A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Saturday, January 16, 2016

La Pointe Courte (Agnès Varda, 1955)

"They talk too much to be happy," says one of the villagers about the Parisian couple (Philippe Noiret and Silvia Monfort) who are spending time in the small fishing community on the Mediterranean. He has been in the town, where he was born, for several weeks, and she arrives to tell him that she wants a separation after four years of marriage. So they wander around, endlessly analyzing their relationship, as life goes on in the village: The townspeople argue with the authorities about where they can fish and about the bacterial count that has been detected in the water; a small child dies; a young man courts a girl over the objections of her father; a festival that involves jousting from boats takes place, and so on. The sophisticated self-analysis of the couple soon begins to look petty against the backdrop of the village's real problems. At one point in their dialogue, a scene is stolen from them by one of the village's many cats, whose playing around on a woodpile behind the couple becomes far more interesting than what they have to say. Aside from Noiret and Monfort, the actors are all actual residents of the village. Varda began as a still photographer, and her sense of composition is notable throughout this film, her first. She had spent time in Sète, the town where La Pointe Courte was filmed, as a teenager, and was photographing it for a friend when the idea of the movie came to her. It's often cited as one of the first films of the French New Wave, of which she became a prominent member, though seven years passed before she made her second and better-known film, Cléo From 5 to 7 (1962). Alain Resnais, who became one of the leading New Wave directors, edited La Pointe Courte, and the striking score is by Pierre Barbaud.

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