From the Chicago Reader (October 12, 2017). In the forthcoming Criterion Blu-Ray of this film, coming out in about three weeks, it’s refreshing to hear in Claire Denis’ and Juliette Binoche’s interviews about the film that they also consider it a sort of comedy. — J.R.
Let the Sunshine In (a stupid and misleading translation of the French title, Un beau soleil intérieur)
Loosely inspired by Roland Barthes’ nonfiction book A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments — which dives into the absurd language of solitude and mythology that lovers and would-be lovers recite to themselves and others — this rapturous and faintly comic concerto for Juliette Binoche may well be the most pleasurable and original film Claire Denis has made since Beau Travail (1999). Binoche plays a divorced painter whom Denis pairs sexually, amorously, and/or tentatively with a succession of men played by everyone from Xavier Beauvois to Alex Descas to Gerard Depardieu. The filmmaker’s skill in framing her protagonist’s various trysts, moods, and dialogues, sometimes even setting them to music, is matchless. Novelist Christine Angot collaborated with Denis on the script. –- Jonathan Rosenbaum
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The Portuguese title of this beautiful, wordless 15-minute documentary means “One Century of Power,” and the black and white footage comes from one of his earliest films, Hulha Branca (1932). [7/8/15]
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From the Chicago Reader (October 26, 1987). — J.R.
Edgar Neville — an aristocratic Republican filmmaker and writer who was friends with everyone from Lorca and Chaplin to Ortega y Gasset and Lacan — is one of the great undiscovered auteurs of the Spanish cinema. This remarkable turn-of-the-century fantasy, which suggests an eerie encounter between the tales of Borges and the early melodramas of Feuillade and Lang, starts off as a supernatural mystery as the hero (Antonio Casal) is persuaded by a one-eyed ghost to solve the case of his murder. This leads him first to the ghost’s niece (Isabel de Pomes) and eventually to a hidden underground city beneath the old section of Madrid that contains an ancient synagogue and is presided over by hunchbacked counterfeiters. Based on a novel by Emilio Carrere, this hallucinatory fiction ends rather abruptly and never manages to account for all the mysteries it uncovers, but as pure, primal storytelling it is as creepy a spellbinder as one could wish for (1944). (JR)
On November 27, 2017 I received the following email, sent from Spain:
You refer to Edgar Neville in your online review of TOWER OF THE SEVEN HUNCHBACKS as a “Republican”. He was actually one of the other guys, if you know what I mean.… Read more »