Alain Resnais (1922-2014) was the most experimental and adventurous of all the French New Wave directors, but he has rarely been recognized as such, perhaps because he stood apart from his (mainly younger) colleagues in other respects as well. Unlike Godard, Rivette, Truffaut, Chabrol, and Rohmer, he wasn’t a critic or a writer, although as a teenager during the German Occupation of France he was already serving as a mentor to their own critical mentor, André Bazin, by introducing him to silent cinema in general and Fritz Lang in particular. He also preceded them all as a director in the eight remarkable non-fiction shorts he made between 1948 and 1958, the first of which (Van Gogh) won him his only Oscar. Indeed, the moment one compares these innovative shorts to the early sketches of Godard, Rivette, et al., the clearer it becomes that Resnais was already a courageous radical, both formally and politically, long before such a position even occurred to his colleagues. And one could argue that he was also already a film critic and film historian on his own elected turf, namely sound and image, even if he didn’t exhibit his exquisite cinematic taste in writing.… Read more »
Daily Archives: November 5, 2017
From Video Movies (August 1984). -– J.R.
Out of the Blue
(1981), C. Director: Dennis Hopper. With Linda Manz, Dennis Hopper, Sharon Farrell, and Raymond Burr. 94 min. R. Media, $59.95.
When it was released, a friend wittily and succinctly described Out of the Blue as “Dennis Hopper’s Ordinary People.” Though this film didn’t start out as a Hopper movie (he signed on as an actor and took over direction after shooting started), it certainly has the Hopper flavor: relentlessly raunchy and downbeat, and informed throughout by the kind of generational anguish and sense of doom that characterizes both of his earlier films [Easy Rider and The Last Movie].
Hopper, one should recall, is a figure identified with the 1950s. He made his acting debut alongside James Dean in Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Conceived as a kind of punk remake of Rebel set in a contemporary working-class environment, Out of the Blue centers around Cindy “CeBe” Barnes (Linda Manz), an alienated 15-year-old punk who perpetually mourns the deaths of Elvis Presley and Johnny Rotten. Her mother, Kathy (Sharon Farrell), is a junkie who works at a cheap restaurant; her father, Don (Hopper), is a former trucker and an alcoholic finishing off a five-year stint in prison when the film opens.… Read more »
From the Chicago Reader (June 8, 2007) — J.R.
PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES ****
DIRECTED BY ALAIN RESNAIS | WRITTEN BY JEAN-MICHEL RIBES AND ALAN AYCKBOURN
WITH SABINE AZEMA, ISABELLE CARRE, LAURA MORANTE, PIERRE ARDITI, ANDRE DUSSOLLIER, AND LAMBERT WILSON
It might sound crazy to call Alain Resnais the last of the great Hollywood studio directors when he’s never made a single movie in Hollywood. But classic Hollywood filmmaking, as defined by the aesthetics and craftsmanship of the system from the 30s through the 60s, transcends location. Indeed, many of the best recent examples, like Black Book and Angel-A, are European. And from its breathtaking opening shot, which sweeps across a wintry Parisian cityscape to the windows of an apartment house just as blinds are lowered and a door slams, the director’s newest film, Private Fears in Public Places, clearly belongs to that tradition.
Made by Resnais in his mid-80s, this movie is a real heart-breaker—one reason I prefer the French title, Coeurs (“hearts”). Derived from a recent play by Alan Ayckbourn (Resnais also adapted his Intimate Exchanges for the 1993 film Smoking/No Smoking), Private Fears in Public Places is a labyrinthine tale of crisscrossing destinies, missed connections, enclosures that poignantly echo one another, and muffled romantic and erotic feelings.… Read more »