Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#76 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:58 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:58 pm
Zardi Spotting is so addicting that now it leaks into watching other auteurs' work too. Just in the last couple days he has popped up for me in several Vadim movies and an Oury-- directors I'm not likely to ever mistake for Chabrol! But no one delivers a baseline consistent level of Zardi like Chabrol
I had no idea he was so prolific, working with Godard, Bresson, Resnais and Melville amongst others. If anyone deserved a dedicated thread and mash up it must surely be the divine Dominique.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#77 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jul 06, 2019 2:40 pm

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:53 pm
nitin wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2019 9:26 am
Any opinions on A Girl Cut in Two?
Watched it twice to see if I could find anything of interest. I would have been better off eating glass. Ultra-poor and confined to the lowest of lower echelons of Chabrol's output.Thank god he didn't go out on this one Bellamy is no great shakes either but at least is not a mess.
Coming up strongly on the rails in the final furlong are Violette Noziere, A story of Women and Betty.
I don't dislike it as much as you, but it's a mess. I never understood why so many people went gaga over it on its initial release, and revisiting didn't answer the question. Benoît Magimel's bizarre rich fop act is the film's saving grace and he and Chabrol's son as the slimy lawyer in the last act are what topple this over into the "okay" category for me. Mathilda May pops up again to more or less just be called "still hot" by several characters, but they're not wrong. As a side note, the Artificial Eye DVD has some of the worst, low-effort subtitles I've ever suffered through-- among the flaws, the most galling is surely the decision by whoever made them to translate the protagonist's last name for the length of the film (Neige = Snow)

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#78 Post by nitin » Sat Jul 06, 2019 10:17 pm

Thanks for that. I have only seen a handful of Chabrols to date (La Ceremonie, L’Enfer and Merci Pour Le Chocolat) and have liked all of them but looks like I can safely skip that one (although some of the others appear less accessible in terms of good quality dvds/blus available).

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#79 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:31 pm

L'Oeil du malin (1962): Like Ophelia there’s that first-person narration by an anti-protagonist who has a nihilistic edge. This character is far more self-aware than the average person, but I appreciated this quality as it allowed me to remove myself from the psychology and give full attention to the actions that result from bruised egos. This all adds up to a pretty surface-level simplified profile because we get that narration Chabrol doesn’t keep us distanced, curious or guessing. When taken with Chabrol’s other works that focus more realistically on people who either don’t show, tell, or know all that’s happening inside their brains and hearts, this hyper-aware clearcut psychology reveals that aware or not these actions have the same value. While I enjoyed his narrative plotting at times, some of our lead’s inner dialogue or tit-for-tat thoughts were a little too much, from deliberately disturbing people when feeling slighted by not being invited to taking more drastic action as a result of other forms of rejection (“he humiliated me so I planned my revenge” or something very close is an actual line in this). Still, I really enjoyed the film a lot for infusing this darkness yet again into a film shot like its nouvelle vague cousins. Chabrol’s form grows over time and I love his late period but there’s a part of me that wishes he made more films in this form and style, because he’s so damn good at it- in fact between the skills he demonstrates here and in Les bonnes femmes he’s right up there with Godard for the top at utilizing the new wave techniques.

Forcing us to hang out with this guy as our protagonist not from afar but literally opening us to his mind and trapping us there, inseparable for 75 minutes, felt compulsively watchable and disturbing at the same time. He reminded me of Highsmith’s Tom Ripley but not antisocial/sociopathic, rather narcissistic, cynical and solipsistic, while conscious and open to the laws that govern his sociological actions and reactions. This is a character who does feel and care and still chooses harm- which is arguably just as frightening as a Ripley. I loved the scenes of him following his desired woman around, plotting calmly while I was sitting nervously wondering how far he’ll go, believing immediately of how capable he is at causing harm yet harnessed by Chabrol, not allowed to be separated from his journey which became mine, and feeling culpable for what occurs! Perhaps this isn’t as groundbreaking as many of his other films, but I loved it, and while I know I haven’t even touched the bourgeois themes that inspire some of the resentment, they mattered a distant second to the reactionary psychology at play from simple human to human jealousy without the social class variable.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#80 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:58 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:31 pm
L'Oeil du malin (1962): Like Ophelia there’s that first-person narration by an anti-protagonist who has a nihilistic edge. While I enjoyed his narrative plotting at times, some of our lead’s inner dialogue or tit-for-tat thoughts were a little too much, from deliberately disturbing people when feeling slighted by not being invited to taking more drastic action as a result of other forms of rejection (“he humiliated me so I planned my revenge” or something very close is an actual line in this).

