31 mai 2006
30 mai 2006
Opening Scene : Rock guitars soundtrack. Aerial shot of a lazy Marie-Antoinette sleeping next to her dog on an unmade bed. Dreaming, smiling, enjoying the idleness of an aristocratic leisure at the Hasbourg court. Her life is about to take a dramatic turn for her own lifestyle as well as for the future of Europe. The ambassador announces Louis XV agreed to her marriage with his grand-son Louis XVI. She must leave everything behind, youth, innocence, family, belongings... to meet her fate and duty. After brief farewell and motherly recommendations she travels to the border in a horse-drawn carriage.
While the opening sequence in Vienna was really short, planting a succinct pre-France background as a matter of reference to clash with Versailles later, the second sequence, with pink opening credits, lingers on the long carriage trip across the Austrian landscape. The montage shows her looking by the window, laughing with her company, contemplating a small painting of her futur spouse. She doesn't seem to realize what is going on and entertains this ceremonious protocol like a fairy tale. She's then 14, and the dauphin Louis Auguste, 15.
The subversion is meant to draw a facile parallel with the fastuous, luxurious, extravagant, and vain milieu of the stardom millionaires. Hollywood, and Cannes too incidentally, are new incarnations of the ancient aristocracy. Lady Di, doomed princess with illicit love affairs, being the perfect link between Versailles and today's jet-set. Thus feeling a complacent empathy for the petty problems of the richest people : ennui, melancholy, recognition, fame, attraction, seduction, domination, entertainment, pleasure, thrill...
Now, the atmosphere does offer nice unconventional touches at times, more on par with what we'd expect from Sofia Coppola's inspiration. There are many charms. A very personal period movie highlighting a secret lesserknown personality of the queen usually associated with the Revolution.
What the film achieves very well is to represent the Versailles way of life from inside, with emphasis on the flaws and inconveniences, unlike most period films showing the nobility of it all. Here we see a queen bored by her status, the oppressive etiquette, the snobbish rivalry. Even if this view isn't quite historicaly accurate, it is interesting to follow a discontent queen who cares about her private life, dear friends, parties and bucolic leisure and much less about the kingdom's grandeur.
The royal couple is assisted to get dressed and undressed in public. Going to bed and waking up are ceremonious showcases for the court. Marie-Antoinette turns away from the rigorous, extraneous, overbearing protocol and the courtly company established by Louis XIV. While her husband is busy with state business, hunt and locksmith, she grows a vulgar fad for farm and sheep, reading Rousseau in a Hamilton-lite flower field, watching sunrise near the canal. A quick plan puts cleverly in perspective this fancy lunacy by showing a servant cleaning the muddy eggs before the queen arrives with her daughter to collect them. She recreated an idealized farm in Versailles, a dollhouse out of touch with reality. Centered exclusively on Marie-Antoinette's viewpoint, the film is appropriately claustrophobic, shut out from outside events, from Paris, from France, from the World.
The narration is encumberred by reconstitution of famous events. For instance, the only political reference feels anecdotical on the wider scope of the end of monarchy : the participation of France to help americans in the War of Independence against the archenemy, the British Empire.
The film already cuts short before the French Revolution, making a strong statement not to show the world that exists and dies outside the idyllic frontiers of the Versailles property. The notorious escape to Varennes of the royal couple organized by Thomas Fersen (to save his secret lover) failed because someone recognized the disguised king from his profile engraved on the gold coins. When Louis XV was beheaded by the guillotine, Marie-Antoinette kneeled before her son who had just inherited the throne, a king in prison. The behavior of the queen in Paris, first at Le Palais des Tuileries and then locked at La Bastille before her execution is what contributed to build the legend of Marie-Antoinette. However none of this made the cut.
Kirsten Dunst, 23 yold, plays Marie-Antoinette from 14 in Vienna to 35 when she leaves Versailles, without any make up or acting changes. Same for Jason Schwartzman as Louis XV. She remains an eternal adulescent. Again this subversive gimmick would work better if the rest of the film also took advantage of an abstract, timeless mise-en-scène, cleared of historical referent that remind us of time passing.
My ultimate impression of the film is that it goes too fast, spanning over too many years, too many important events that are inevitably overlooked and underdevelopped anyway, despite the awkward storyline jump cuts. For example the first royal intercourse transitions with the child delivery in a wink. Only a male heir could solidify this union and the European diplomacy it involves. The film accentuates the virginity of Marie-Antoinette, from 14 to 21, as a sexualy inhibited Louis XV refuses to touch her during 7 years of marriage! If the insight does inform the estrangement and incompatibility of this couple, the illustration becomes a mere running gag of a recurrent bed scene where the contact is continually aborted. Silly phrases such as "I'm exhausted", "I have to wake up early for hunt tomorrow" that play on the comical relief by today's soap opera standards.
I think Sofia Coppola would have expressed her talent best by limiting the timeline to a random slice of life, without the need to show her teenage marriage and her demise. Just a continuous period of days between Versailles and Trianon. A transcendental portrayal a timeless queen with sentimental issues and a precursor eccentricity. The location in Versailles and the costumes would have been enough to characterize the era and personality. The film could have been much more subversive, formally and morally, within a lose framework disregarding the hassle to narrate her full biography. Maybe she would have written scenes more surprising about her intimacy, her daily boredom, her desires and her dreams. The humanity of an immature woman constrained by an unhappy forced marriage and a ridiculous protocol, the anti-comformist queen who built a farm in Versailles to take care of plants and sheep. Although she failed to developped the sentiment of alienation and solitude so deeply mastered in Virgin Suicide and Lost in Translation.
