Agnès Varda

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Michael
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Agnès Varda

#1 Post by Michael » Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:16 pm

Agnès Varda (1928 - )


Image

In my films, I always wanted to make people to see deeply. I don't want to show things, but to give people the desire to see.

FILMOGRAPHY

La pointe-courte (1954) - Criterion

L'opera mouffe / Diary of a Pregnant Woman (1958) - Criterion / cine-tamaris

Du cote de la cote (1958) Criterion / cine-tamaris

La cocotte d'azur (1958)

O saisons, o chateaux (1958) - cine-tamaris

Les fiances du pont Macdonald (1961) - Criterion / cine-tamaris

Cleo de 5 a 7 / Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) - Criterion / cine-tamaris

Salut les cubains (1963) - cine-tamaris

Elsa la rose (1963) - cine-tamaris

Le bonheur (1965) - Criterion / cine-tamaris

Les creatures / The Creatures (1966)

Oncle Yanco / Uncle Janco (1967) - cine-tamaris

Loin du Vietnam / Far from Vietnam (1967)

Black Panthers / Huey (1968) - cine-tamaris

Lions Love (1969)

Reponse de femmes: Notre corps, notre sexe / Women Reply (1975) cine-tamaris

Plaisir d'amour en Iran (1976) - cine-tamaris

Daguerreotypes (1976) - cine-tamaris

L'une chante, l'autre pas / One Sings, the Other Doesn't (1977)

Murs, murs / Mural Murals (1981)

Documenteur (1981)

Ulysse (1982) - cine-tamaris

Les dites cariatides / The So-Called Caryatids (1984) - cine-tamaris

7p.,cuis., s. de b.,..a saisir (1984) - cine-tamaris

Vagabond (1985) - Criterion / cine-tamaris

T'as de beaux escaliers tu sais (1986) - cine-tamaris

Kung-Fu Master (1987)

Jane B. par Agnes V. (1988)

Jacquot de Nantes (1991)

Les demoiselles ont eu 25 ans / The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993)

Les cent et une nuits de Simon Cinema / A Hundred and One Nights (1995)- Fox Lorber

L' univers de Jacques Demy / The World of Jacques Demy (1995) - Fox Lorber

Les glaneurs et la glaneuse / The Gleaners & I (2000) - Zeitgeist / cine-tamaris

Les glaneurs et la glaneuse...Les deux ans apres / The Gleaners & I: Two Years Later (2002)

Le lion volatil (2003) - cine-tamaris

Ydessa, lesours et etc. (2004) - cine-tamaris

Cinevardaphoto (2004) - cine-tamaris

Der Viennale '04 - Trailer (2004)

Quelques veuves de Noirmoutier (2006)

Les plages d'Agnes (2006)

FILMS

La pointe-courte

Cleo From 5 to 7

Le bonheur

Vagabond

RECOMMENDED WEB SITES

Agnes Varda's site

cine-tamaris

Senses of Cinema - Agnes Varda

Senses of Cinema - The Gleaners & I

Strictly Film School - Le Bonheur

Strictly Film School -Vagabond

Wikipedia

Museum of Modern Art - Exhibition

indieWIRE - Interview

Gerald Perry - Interview
Last edited by Michael on Sun Feb 24, 2008 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#2 Post by v_konigsberg » Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:41 pm

I'm interested in Agnes Varda`s work, but haven't seen any of her movies yet I should start chronological or could you recommend me one to begin with.

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#3 Post by domino harvey » Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:49 pm

v_konigsberg wrote:I'm interested in Agnes Varda`s work, but haven't seen any of her movies yet I should start chronological or could you recommend me one to begin with.
He's going to recommend Cleo 5 to 7

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#4 Post by Michael » Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:19 pm

You're right about that, domino.

