a ring. This shot we put squarely in the middle: it comes just before the intermission,” is this the scene he means? There was no intermission in the DVD version, but it seems likely.

Ten of the 13: Thomas, Lili, Sarah, Pauline, Lucie (legal advisor), Warok, Etienne (chess player), The Ethnologist, Igor (never seen), Pierre (never seen). Four more whom I suspect: Elaine (because she discusses Lili’s disappearance with Lucie), Marie (because she gives Colin the letters), Iris (because Pauline speaks freely about Igor and her blackmail plot in front of her) and Georges (unseen character I mentioned in my Out 1 writeup, though I can’t recall who he is).

But let’s not read too much into the conspiracy. Rivette again:

In Out, I was already more careful, because the idea of the “thirteen” came rather late. For a long time we thought that the characters might never meet; perhaps there would be five or six completely different stories. We just didn’t know. Still, I had the idea that something should bring them together, and so it was Histoire des treize. But it was just a mechanism. In Paris and, even more, in Out, I don’t take the whole idea of the search for meaning seriously. It was a convenience to bring about the meetings, but it didn’t work with either film, because they were taken to be films about a search. I tried and failed to make people understand, as the film progressed, that this search led to nothing: at the end of Paris, we discover that the Organization doesn’t exist; and the more Out progresses, the more evident it becomes that this new organization of the thirteen which appeared to have been formed never really existed. There had only been a few vague conversations between completely idealistic characters without any real social or political roots. In each case there was a first part where we assembled a story of a search, and a second part where little by little we wiped it out… When I decided to use Histoire des treize, it was as a critique of Paris, which tried to show more clearly the vanity of this kind of utopian group, hoping to dominate society. It begins by being fascinating and tempting, but in the course of the film comes to be seen as futile.

equipage equipage equipage equipage equipage equipage equipage:

“Listen baby, I’m not Marlon. Marlon is on the waterfront.”

Lili and Pauline are somehow connected in running the shop (which advertises Bob Dylan bootlegs for sale in the window), and Sarah sneaks in and out. I thought Sarah was hanging out in the basement, but when they knock out Lorenzo’s man and drag him downstairs, it doesn’t look like much of a place to spend time. Lili is later said to have stolen a million francs and disappeared – but from Lorenzo or from the cases full of important-looking papers beneath the shop, I’m not positive.

Both theater groups begin with “rehearsals” that seem more like acting warm-up activities, then into vague explorations of theme and character. Each group gets a shot in the arm from the entry of a new member – Sarah to Prometheus and Renaud to Thebes. But Renaud’s ideas don’t work for Lili, and she begins to retreat from the group. In the end, both groups have dissolved because their most recent members have left, followed soon by leaders Lili and Thomas to Obade.

More important differences in the ending: Thomas doesn’t have his beachside breakdown, and Frederique doesn’t die (not sure that she even meets Renaud).

Shortly before Pauline’s lover Igor reappears (in the form of a phone call to the beach house), this maybe-strangely-translated conversation – Lili: “Why do you imagine Igor’s in a room here?” Pauline: “Imagine someone is a half, or a full year trapped in a house. No one notices. In the basement, on the floor, in a room.” Lili: “But this is a dream.” Then they agree to search the house for him, but there’s one section to which nobody has the key, and later when the key mysteriously appears, Pauline searches the unoccupied rooms beyond, staring into the infinite mirror. I find this piece of the film interesting since Bulle Ogier (Pauline) would appear in Rivette’s next film as a ghost trapped within a dream house.

Rosenbaum: “The coded messages Leaud intercepts are significantly different in the two films.” Different how? Also: “Much as Thomas Pynchon in Gravity’s Rainbow bears witness to mid-century paranoia by turning imaginary plots into real ones and vice versa, Rivette has a chilling way of both suggesting explanations and dispersing them in this monumental, maddening epic.”

