Thursday, March 04, 2010

Movie of
the Month:

Part 16

I recent-
ly review-
ed the fol-
, and thought the results were worth sharing.

(Agnès Varda, France, 2009, 110 mins.)

To love cinema is to love Jacques
Demy, painting, family, and puzzles.
Agnès Varda, The Beaches of Agnès

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

As French New Wave veteran Agnès Varda (Cléo from
5 to 7
, The Gleaners and I) explains in her enchanting doc-
umentary, she's spent a lifetime filming other people, be-
cause "It's others I'm interested in, others I like to film."

The Beaches of Agnès
, on the other hand, allows the
self-described "pleasantly plump and talkative" 80-year-
old artist to turn the camera on herself for a change.

Because she has fond memories of trips to the beach as a child
(dubbing it "my favorite landscape"), that's where she speaks
about her life, surrounded by mirrors, photographs, and re-
created scenes from her past. Actors, like Jane Birkin and

's Yolande Moreau, appear in these memories.

Some of these images, Varda says, "have haunted me for a long
time." To this material, filmed in
France and California, she adds
visits to significant locations with clips from her filmography,
putting her movies into more of a personal context (suffice to
say, there's no separation between the woman and the work).

In chronological order, Varda moves from her childhood in
Brussels to her adolescence in Paris to her years as a photo-
grapher to her relationship with Jacques Demy (
The Um-
brellas of Cherbourg, Donkey Skin
), who became her hus-
band (their children would also join the family business).

In looking back at her career, Varda honors other artists with
whom she's collaborated, like helmer Alain Resnais, actor Phil-
ippe Noiret (star of her first film), and avant garde essayist Chris
Marker, who interviews her disguised as his feline alter ego, Guil-
laume. For a movie about times gone by,
The Beaches of Ag-
is far more playful than regretful. Highly recommended.

Click here for Movie of the Month, Part 15: Passing Strange

Endnote: As part of this year's P.O.V. Series on PBS, The
Beaches of
Agnès airs on 6/29 (check local listings). Slight-
ly revised from the original text. Image from
Film Forum.

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