Start with Cleo. And then Le Bonheur and Vagabond - all equal masterpieces. Save Pointe-courte for last, it's a decent film but with astounding photography as expected from Varda.
Last edited by Michael on Sun Mar 09, 2008 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#5 Post by Kinsayder » Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:14 pm


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#6 Post by tartarlamb » Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:13 pm

There's going to be a series of her work playing at the NW Film Center in Portland (the Whitsell) in July, including her one American picture, the Warhol-inspired Lion's Love, which frankly sounds awful (but which I wouldn't miss for the world!).

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Re: Agnes Varda

#7 Post by Perkins Cobb » Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:51 pm

I'm always inclined to stick up for a) Agnes and b) weird American movies made by carpetbagging European or Asian filmmakers (what a great retrospective series that would be). Even given that, I'd have to say Lion's Love is pretty close to unwatchable.

Also noteworthy, Aggie's Les Creatures (1965) is playing in New York on June 30 as part of Alliance Francaise's Michel Piccoli series. It's pretty rare, and I've never seen it; the Film Forum cancelled it at the last minute in its 2000 (or 2001?) Varda retro because they couldn't get a print.

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Re: Agnes Varda

#8 Post by benny profane » Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:45 am

I haven't read anything written about Cleo from 5 to 7 so maybe I am asking something that has been discussed to death, but did anyone notice the recurrence of mirrors throughout the film? Quite often Cleo is shown through a mirror, or looking at herself in a mirror. Since the film is usually seen as Cleo's existential crisis, and mirrors (or the lack thereof) function as a sort of symbol in existential philosophy (famously denied in Hell to the characters in Sartre's No Exit), I wondered if this was intentional or served a larger purpose in the film.

First post too. Didn't want to have my account deleted on account of inactivity...

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Re: Agnes Varda

#9 Post by Michael » Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:25 am

You may want to start examining what the themes of the film are. And then figure out how the use of mirrors fit into those themes, what does it represent or serve? For instance, in one scene, Cleo drops a mirror and it breaks into shards on the cement. The shards reflecting the shards of Cleo's face. It relives Cleo's intense fear, her intense superstition, a bad omen she thinks for a second during an life-transforming escape from the bubble she once lived in. Many directors have used mirrors to reflect the characters themselves, their inners, etc. - Dreyer, Sirk, Fassbinder, naming a few examples.

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Re: Agnes Varda

#10 Post by zedz » Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:58 pm

And Varda in the film is very consciously playing with the idea of Cleo as a vain, superficial creature (pop singer, shopper etc.), but although the mirrors are tied up with that idea, Varda is well aware that the literary symbolism of mirrors is much more complex than this (e.g. self-examination, unwanted insight, bad luck, deception) and brings many of those ideas into play. Mirrors are handy talismans in a film that deals with surface / depth paradoxes.

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Re: Agnes Varda

#11 Post by Tribe » Sat Jun 27, 2009 9:46 pm

Living for Cinema, and Through It
June 28, 2009
Film
Living for Cinema, and Through It
By A. O. SCOTT

IS there something about France — the diet, perhaps, or the health-care system — that accounts for the extraordinary creative longevity of so many of its filmmakers? A half-century after the New Wave crested and crashed ashore, a remarkable number of directors associated with that movement are still making movies. Jean-Luc Godard and Claude Chabrol are approaching 80, and while Mr. Godard appears to have slowed his pace a bit, Mr. Chabrol continues to produce sinister, elegant studies of passion and power at the rate of about one a year. Jacques Rivette, 81, and Eric Rohmer, who turned 89 this year, recently have made ambitious and well-regarded films, and Alain Resnais, now 87, was seen in Cannes last month flouting the red-carpet dress code, collecting a lifetime-achievement award and presenting his latest movie.

And then there is Agnès Varda, the only female filmmaker associated with the Nouvelle Vague at its high-water mark and now, at 81, an artist of undiminished vigor, curiosity and intelligence. That is certainly how she appears in “The Beaches of Agnès,” her latest film, which opens in New York on Wednesday, after winning a César (the French equivalent of an Oscar) for best documentary feature in February. Conceived as Ms. Varda’s 80th birthday approached, “Beaches” is a cinematic memoir in two senses: an autobiography rendered in carefully chosen, meaning-rich images and the account of a life lived in, through and for cinema.

