Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, 2009)

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, 2009)

#1 Post by knives » Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:38 am

I imagine that a number of forum members won't like this one. Hopefully most will like it though. While this isn't as good as the sixty glory days Resnais nevertheless manages to pull off a very good film. The story itself is as straightforward as possible, but the lighting and sound manages to punch everything up. There's honestly no limit to the compliments I can give to Snow, who's score almost single handily makes the film. It's absolutely essential in the sort of genre bending ways of Hamlish's score for The Informant.
Every one manages to follow the book very strictly on how to do this, but they're working from six different books at times. It seems that Resnais is focused on showing how cinematic effects can totally alter a scene. One moment we have something that I'm sure has been used on Curb Your Enthusiasm, the next we have a brooding character moment lifted from Ray. There's even a few real tiny moments that seem like they were thrown in to see how the audience would react to the changes (I'm thinking real specifically of the kill him line).
Haven't even gotten to my favorite part, just how humourous it is. There's no real belly laughs to be had, but there's a consistent dry laughter that is brought about. In this regard I suppose the Resnais of Hiroshima and Marienbad is not present. Like I said a few scenes would be at home on a David show.
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Finally in regards to the narration which I loved, am I wrong for thinking this is the rationalization of the farmer near the end for the strange behavior of the plane? Also any ideas about the girl at the end.

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Kirkinson
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 5:34 am
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, 2009)

#2 Post by Kirkinson » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:33 pm

I liked it, too. I don't think I can say I loved it, but I did love watching it, if that makes any sense. For me, I think it was inspiring as an amateur filmmaker to see a 78-year-old master who could just rest on his laurels contorting his picture so gleefully into so many odd shapes, apparently just for the fun of it. It seemed so misshapen, but I never had any sense that it was incoherent. Resnais said the title refers to the characters ("Les Herbes folles" refers generally to grass that springs up in odd places like the cracks in pavements or stone) whose love is springing up in circumstances where it has no chance of developing. But I'm pretty sure it's an explanation for the entire film, which seems to be made up of scenes from lots of other possible films, springing up here in odd places where they really aren't meant to be and which have no chance of growing into anything more except the uniquely strange little patches of grass they already are. It's almost as if Resnais is suggesting that cinema itself is like wild grass that can't be contained, that there are always other possibilities in cinema that will eventually break through, no matter what kind of structure you've tried to build on top of it. I think it shares some of Raul Ruiz's sensibilities in that respect (and I'm referring more to his writing than his films, which I'm still not very familiar with).

I have to echo the sentiments about Mark Snow's score, too. From a purely musical standpoint I don't think I would be crazy about it, but it really is just the perfect score for this film. Snow is probably rather underrated as a film composer (I say probably because I don't actually know much of his work). But then Resnais has always had very good instincts about music. Eric Gautier's lighting is pretty great, too. Almost otherworldly...I can't think of anything else that looks quite like it, except for Private Fears in Public Places. With the Resnais films, Summer Hours and Gabrielle he has quickly become one of my very favorite cinematographers today.
knives wrote:
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Finally in regards to the narration which I loved, am I wrong for thinking this is the rationalization of the farmer near the end for the strange behavior of the plane?
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That was my impression, as well, though it strikes me as just another patch of "wild grass" in the film, another possible direction this or any other film might go, rather than something that's intended to affect one's reading of the rest of the film.
I have to confess I'm as clueless about the very final scene as anyone else, but honestly I think it would have been a little disappointing if this film had a sensible ending.

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Brian C
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:58 am
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, 2009)

#3 Post by Brian C » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:57 pm

Kirkinson wrote:For me, I think it was inspiring as an amateur filmmaker to see a 78-year-old master who could just rest on his laurels contorting his picture so gleefully into so many odd shapes, apparently just for the fun of it.
Resnais is actually 88!

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Kirkinson
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 5:34 am
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, 2009)

#4 Post by Kirkinson » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:16 am

A dazzling display of my math skills. I wrote 88 originally, and then "corrected" myself after looking up his birth date.

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tavernier
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:18 pm

Re: Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, 2009)

#5 Post by tavernier » Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:01 pm

No Blu-ray from Sony, although it looks like there was no Blu in France either. :shock:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is pleased to announce the DVD release of Wild Grass, a new film from legendary director Alain Resnais (Last Year at Marienbad, Hiroshima Mon Amour). This charming film from Sony Pictures Classics, which opened the 2009 New York Film Festival, will be released on DVD on October 26, 2010. Wild Grass stars Sabine Azéma (Private Fears in Public Places) and André Dussollier (Micmacs, A Very Long Engagement) and will be available for an SLP of $28.96. Special features on the DVD will include a featurette about the production designer Jacques Saulnier.

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Roger Ryan
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:04 pm
Location: A Midland town spread and darkened into a city

Re: Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, 2009)

#6 Post by Roger Ryan » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:19 pm

That's a shame about no Blu-ray as this is a beautifully photographed film that needs to be available in the highest resolution possible for home viewing.

What I find so unique about WILD GRASS is that it includes almost every "romantic comedy" trope imaginable, but pushes each of them to a truly neurotic (even psychotic) extreme. The satire develops primarily from recognizing how often the "meet cute" or the "can't concentrate at work because of new love" tropes are casually accepted in mainstream cinema and witnessing how Resnais twists them around to involve disruptive stalking or someone getting physically hurt.

As to the ending...
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Given how Georges seemingly can't stop himself from contemplating murder as a solution to his obsession along with his childhood memory of a female aviator whose plane crashed during a training run, I fully expected the film to end with one or more of the main participants dying in a plane crash. I love that the film chose to tip into absurdity by having the distress over Georges' open zipper be the cause of the crash!

As to the final shot, I'm thinking that the only remaining "romantic comedy" trope not included during the course of the film was the cute child, so here she is at the very end making a banal "adorable" comment about wanting to be a cat. Although, if the subtitle translation is to be trusted, she asks "if I become a cat, will I be able to eat munchies?" which implies that she is having a conversation about reincarnation with her mother - an appropriate subject given that three of the film's protagonists perished moments earlier.

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