Already one of my favorite movies from having seen it on TCM a couple times in the 1990’s, but watching in a theater (from DVD, tho) with live music (stayed atmospheric for the most part, with even the opera singer keeping to tones and drones) was sensational.


I did not study the clothes of the time, and things like that. The year of the event seemed as inessential to me as its distance from the present. I wanted to interpret a hymn to the triumph of the soul over life … Rudolf Maté, who manned the camera, understood the demands of psychological drama in the close-ups and he gave me what I wanted, my feeling and my thought: realized mysticism. But in Falconetti, who plays Joan, I found what I might, with very bold expression, allow myself to call “the martyr’s reincarnation.”

“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.

Took a van trip to Filmstreams and watched with Katy’s class. Set in Mali but shot in Mauritania, Sissako continues in his style of portraying a central character conflict (a murder over a dead cow) while frequently cutting away to daily life and smaller events in the surrounding town. In this case, the daily life segments involve their own, larger conflict: an invasion of the town by militant islamists attempting to impose their own laws. Inevitably these things collide as the invaders’ court decides to execute the herder who killed a fisherman, as well as the herder’s wife and another guy who seems to have simply given her a ride.

Promo screenshots stolen from Film Comment:

Wonders and horrors abound. An adulterous couple is buried then stoned to death. A Rooster Lady does inexplicable things. The local imam engages the invaders in futile discussion. Music and soccer and smoking are outlawed and punished with whippings, though the invaders are shown to be hypocrites in many of these cases, enjoying the same past times on the sly. Sissako makes them seem absurd, and could’ve made a comedy with some of the same material (a man is ordered to shorten his pants so he removes them; a jihadist can’t get through his propaganda video), but their frequent, meaningless acts of violence maintain an air of menace. As in Bamako he stages a song as an act of rebellion.

The movie keeps returning to the doomed herder and his beautiful family. Despite the repression and crime of the jihadists, it’s the herder Kidane’s murder of a fisherman who killed his prize cow which is shot as a cosmic event, ending with surely the greatest wide shot of the year as Kidane runs across the waist-deep water leaving a trail of silt, the mortally wounded fisherman struggling to his feet on the other side.

Cinematographer Sofian El Fani shot Blue is the Warmest Color, which had a very different look. The only actor I think I’ve seen before is Fatoumata Diawara, a star of Genesis, as the lashed singer pictured above.

G. Kenny:

The really killing thing about all the conflict that tears this place and its people apart is how calm everyone is about it. Nobody raises his or her voices; nobody raises a hand in impulsive anger. Violence, when it occurs, is done in a very deliberate way. The jihadists need to conduct themselves “properly,” as this conveys their rectitude. But their stance only barely disguises their old-fashioned bullying. The treatment of women in particular is just misogyny with unconvincing window dressing. The jihadist who wants the young woman in marriage expects no argument; the girl is his right. And the fact that he asks for her politely, in the logic he lays out, only underscores his alleged right. It doesn’t matter anyway; if he is refused, he calmly states, “I’ll come again in a bad way.”

Peter Labuza on The Film Stage:

There is a critique here, and it is the failure of jidhadism as a cultural translator. This comes in literal form, as numerous scenes feature the jihadis having to work through translators to make their demands. … Numerous sequences feature characters simply trying to explain their point of view to one another, but the sides clearly aren’t listening. When one man confesses his deepest and most personal want to the jihadi leader, the leader asks his translator to stop. He knows that in order to continue his fight, he cannot listen. These jihadis only see prey.

Not having seen either Little Women or The Women before, I used to get them mixed up. Now, having seen both within a week of each other, then delaying a month before writing about them, they’ll probably remain mixed up. We double-featured this with the free Valentine’s Day screening of The Philadelphia Story at Filmstreams, kicking off their Katharine Hepburn retrospective month.

Civil War-era family drama spanning about a decade, which is why twentysomething Joan Bennett is unconvincing as a pre-teen at the start of the film. Four sisters are growing up while their dad is off at war (he returns alive towards the end), falling in love with the next-door neighbors, dealing with wartime cutbacks, their perfect mom and their forbidding aunt. Ends with three weddings and a funeral.

