The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#101 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:17 am

I have almost all of Varda's films already. Also thinking that maybe, for now, I should just be satisfied with what I already have.

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HitchcockLang
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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#102 Post by HitchcockLang » Wed Aug 19, 2020 3:19 pm

Watched the first three shorts. I used the "Chronological" listing in the back of the book but I don't think it's entirely accurate. It says the order is Du côté de la côte, then Ô saisons, ô châteaux (even though they are presented in the opposite order on the disc menu) and finally L'opéra-mouffe right before Cléo. This is the order in which I watched them but I also watched the supplements and listening to Varda's introductions to each film, it is clear that (at least in her own recollection), she made Ô saisons, ô châteaux first by an invitation she almost turned down, then she made L'opéra-mouffe as a means of exploring her own art in a way that interested her between travel films, and then finally Du côté de la côte again as an invitation and based on the strength of Ô saisons, ô châteaux. Somewhere in there should also be La cocotte d'azur but it seems to be one of the few missing pieces from the "Complete" films (is it a lost film? or tied up in rights? or just far too insignificant even for a retrospective box set?).

Not sure what the confusion is between Varda's account and the chronological listing in the book but I suppose these things happen. Anyone else planning to watch chronologically, you may want to follow Varda's order. Checking the regular user-contributed sources like Wikipedia and IMDb suggests there's a lot of uncertainty on the order of these films (perhaps they were completed in a different order than they were released?) Is there a definitive book on Varda's career/biography?

I enjoyed the two travel films quite well for what they are. Once again, I think Varda's experience as a photographer benefits her immensely as she fills the films with lovely and interesting shots, a variety of angles and motions (I was especially a big fan of the "whip tilt" shots that revealed surprising buildings on unusual foundations). Otherwise, they are definitely a bit of fun and dated fluff.

L'opéra-mouffe was surprisingly surreal to me (reminding me a bit of David Lynch and Un Chien Andalou). I am impressed with the variety of styles and experimentation that Varda undertook so early in her career when she claimed to have seen no more than ten films and didn't even enjoy most of them. I found myself most emotionally struck by the imagery of elderly people wandering the streets juxtaposed with the narration about the innocence and optimism of newborn infants. I noticed many of the older faces seem perplexed or even annoyed by the camera. I imagine Varda filmed them without their consent, which lends the film a greater documentary realism.

Next is Cléo but I have strict orders not to watch anything included in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die without my wife and she is a bit busy at the moment so it may be a few days before I get to it. I am looking forward to it though.
Last edited by HitchcockLang on Wed Aug 19, 2020 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#103 Post by Saturnome » Wed Aug 19, 2020 4:06 pm

HitchcockLang wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 3:19 pm
Somewhere in there should also be La cocotte d'azur but it seems to be one of the few missing pieces from the "Complete" films (is it a lost film? or tied up in rights? or just far too insignificant even for a retrospective box set?)
Not sure why it's not included. It's sometimes shown in cinematheques. As I said a few posts above, it's an unusual case of Varda making fun of people, being a step away from them and observing, instead of being completely involved with them. And with what is included in the set, it's far from too insignificant. It's pretty un-Verda like though, maybe Varda hated it even more than Les Créatures?

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#104 Post by Adam X » Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:43 am

I can't shed any more light on the 'why', but it wasn't included in Ciné-tamaris' Tout(e) Varda box set either. While I'm torn on buying this set too, thanks to the colour-timing issues, I imagine I'll get it anyway, to finally be able to see subtitled versions of Nausicaa & Quelques Veuves de Noirmoutier.

On the chronology of her films, I can dig out & post the films as listed in the French box set if you like. I'd imagine any discrepencies between Varda's recollections and the listed chronology in the CC box set could be down as much to delayed release dates as her memory of events. I don't think it's been stated, but I think Agnès Varda's one director where watching her films in chronological order can be really interesting not just from an auteurist perspective, but due to her returning to and reexamining people, places & events in later films as she grew older.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#105 Post by filmyfan » Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:53 am

HitchcockLang wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 3:19 pm
Next is Cléo but I have strict orders not to watch anything included in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die without my wife and she is a bit busy at the moment so it may be a few days before I get to it. I am looking forward to it though.
You are in for a treat!