Rivette:

There are some sequences which I think are failures, but after a certain number of hours, the whole idea of success and failure ceases to have any significance. Some things that I couldn’t use in Spectre are all right in the longer version. The whole actor-spectator relationship is totally different in Out, because there the actors are much more actors than characters. There are many more scenes where the sense of improvisation is much stronger, even to the point of admitting lapses, hesitations, and repetitions. There are some of these in Spectre, but relatively few, because we treated it much more as a fiction about certain characters. In the longer version, the dramatic events are a lot more distant from each other, and between them are long undramatic stretches… contrary to what most people believe, one doesn’t learn any more in the long version than in the short one.

On the meaning of the opening title “Paris and its double”:

I wanted the two titles to indicate that the film was shot in April and May 1970 – that, for me, is the important thing, since there are many allusions in the dialogue to that period. It should be evident that the group of thirteen individuals had probably met and talked for some time until May 1968, when everything changed and they probably disbanded.

David Thomson:

Out 1: Spectre begins as nothing more than scenes from Parisian life; only as time goes by do we realize that there is a plot — perhaps playful, perhaps sinister — that implicates not just the thirteen characters (including Léaud, as the mystery’s self-styled detective), but maybe everyone, everywhere. Real life may be nothing but an enormous yarn someone somewhere is spinning.

Castello Cavalcanti (2013, Wes Anderson)

Cute – Schwartzmann is a racecar driver who happens to crash in his ancestral village then decides to slow down and hang out for a while.

Aningaaq (2013, Jonas Cuaron)

The other side of a radio conversation Sandra Bullock has in Gravity, with a man in the icy wilderness who doesn’t understand her. It’s fun as a companion short but gets all its emotional weight from the Gravity recall.

Stephane Mallarme (1968, Eric Rohmer)

A visit with a typical pretentious french poet. Or I can’t tell if he’s pretentious since the spoken interview is translated but his written poetry excerpts are not. It’s all starting to seem odd, when the “documentary” short ends and the credits tell me Jean-Marie Robain (of Melville’s Le Silence de la Mer) played the poet, who died in 1898.

“In a society without cohesion, without stability, it’s impossible to create stable, definitive art.”

Weed (1996, Fatih Akin)

A corny-assed comedy starring Akin with Counting Crows hair, who tries to impress his new dance-club friends by claiming he has amazing weed at home, which he does not. So in order not to get killed once the lie has spun out of control, he brings them weeds from the garden, which they smoke and find to be amazing, because potheads have no standards I guess.

A strangely excellent movie – beautifully shot and performed. It’s very straightforward, plot-wise. The central mystery is set up in the first scene (taking place at Cafe Exposition, populated by extras filling each other in on backstory), and the movie spends the rest of its runtime dropping hints as to the solution to the central mystery, until finally even people like me, who don’t try to guess the endings to movies, know very well what’s going to happen. The NY Times considered it obvious enough to reveal the answer outright in their original review. But somehow that didn’t keep me from loving the movie, more than Perceval to be sure. One complaint: the title made Katy think of the Marquis de Sade, and made me think of The Story of O – so the movie should have been far sexier than it was.

The story was written in the early 1800’s and set in Germany, so of course Rohmer makes a German film that looks like it is happening in the early 1800’s, with a Barry Lyndon level of attention to light and costume. The Marquise (Edith Clever of a couple Hans-Jurgen Syberberg movies) is rescued from Russian marauders by their commander Bruno Ganz (not long before starring in Herzog’s Nosferatu). She is given sleeping pills after her ordeal, and the family is ever grateful to Ganz. Thing is, he’s now strangely, hurriedly insistent on marrying the Marquise, and she soon realizes she is pregnant.

Bruno makes an awesome entrance:

It becomes increasingly obvious to the viewer that Ganz knocked her up while she slept from the pills and is trying to run damage control, but this never occurs to the Marquise or her family until he admits it in the final scene. Instead, her mother tries to pin it on faithful servant Leopardo, while her father shuts his ears and bans her from setting foot in the house again.

Rohmer himself stands distractingly against the wall:

A super talky movie, of course, but possibly my favorite so far of Rohmer’s. Intertitles and fade outs at the end of scenes provide what little stylization is allowed into the movie. It’s funny to me that in the last line of the movie the marquise calls Bruno an angel – he and the actor playing her brother (Otto Sander) would later co-star as angels in Wings of Desire and Faraway So Close.