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

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Cléo From 5 to 7 (Agnès Varda, 1962)

Antoine Bourseiller and Corinne Marchand in Cléo From 5 to 7
Florence "Cléo" Victoire: Corinne Marchand
Antoine: Antoine Bourseiller
Angèle: Dominique Davray
Dorothée: Dorothée Blanck
Bob the Pianist: Michel Legrand
The Lover: José Luis de Vilallonga
Irma, the Fortune-Teller: Loye Payen
The Taxi Driver: Lucienne Marchand
Plumitif, the Lyricist: Serge Korber

Director: Agnès Varda
Screenplay: Agnès Varda
Cinematography: Paul Bonis, Alain Levent, Jean Rabier
Production design: Jean-François Adam
Film editing: Pascale Laverrière, Janine Verneau
Music: Michel Legrand

Has any director ever so successfully combined the keen editorial eye of the documentary filmmaker with the storytelling gifts of the creator of fictional films as Agnès Varda? From the beginning, with the vivid setting of the small Mediterranean fishing community of La Pointe Courte (1955) serving as background and correlative for the troubles of a married couple, Varda has known how to reverse Marianne Moore's formula of "imaginary gardens with real toads in them" and tell stories about imaginary people in real places. The real place in Cléo From 5 to 7 is the city of Paris, where Varda continually finds ways to enhance her slice-of-life story of pop-singer Cléo, waiting out the results of a medical test that she is sure will doom her to death from cancer. When her protagonist leaves the sanctuary of her apartment and wanders the streets of the city, Varda continually finds little bits of memento mori to insert into the frame, such as the Pompes Funèbres sign on a mortician's place of business that we glimpse from the windows of the bus in which Cléo is riding. It's not done with a heavy hand, but rather with a slyly macabre irony, for Cléo is as much a target of Varda's wry humor as she is an object of concern. We glimpse her vanity and frivolity and superstition while we also feel sympathy with her anxiety and fear of death.

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