I wrote up some thoughts on this earlier in this thread but specifically on this point I think the die is cast well before the 'moment of humiliation'. I wouldn't invest too much stock in this being a massive tipping point as his finger is very much already squeezing a hair trigger. Importantly the narrative is in the past tense which puts a terrific slant on the accenting of motive and emotion at any particular point in what appears as contemporaneous action.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#81 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:56 am

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:58 am
I wrote up some thoughts on this earlier in this thread but specifically on this point I think the die is cast well before the 'moment of humiliation'. I wouldn't invest too much stock in this being a massive tipping point as his finger is very much already squeezing a hair trigger. Importantly the narrative is in the past tense which puts a terrific slant on the accenting of motive and emotion at any particular point in what appears as contemporaneous action.
That's a great point- I hadn't considered the past tense leaving space for reflection in connecting his thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in hindsight. It does give an entirely new spin on the film though, especially if you consider his intense and uncharacteristic reaction at the end of the film compared to what precedes it, ultimately making it more characteristic and the first 95% of the film read in a new context. This would then suppose that these lines are not actually delivered cold with confidence, but rather cold with self-damnation, appearing without emotion out of powerless to affect the past. I actually like the film far less now, for what made it work despite the small gripes I mentioned is in presenting us with this dangerous person who we must follow and align with who is self-aware yet intentionally harming others. Take away the twisted intent, and you have an even simpler and less interesting film. I still thought it was beautiful to look at though and may still make my final list.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#82 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:46 am

As the Chabrolfest wheezes to an end and Zardi's balloons deflate and shrivel a couple of notes about some new-ish books.
Jacob Leigh's book 'The late films of Claude Chabrol' (The last nine from Cérémonie onwards) and Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze's 'Chabrol's aesthetics of Opacity'.
I have only just received these and very swiftly browsed through them.
Principally I wanted to give Bridesmaid another chance in case I was being unduly harsh but although Khoze offers a welcome foregrounding of Chabrol's mise-en-scène in her overall approach and particular analysis of Bridesmaid with reference to classic Romanticism,The Gothic influence and Fairy tale schemata there was nothing really to overturn my scepticism about the central relationship and performances.
Leigh offers a similar but more lightweight argument but when it comes to this statement I really had to ask "Really"
If anyone wants to back up this assertion in a more compelling way I am very willing to listen-
"As the film progresses, tension develops between the depiction of events from Philippe's point of view and the stylistic excess.This enables us to comprehend that Philippe is ignoring Senta's mental disturbance and is responsible for Senta's second murder"
Conflating these two arguments together to arrive at Philippe in some kind of Ultra-Romanticist trance state still doesn't wash with me but at least I can't be accused of not trying.

Lastly I gave Les Innocents another bash and was a bit wary as I had read that Chabrol hated Steiger's pomposity and ego-antics and even was at odds with Romy Schneider who baulked at the farcical elements and wanted to play the tragedy queen to the hilt. Consequently I spent the first act with gritted teeth but as the plot thickened and Steiger's antics waned I got drawn further and further in. From memory I think this is possibly Chabrol's most overt foregrounding of sexuality and the blend of acting styles and the farcical with the tragic seems to work in its favour despite all odds. Definite lower tier listing but will be in there.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#83 Post by knives » Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:27 am