Official Website (french) - trailers
Cannes 2006 - Official Competition
(s) + (w) ++ (m) +++ (i) ++ (c) +++
21 mai 2006
[EDIT Award results]
Honorary presidents: Martin Scorsese & Abbas Kiarostami
CINÉFONDATION (Completed Feature Films) www
Created in 1998 and devoted to the search for new talent, the Cinéfondation selects each and every year fifteen to twenty shorts and medium-length works, presented by film schools from all over the world.
Jury : Andrei Konchalovsky (director) President;Sandrine Bonnaire (actress); Daniel Brühl (actor); Souleymane Cissé (director); Zbigniew Preisner
- A VÍRUS / The Virus (Ágnes KOCSIS/Hungary) 3rd Prize Ex-aequo
- BIR DAMLA SU / A Water Drop (Deniz Gamze ERGÜVEN/France)
- DOORMAN (Etienne KALLOS/USA)
- EEN INGEWIKKELD VERHAAL, EENVOUDIG VERTELD / A Complicated Story, Told Simply (Jaap VAN HEUSDEN/Netherlands)
- ELASTINEN PARTURI / The Elastic Hairdresser (Milla NYBONDAS/Finland)
- EVEN KIDS STARTED SMALL (Yaniv BERMAN/Israel)
- FIRN (Axel KOENZEN/Germany)
- GE & ZETA (Gustavo RIET/Argentina) 1st Prize
- GRACELAND (Anocha SUWICHAKORNPONG/Thailand)
- HA'CHAVERA SHELL EMILE / LA COPINE D' EMILE (Nadav LAPID/Israel)
- HUNDE / DOGS (Matthias HUSER/Switzerland)
- JABA (Andreas BOLM/Germany)
- JUSTIÇA AO INSULTO / JUSTICE A L'INSULTE (Bruno JORGE/Brasil)
- MOTHER (Siân HEDER/USA) 3rd Prize Ex-aequo
- MR. SCHWARTZ, MR. HAZEN & MR. HORLOCKER (Stefan MUELLER/Germany) 2nd Prize
- SNOW (Dustin FENELEY/Australia)
- TETRIS (Anirban DATTA/India)
Films In development : Seasoned directors and new talents PDF
The Atelier selects every year about twenty feature-film projects throughout the world, and invites their directors to the Festival de Cannes to put them in touch with professionals. They can thus access international financing and speed up the transition to directing.
- SCAR (Teboho Mahlatsi/South Africa)
- TARDE (Santiago Palavecino/Argentina)
- SHIVER (Christina Andreef/Australia)
- LA REGATE (Bernard Bellefroid/Belgium) 1
- THE SKY, THE EARTH AND THE RAIN (José Luis Torres Leiva/Chile)
- BLACK IRON DAYS (Wang Bing/China)
- BUICK RIVERA (Goran Rusinovic/Croatia)
- THE QUAGMIRE (Luiso Berdejo/Spain)
- DON'T LET ME DROWN (Cruz Angeles/USA)
- VIRTUAL LOVE (Richard Press/USA)
- BLACK BOX (Fabrice Genestal/France) 1
- EAT FOR THIS IS MY BODY (Michelange Quay/Haiti) 1
- ROAD, MOVIE (Dev Benegal /India)
- KISHTA (Dover Kosashvili/Israel) 1
- SCENE OF A CRIME (Cristi Puiu/Romania)
- DAU (Ilya Khrzhanovsky/Russia)
- HOME (Ursula Meier/Switzerland) 1
- UTOPIA (Apichatpong Weerasethakul/Thailand)
[EDIT : Award results]
Gaspard Noé - godfather of the Critic's Week
COMPETITION - Feature films
- Les Amitiés maléfiques (Emmanuel Bourdieu/France) 1 2 3 4 Grand Prix, Grand Rail d'Or, SCAD Award
- Pingpong (Matthias Luthardt/Germany) - Debut www 1 2 3 4 SCAD Award, OFAJ Young Award
- Den Brysomme Mannen / The Bothersome Man (Jens Lien/Norway) 1 2 3 ACID Award
- Sonhos de peixe (Kirill Mikhanovsky/Brasil/Russia/USA) - Debut 1 2 3
- Komma (Martine Doyen/Belgium) - Debut 1 2
- Drama/Mex (Gerardo Naranjo/Mexico) 1 2 3 4
- Friss Levegö / Fresh Air (Àgnes Kocsis/Hungary) - Debut 1 2 3 4
- Kristall (Christoph Girardet & Matthias Müller/Germany) Canal + Award
- Iron (Hiroyuki Nakano/Japan)
- Printed Rainbow (Gitanjali Rao/India) Rail d'Or, Kodak Discovery Award, OFAJ Young Critic Award
- Alguma Coisa Assim / Something Like That (Esmir Filho/Brasil) Grand Crû Prize
- L’Écluse (Olivier Ciechelski/France)
- News (Ursula Ferrara/Italy)
- Kvinna Vid Grammofon / Woman and Gramophone (Johannes Stjärne Nilsson & Ola Simonsson/Sweden)
- Destricted (2006/Gaspar Noé/Larry Clark/Marina Abramovic/Matthew Barney/Sam Taylor-Wood/Marco Brambilla/Richard Prince /USA/GB) www 1 2 3 4 5 6
- Free Jimmy (Christopher Nielsen/GB/Norway) Debut 1 2 3
- Look Both Ways (Sarah Watt/Australia) Debut
- I Psihi Sto Stoma / Soul Kicking (Yannis Economidis/Greece) 1 2
- Nocturnes pour le Roi de Rome (Jean-Charles Fitoussi/France) 1 2