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#106 Post by HitchcockLang » Tue Aug 25, 2020 2:52 pm

filmyfan wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:53 am
HitchcockLang wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 3:19 pm
Next is Cléo but I have strict orders not to watch anything included in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die without my wife and she is a bit busy at the moment so it may be a few days before I get to it. I am looking forward to it though.
You are in for a treat!
You weren't kidding! My wife and I finally got around to watching Cléo and wow! I can't really think of anything to say about it that hasn't already been said to the point of exhaustion. Most of the things I noticed are well documented and widely accepted (even covered in the supplements on the disc). I will say the supplement on Michel Legrand's thematic and structural uses of music is a must-watch video essay. I love his music anyway (Umbrellas of Cherbourg is easily a top 10 film for me) and his style is quite easy to recognize in Cléo. I was especially enthralled by the climactic centerpiece scene when Cléo is singing her song just before her transformation. Overall, one of the most hypnotic films I've seen in a long time. Could have easily watched it a second time as soon as it ended.

My wife and I do have a slightly different read of the ending which may or may not be worth discussion here:
SpoilerShow
I found the doctor's quick revelation of the big news from his car to be quite a crass moment (for his character, not for the film). He doesn't even ever really confirm that she has cancer, but merely tells her what the next step is. He rattles this off quickly, tells her not to worry (essentially erasing the gravity of her last two agonizing hours with the wave of a hand), and then speeds off. To me this seemed to promote the otherwise prevalent gender themes, showing how the doctor (a man) does not value Cléo's trauma or grief and does not even spend the time to break the news carefully. My wife disagreed and found the doctor's approach to be exactly the right thing for Cléo at the moment and that by his decision to treat it so lightly, he was taking away the power of the diagnosis to continue to cause grief. By trivializing cancer, he empowers Cléo to emotionally conquer her own grief. My wife asserts this is why Cléo is happy at the end. I like my wife's reading but I still don't care for the doctor's attitude and I would credit her happiness to the fact that she wasn't really grieving illness/death so much as uncertainty, and now that she is certain, she can move on despite the doctor's insensitivity. I don't think this is even close to the most significant bit of the film but it was the only thing that hasn't been beaten to death I could find to bring to the table.
I also watched Les fiancés du pont MacDonald from the same disc, not realizing until it began that it is the same short from the middle of Cléo with, as far as I could tell, no differences from the version within the feature other than the credits. I found it to be an enjoyable silent gag film in the spirit of Buster Keaton (who Varda references along with Lloyd in her 2007 introduction). It looked like a lot of fun among friends. Within Cléo, it was an interesting extension of the real-time element as most films would cut away while characters were watching a film, but showing an entire short was a fascinating choice (though I did not think it was necessary for what Varda intended it for--as a means of interjecting entertainment into a dead spot in the film).

Then I watched Salut les cubains. My knowledge of Cuban revolutionary history is quite thin, but I was surprised by the overwhelming positivity of the film (almost to the point of propaganda) but found Varda's own comments in her introduction interesting. She has definitely distanced herself from Castro and insists the film must be taken in context of 1962. It seems like there may be a tinge of regret in her voice. Politics aside, I found it a very enjoyable work of art to watch. It seemed to encapsulate history, politics and culture in a love-letter like way. I particularly enjoyed the rhythmic editing of the photos during the musical sequences to create such a sense of life and motion out of still photographs. I wonder if she was inspired by Chris Marker's La Jetée (or vice versa) with the photo-roman form. I imagine they would have known each other since they're both part of the Left Bank group?

