My DVD column for the Fall 2015 issue of Cinema Scope. — J.R.
Practically speaking, we should invent our own extras, not necessarily or invariably depend on those that are made on our behalf. To cite four examples of what I mean:
(A) According to normal usage, Icarus Film’s DVD of Frederic Choffat and Vincent Lowy’s 44-minute Marcel Ophuls and Jean-Luc Godard: The Meeting in St-Gervais contains no extras. But according to my own usage, this DVD itself functions as an extra to a 100-page book that I own, Dialogue sur le cinéma: Jean-Luc Godard & Marcel Ophuls, published by Le Bord de l’Eau in 2011. That book, prefaced by short essays by Vincent Lowy and André Gazut and concluded by Daniel Cohn-Bendit’s essay for Le Monde, ‘Mon ami Godard’, transcribes two encounters between Godard and Ophüls, held in 2002 and 2009 (the first of these focusing more on Marcel’s father Max), whereas the DVD includes most (but not all) of the second of these dialogues, and somehow manages to leave out some of the more interesting parts, either through cuts or incomplete subtitles. Which doesn’t mean that Icarus’s release isn’t worth having — only that its contents are worth contextualizing beyond the material offered by Icarus. Read more
Written for a retrospective catalog devoted to Jacques Demy, published by the San Sebastian International Film Festival, September 15-24, 2011, and reprinted in my book Cinematic Encounters 2: Portraits and Polemics (2019). — J.R.
“Braque, Picasso, Klee, Miro, Matisse….C’est ça, la vie.”–- Maxence in Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
“Life is disappointing, isn’t it?”
–- Kyoko in Tokyo Story
I’ve never come across any critical discussion of common traits in the separate films of Jacques Demy and Agnès Varda, who lived together for three decades. Their oeuvres are in fact quite different and distinct from one another, but one striking characteristic they share as filmmakers is their preoccupation with indexing and cross-referencing their own works within their own films.
In chronicling and excerpting her own previous work, Varda’s Les Plages d’Agnès (2008) brings this tendency to a climax, but her DVD containing Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse (2000) and its sequel, Deux Ans Après, already formalizes and optimizes this tendency — which can be traced within and between some of her previous films — by allowing one to leap via one’s remote control from a character in the former documentary to the same person being filmed two years later (or vice versa). Read more
From Sight and Sound (Autumn 1976). -– J.R.
THE NEW WAVE
By James Monaco
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, £9.95.
A writer whose methods immediately evoke the mood and dynamics of an energetic classroom, James Monaco restricts The New Wave to the five film-making alumni of Cahiers du Cinéma most often identified with that label: Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol, Rohmer and Rivette. Considering the dearth of books in English on the subject (only Peter Graham’s anthology and Raymond Durgnat’s early monograph — both long out of print, and the latter unmentioned in the present book — qualify as predecessors), it is a fertile field for any critic interested in organizing a lot of diverse material, and this task is handled by Monaco with grace and assurance; for its bibliography alone, this over-priced volume is well worth having. Beginning with an evocation of Rivette’s first encounters with Godard and Truffaut (and later Chabrol and Rohmer) at the Avenue de Messine Cinémathèque in 1949 or 1950, he proceeds to the films of each until, some 320 pages later, he has burrowed his way through over a hundred features and shorts.
Lots of grist for the mill; but what kind of product is the Monaco factory manufacturing? Read more