- Kigali, des images contre un massacre (Jean-Christophe Klotz/France) DOC Debut 1 2
- Une équipe de rêve (René Letzgus/France) 1
- Marilena de la P7 (Cristian Nemescu/Roumania)
- Les Deux vies du serpent (Hélier Cisterne/France)
- Charell (Mikhaël Hers/France)
Agence du Cinema Indépendant pour sa Diffusion www
Jury : Béatrice Champanier; Marina Déak; Joseph Morder; Claude Duty; Pierre Schoeller
- ALLEZ YALLAH ! (2006/Jean Pierre Thorn/France) Doc
- BABOOSKA (2005/Tizza Covi & Rainer Frimmel/Austria) Doc
- BARAKAT ! (2005/Djamila Sahraoui/France)
- ÇA M'EST ÉGAL SI DEMAIN N'ARRIVE PAS (2006/Guillaume Malandrin/Belgium)
- LES FEMMES DU MONT ARARAT (2004/Erwann Briand/France)
- HOREZON (2006/Pascale Bodet/France)
- PETITES RÉVÉLATIONS (2006/Marie Vermillard/France)
- SONG OF SONGS (2005/Josh Appignanesi/UK)
- VOYAGE EN SOL MAJEUR (2006/Georgi Lazarevski/France)
Special Screening :
- LA VISITEUSE (1983/Jean-Claude Guiguet/France) Short
[EDIT : Award results]
Quinzaine des réalisateurs / Director's Fortnight 2006 www
COMPETITION Feature films
- A Fost sau n-a fost ? / 12:08 East of Bucharest (2006/PORUMBOIU Corneliu/Romania) Debut 1 2 3 4 5 Camera d'Or, Europa Cinemas Label
- Anche libero va bene / Along the Ridge (2006/ROSSI STUART Kim/Italy) Debut 1 2 3 4 CICAE Art & Essai Prize
- Les Anges exterminateurs / Exterminating Angels (2006/BRISSEAU Jean-Claude/France) 1 2 3 4
- Azur et Asmar (2006/OCELOT michel/Spain, Italy, Belgium, France) Anim 1 2 3 4
- Bug (2006/FRIEDKIN William/USA) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 FIPRESCI Award
- Ça brûle / On Fire (2006/SIMON Claire/France, Switzerland) 1 2 3
- Changement d’adresse (2006/MOURET Emmanuel/France) 1 2 3 4
- Congorama (2006/FALARDEAU Philippe/Canada, Belgium, France) 1 2
- Daft Punk’s Electroma (2006/BANGALTER Thomas/DE HOMEM-CHRISTO Guy-Manuel/USA) Debut 1 2 3 4
- Dans Paris (2006/HONORE Christophe/France) 1 2
- Day Night Day Night (2006/LOKTEV Julia/USA, Germany, France) Debut 1 2 Regard Jeune Prize
- Fehér tenyér / White Palms (2006/HADJU Szabolcs/Hungary) www 1 2 3 4 5
- The Hawk is Dying (2005/GOLDBERGER Julian/USA) 1 2
- Honor de Cavalleria (2006/SERRA Albert/Spain) Debut 1 2 3
- The Host / Gue Mool (2006/BONG Joon-ho/Korea) vdo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
- Jindabyne (2006/LAWRENCE Ray/Australia) 1 2 3 4 5
- Lying (2005/M. BLASH /USA) Debut 1 2
- On ne devrait pas exister (2006/HPG /France) Debut 1 2 3
- Princess (2006/MORGENTHALER Anders/Denmark, Germany) Anim Debut www 1 2 3 4 5
- Sommer 04 An Der Schlei (2006/KROHMER Stefan/Germany) 1 2
- Transe (2006/VILLAVERDE Teresa/Italy, Portugal, France) www 1 2
- Yureru / Sway (2006/MIWA Nishikawa/Japan) www 1
COMPETITION Short films
- The Aluminum Fowl (2006/CLAUER James/USA)
- Bugcrush (2006/SMITH Carter/USA) Debut
- By The Kiss (2006/GONZALEZ Yann/France)
- Dans le rang (2006/VIAL Cyprien/France) Debut SACD Award
- L' Étoile de mer (2006/DERUAS Caroline/France) Debut
- Manue Bolonaise (2006/LETOURNEUR Sophie/France)
- Menged (2006/WORKOU Daniel Taye/Ethiopia)
- Rapace / Bird of Prey (2006/NICOLAU João/Portugal)
- Sepohon Rambutan Indah Kepunyaanku Di Tanjung Rambutan / My Beautiful Rambutan Tree In Tanjung Rambutan (2006/U-WEI Bin HajiSaari/Malaysia)
- Le Soleil et la mort voyagent ensemble / Sun And Death Travel Together (2006/BEAUVAIS Frank/France)
- Un Rat (2006/SIMONOVITCH Bosilka/France) Best Young Director Award
UN CERTAIN REGARD www
Jury : Monte Hellman (Director) President; Jean-Pierre LAVOIGNAT (Journalist); Lars-Olav BEIER (Journalist); Laura WINTERS (Journalist); Marjane SATRAPI (Writer); Maurizio CABONAT (Journalist)
- PARIS, JE T'AIME (Olivier Assayas, Fred Auburtin, Sylvain Chomet, Ethan&Joel Coen, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuaron, Gérard Depardieu, Christopher Doyle, Richard LaGravenese, Vincenzo Natali, Alexander Payne, Bruno Podalydès, Walter Salles, Oliver Schmitz, Nobuhiro Suwa, Tom Tykwer, Gus Van Sant) www vdo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
