Daily Archives: May 26, 2023

JE T’AIME, JE T’AIME (1973 review)

From The Real Paper (January 17, 1973).

As I recall, this was my only contribution to this Boston alternative weekly, commissioned by the late Stuart Byron. He asked me to review the film because I was the only colleague of his who defended it when it was shown at the 1972 New York Film Festival, where everyone else, at least within his earshot and mine, considered it an unmitigated disaster — which probably accounts in part for my defensive, almost apologetic tone, which I now regret. I suspect that part of my problem with conceptualizing the film came from my confusion of “science fiction” with the French category of “fantastique,” which incorporates Surrealism and its tolerance for fantasy as well as science fiction. So it’s gratifying to see Manohla Dargis declaring the film a masterpiece at the time of its early 2014 run at New York’s Film Forum, and doing an infinitely better job of saying why than I was able to muster 40-odd years earlier, writing from Paris….Fans of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are urged to check out this film, in many ways its major inspiration. —  J.R.

 

At first glance, Alain Resnais’ fifth feature seems as sharp a decline from La Guerre est finie, his previous film, as that one was from Muriel. Read more

Utopia and Apocalypse: Pynchon’s Populist/Fatalist Cinema

Commissioned by the French quarterly Trafic for their spring 2020 issue. — J.R.

Gravitys_rainbow_cover

The rhythmic clapping resonates inside these
walls, which are hard and glossy as coal: Come-
on! Start-the-show! Come-on! Start-the-show!
The screen is a dim page spread before us,
white and silent. The film has broken, or a
projector bulb has burned out. It was difficult
even for us, old fans who’ve always been at
the movies (haven’t we?) to tell which before
the darkness swept in.
— from the last page of Gravity’s Rainbow

To begin with a personal anecdote: Writing my first book (to be published) in the late 1970s, an experimental autobiography titled Moving Places: A Life at the Movies (Harper & Row, 1980), published in French as Mouvements: Une vie au cinéma (P.O.L, 2003), I wanted to include four texts by other authors — two short stories (“In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” by Delmore Schwartz, “The Secret Integration” by Thomas Pynchon) and two essays (“The Carole Lombard in Macy’s Window” by Charles Eckert, “My Life With Kong” by Elliott Stein) — but was prevented from doing so by my editor, who argued that because the book was mine, texts by other authors didn’t belong there. Read more

Past Imperfect [IN PRAISE OF LOVE]

From the Chicago Reader (October 18, 2002). — J.R.

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In Praise of Love

**** (Masterpiece)

Directed and written by Jean-Luc Godard

With Bruno Putzulu, Cecile Camp, Claude Baignieres, Remo Forlani, Audrey Klebaner, Mark Hunter, and Jeremy Lippmann.

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Berthe: “When did the gaze collapse?”

Edgar: “Before TV took precedence.”

Berthe: “Took precedence over what? Current events?”

Edgar: “Over life.”

Berthe: “Yes. I feel our gaze has become a program under control. Subsidized….The image, monsieur, the only thing capable of denying nothingness, is also the gaze of nothingness on us.”

In Praise of Love

Let feelings bring about events, not the contrary. — Robert Bresson, Notes on Cinematography, quoted in In Praise of Love

In Praise of Love

Six years ago, when Jean-Luc Godard was presenting his feature For Ever Mozart in Toronto, he described Eloge de l’amour (In Praise of Love) as his next project — a play he would stage in Switzerland. So it seems appropriate that his film with the same title opens with a young man, Edgar, planning a project called Eloge de l’amour that might be a film, a play, a novel, or an opera. (During the first hour of the film only two intertitles are used: “something” and “about love.”) Read more