Daily Archives: September 2, 2005

La Nuit Fantastique

From the Chicago Reader (September 2, 2005). — J.R.

Lanuitfantastique-poster

Made during the French Occupation, this 1942 feature by Marcel L’Herbier is a whimsical yet brittle nocturnal fantasy that consists mainly of a nerdy Parisian student’s expressionistic, romantic dream about pursuing an imaginary beauty. It’s the first film scripted by Louis Chavance, editor of L’Atalante and writer of the corrosive Le corbeau, and it oddly evokes both The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Eyes Wide Shut in its troubled moods and dreamlike studio settings (e.g., a formal ball at the Louvre, complete with magic show and trapdoors). Its illogical drift seems to convey the creepy collective unconscious of the occupation, so indelibly that even the happy ending turns out to be deeply disturbing. In French with subtitles. 100 min. (JR)

lanuitfantastique

la-nuit-fantastique-1942-04-gRead more »

Safe Conduct

Bertrand Tavernier based this fascinating 2001 drama of the French Occupation on the memories of two of his friendsJean Aurenche, an apolitical screenwriter, and Jean Devaivre, an assistant director who served as a member of the Resistance. It’s the most textured portrait of the period I know, exploring the complex moral choices each man faced in working for a German film production company. In French with subtitles. 163 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Religious Imagination: Four Short Films

This program inaugurates a weekly film-and-lecture series by Jeffrey Skolar, associate professor at the School of the Art Institute, to last through mid-December. The first three works are classic 16-millimeter experimental shorts: Bruce Baillie’s All My Life (1966), Bruce Conner’s Valse Triste (1979), and Will Hindle’s Watersmith (1968). The fourth, La ricotta, is one of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s greatest films but also one of his least known. Shot in 35-millimeter for the anthology feature RoGoPaG (1963), it’s a hilarious, irreverent satire about a big-budget film shoot depicting the Crucifixion, with Orson Welles (dubbed into Italian) as the director. (JR)… Read more »

Safe Conduct and La nuit fantastique

These two features, which open the Film Center’s monthlong series “Gilding the Cage: French Cinema of the Occupation,” show that there are both rational and irrational ways of understanding the period. Bertrand Tavernier based his fascinating drama Safe Conduct (2001, 163 min.) on the memories of two of his friends–Jean Aurenche, an apolitical screenwriter, and Jean Devaivre, an assistant director who served as a member of the Resistance. It’s the most textured portrait of the occupation I know, exploring the complex moral choices each man faced in working for a German film production company. By contrast, Marcel L’Herbier’s La nuit fantastique (1942, 100 min.) is a whimsical yet brittle nocturnal fantasy that consists mainly of a nerdy Parisian student’s expressionistic, romantic dream about pursuing an imaginary beauty. It’s the first film scripted by Louis Chavance, editor of L’Atalante and writer of the corrosive Le corbeau (showing next week), and it oddly evokes both The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Eyes Wide Shut in its troubled moods and dreamlike studio settings (e.g., a formal ball at the Louvre, complete with magic show and trapdoors). Its illogical drift seems to convey the creepy collective unconscious of the occupation, so indelibly that even the happy ending turns out to be deeply disturbing.… Read more »

2046

Five years in the making, Wong Kar-wai’s first ‘Scope feature is his longest, most ambitious, and most expensive yet. It begins in 2046–almost 50 years after Hong Kong has been returned to China–yet most of the action takes place in the 1960s, and Wong uses his brief evocations of the future mainly as a way of poetically lamenting the past. Tony Leung returns as the journalist from In the Mood for Love, but this time he’s more in the mood for sex and seedy intrigue (the title also refers to the number of a hotel room), and the romantic fatalism is so lush that you’re invited to get lost in it. With Carina Lau, Gong Li, Faye Wong, and Zhang Ziyi; Maggie Cheung is around too, but only for a cameo. In Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese with subtitles. R, 129 min. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Music Box.… Read more »