- BLED NUMBER ONE (Rabah AMEUR-ZAÏMECHE/Algeria) vdo 1 2 3 4 5
- IL REGISTA DI MATRIMONI (Marco BELLOCCHIO/Italy) 1 2 3 4 5 6
- TEN CANOES (Rolf DE HEER/Australia) www 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Special Prize of the Jury
- LA TOURNEUSE DE PAGES (Denis DERCOURT/France) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
- HAMACA PARAGUAYA (Paz ENCINA/Paraguay) Debut 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 FIPRESCI Award
- URO (Stefan FALDBAKKEN/Norway) Debut 1 2 3
- LA CALIFORNIE (Jacques FIESCHI/France) Debut 1 2 3
- SUBURBAN MAYHEM (Paul GOLDMAN/Australia) www 1 2 3 4 5
- MEURTRIÈRES (Patrick GRANDPERRET/France) www 1 2 3 Jury President Prize
- Z ODZYSKU / Retrieval (Slawomir FABICKI/Poland) Debut 1 2 3 4 5 Ecumenical Jury Special Mention
- SALVADOR PUIG ANTICH (Manuel HUERGA/Spain) 1 2 3 4 5
- 977 (Nikolay KHOMERIKI/Russia) Debut 1 2
- A SCANNER DARKLY (Richard LINKLATER/USA) www 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
- CUM MI-AM PETRECUT SFARSITUL LUMII / The Way I Spent The End Of The World (Catalin MITULESCU/Italy) Debut 1 2 3 4 5 6 Best Actor Ex-aequo (Dorothea Petre)
- SERAMBI (Garin NUGROHO/Indonesia) 1 2 3 4 5
- TAXIDERMIA (György PÁLFI/Hungary) www vdoFR vdo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
- GWAI WIK / Re-cycle (Oxide PANG CHUN, Danny PANG/Hong-Kong) 1 2
- BIHISHT FAQAT BAROI MURDAGON / To Get To Heaven First You Have To Die (Djamshed USMONOV/Tadjikistan) 1
- EL VIOLIN / The Violin (Francisco VARGAS/Mexico) Debut 1 2 3 4 5 Best Actor Ex-aequo (Don Angel Tavira)
- YOU AM I (Kristijonas VILDZIUNAS/Lithuania) 1 2 3 4
- LUXURY CAR (WANG Chao/China) 1 2 3 4 5 Grand Prize
- THE UNFORGIVEN (YOON Jong-bin/Korea) Debut 1 2 3 4 5 6
- TWO THIRTY 7 / 2:37 (Murali K. THALLURI/Australia) Debut www 1 2 3 4 5
59th International CANNES Film Festival (May 17th - 28th 2006) www
COMPETITION (20 feature length films)
Jury : Wong Kar-Wai (director) President;
Monica Bellucci (actress); Helena Bonham Carter (actress); Samuel L. Jackson (actor); Patrice Leconte (director); Lucrecia Martel (director); Tim Roth (actor); Elia Suleiman (director); Zhang Ziyi (actress)
- L'AMICO DI FAMIGLIA / Friend of the Family (Paolo Sorrentino/Italy) 1 2 3 4
- BABEL (Alejandro Gonzalez Inárritu/USA) vdo 1 2 Best Director, Ecumenical Jury Prize
- IL CAIMANO / The Caiman (Nanni Moretti/Italy) www vdo 1 2 3 4 5
- CRÓNICA DE UNA FUGA / Buenos Aires 1977 (Israel Adrian Caetano/Argentina) www
- FAST FOOD NATION (Richard Linklater/USA) vdo 1 2 3 4
- FLANDRES (Bruno Dumont/France) www 1 2 3 4 Grand Prix
- IKLIMLER / Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan/Turkey) www vdo 1 2 3 FIPRESCI Award for Best Film
- INDIGÈNES / Days of Glory (Rachid Bouchareb/Belgium) www 1 2 3 Best Actor (ensemble), François Chalais Prize
- JUVENTUDE EM MARCHA (Pedro Costa/Portugal) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
- EL LABERINTO DEL FAUNO / Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro/Spain) www vdo 1 2
- LAITAKAUPUNGIN VALOT / Lights in the Dusk (Aki Kaurismäki/Finland) vdo 1 2 3
- MARIE-ANTOINETTE (Sofia Coppola/USA) wwwFR vdo 1 2 3 4 5 National Education Prize
- QUAND J'ÉTAIS CHANTEUR / When I was a Singer (Xavier Giannoli/France) vdo 1 2 3 4
- LA RAISON DU PLUS FAIBLE (Lucas Belvaux/Belgium) vdo 1 2 3
- RED ROAD (Andrea Arnold/UK) Debut vdo 1 2 3 Jury Prize
- SELON CHARLIE (Nicole Garcia/France) vdo 1 2 3
- SOUTHLAND TALES (Richard Kelly/USA) vdo 1 2 3
- SUMMER PALACE (LOU Ye/China) vdo 1 2
- VOLVER (Pedro Almodovar/Spain) www vdo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Best Screenplay, Best Actress (ensemble)
- THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY (Ken Loach/UK) vdo 1 2 3 Palme d'Or
Jury : Andrei Konchalovsky (director) President;
Sandrine Bonnaire (actress); Daniel Brühl (actor); Souleymane Cissé (director); Zbigniew Preisner
- PRIMERA NIEVE (Pablo AGUERO) 15' Jury Prize
