- Elena and the Men (Jean Renoir)
- Zéro de Conduite (Jean Vigo)
- Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)
- The Holy Man (Satyajit Ray)
- Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethak)
- Of Time and the City (Terence Davies)
- My Dinner with Andre (Louis Malle)
- David Holzman’s Diary (Jim McBride)
- Celine and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette)
- The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (Karel Zeman)
I recently subscribed to the Criterion Channel and I cannot believe what an incredible streaming service it is. I have watched 13 movies in 5 days and am ready for more!
1- I have watched all three of Jean Renoir’s ‘trilogy’ including The Golden Coach, French Can-Can and now Elena and The Men. I find them all quite amateurish and dull. This is especially in light of having just rewatched the earth-shattering Rules of the Game. Is this like Citizen Kane, the one work of genius in a director’s oeuvre? Although hearing Ingrid Bergman speak French for an entire film was entertaining
2- Clouds of Sils Maria is a film that I have been wanting to see for a while and having the Criterion Channel made it possible. A beautiful and mysterious film. The performances are magnificent especially Kristen Stewart. I had tucked away in my head a snippet from a review which said that it was a riff on All About Eve and I spent the first half-hour waiting for that to come to light. This turns out not to be the case at all. It is an examination of how a work of art changes as we change. In this case, an actress who became famous creating the younger of two lead roles in a now-famous play 20 years before, is approached to play the older lead. Her view of the play is in fascinating contrast to the new actress who is taking the role she originally created. Heady stuff and very moving.
3- I loved the magic realism Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Apparently the director is very influenced by the culture and religion of the area near the border of Laos where much of the film was shot. The depictions of life after death, or death in life, (or perhaps reincarnation) were moving and very puzzling to me. I wish I knew more about it. The film is stunning to look at. I love the monkey ghosts. I need to watch this again very soon.
4- Watching My Dinner with Andre and David Holzman’s Diary was a little too much New York for me. The 1967 New York of the latter film was something I lived through. Grimy, bleak, dangerous…all these feeling came back and made it hard to concentrate on what this very clever and witty meta-fictional film was doing. I think I got it but I don’t want to go back to find out for sure.
5- I know that I will love any film that I watch by Satyajit Ray. The Holy Man is more of a divertissement compared to his other more profound film, but I found it delightful and very funny. Thank you Criterion.
6- I wonder if someone of my age who grew up in Liverpool would have had the same reaction to Of Time and the City that I had watching David Holzman’s Diary. I would think not, because Terence Davies is a certifiable poet and the grime of the past in his film is so rich and emotional. Also, the Davies film is a memory piece where as the McBride is more cinema-verite, albeit a funny send-up.
If you haven’t seen anything by Terence Davies, this might not be the place to start. I heartily suggest the magnificent The Long Day Closes.
7- I spent a lot of my birthday watching Celine and Julie Go Boating. I had a very happy birthday.
8- This post seems to be a lot about memory and The Fabulous Baron Munchause was something I am sure I had seen on local New York television when I was seven or eight. The combination of cut-out and live action had a madeleine-like effect on me. Funny, beautiful and extremely weird.