Anyway, I don't know if my little nuggets as I discover Varda chronologically are interesting or valuable to anyone or if my insights are far too anemic, but I'm certainly looking forward to continue my deep dive in this box set.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#107 Post by knives » Tue Aug 25, 2020 2:56 pm

A lot of her political works from this time have that uncritical propagandist edge to them. I suspect it's because she's an artist who tends not to be overly critical of her subjects leading to a certain kind of left wing naivety.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#108 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Sep 28, 2020 8:00 am

I encountered something rather odd when watching Varda's debut feature La Pointe Courte on the Criterion Channel yesterday afternoon. Earlier in the week, I saw Episode Three of Mark Cousins' Women Make Film documentary series in which excerpts from the Varda film were used in the segment concerning creative tracking shots. One excerpt showed a particular bravura shot of the camera passing through a bottomless basket left on a beach as it tracked the young married couple. The version of the film showing on the Channel truncates this shot to remove the section where the camera passes through the basket! The continuity really isn't affected, but the loss of this footage undercuts what appears to be a little visual gag where the wife finds the bottom of the basket further along on the beach and tosses it into the water (which appears to be a direct comment on the basket not having a bottom which is only properly shown in the deleted footage).

I'm assuming the "camera passing through the basket" footage is also missing from the box set version of the feature, right? According to the on-screen notes at the beginning of the film, the title was restored in 2013 under Varda's supervision, years before Cousins would have assembled his documentary. Did he end up using an older print of the film that contained a shot that Varda decided to eliminate in 2013?

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#109 Post by J Wilson » Mon Sep 28, 2020 1:14 pm

Roger, the Criterion set coming out made me get out my Tout(e) Varda set to try and finally get through more of it, so after seeing your post I popped in La Pointe Courte and the basket shot is intact there. The Tout(e) Varda box came out in 2012, so as you said, she presumably removed it after that. Kind of an odd thing to tweak.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#110 Post by What A Disgrace » Wed Oct 28, 2020 11:45 am

My disc of Jane B. Par Agnes V. has issues playing somewhere between chapters 3 and 4 on that film. Does anyone else have issues playing this particular film?

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#111 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Oct 28, 2020 2:56 pm

I can check my copy when I get home, but I work late these days so somebody else may beat me to it.

I watched La Pointe Courte last night, and while I didn't wind up liking it too much as a whole, there were some acutely realised ideas in the communication patterns of the couple. Unfortunately none of them felt desperate or profound as they were likely meant to be, though I was personally fascinated at how they seemed to be talking past one another in assigning strengths to the other party and self-deprecating themselves. The moment where Noiret explains to his wife how she loves more than him in her own way is such a well-intentioned but awfully misguided and discrediting attempt at harmony that is almost too realistic, and Varda gets props for diluting any sugarcoating from this ugly banal exchange.
HitchcockLang wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 11:42 am
I was struck by the relentless series of boundaries the lovers had to cross literally and physically (train tracks, sometimes empty and sometimes with a slow moving train further impeding them, a Stygian river, etc.) as they were emotionally moving deeper toward the core of their relationship woes.
I liked this a lot too, as well as the other peripheral crises of the milieu around them. The themes of survival necessitating collaboration and support from others beyond isolated self-preservation is a good one, I just wish the film made me care a bit more, or feel like there was some kind of earned development as the couple shared their perspectives. Some of the statements they made when sharing were terrific though, but only fragmented in seclusion rather than part of a collective whole.

After Ô saisons, ô châteaux proved to be a competent if unspectacular mini-doc, I was pleasantly surprised to find Du côté de la côte packed full of blatant, deadpan sarcasm as Varda mocks socio-cultural behavior, using a faux-mission of filming a movie about the physical environment itself as a place to cast these keen observations on those who populate it. I don't know why I found it to be so funny and clever, but Varda's take here reminded me of Godard's sarcastic musings played straight, or Rozier's shorts that have been popping up lately, or even Ross McElwee's narrative presence though that's a bit of a leap since this is not self-directed.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#112 Post by cdnchris » Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:29 pm