- POYRAZ (Belma BAS) 13'
- BANQUISE / Icefloe (Claude BARRAS, Cédric LOUIS) 7'
- ONGERIEWE (Robin KLEINSMIDT) 14'
- CONTE DE QUARTIER (Florence MIAILHE) 15' Special Mention
- FILM NOIR (Parker OSBERT) 3'
- SNIFFER (Bobbie PEERS) 10' Palme d'Or
- SEXY THING (Denie PENTECOST) 14'
- NATURE'S WAY (Jane SHEARER) 10'
- O MONSTRO / The Monster (Eduardo VALENTE) 13'
- AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (Davis GUGGENHEIM/USA) Doc 1 2 3 4
- AVIDA (Benoît DELÉPINE/France) 1 2
- BAMAKO (Abderrahmane SISSAKO/Mali) www 1
- THE BOY ON A GALLOPING HORSE (Adam GUZINSKI/Poland) Debut 1 2
- CLERKS 2 (Kevin SMITH/USA) vdo
- THE DA VINCI CODE (Ron Howard/USA) Opening
- EL-BANATE DOL / These Girls (Tahani RACHED)
- ELECTION 2 (Johnnie TO/China) 1 2
- GUISI / Silk (SU Chao Pin/Taiwan) 1 2
- ICI NAJAC, À VOUS LA TERRE (Jean-Henri MEUNIER/France) 1
- OVER THE HEDGE (Johnson/Kirkpatrick/USA) Anim
- REQUIEM FOR BILLY THE KID (Anne Feinsilber/France) 1
- SHORTBUS (John Cameron MITCHELL/USA) vdo 1
- SKETCHES OF FRANK GEHRY (Sydney POLLACK/USA) Doc www 1 2 3 4 5 6
- TRANSYLVANIA (Tony GATLIF/France) Closing 1 2
- UNITED 93 (Paul GREENGRASS/USA) www 1
- VOLEVO SOLO VIVERE (Mimo CALOPRESTI/Italy) Doc
- X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (Brett RATNER/USA)
- ZIDANE, UN PORTRAIT DU 21e SIECLE (Parreno/Gordon/France) Doc www 1 2
- THE WATER DIARY (Jane CAMPION/Australia) 17' 1
- LES SIGNES (Eugène GREEN/France) 32' 1
- STANLEY'S GIRLFRIEND (Monte HELLMAN/USA) 27'
- SIDA (Gaspar NOE/France) 19'
- UN LEVER DE RIDEAU (François OZON/France) 28'
- CHAMBRE 666 (1982/Wim Wenders) short 1 2
- THE HOUSE IS BURNING (2006/Holger Ernst/Germany) debut
- NOUVELLE CHANCE (2006/Anne Fontaine) 1 2
- Tribute to Anouk Aimée : LOLA (1961/Jacques Demy); LA DOLCE VITA (1960/Federico Fellini); 8 ½ (1963/Federico Fellini)
- A KID FOR TWO FARTHINGS (1955/Carol REED/UK)
- BEJIN LOUG / BEZHIN MEADOW (1936/Sergei EISENSTEIN/Russia)
- BLAST OF SILENCE (1961/Allen BARON/USA)
- CABIRIA (1914/Giovanni PASTRONE/Italy)
- EL TOPO (1970/Alejandro JODOROWSKY/Mexico)
- INDIA SONG (1975/Marguerite DURAS/France)
- KAZE NO TANI NO NAUSHIKA / Nausicaa (1984/Hayao MIYAZAKI/Japan)
- LA DROLESSE / THE HUSSY (1978/Jacques DOILLON/France)
- LA TERRA TREMA (1948/Luchino VISCONTI/Italy)
- LE MYSTERE DE LA TOUR EIFFEL (1927/Julien DUVIVIER/France)
- LES AVENTURIERS / THE LAST ADVENTURER (1967/Robert ENRICO/France/Italy)
- L'ESTATE VIOLENTA (1959/Valerio ZURLINI/France/Italy)
- MIRT SOST SHI AMIT / HARVEST: 3000 YEARS (1975/Haile GERIMA/Ethiopia)
- MONTE-CRISTO (1929/Henri FESCOURT/France)
- ODD MAN OUT (1947/Carol REED/UK)
- OKTYABR / OCTOBER (1927/Sergei EISENSTEIN, Grigori ALEKSANDROV/Russia)
- PLATOON (1986/Oliver STONE/USA)
- ROMA CITTA APERTA (1945/Roberto ROSSELLINI/Italy)
- SHI SI NU YING HAO (1972/Cheng KANG/Hong Kong)
- THE FALLEN IDOL (1948/Carol REED/UK)
- THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973/Alejandro JODOROWSKY/USA)
- THE SEARCHERS (1956/Jonn FORD/USA)
- THE WAY AHEAD (1944/Carol REED/UK)
- BOFFO! TINSELTOWN'S BOMBS AND BLOCKBUSTERS (2006/Bill COUTURIE/USA) 1
- IL ETAIT UNE FOIS...ROME VILLE OUVERTE / ONCE UPON A TIME... ROME OPEN CITY (2006/Marie GENIN, Serge JULY/France)
- JOHN FORD / JOHN WAYNE: THE FILMMAKER AND THE LEGEND (2006/Sam POLLARD/USA)
- MARCELLO, UNA VITA DOLCE (2006/Annarosa MORRI, Mario CANALE/Italy)
Jury : Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc DARDENNE (director) Presidents;
Alain RIOU (critic); Frédéric MAIRE (Locarno Festival); Jean Louis VIALARD (cinematographer); Jean-Paul SALOME (director); Jean-Pierre NEYRAC (tech); Luiz Carlos MERTEN (critic); Natacha LAURENT (Cinémathèque de Toulouse)
17 mai 2006
Pour une critique cinématographique
Toward a Cinematic Criticism
First published in L'Echo des étudiants (11 Dec. 1943); in Le Cinema de l'Occupation et de la Résistance; and in an anthology published by Cahiers, André Bazin : Le Cinéma français de la Libération à la Nouvelle Vague (1983).
