Sunday, May 17, 2009

Movie of the Month: Part Six

I recently reviewed the following film for Video Lib-
and thought the results were worth sharing.


In Philippe Garrel, Artiste, the made-for-TV profile that
accompanies this set, the writer/director describes cine-
ma as "a way to survive." Until the release of 2005's Reg-
ular Lovers, starring his son Louis, Garrel was one of
France's best kept secrets. This double-disc collection
offers two key titles from his intimate filmography.

In 1991's I Can No Longer Hear the Guitar, Garrel provid-
es an impressionistic overview of his 10-year affair with Velvet
Underground vocalist Nico, who appears in several of his early
films. Influenced by life, literature, and dreams, Garrel purpose-
fully blurs the timeline, initially depicting a romantic Positano
idyll between Gérard (Benoît Régent, Three Colors: Blue) and
Marianne (Johanna ter Steege, The Vanishing) until her jealou-
sy and heroin addiction become too much to take, though Gér-
ard's friendship with fellow Parisian Martin (Yann Colette,
who is blind in one eye) helps to ease the burden.

Made two years before, Emergency Kisses ups the ante
through the inclusion of the extended Garrel clan. The decision of
filmmaker Mathieu (Garrel) to cast Minouchette (Anémone) in a
film instead of wife Jeanne (real-life spouse Brigitte Sy) threatens
to tear their union asunder. Whereas a friend provides the sup-
port in Guitar, Garrel's father, Maurice, assumes that role in Kiss-
es, while a blond Louis plays his rambunctious six-year-old son.

Other supplements include an essay from The New Yorker's
Richard Brody, the French trailer for Regular Lovers, lobby
cards, and press-book excerpts, including testimony from Jean-
Luc Godard, who proclaims Garrel's work "eternal." A strong re-
commendation, especially for fans of Godard and John Cassavetes.

Click here for Movie of the Month, Part Five: Careful

Endnote: Slightly revised from the original text. Incidentally,
Garrel's full quote reads: cinema is "a way to survive if you think
you're different...when you're young." But is he really that funda-
mentally different from anyone else? I mean, he's an artist, he's
from an artistic family, but he's still just a human being. After
watching these two films, I'm still not sure exactly what he means,
but I will say that he doesn't go easy on his doppelgängers, though
Gérard in Guitar does grow up a bit by the end, and I would as-
sume Garrel considers that a positive development. Also, he de-
scribes Godard as "the master I've chosen." Image from WNYC.

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