What A Disgrace wrote:My disc of Jane B. Par Agnes V. has issues playing somewhere between chapters 3 and 4 on that film. Does anyone else have issues playing this particular film?
I didn't come across any issues on my disc. I played it on a Sony 4K player.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#113 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Oct 28, 2020 9:17 pm

What A Disgrace wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 11:45 am
My disc of Jane B. Par Agnes V. has issues playing somewhere between chapters 3 and 4 on that film. Does anyone else have issues playing this particular film?
I just checked the stretch between those chapters only and mine plays fine- def email Mulvaney

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#114 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Oct 28, 2020 10:13 pm

I jumped ahead to Kung-Fu Master! which I've been meaning to seek out ever since I read Miranda July raving about its influence as her favorite Varda. Clearly an inspiration for a less-consciously age-gap 'romance' in Me and You and Everyone We Know, this film explores the various points of entry and schemas of interpersonal 'connection' across the spectrums of age and gender. There's also a contextual interest in escape from the unknown into the tangible. As Varda says in the introduction, and we discern early on, the looming, ominous AIDS crisis is symbolic of the invisible threats layered on top of adolescent confusion, propelling attention to deviate towards superficial details of boys for a sexually-charged Gainsbourg and video games for Demy. As the youth transition between laughing at horrors (in addition to the AIDS gags on TV, the 'early Nazi party' joke emasculating Hitler with one's imagination is excellent) and meditating on the fears, Birkin narrates an internal monologue spanning wonder, doubt, morality, and an embrace of a selfish part of her that we sense has been hibernating for too long. For Birkin, there is an elliptical feeling of refurbished discovery after a stretch of dull semi-conscious existence, and the contrasting viewpoints of awakening and re-awakening carry with them their own very different experiences.

I appreciate Varda's take on "desire" in the introduction, and needn't say too much more on the topic that she celebrates without moral judgment for its diverse, all-encompassing enigmatic essence, but this film is graciously about more than sexual desire. It's about the desire to live in every sense of the word, and how our needs and wants are so personalized, even when the energy is mutually felt. Like All Things Fair, this film transcends simplistic labels of perversity, but while the Widerberg is more focused on telling a linear lesson of maturity, Varda's film is far more spiritual in its ethereal observant qualities without a beginning or endpoint, much like July's own masterwork. "Gambling is a passion too" is one of the more affirming lines of tolerance, welcoming all the directions that intense emotions point toward to the table.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#115 Post by furbicide » Thu Oct 29, 2020 1:21 am

I checked out two shorts from the set last night: L'opéra-mouffe / Diary of a Pregnant Woman and Ulysse.

The first – apparently the first short Varda ever made, and the first thing she put out following La Pointe Courte, compared to which this feels like a significant artistic leap forward – is almost Svankmajer-like in its rapid cutting and fetishistic handling of objects (it also shows off Varda's digressive side; we get everything here from pregnancy anxieties to sex to alcoholism and homelessness). It's definitely up there with my favourite works of hers.

Ulysse, in contrast, feels like an early example of the kinds of things Varda was doing with her late documentaries: self-reflexively using her own artwork (in this case, her 1954 photograph of the naked man and child on the beach with the dead goat, which appears in Faces Places and possibly also The Beaches of Agnès, if I recall correctly) as a canvas upon which to explore the backstories of the subjects and questions around artistic representation and meaning. It's a charming film, and quite moving at times too.

We also get the strongest inkling here of something I've been suspecting for a while: Varda really loves naked people! I'm not sure I can actually think of another director who uses the naked body in their work to the same extent (and there's obviously a very different affect to the way the human body is portrayed in her films than in, say, those of Borowczyk or Breillat – which is not to say that Varda's work is devoid of eroticism or voyeurism, but it's clearly operating on a very different plane).