I don't particularly like The Bridesmaid, but that seems like a very straightforward reading of the text where it is obvious that not only is she mentally ill, but that he is aware and willing to ignore that for sex.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#84 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:57 am

knives wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:27 am
I don't particularly like The Bridesmaid, but that seems like a very straightforward reading of the text where it is obvious that not only is she mentally ill, but that he is aware and willing to ignore that for sex.
Quite.That was my take as you can see from earlier posts and also why the film failed for me . However In the quoted text we seem to be asked to divine his willingness to ignore her instability due to the construction of the mise-en-scene which I find equally hard to swallow. The other book makes a far more compelling and denser argument with reference to the Gothic influence Romanticism et al but my overriding problem with all of this is the lack of conviction in characterisation and performance.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#85 Post by knives » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:33 am

That sounds like a flaw in the movie rather than a flaw with the arguments. Chabrol could easily have been striving towards both of those objects and just not do a great job of it. To say, for example, that this is a deadly gender switch to something like Wuthering Heights makes sense from the text of the film even as I don't personally think the idea works in context.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#86 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:01 pm

I think you’re both right but to go a bit further the reason it works for me is that his actions based in sex aren’t entirely conscious in my eyes, but like in many relationships, one ignores the warning signs subconsciously (not unconsciously, there is some awareness but it gets buried repeatedly) due to sex as well as fear of confrontation resulting in complacency, all of this masked as love. I don’t damn the main character and don’t think Chabrol does either, but instead exposes his psychology from an objective distance- as he does best- and makes this character far from a hero but relatable all the same. We may be able to see the flaws and dangers in his actions, or non-actions, but the dynamic is far more complex than his consciousness to her mental illness and purposeful ignorance for sex. I would also add that he suppressed this awareness of the warning signs not only for sex but to service his idealization of homeostasis in the relationship- basically ignoring so that he won’t need to act/disrupt the relationship. Instead of being about sex I believe it’s fear that affects most of his actions, though it’s certainly both and the sexual component provides the very necessary motivations to tip the scale towards complacency and suppression via rationalization.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#87 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:25 pm

Went through a few of Chabrol’s shorts recently for the first time. Coup de vice is a nice little thriller, switching our viewpoint continuously within the 9 minute runtime to shake us up more than the script would alone. The film plays as a sort of inverted chapter one of The House That Jack Built but here we get POV-like shots within the car, uncomfortable close-ups of faces, necks, skin, and finally abruptly removed shots from outside, rain falling and windshield wipers on, which is when some of the most intense moments take place- when we are most removed from the action, triggering our sense of spectator-awareness. Chabrol loves to construct ideas about fear in lack of control often from knowing others, ourselves, or any authentic values, and in using the form of cinema to break our control over the frame, disrupting our stability on multiple fronts. One of the better short thrillers I’ve seen, though I’d call it more of a horror film.

La parure at first appears to be Chabrol’s clearest presentation of the class struggle within bourgeois culture, outlining his “hell is other people” theme in a manner that’s a tad obvious. But then things get deeper as he slowly descends us down a rabbit hole that becomes more and more ironic until the final shoe drops and Chabrol laughs at the bourgeois in a novel way, exposing its fakery through striking metaphor. This film probably could have been slightly shorter if not for Chabrol providing extra screen time to flesh out the strain on the central marital relationship due to these anxieties from bourgeois concerns. I enjoyed seeing this side of things often ignored and it added layers of significance, making the film feel more true despite its metaphorical fairy tale structure, striking a very authentic chord in its exposition of the real drama and marital effects that exist within a world of inauthentic socially constructed ideologies. The extra punch comes from the notion that all could have been avoided not because of the apparent bourgeois tag of status and greed, but because of the socially acceptable action of remaining silent, dishonest, and isolated against the risk of truth, not even considered as an option. Society isn’t just a space of social resentment and power games, it’s far less action-packed, bloated with detachment and fake stakes that bring about our own solipsistic downfall!