Rich, sheltered neighbor boy Laurie (Douglass Montgomery) and an energetic Hepburn have a thing for each other, but won’t commit, and he ends up with younger Joan Bennett (women in the painting in Scarlet Street) after a summer together in europe. Hepburn moves to the big city to be a writer, marries older professor Paul Lukas (of Dodsworth and Strange Cargo). Can’t remember much about Meg (I Walked With a Zombie star Frances Dee) – maybe she’s the humble one – who likes Laurie’s tutor. And sweet, artistic Beth (Jean Parker of The Gunfighter and Beyond Tomorrow), who loved to play piano and look after babies sick with scarlet fever, dies of scarlet fever. Won a writing oscar, and Hepburn got best actress the same year for a different movie.

Woman who was supposed to play Aunt March died in the middle of the shoot, so retakes were required. While paging through Chicago Tribune articles to find out whether the movie killed her (it did not), I came across some great headlines: “Woman Dies of Poisoned Food Left by Suicide”… “U.S. Jury Frees Mayor on Rum Charge”… “Twelve Killed, Two Made Blind by Poison Booze”… “Hoodlum Slain as Judges Join War on Gunmen”.

I never got to see Alloy Orchestra very often in Atlanta, but apparently both Lincoln and Omaha are on their regular tour schedule. They played different movies (with very different scores) in each city, so I made us watch both. Roger Miller seems very approachable at the merch table, but I have all his records and am therefore afraid of him.

Son of the Sheik (1926, George Fitzmaurice)

Sequel to Valentino’s The Sheik from five years earlier, so the flashbacks to his father as a young man are scenes from that film. Son walks in his doppelganger-father’s footsteps by kidnapping and raping the woman he loves, the same way Sheik met his wife. Son’s girl (Vilma Bánky, also in Valentino’s The Eagle) dances for a nomadic group of entertainers/bandits who are trying to extort and/or murder the Son. Much unconvincing swordplay ensues!

Man with the Movie Camera (1929, Dziga Vertov)

Timely screening, less than two months after Sight & Sound declared this the best documentary of all time. It certainly has one of my favorite silent-movie scores, all driving percussion to fit the unrelenting pace of the film, and we sat right in front of the band for an awesome sensory experience (also because we arrived too late to get seats further away).

Always surprised that this “day in the life of a city” movie opens with the city waking up but ends abruptly without showing it go back to sleep. Probably a “sun never sets on Russia” sort of thing. I realized while looking up Vertov that he invented cinema-verite (his newsreel series Kino-Pravda translates as film-truth), took his moving camera into the streets to film everyday people, and made a film that contains its own behind-the-scenes elements – all forty years before Chronicle of a Summer did these same things.

Sept. 2015: Saw this AGAIN with the Alloy Orchestra, this time at The Ross, at a more reasonable distance from the live band, and with the beautiful new restored print. One of the greatest things ever.

Our first time at Film Streams in Omaha, which is playing great stuff (Celine & Julie, Je t’aime, je t’aime, Boyhood, the Nick Cave movie) and is located right next to the Saddle Creek shop and the club where The New Pornographers are playing. This was a groovy screening of finely restored Hubley shorts, which looked just brilliant. Katy enjoyed half of them, dozed during the others.

Covered in a post last year:
The Hat, Eggs, The Adventures of *, Moonbird and Urbanissimo

Of Men and Demons (1969)

Man starts to build himself a nice place to live and hunt and work and play, and demons of fire, water and lightning mess it all up. So he teams up with a woman, builds a stronger base with whole manufacturing plants, and the demons find ways to turn his work against him. It ends (either hopefully or ominously, depending on your outlook) with computer technology being the new invention. Some animation by Omaha-born Art Babbitt, creator of Goofy. This lost the oscar to It’s Tough to Be a Bird by John’s former Disney coworker Ward Kimball.

The Tender Game (1958)

Lovely little love story, flower girl meets a gardener. Wordless and slightly abstract, set to an Ella Fitzgerald song, more like a painted music video than anything else here. Some wild techniques – I love the scratchy static as surface motion on the lake.

Windy Day (1968)

Young Emily and younger Georgia are attempting to put on a play with a knight and princess, but Georgia keeps breaking character, asking questions, and changing their characters into kangaroos. Lost the oscar to Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.

Last time I was in love with both The Hat and Moonbird – funny how those are the two I complained about this time, saying The Hat was too rambling and Windy Day outdoes Moonbird in every way.

This seemed like a good time to check out the Hubley DVD that came with an issue of The Believer.