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#116 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:07 pm

L'opéra-mouffe was certainly experimental, and although the attempts at clashing the surreal Bunuel influences with raw documentary observations didn't always gel, I admired the overall effort. Les Fiancés du pont Mac Donald ou Méfiez-vous des lunettes noires was a riot and a total surprise since I had no idea this film existed. Don't get me wrong, it's not exactly a genius homage to silent comedy, but in just a few minutes I got to watch so many people I love have fun that it's a precious short nonetheless. Seeing Godard play a Harold Lloyd type is reason enough to sing praises, but as the cameos pile on I was grinning ear to ear. Plus a few of the gags are actually very funny, even if they all come together in one lowkey setpiece
SpoilerShow
Constantine, the hose, and the hearse
shot from afar and diagonally above, of course to insert a nouvelle vague spin on familiarity from an alternate angle. The Dites unfortunately were total duds for me- maybe my bar is too high, or in the wrong place altogether, but if you're going to film a bunch of gargoyles, there has to be some underlying commentary of interest other than that they are all female figures. I get that there's feminist significance that abolishes any qualms I may have by simply existing as a women-directed observation on icons of women, but they still felt uninviting and cold.

EDIT: Well, having just revisited Cléo de 5 à 7 for the first time since an entry college film class, I see that Les Fiancés du pont Mac Donald ou Méfiez-vous des lunettes noires is a film within that film practically in its entirety (though seemingly sped up a bit), but I'll let myself off the hook on the oversight since that was half a lifetime ago and before I knew who anyone in the film was! Cleo was actually the first film we watched as an introduction to the nouvelle vague period, a perfect fit in many ways (though it was followed by Weekend, which seems a bit bold now, and at least quite a jarring shift!)

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#117 Post by Shrew » Thu Oct 29, 2020 11:56 pm

Les Fiancés du pont Mac Donald is featured in (and I think was made for?) Cleo from 5 to 7, which is probably why no one ever talks about the film on its own despite it being lots of fun and a probably not wholly inaccurate portrait of Godard's psychology. Seeing as how it's been on the Cleo disc, this, and the Bande a Parte disc, it may be one of the most reused extras in Criterion history.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#118 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Oct 30, 2020 1:17 am

HitchcockLang wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 2:52 pm
My wife and I do have a slightly different read of the ending which may or may not be worth discussion here:
SpoilerShow
I found the doctor's quick revelation of the big news from his car to be quite a crass moment (for his character, not for the film). He doesn't even ever really confirm that she has cancer, but merely tells her what the next step is. He rattles this off quickly, tells her not to worry (essentially erasing the gravity of her last two agonizing hours with the wave of a hand), and then speeds off. To me this seemed to promote the otherwise prevalent gender themes, showing how the doctor (a man) does not value Cléo's trauma or grief and does not even spend the time to break the news carefully. My wife disagreed and found the doctor's approach to be exactly the right thing for Cléo at the moment and that by his decision to treat it so lightly, he was taking away the power of the diagnosis to continue to cause grief. By trivializing cancer, he empowers Cléo to emotionally conquer her own grief. My wife asserts this is why Cléo is happy at the end. I like my wife's reading but I still don't care for the doctor's attitude and I would credit her happiness to the fact that she wasn't really grieving illness/death so much as uncertainty, and now that she is certain, she can move on despite the doctor's insensitivity. I don't think this is even close to the most significant bit of the film but it was the only thing that hasn't been beaten to death I could find to bring to the table.
I like your wife's reading though both seem valid in part, since the doctor's role seems arbitrary in its contribution to the consequence of Cleo's attitude.
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By this point Cleo has emerged from her existential rollercoaster in a more confident and serene place due to the forced coping with the absence of doctor handholding co-regulation. I believe that regardless of what the doctor said, she would have reacted similarly, since she had prepared and cathartically reached acceptance as a tangible state already (and vice versa, she probably would have had a very dysregulating reaction no matter what his news was, if she had caught him at the beginning of the film - even if he said she was fine, the fortune teller would have been wrong and Cleo likely would have become frustrated at herself/the psychic/philosophical principles for shattering her worldview!) Now that she's less manically vulnerable, it comes down to perspective, and her stance on life rather than the actual prognosis. I put less stock into what the doctor says and more into the assist- providing validation that her concerns are heard by showing up at all. This in turn supports her in the real 'treatment,' which is far more psychological and independently-driven in sustaining a mindful approach to meeting life on life's terms and seeing what's in front of her (including who is next to her in the end).