Le petit fut is less complex and doesn’t mask its central theme as actually being about greed, but Chabrol also uses his adaptation of this social satire to poke at the dynamics and politeness between people, forsaking logic for the facade of pleasant interaction. A sort of inversion of La parure where characters do interact repeatedly but whether avoiding or joining, the interactions remain a ruse in both films. This one is quite funny actually and plays like a Faustian black comedy. I loved the entire cast and felt they perfectly executed the sense of humor Chabrol was intending. Highly recommended, and may make my final list as it uses its brief length wisely to strike a funny bone outside the norm of Chabrol’s oeuvre, uncovering more talents the man has to offer.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#88 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:44 am

You might want to hold onto those "I'm voting for this Chabrol because it's actually funny" inclinations for the two Au siècle de Maupassant entries! Funnily enough, all three of the shorts you wrote up star actors from La fille coupée en deux, so they'd be good bonuses if Criterion ever decided to grab that one from IFC

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#89 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:00 pm

Well ain’t that the truth! These last viewings have shown a lighter side to Chabrol, less focused on calculative manipulation, letting events play out more loosely in ways that accentuate the comedy inherent in the notion of any number of two or more people with different minds and personalities attempting to tackle the same task or mission. Le petit vieux des Batignolles works as a lowkey Holmes and Watson buddy-detective movie. The actors are strong and their chemistry is stronger, allowing a lot of the intended humor to get a clean landing. This may be less of a straight comedy-of-manners than Le petit fut, which is probably the type of humor you’d expect from Chabrol given his interest in finding original ways to critique the ideologies of classism. However I’ve always felt that he uses bourgeois systems and culture as a tool to provide a lens into the mysterious ironies that occur in collectives and individual human psychologies when we interact with each other and our environments. In this way I think his humor is at its best when presenting any conflict between two people (conflict defined loosely here, and can refer to two characters simply not understanding one another or mild friction due to conflicting personalities, as in Le petit vieux des Batignolles). Le fauteuil hanté continues the pairing of offbeat personalities that complement one another nicely and derive humor from the nature of the pairing, though instead of sticking to a constant duo there’s movement between the various characters, with more emphasis on the comedy-of-manners style of bourgeois politeness attempting to mask the lack of confidence in themselves and other general social insecurities. Then add the central plot which is utterly ridiculous and presented in a hysterical manner (an early onscreen death had me cackling- not exactly an expected response, especially in a Chabrol film!) and you get another fun comedy-mystery movie that keeps with the investigation-mystery formula but with more room to take odd turns than Le petit vieux des Batignolles mostly by issuing constant introductions to new characters, spaces, and other variables to complicate the plot and confuse the characters. Watching them try to figure it out is such a blast I didn’t even care about the actual mystery after the first five minutes. Thanks domino for finding and recommending these late-period tv gems!

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#90 Post by david hare » Sat Jul 20, 2019 12:32 am

Anyone here seen the new (very good) transfer from KinoLorber of le Scandale/Champagne Murders?

I had always missed it, until now. For the record (not to kill discussion) I loathed it. In large part for the hideous dubbing, as the Kino only supplies the US Universal dub.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#91 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:47 am

It’s more complicated than that— the US version was shot concurrently and only Ronet and Audran were dubbed (Perkins and Furneaux both speak fluent English and French), with completely different dialog commissioned from English-speaking writers by Chabrol (so it’s intentionally not a translation of the Gegauff script) and with a heavily altered finale— so the Champagne Murders is a fully alternate version of Le scandale, not a dub

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#92 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:54 am

One of my favorite aspects of Le fauteuil hanté, and another reason why it's such a great note for Chabrol to go out on, is that it's thoroughly the work of an old man. Other than Fandor, I don't think anyone in this is even remotely under 50, and Chabrol's concerns and cares and focus are fully occupied with the various follies of these elder statesmen and exhibit no interest whatsoever in youth. A much needed contrast to his portrayal of the ineffective young protagonist of La fille coupée en deux, at least! I'd like to think that if he had a few more years in him we might have gotten more films like this, twinkling on the piano keys as Godard once put it

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#93 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Sat Jul 20, 2019 12:07 pm