Also available in English in French Cinema of the Occupation and Resistance: The Birth of a Critical Aesthetic (1994)
This is an early essay André Bazin wrote in a student journal, giving a remarkably clear-sighted and provocative understanding of the conservative French Film Criticism at the time during WW2. A lose and complacent trade about to be freshened up and thought out, to finally consider Cinema as a proper and honourable art alongside with Theatre and Literature. Therefore requiring an insightful and pertinent criticism, which Bazin will re-invent completely.
At 25 years old, André Bazin boldly calls into question the cinema press, considering the momentum of popular taste, the complacency of film critics, their arguable following among readers and audience, and the snobbism required for a militant critical judgement. He asks for a "criticism of criticism". Reviewing the trends of his contemporary fellow critics, the prominence of popular movies and popular reviewers.
This article is surprisingly still valid today, as if film criticism didn't learn anything and never evolved since the Golden Age. At least the questions raised in 1943 are the same questions coming up among cinephiles and critic circles, by Bordwell recently (Against Insight), or by various bloggers striving to claim the online conversion of print criticism.
It's difficult to quote Bazin out of context, as his texts weave a logic train of thought in a solid construction. However I'll just post snippets that have an uncanny resonance to today's state of film criticism (my titles added in all caps, quotes rearranged thematically, not necessarily chronologically):
"The film market is still controlled by laws of social psychology similar to those that before the war influenced the sale of printed matter."
"Because it is not, like the other arts, aimed at an elite but at several million passive spectators in search of a couple of hours of escape, the cinema cannot realistically be controlled by anything other than production."
"The historical and sociological conditions under which the cinema operates make it vitally important for the movies to address themselves to all public simultaneously"
"The public will always prefer -- if one respects certain psychological conditions -- a good film to a bad one; by this we simply mean that the quality of films cannot be modified by first educating the taste of the public, but that on the contrary it is necessary to first modify the quality of films so that they can educate the public. Everything we know about the social restrictions under which cinema
operates proves that though the other arts are inconceivable without aesthetic liberalism, cinema is absolutely incapable of existing without managerial direction. Indeed, the conditions that allow it to live are not yet those of an art but simply of an image-industry under a liberal capitalist regime."
"Let nobody say that all tastes have to be provided for in a field in which, alas, we are well below any taste. The truth is, on the contrary, that the crisis of cinema is less of an aesthetic than an intellectual order. What film production basically suffers from is stupidity, a stupidity so overwhelming that aesthetic quarrels are relegated to a secondary level. This is no longer a value judgement but a question of positive evidence."
"We are confronted by an art that is popular and a criticism that is not, and face the temptation of raising that art to the social and intellectual level of its criticism."
"Any elite aesthetic is radically incompatible with the basic laws of cinema. Cinema has need of an elite, but that elite will be influential only to the extent that it realistically understands the sociological demands of the Seventh Art."
"We will not only ask of the critic that in his way he be a sociologist of art, but also that he have a minimal technical competence."
"But one sometimes angrily wonders if those who undertake to write of the cinema have even an elementary notion of its means of expression, because if they do, they give no hint of it."
"If these basics were not lost sight of, nine times out of ten we would have critical unanimity at least about the workmanship of a film."
"An indisputable competence in other domains is, therefore, not license enough to write impressionistic criticism of the Seventh Art, no matter how witty and amusing this criticism may be to read. We want a little more respect, first for the cinema and then for the reader. "
"In this universe without grandeur, simple honesty has assumed the proportions of genius in their eyes. When they come across real grandeur, however, they run out of steam and are completely happy and content, after that momentary flood, to get back to the reassuring level of weekly production. Criticism respectful of its art should not lose sight of certain scales of value and should cling to them, perhaps ascending to higher echelons only two or three times a year. But they would have to cling to their severity with a little more perseverance."
"Now, many of our critics are afraid of being severe, and when they cease to be severe they simultaneously cease to be just."
"A good number of pre-war serious critics have therefore given up the struggle and ceded their place to inoffensive and amusing chroniclers."