The bulk of the legwork has already been done before he shows up, as demonstrated by the breaking down of her sensitive ego throughout the film, in visual imagery with mirrors and narratively via interpersonal exchanges, exhausting and refurbishing her energy into an enlightened individual whose identity is separate from her superficial surroundings and codependent need for concrete fixed answers. The process of Cleo overcoming her own baggage to begin self-actualization is underway, though the doctor's apathetic and insignificantly-stated news subverts all the emphasis placed on its coveted pedestal throughout the film, and reveals to Cleo that she possesses the skills to unlock her answers through this non-action. I think placing too much attention on the doctor's actions or presence here gives him too much power, or rather robs Cleo of the power Varda has clearly spent the film developing in detail.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#119 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Oct 30, 2020 9:48 pm

Les Créatures: Despite being a flawed film due to Varda herself apparently lost at how to execute her material, I actually found this to be an interesting semi-misfire. The first half was stronger, imbuing a tonal energy that Lanthimos' work seems to be a carbon copy of, down to the use of eerie (and ubiquitous, to wonderfully inappropriate degrees) music over the dissociated behaviorist irregularities. I'm not as interested in viewing this as a self-reflexive commentary on the artist's egotism or the creation of a distanced narrative, but rather a more psychologically-intimate, yet chaotically confounding, parable of how an individual copes with evidence of failure by concocting meaning that isn't there.

Following the initial car accident, Piccoli is emasculated (and whether or not one wants to assume the "it's all a dream" possibility from here, thematically it fits well too without being a cop-out) and drums up a narrative that infects his presence (and perhaps awareness) in reality, displacing him from it. This film's messy nature adequately conveys the detailed yet convoluted escapes into fantasy people engage in to avoid simplistic, raw responsibility for defects of character. The comfortable rationalization must come in elaborate intellectualizations because we desperately want to believe (to the point of need) that we are smart and planful, but the event was one of impulse and meaninglessness, which is too violent an assault on the identity to bear acceptance of- and so involves a fairy tale scenario of Piccoli making up for his impotence as an agent of confidence and mastery in his own life.

Unfortunately the actual sci-fi material initiated by the alt-chess game re-routes the film into an unnecessarily space that drifts off to unambiguous themes on control. The interpretation of wish fulfillment to be God and save people, contesting with a physical emblem to blame for a lack of control over your own life, is a bit on-the-nose; though this venturing off the rails still fits with the reading that an attempt to divert accountability out-sprints the dreamer's own tools to forge his suppression, ransacking his bearings on what's real.
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In the final POV-shot, the audience is finally aligned with Piccoli's perspective in absolute lucidity as he takes in the unavoidable, permanent image of his newborn baby, evoking a novel kind of horror. We've been absent from this grounded space for so long and unaware of Deneuve's pregnancy, which makes it a jarring shift back to 'reality' when he/we are welcomed with unexpected responsibility shoved right into his/our face. No preparation from that 'actual' narrative invites an entirely new set of fears that haven't been remedied with proactive acclimation. This new responsibility also threatens his ego's knowledge that he may not be able to handle it either... we are offered an escape through a fade to black, but will Piccoli be so lucky? Will he escape into a new formulated narrative and ignore his role as father in a neverending pattern of cyclical destruction, or face up to the task without the skills to manage his self-consciousness? Either way it's a nightmare, but one likely born from Varda's own deficiency to control her narrative, creating just the right kind of disorder for the film to emulate Piccoli's psyche's aimless pandemonium.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#120 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Nov 03, 2020 2:26 am

I'm pretty scattered in my feelings on Varda, and this set has been reinforcing that divisive esteem with accruing data of polarized impressions. However I have just seen Jane B. par Agnès V., which has moved to the top of my favorite of her films. It would be unfair of me to grasp at straws at length to explain why, but I feel obligated to list a few reasons. It's a melting pot of creativity in visual ideas, self-reflexive musings on actualizing cinematic fantasies using its own language, and questions one's relationship to paradoxical desires of self-importance. It's also a manipulation of the medium to test perspective using a subject who can't be subjective. This is self-indulgence trying to find an avenue for humility and laughing at itself for such a futile gesture, deviating attention inward and externally toward the arts in the process.

