Before heading to the theater I checked the movie’s length on letterboxd, stopping to chuckle at their plot description about a fireman reuniting with his son, obviously a database glitch since everyone knows Titane is about a woman having sex with cars. But it’s both! Agathe Rousselle, obsessed with metal and fire, is hiding from the cops after a serial-murder spree, having killed at least five hot young people plus her parents, and decides to masquerade as the missing boy on a poster. Now her adoptive dad wants to bond with her, while she’s trying to hide the evidence that she’s been knocked up by a hot rod.

Movies do love to open with car crashes – good crash here, though I liked the Empty Man kid’s coin-on-teeth routine more than Young Agathe’s vroom sounds. After Annette and It Still Lives, this is my third mutant baby (titanium-spined cyborg) in a couple months, and after Videodrome and the Tsukamotos this has become a flesh-machine-themed week. Raw star Garance Marillier plays a friend/victim, and is again named Justine. In Raw, Justine’s sister was Alexia and her roommate was Adrien, and in Titane those are the two names Agathe goes by – something’s going on here. Alexia’s real dad is Bertrand Bonello, and in her new life she’s got Claire Denis regular Vincent Lindon as a dad and Dardenne regular Myriem Akeddiou for a mom.

The switch from car-humping icepick murderer to mute sullen teen firefighter is abrupt, but it works in the moment. Scott Tobias in The Reveal:

Its heroine’s body is stretched and mutated in Cronenberg fashion, and as she recedes ever more dramatically from social acceptability, Titane stirs intense alienation and loneliness. But a disarming sweetness sneaks its way into the film, too, as the conventional boundaries of gender and family are scrubbed away and a relationship defines its own terms.

“Do women have freedom?” Two young sisters trash a large house and grouse at each other until the masters return, and everyone yells at each other, and there’s a lot of slapping. The girls announce that they’ve wrecked things because they’re unpaid and mistreated, sabotaging a year’s vintage of wine which was to be included in a deal to sell the house. The servants stick around, and the family puts up with a lot – too much, and the sisters finally murder the wife and daughter and are sentenced to death in postscript.

Francine Bergé, the older of the sisters, played the villain in the great Judex the same year, later the villain in Rivette’s The Nun. Nico’s directorial debut premiered at Cannes 1963 (in competition with Harakiri, I Fidanzati, Baby Jane, big winner The Leopard). Watched as part of a Criterion spotlight – they say he was a controversial figure who worked with Casssavetes and Jean Genet. Took a break halfway through the movie when Katy came down, and we watched Farran’s introduction to Judy Holliday, and perhaps I should’ve watched a Judy instead of a Nico.

It’s Cannes Fortnight 2021! I was gonna watch this anyway, eventually, then noticed there’s a new Gaspar playing Cannes this year, so “eventually” became now. In in the mood for some cinema after taking things easy post-True/False, rounding up some recent Cannes titles I missed, and some by this year’s crop of directors.

Wonked-out closing/opening credits sequence, then the camera spirals and weaves around a courtyard, Massive Attack’s La Protection Centrale. I didn’t know what was happening for a good long time, the I Stand Alone guy philosophizing with anonymous Frenchman Albert Dupontel (a war survivor in A Very Long Engagement), but it becomes clear as the movie woozily whips us through the rest of the story in reverse order. I was gonna say it takes us from one sordid scene to another, but that’d be underselling one of the most extremely sordid films of the last twenty years. I read a piece recently, thought it was by Charles Bramesco but can’t find it now so who knows, calling Promising Young Woman a weaksauce take on the rave/revenge story, and it came to mind a few times while watching this, a decidedly strongsauced rape/revenge story, because is that such a desirable thing? Is the point to seek out the most extreme rape/revenge cinema? Ultimately, the “time destroys all things” thesis, the film title and the reverse-action gimmick framing the horrors had me appreciating this much more than, say, Revenge, though I can’t feel naughtily transgressive about liking a movie that comes highly recommended by every critic I respect.

A bunch of silliness in the first half which escalated wonderfully in the second. At the beginning Cowboy and Indian try to construct a last-minute birthday gift while Horse takes piano lessons with a cute female horse. But pretty soon they are all enslaved by snowball-prankster kung-fu scientists within a giant arctic penguin robot. Plastic toy stop-motion!

Finally coming full circle, we watched a streaming documentary about people starting a site to stream documentaries. The team’s founder is a film nut whose dad was the local grocer, but it’s not a town of film nuts and their group isn’t doing much outreach, so instead of a doc-crazy Columbia MO situation, it just seems like some outsider weirdos in a town that has no need for them. Sturdy, observational doc by Simon, who makes pretty nice movies but I’ve missed why she’s considered a master of the art. Anyway, nobody was ever hanging out on the online chat channels T/F set up for Teleported attendees, so I had to look to twitter for a sense of film-viewing community.

Manu (Grégoire Ludig of Dupieux’s Keep an Eye Out) picks up his friend Jean-Gab (David Marsais) in a stolen car to get paid to deliver a briefcase, but they sidetrack upon discovering a giant fly in the car’s trunk, then take over an old man’s camper as a training ground to teach to the fly to rob banks. After they burn down the camper attempting to cook a meal, blonde India Hair (Staying Vertical) mistakes Manu for her classmate and brings them home. “Rich girl fridge!” “Gimme that ham!” Brain-damaged Adèle Exarchopoulos rats on them, the fly eats a dog, things work out in the end. Fun and short, I will keep watching Dupieux movies forever.

Watched on Kaurismaki’s birthday, this movie suddenly taking priority after I learned that André Wilms’s character Marcel from Le Havre originated here. Not as much rock music as usual for A.K., but prime cut “Leave My Kitten Alone” plays in a major scene. My second movie this week where someone is given two opera tickets instead of cash. I don’t think the dubbed French quite works, and Sam Fuller’s French seems quite bad, but quite the droll movie.

Marcel is a drunk writer, who meets a couple other poverty-level artists including composer Kari “Polonius” Väänänen, and they become fast friends, sharing cash and a car and living spaces. The painter (Matti Pellonpää, manager of the Leningrad Cowboys) gains a benefactor in Jean-Pierre Leaud then gets deported, Marcel gets set up by publisher Fuller, women come and go but the painter’s love Mimi (Evelyne Didi, great) sticks with them until the end.

With the composer, left, in their ridiculous three-wheeled car:

Mimi with Rodolfo:

AKA Let The Devil Take Us Away

Young stranger Suzy meets blonde Camille who lives with Clara, not home yet, while the first two have a frank sex conversation one minute after meeting. This is Brisseau’s familiar apartment from Girl From Nowhere, his media collection on full display near a nice tube TV with a DVD player. Clara comes home and after their inevitable threesome, they open the door for a guy who is threatening them with a gun. This is Suzy’s ex Olivier, and Clara decides to rescue him from the cops and have sex with him until he completes his novel, living in another apartment with Tonton, an uncle who “causes hallucinations.”

Everyone opens up about their pasts and their feelings – it gets philosophical about family and relationships and sex and acting. Camille demonstrates her greenscreen photoshop art, winking within Brisseau’s homebound prosumer-grade cinema which uses the same effects for Tonton’s astral projections.