"Now we don't ask all that much of a film before qualifying it as "good." We ask that it not be stupid and that it be skilfully shot by making opportune use of the means of expression proper to the cinema. The first judgement is intellectual -- we have said what we think of that -- and the second is technical. After all, two carpenters would agree about the solidity of a table, and we don't really see why our critics, if they knew their profession, couldn't also agree about perfectly objective facts."
"There is no art that is not supported by a culture, and there is no culture without historical judgement. No doubt where cinema is concerned, we are faced with an art whose past productions are still for all practical purposes inaccessible; but this is only another reason for criticism to make every effort to assume the responsibility for the cinematic culture of its readers. As it happens, more than one of these readers has witnessed the development of cinema; in the absence of documents, he would need only to have his memory refreshed. Cinema already has its primitives and its classics, but where most criticism is concerned, it is useless to look for an allusion to this history, for a rapprochement in time or in space, for the recognition of an influence. One would think that, like the intangible shadows on the screen, this unusual art has no past, leaves no traces, has no depth. It is more than time to invent a criticism in relief."
" what it necessary is an aesthetic judgement on the style of a work. But I don't forbid my critic to make such judgements -- I merely doubt his authority when he has been unable to condemn as he should, for its stupidity and bad workmanship, this week's hit. An indisputable competence in other domains is, therefore, not license enough to write impressionistic criticism of the Seventh Art, no matter how witty and amusing this criticism may be to read. We want a little more respect, first for the cinema and then for the reader."
"We are ashamed to have to remind readers of such basic verities, because at bottom we ask nothing more than what is naturally expected of all other criticism: a minimum of intelligence, of culture, and of honesty. But isn't this simply to remind readers that cinema is an art, if only potentially? Though they occasionally proclaim this, some critics feel free to treat it as though it weren't, and they no longer respect the basic laws of criticism. Do they really think they are helping cinema with this philandering or with this somewhat condescending insiders' complicity which presides over the witty reports, the poetic observations, or the kind of accounts of what's going on around town that takes the place of cinematic criticism in a would-be literary press?"
"But this topicality should have a beneficial influence on criticism by emphasizing its militant character. "
"The daily press could provide a synopsis of the film and give a succinct opinion about its technical and artistic merits. In delivering this opinion it could make known the director, the dialoguist, etc, recalling as necessary their previous works. Even as it supplies what the popular public expects above all -- an account of the plot -- it would work to gain acceptance for the idea that a film's worth items from its auteurs and that it is much safer to put one's faith in the director than in the leading man."
"Let us begin by distinguishing -- we will return to this point -- between oral criticism and written criticism. The first is, in any case, more effective than the second because it is more competent, more abundant, tougher and more sincere; but the one cannot do without the other. The press assures a certain flurry of notoriety to the judgments that competent circles have made about a film. These debates must not take place behind closed doors."
"Because the cinema does not have specialized theaters or public, because films necessarily address themselves to the entire public, cinematic works are treated as though they too did not have their genres and their hierarchies. As a result, films that have nothing in common have similar labels applied to them."
"The first hierarchy must therefore initially be established among the genres themselves."
"A film should not only be judged on its absolute value but for the effort that it represents under given production conditions, and for the progress in that production that it makes possible. That is why snobbism must be utilized by the critic."
"There is no longer any need to make an apologia for snobbism. In the modern corporate world, snobbism is initially the patronage of imbeciles. Since the mass of these unconscious Maecenas have no reasons for their opinions, the problem becomes one of an effective politic of snobbism within the more general framework of a politic of cinema."
"lower-grade snobbism: the depraved cult of the star."
"Snobbism is a militant form of taste."
"We don't ask of weekly criticism that it be a comparative history of cinema, we ask only that the critic not be unaware of this history and not limit it to the current season."
"Sacrifices will have to be made to current importance, mundanity, and style. There is something even sadder than a bad critic -- criticism which isn't read."
"This criticism which appears in the weekly press is important: it is the criticism that can recruit a cultivated public for the cinema; it is the criticism that creates movements of opinion. That is why it must be strongly militant; that is also why its lack of rigour strikes us as a betrayal, a squandering of a wonderful opportunity."
" Without ceasing to be militant, this criticism could exactly reflect the oral criticism mentioned above. Comparable on all points to literary, musical, or art criticism, it would cede nothing to them in terms of technical and historical erudition."
p.s. Thanks to Doug cummings for providing the English version of this article.
Continue reading the final essay of Bazin on film criticism : Reflexion sur la Critique (1958)
10 mai 2006
Here is the ranking of countries in 4 categories for 2005 :
Some analytical notes on the stats shall be posted later in the comments below
[EDIT] adding cumulative stats for all European countries under "Europe" for reference.
See 2008 World Cinema Statistics here
03 mai 2006
During nearly 3h, this documentary reviews movies shot on location in Los Angeles in a long series of clips to figure how the city hosting the cinema industry Meccha is represented by Hollywood fiction films. And of course this collection is ripe for goofs, discontinuities, inconsistencies and outrageous shorthands. The irony towards a notoriously superficial popular culture is lacking however... I didn't understand why the narrator took such a pompous tone and dramatized every geographical misinformation as if anyone would expect fiction drama (especially pop flicks whiches are the bulk of the films cited) to be educational, and pay attention to map accuracy, and buildings real-life functions... Everybody knows that cinema uses reconstructed sets or squatt actual locations to refurbish them with a new set design to suit the script requirements and material constraints. Shutting down a public street for a day of shooting is very expensive and much difficult to pull off, so geographical continuities are the least worry of movie producers. Let alone the audience who couldn't tell the difference anyway.