This is also the closest Varda has come to making a Godard film, combining his early and middle periods with the essay films to churn out a wholly singular work, but that- like Godard- travels an intellectual path to arrive at emotional philosophical space. One could even argue that this is Varda and Jane B making all the films (culminating in every woman’s dream project), as Llinas recently attempted with the Piel de Lava foursome. The way narrative is strung together via physical signifiers (the art exhibit, observations on breasts, cue to a story of being self-conscious as a "flat" child and female expectations in society) lends a very true process of finding meaning, that smashes self-gratification for the sake of conveying an experience that is both universal and unique. Varda uses all the possibilities of the medium to try to capture the essence of a human being, and instead of shutting us out, invites us intimately into this shared world.

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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#121 Post by furbicide » Thu Nov 05, 2020 12:37 am

Totally agree re: Jane B. It probably helped that I already have a massive crush on Birkin, but it's such a charming and inventive film, and even if not every sequence lands – I wasn't a huge fan of the Laurel and Hardy riff – it's still the best documentary portrait I've ever seen bar none. Even if a lot of the sequences are her taking on various guises, you really feel like you know Birkin after this. (I loved watching her talking about her relationship with Varda in the 2020 interview on the disc, too.)

I watched Les créatures a couple of nights ago and also liked it, for the most part; I thought of it as basically a metaphor for the act of narrative creation, and the cruelty inherent in stealing people from everyday life and toying with them. The suggestion of Piccoli's castration/impotence never occurred to me, though – what bit tipped you off on that? Or is it more just a thematic reading?

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#122 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Nov 05, 2020 12:58 am

I wasn't really a fan of the Laurel and Hardy insert either, though I feel like it's another example of how Birkin is transitioning into roles and then using those experiencing to analyze herself into a place of honest reflection. It's very inventive, but beyond that there's this curiously equivocal energy to it all, where I can't tell when she's escaping herself or showing a new side of herself by taking on these roles, which hits on the paradoxical duality mentioned at the start of the film: that between her desire to be seen and her self-consciousness about looking back into the camera, or the personalization of it. I love how they go for broke with these various extravagantly creative ideas to artificially concoct a very real ambivalence of the ego: the drive to be singularly important and the drive to be ordinarily humble.

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furbicide
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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#123 Post by furbicide » Sun Nov 08, 2020 8:36 am

Apologies in advance if this isn't the right place for this, but in case anyone's interested I made an appearance on the Filmsuck podcast (hosted by Jacobin film critic Eileen Jones and Evgenia Kovda) over the weekend talking about Varda's career and my experience of working through the Criterion set. Some of the films we cover are Documenteur (which is my own personal favourite of hers), One Sings, the Other Doesn't, Lions Love … and Lies, Le bonheur, Vagabond, Kung-Fu Master! and Faces Places:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/agnes-varda-with-43656937

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zedz
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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#124 Post by zedz » Sun Nov 08, 2020 3:29 pm

I worked through this set watching the stuff I hadn't already seen (which didn't actually amount to much given the size of the set). Of the "new" extras, the best were Jane Birkin's and Martin Scorsese's vivid and eccentric personal memories of Varda. And it was great to finally see a subtitled Nausicaa, though it was bizarre that this suppressed feature was hidden away on the sub-menu of an unrelated film. It's a significant work, with a significant story behind it, yet it's treated as being more marginal than something like Les 3 boutons.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Complete Films of Agnès Varda

#125 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Nov 08, 2020 3:59 pm

If one has almost everything that was available separately before this set came out is there any compelling reason to get it?

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