There is an elegiac undercurrent to the film — visits to familiar places that have changed over the years, recollections of the dead — but it is not so much concerned with taking stock or summing up as it is with the restless exploration of memory. “I wanted to be like a bird,” Ms. Varda said in an interview one wintry morning in Manhattan a few months ago. “I wanted to be free in my memory, to go from one part to another and see what I would find.” An inveterate collector of odd images and curious ideas — her 2003 documentary, “The Gleaners and I,” is a personal and philosophical inquiry into the practice of gathering what has been discarded or passed over — Ms. Varda composed “Beaches” as a sort of living, moving collage.

The film includes an abundance of clips from her other films, and photographs capturing various journeys, projects and relationships, but it is less an archival exhibition than a wonder cabinet, full of whimsical inventions as well as recovered artifacts. The filmmaker Chris Marker, Ms. Varda’s “interlocutor,” appears in the guise of an orange cartoon cat with a digitally altered voice. There are dreamy montages, re-enactments and surrealist set pieces that demonstrate her continued interest in installation art and photography as well as film. The theme of the movie is beaches, and since Paris, where Ms. Varda has spent much of her working life, has none, she filled a street with sand and took the staff of her production company outside to sit at their desks in bathing suits.

The film sustains an unusual blend of gravity and playfulness, a mood at once ripe with experience and childlike in its capacity for wonder. “At one screening,” Ms. Varda said, “there was a young man, maybe 22-years-old, who said about this film: ‘It gives you the desire to grow old.’ ”

Ms. Varda has something of a complicated history with the question of age. When she was barely 30, a photo caption in a French magazine labeled her “an ancestor of the New Wave.” The title was bestowed in recognition of her first (and, at the time, her only) feature film, “La Pointe Courte,” whose modest means and restless aesthetic and intellectual ambitions anticipated the breakout films of François Truffaut, Mr. Godard and the rest by a good half-decade. “I thought, well, now that I am an ancestor, I don’t have to grow any older,” Ms. Varda has said, and the elfin, energetic figure she presents in her recent documentaries and in person is decidedly youthful, much as the unlined face that stares from the pages of the old Nouvelle Vague yearbook seems preternaturally wise.

As the sole woman in that charmed circle of young lions, Ms. Varda has taken on more than her share of symbolic roles: mother, sister, confidante, colleague and — literally in the case of Jacques Demy, a fellow director and her husband from 1962 until his death in 1990 — wife. Appearing on screen, in “Beaches” and “The Gleaners and I,” surrounded by much younger crew members and performers, she is an almost ideally grandmotherly presence, pre-empting the indignities of age with a self-mockery that subtracts nothing from her rigorous and skeptical intelligence.

A grandmother who, in telling stories about the old days, is more apt to charm — or even shock — the kids than to bore them. “Many young people love me,” she said, smiling at the forthrightness of the declaration. “Some of them call me Mamie Punk” — Granny Punk — “maybe because of the hair.” At the time her coiffure was a violet fringe surmounted by a tonsure of gray, a Rothkoesque variation on the Dutch Boy she wears, impervious to changes in style, in every era covered by “The Beaches of Agnès.”

But the nickname also acknowledges a key aspect of Ms. Varda’s personal and artistic style. Not quite the aggressive, nihilistic stance associated with punk rock, perhaps, but rather a kind of thrifty, skeptical anarchism of the spirit, a liberating willingness to find inspiration and even beauty in what might conventionally be dismissed as rough, ugly or commonplace.

“La Pointe Courte,” that great ancestral text, exemplifies this attitude, and affirms Ms. Varda’s position at the vanguard not only of the New Wave, but also of any filmmaking tendency worthy of the name independent. French cinema in 1954 was male dominated, hierarchical and rigidly bureaucratic, governed by an elaborate set of rules and protocols. An aspiring director was expected to jump through carefully placed and managed hoops of training, apprenticeship and credentialization. The idea that anyone could pick up a camera, gather a crew and just start shooting a film — it just was not done.