This ends up being a refined trivia factoid for IMDb geeks, which is amusing from a cinephile point of view, as thematic or geographical parallels are drawn between movies made years apart, across a diverse array of genres and situations. But it hardly justifies the intellectual pamphlet suggesting a scholarly study of social and political contexts should be at the heart of every bad movie production. How utopic and naive. Thom Andersen, who speaks through his narrator, introduces himself as a bitter native inhabitant from Los Angeles who blames Hollywood for failing to document a faithful rendition of the city he loves.
For instance, Hollywood initiated the use of the acronym shorthand "L.A.", he concludes : only a city with an inferiority complex could tolerate such offense... I guess same goes for NYC and DC then.
Hollywood movies are dubious and unreliable? What's new? Like if it mattered... That's why they shouldn't be taken at face value.
I mean the geography angle is probably not the first in mind to scrutinize the relevance of popular cinema culture. These people can't even get a plot straight. Deceiving screenwriting in mainstream entertainment is a global issue that affects not only the very place where a cinema industry has implanted itself (Roma-Cinecitta, Bombay-Bollywood. Moscow-Mosfilm, Paris...), but whichever lookalike location is the cheapest to respect the budget. Is there any city in the world that could claim an acute rendition by the movies? It's always postcards, stereotypes and embellishment...
I've never been to LA, and I don't think I got a more comprehensive picture of the city afterward than I had acquired through movies and TV... The documentary essentially cites fiction footage evidence, and too rarely compares with newsreel or reportage images. I wish Thom Andersen had been out in the street with his camera and offered his own travelogue of the genuine city life, to confront fiction to reality in the educational way that would correct the misconceptions propagated by Hollywood.
Andersen speaks of high-brow tourist filmmakers like Antonioni, Hitchcock, Polanski, Jacques Deray, Jacques Demy (incidentally all non-american and auteurs) who give a better representation of the city than low-brow tourist directors who make inconsequential plot-driven, cliché-cluttered flicks... who would have guessed? The name-dropping is a little facile just to make cheap cinema look cheaper with such a manichaean contrast.
I don't mean to defend mainstream flicks, but that's the least flaw, most superficial issue, one could reproach them... And LA doesn't need an onscreen presence to exist. Andersen seems concerned by a "literal" neorealist depiction of the city. Paradoxally, his grief takes the movies too literally. The utopic/dystopic idealization/stylization of the city, its artistic interpretation, high-brow (art-film) or low-brow (TV series or commercial), are what convey the strongest mythology in popular culture. The raison d'être of pop culture isn't to document but to translate and extrapolate the people's secret fantasy.
It's an easy game to pick random scenes and perform a reality check. The whole documentary is set up to illustrate a these established beforehand, and the biased selection of clips tells. Is it fair to Hollywood trends? Is it even fair to Los Angeles? There is truth in there, nothing that we didn't know already though, but a different series of counter-examples could as easily make a cheerful apologia of the affective relation between Hollywood and Los Angeles' real-life locations.
The project sounds excellent in a book form, with pictures, because the commentary is quite literary, written with solemn and emphatic tone. Unfortunately, the narrator's grave discourse and the funny zapping-images seem to run after two separate goals. If it's an homage to LA in movies the documentary shouldn't take itself so seriously, if it's meant to restore the true face of LA then the documentary shouldn't rely so much on the poorest pop culture.
It's a really interesting overview of the role of a location in fiction movies, to study social environment, political implications, cultural evolution in visual media. This historical patchwork through cultural and economical generations explores the representation of clichés such as policemen (LAPD), cop killers (bad cops, dead cops), social segregation (flatlands, hilltops, downtown), transportation (streetcar, bus, taxi, traffic jam, highway interchange, gas station, train station, airport, walk...), architectural styles (Modernism, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, revival...), tourists, clubs, landmarks...
The second half gets more investigative. It's full of food for thoughts regarding social and urban studies (demolition of some areas, racial segregation, cultural communities, public housing, public space), as well as it's historical developments (water supply, beach and hills constructions, land speculation).
Finally the last half-hour becomes a loving cinephile homage to a very specific quarter of LA cinema, the black independant filmmakers. With longer clips of Kent MacKenzie, Charles Burnett, Haile Gerima and Bill Woodberry, a neo-realist contemplative B&W cinematography, portraying the struggle of ghetto communities. An aesthetics reminding early Jarmusch that I would like to watch now. The Exiles (1961/MacKenzie), Bush Mama (1976/Gerima), Killer of Sheep (1978/Burnett), Bless Their Little Hearts (1984/Woodbury). These are the only titles the documentary made me want to track down.
The documentaristic research in Hollywood archive is impressive and certainly worthwhile. There is enough material for 2 films, and I would have prefered them treated separately for coherence. Each with their own due tone and angle, the first humorous for derision, zapping through clips and cinephile trivia (with a more appropriate commentary) and the second more serious and indepth, historical and political (with the same sententious commentary).
The film received excellent ratings so I expect vociferous disagreement, and it's ok. I just hope it wasn't offending for me to express a somehow dissenting opinion for relativisation of the general praise.
(s) ++ (w) +++ (m) + (i) ++ (c) ++
Recommended related articles (more positive review than mine):
- L.A. Existential by Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Readers
- Collateral Damage: Los Angeles Continues Playing Itself by Thom Andersen at Cinemascope
- Doug Cummings at Filmjourney