A Date With Dizzy (1958)

Real crackly soundtrack on this one. Ridiculous plot, not brilliantly acted, in which Dizzy Gillespie and his band are being asked to score a TV ad for a fake product (“instant rope ladder”). We see a pencil test for that, plus three completed-looking ads for real products, and hear some good mini-songs by the band, with the dialogue scenes the filler between.

Cockaboody (1973)

Like an indoor, bedtime version of Windy Day. This was made years later but the girls seem about the same age, so I’m guessing the sound recordings for both movies were made the same year. Best part is when Georgia is upset, which the animation shows by having a grey storm start in her belly and form into wild animals jumping through her mouth as she screams. Katy tells me this all sounded obnoxious from the other room.

The Hole (1962)

The original improvised-dialogue Dizzy Gillespie short, predating The Hat, this time with Dizzy and George Mathews as construction workers talking about the big issues, fate and accidents, with a nuclear twist ending. Unlike The Hat and Moonbird, this one seemed better than I remembered it. Maybe it’s about how long I wait between viewings. Animators are Gary Mooney (from Lady and the Tramp and Sleeping Beauty to Four Rooms and Jurassic Park) and Bill Littlejohn (from the Parrotville series in the 1930’s to all the Charlie Brown specials, The Phantom Tollbooth and Watership Down.

The disc includes five more advertisements that weren’t in Date With Dizzy. Best is the very short Sanforized piece, but also notable is the three-minute short about what pretentious know-it-alls PBS watchers can be. What ever happened to “flavor maker” dog food sauce?

Plus home movies and photographs and behind-the-scenes footage for Cockaboody. Real cool DVD, can’t believe it came free with a magazine.

A suicidal man haunted by memory is picked by a massive computer system as the ideal candidate to send to the past in a time-travel experiment. But enough about La Jetee, here’s a full-length full-motion movie from six years later.

I don’t know if the computer was aware that the man had killed his woman on vacation in Glasgow by turning up the gas while she slept, or if the scientists were aware that the man would be able to re-experience his past having no free will to change it. The results are, of course, a fragmented Resnais film jumping back and forth willy-nilly through the last 2-5 years of this guy’s life.

Star Claude Rich, who looks somewhat like Michael Showalter from The State, was in Jean Renoir’s final film The Elusive Corporal and would later play the offscreen cranky father in Coeurs.

Rich is with this girl Wiana (Anouk Ferjac from The War Is Over) sometimes, but mostly he’s with young Catrine (Olga Georges-Picot, who wasn’t in many memorable films before she killed herself in ’97). He is occasionally happy with Catrine, but he cheats on her and she knows it. They’re both depressive, and she has no life outside of their relationship, doesn’t enjoy vacation, is becoming more of a burden.

Now I’m told that some of the “past events” that Claude experiences are actually dreams he had. Wonder if the hot girl in the mirrored bathroom asking him to wash her back was one of those.

Just a dream? Carla Marlier (Zazie‘s aunt):

After being trapped for who knows how long bouncing through time and memory (90 minutes as the movie’s running time, or infinitely longer?), Claude finds himself reliving his attempted suicide by gun. Does he manage to affect his past this time by succeeding where before he had failed? His body appears on the hospital grounds, and the technicians run out to collect him, with a final shot of Claude’s mouse companion still caught inside his glass dome in the machine.


The mouse appears earlier, running across the beach right around the moment that Claude was supposed to be sent back (it was to be one year ago, for a duration of one minute).

The time machine:

This idea of time travel doesn’t seem like it’d be very useful to the scientists, rather more like traveling through your own memory than actually moving in time… though it does show that Claude’s body disappears when he travels. And the scientists, besides having invented/created the thing, don’t seem very capable of handling the machine or Claude.


Holm says “it was a weird film that was openly laughed at in the States.”

Andy says “If we become stuck in our own time loop of visiting the past the memories can become too overwhelming. Suicide in context of the movie becomes a means to end or break the flow of time and memory.”

The time machine premise seems like a useful tool for Resnais to explore the obsessive cross-cutting of memory that he’d already played with in Muriel and Marienbad.

Resnais: “There are absolutely no flashbacks or anything of the sort.”





Watched again June 2008 with a group. Very plain look to the sets, clothes… not a visually stylish movie except in the editing. I like it more the second time around. Would like to watch a higher quality copy next time.

September 2014: wish come true, a restored 35mm print at Filmstreams.