But that is just what Ms. Varda did. Trained as a photographer, she was, as she puts it now, almost entirely “innocent of cinema.” Unlike her soon-to-be confreres in the New Wave, who emerged from the hothouses of the Paris Cinémathèque and Cahiers du Cinéma, she was neither a critic nor even much of a film buff, having seen only a handful of movies when she decided to make her own. “I thought that pictures plus words, that was cinema,” she says at one point in an interview included on the Criterion DVD of “La Pointe Courte.” “It was only later that I discovered it was something else.”

“La Pointe Courte,” however, is anything but a naïve, literal-minded photographer’s foray into moviemaking. Its structure was suggested by “The Wild Palms,” William Faulkner’s novel composed of parallel stories told in alternating chapters. One thread of Ms. Varda’s film follows a married couple, played by Silvia Monfort and Philippe Noiret (in his first film role), as they discuss the ambiguous state of their love. Should they separate or not, and if so why? They pose these questions — and pose in striking, quasi-Cubist close-ups and de Chiricoesque wide compositions — in the alleys and streets of Sète, the Mediterranean port town whose working-class residents supply the other half of the narrative. These fishermen and their families, more or less playing themselves, grapple with death, work, marriage and the intrusions of health inspectors and other annoying agents of the state.

The contrast between the two halves of “La Pointe Courte” is characteristic of the tensions and complexities that flicker through nearly all of Ms. Varda’s feature films. Documentary flows into artifice, abstraction gives way to naturalism, and cinema is revealed to consist of the collision, be it serendipitous or unsettling, between the found and the made. The two “plots” converge at a jousting tournament in which local men perched on platforms atop elaborately decorated galleylike boats try to knock each other into the water with long poles. The jousting sequence collapses the distinction between documentary and performance in what might be described as a characteristically Vardaesque fashion. If this curious and ancient ritual did not exist, she might have invented it.

One of the dividends of “The Beaches of Agnès” is that Ms. Varda allows herself, and the audience, to peek behind the scenes, to learn something about her techniques and the sources of her inspiration. Some of these have been personal and geographical: Sète, so vivid in “La Pointe Courte,” was where her family took refuge during World War II after fleeing Belgium. Others are literary, artistic and political: the Surrealists, Picasso, the revolutions in China and Cuba and, above all, the rise of feminism in the West.

She pauses to point out some of the motifs and formal choices in her work: the clocks that mark the minutes in “Cléo From 5 to 7,” her 1962 real-time tour de force that follows a ravishing, anxious blonde through the silvery streets of Paris; the right-to-left tracking shots that link the vignettes in “Vagabond”; the re-enactments of scenes from Demy’s films in “Jacquot de Nantes” (1991), her loving portrait of her husband as a young man.

These movies confound easy description. (Four of the best and best known — “La Pointe Courte,” “Cléo,” “La Bonheur” and “Vagabond” — are available in an indispensable Criterion boxed set.) And Ms. Varda counts only “Vagabond,” in which Sandrine Bonnaire is heartbreaking and abrasive as a young woman adrift, as an unqualified success. It won the Golden Lion in Venice in 1985, a prize that, in “Beaches,” is placed in the sand of her homemade Parisian lido alongside Demy’s Palme d’Or for “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964). Not that she is disappointed. “I am the queen of the margins,” she said. “But the films are loved. The films are remembered. And this is my aim — to be loved as a filmmaker because I want to share emotions, to share the pleasure of being a filmmaker.”

It is a pleasure she shared for nearly 30 years with Demy, who haunts “The Beaches of Agnès” like a benevolent, enigmatic ghost. “The dearest of the dead,” she calls him, and the great love of her life. Their artistic sensibilities were not closely aligned — his stated ambition was to make “calm films, films about happiness” while her work bristles with a sense of contradiction — and the intimate details of their lives together, and of his illness and death at 59, are addressed with brevity and circumspection. The tone of the film is personal, but not confessional. It is more of an essay in memory than a memoir.