This whole enterprise of review and re-appraisal has become one of Snakes and Ladders. Presumed certainties slithering down the scales and others scaling up the rungs. Perhaps none so much as A Double Tour which was teetering on the edge of the dustbin until a second and third viewing made the scales drop from my eyes (I know, I know don't pick at the metaphor it leaves a scab). After the first 10 minutes I was ready to wrap up what seemed a lurid 'Carry-On style sixties sex romp but fortunately stuck with it to appreciate what is probably Chabrol's most stylised theoretical experiment in terms of camera movement and narrative construction . From the opening pan across a modern Japanese style open plan living space strewn with broken and contorted dolls not to speak of a prostrate body we are in a world not a million miles from Argento and pals. This followed by the major characters and rude mechanicals being introduced in purely farcical terms before the eponymous 'Double tour' device clicks in to orbit through temporal space and explore the disintegration of bourgeois pretence of morality . The mood change pivots firmly around the character of Richard (played by André Jocelyn later to appear in a similar role in Ophelia) as a sweaty self-loathing destroyer in high-octane expressionist mode which wouldn't look out of place in a 1920s UFA production. This issue of Chabrol's fondness for mixing the farcical with tragedic or thriller genre hadn't really hit home with me to such a degree until this recent mass viewing and made me realise that its is a tightrope that for me has resulted in serious falls viz Les Noces rouges or examples of virtuosity - Les Innocents Chapelier and Les Bonnes Femmes to name just some that spring to mind. As a footnote apparently the love scenes from Les Noces that were such a turn off for me were following suggestions from Audran and Piccoli to play it like Bunuel would have done after recently completing a film with him. Better advice might have been to stick to his own guns.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#94 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:05 pm

Apart from your continued haranguing on Les noces rouges like it’s Les novices or something, I agree with your post— A double tour was a massive upgrade on revisit for me as well, and the biggest such discrepancy between memory and reality thus far. The drawn out tension in the last act reminds me quite a bit of Robert Wagner’s maddeningly protracted first murder in Gerd Oswald’s A Kiss Before Dying, I wonder if Chabrol saw that one?

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#95 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:31 pm

"Continued haranguing"!!! ..Moi?

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#96 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:50 pm

Which version did you watch of A double tour? Someone created a fan edit on back channels that incorporates different footage missing or altered between the Kino DVD and the Japanese Blu-ray, and it's an astonishingly well-made composite cut. Watching it makes it a real headscratcher why any of the material would have been cut between the versions in the first place, though...

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#97 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:35 am

The early Studio Canal issue i.e. not the 2013 re-issue. Not aware of any discrepancies. It's also available in a SC Belmondo 5 film box set.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#98 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:53 pm

La Fille coupée en deux: This is an odd duck- it’s got a lot going on that I admire and yet doesn’t successfully materialize its themes. Chabrol repeats familiar depictions of reactionary behavior to rejection and perceived inadequacy, and finally appears to delve into the ironic reactionary behavior of pulling away from those who show increasing interest in us, a counterproductive human response in social dynamics. However he isn’t too successful on this new front, and part of the problem is that Paul is perhaps the most obnoxious character in any Chabrol film I’ve seen so far, enough so to forget this concept since all I wanted was to get away from him myself (though none of the characters are likeable, so this is probably intentional, yet it doesn’t make me like the film any more). This shift in ‘the chase,’ pulling and pushing in accordance with who is pursuing, is colored in better in Charles’s relationship with Gabrielle though and so maybe this isn’t exactly a complete failure in those aims after all, but it’s just not a tight film (in fact it’s pretty sloppy) and doesn’t seem to have an agenda. It’s about jealousy, mental health issues, relationship dynamics, attraction, bourgeois customs, and any other regular Chabrol themes, and begins to cover new territory, but none of it amounts to anything of much value. Sad, because this has “potential” written all over it.

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#99 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:17 pm

REMINDER: Lists are due one week from today

I've received all of one list so far, but you all have a week to finalize yours before submitting! C'mon gang, you can do it

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Re: Auteur List: Claude Chabrol - Discussion and Defenses

#100 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:04 pm

I suspect it’ll do reasonably well in this project but I’ll make one last plug for Les bonnes femmes, to anyone who considers themselves fans of the early 60s French New Wave and hasn’t gotten around to it yet. This is one of the very best, most playful with (and within) the medium, and also thematically dense films of that era, and perhaps of films period. Hyperbolic yes, but while Chabrol has many, many masterpieces, this is the one I can’t get out of my head and that will likely haunt, provoke, humor, captivate, and entertain me through the test of time.

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