And, as such, it is about the way memory intrudes into and colors the present-tense flow of experience, much as Ms. Varda’s cinema flows into the stream of everyday life. “Do I dream, or do I see a picture of Jacques Demy?” she asked at one point in our interview, which took place at the offices of Film Forum, in a room full of film stills and framed photographs of directors and stars. The one that caught her attention was at eye level, on the other side of the room. Had it been placed there on purpose, we wondered, like the tokens and talismans that find their way onto her beaches and into the frames of her films? It was, to use one of her favorite words, a puzzle. Solving it diffused some of the mystery — the picture, on closer inspection, was not of Demy after all — but did not dispel the curiosity that drives Ms. Varda to pause over details, impressions and moments. “I wonder who it is?” she said.

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Re: Agnes Varda

#12 Post by LQ » Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:38 pm

The AV Club interviews Varda.

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Re: Agnes Varda

#13 Post by jbeall » Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:27 am

At this point, The Beaches of Agnes might be deserving of a dedicated thread, but it's also not going to get a wide release. Anyway, here are several reviews:

The Nation / NY Times

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Re: Artificial Eye

#14 Post by Yojimbo » Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:33 am

doc mccoy wrote:There's currently a great deal on Amazon UK for the pre-order of Agnes Varda Vol 1 - reduced from £39 to £10.
Thats a great deal.
I already have the Criterion set, but if this one has interesting extras I might just take a punt.
One Varda I hope will show up on DVD soon is 'Cinévardaphoto' which I saw in a Festival about 5 years ago and have been eagerly watching out for on DVD ever since

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Re: Artificial Eye

#15 Post by Matt » Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:31 am

Yojimbo wrote:One Varda I hope will show up on DVD soon is 'Cinévardaphoto' which I saw in a Festival about 5 years ago and have been eagerly watching out for on DVD ever since
If you're region free, don't hesitate for a moment to get the Varda Tous Courts DVD. It's English-friendly, too, if you don't speak French. I posted some screen caps from it a while back.

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Re: Artificial Eye

#16 Post by montgomery » Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:42 pm

Matt wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:One Varda I hope will show up on DVD soon is 'Cinévardaphoto' which I saw in a Festival about 5 years ago and have been eagerly watching out for on DVD ever since
If you're region free, don't hesitate for a moment to get the Varda Tous Courts DVD. It's English-friendly, too, if you don't speak French. I posted some screen caps from it a while back.
Where did you buy this? I tried to order it from the cine-tamaris site, and maybe it just went haywire, but when I put in my shipping address, the price went up to 297 euros. I tried it a few times, same result. Facets has it for 90 bucks (6-8 week backorder). I really would like to get ahold of this for a reasonable price.

Edit: Problem fixed the following day, the site must have had temporary problems.
Last edited by montgomery on Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Artificial Eye

#17 Post by Yojimbo » Fri Aug 07, 2009 3:44 pm

Matt wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:One Varda I hope will show up on DVD soon is 'Cinévardaphoto' which I saw in a Festival about 5 years ago and have been eagerly watching out for on DVD ever since
If you're region free, don't hesitate for a moment to get the Varda Tous Courts DVD. It's English-friendly, too, if you don't speak French. I posted some screen caps from it a while back.
Thats brilliant, thanks Matt! =D>
Are the others even half as good as 'Cinévardaphoto' ?
(and is it sacrilegious to say I preferred it to 'The Gleaners'?)

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Re: Artificial Eye

#18 Post by Matt » Fri Aug 07, 2009 4:29 pm

Yojimbo wrote:Are the others even half as good as 'Cinévardaphoto' ?
Varda's shorts include some of her best work, and they are all over the map, stylistically. There's bound to be something you'll love. Salut les Cubains is probably my favorite, but that is part of Cinévardaphoto. The really early ones (O Saisons, O Chateaux, L'Opéra-Mouffe) are great, but I really like Les dites cariatides from 1984, too.

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Re: Artificial Eye

#19 Post by Yojimbo » Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:37 pm

Matt wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:Are the others even half as good as 'Cinévardaphoto' ?
Varda's shorts include some of her best work, and they are all over the map, stylistically. There's bound to be something you'll love. Salut les Cubains is probably my favorite, but that is part of Cinévardaphoto. The really early ones (O Saisons, O Chateaux, L'Opéra-Mouffe) are great, but I really like Les dites cariatides from 1984, too.
I've just placed my order: 'Alea iacta est!'

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Re: Artificial Eye

#20 Post by zedz » Sun Aug 09, 2009 4:48 pm

montgomery wrote: Where did you buy this? I tried to order it from the cine-tamaris site, and maybe it just went haywire, but when I put in my shipping address, the price went up to 297 euros. I tried it a few times, same result. Facets has it for 90 bucks (6-8 week backorder). I really would like to get ahold of this for a reasonable price.
I ordered mine from cine-tamaris (along with the Demy box) without striking this issue. If you can't sort it out, I'd email them. They seem to be very helpful. (A fantastic set, by the way)

But also be aware that a 'Complete Varda' box set is due out later this year, which will no doubt include Tous Courts, so if you're particularly dedicated and want a third or fourth copy of Cleo, you might want to hold out a little longer.

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Re: Artificial Eye

#21 Post by Yojimbo » Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:04 pm

zedz wrote:
montgomery wrote: Where did you buy this? I tried to order it from the cine-tamaris site, and maybe it just went haywire, but when I put in my shipping address, the price went up to 297 euros. I tried it a few times, same result. Facets has it for 90 bucks (6-8 week backorder). I really would like to get ahold of this for a reasonable price.
I ordered mine from cine-tamaris (along with the Demy box) without striking this issue. If you can't sort it out, I'd email them. They seem to be very helpful. (A fantastic set, by the way)

But also be aware that a 'Complete Varda' box set is due out later this year, which will no doubt include Tous Courts, so if you're particularly dedicated and want a third or fourth copy of Cleo, you might want to hold out a little longer.
so you've got this one, too, zedz?
:-k
What about the Chantal Akerman set?

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Re: Artificial Eye

#22 Post by zedz » Sun Aug 09, 2009 7:52 pm

Yojimbo wrote:so you've got this one, too, zedz?
:-k
What about the Chantal Akerman set?
Bien sur! I'm trying to single-handedly keep every arthouse DVD label in the world solvent.

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Re: Artificial Eye

#23 Post by Yojimbo » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:51 pm

zedz wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:so you've got this one, too, zedz?
:-k
What about the Chantal Akerman set?
Bien sur! I'm trying to single-handedly keep every arthouse DVD label in the world solvent.
where do you store them all?

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Re: Artificial Eye

#24 Post by Zazou dans le Metro » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:36 am

zedz wrote: But also be aware that a 'Complete Varda' box set is due out later this year, which will no doubt include Tous Courts, so if you're particularly dedicated and want a third or fourth copy of Cleo, you might want to hold out a little longer.
Got a little note from Tamaris this morning to say that they'll get Beaches out for Xmas but the box set is still at planning stage and a ways off still.

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Re: Artificial Eye

#25 Post by Yojimbo » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:17 am

Matt wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:Are the others even half as good as 'Cinévardaphoto' ?
Varda's shorts include some of her best work, and they are all over the map, stylistically. There's bound to be something you'll love. Salut les Cubains is probably my favorite, but that is part of Cinévardaphoto. The really early ones (O Saisons, O Chateaux, L'Opéra-Mouffe) are great, but I really like Les dites cariatides from 1984, too.
Just received my DVD today: looking forward to re-watching 'Cinévardaphoto' and exploring the other items.

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