From the Chicago Reader (May 1, 1988). — J.R.
Arguably Louis Malle’s best work (1960). Based on Raymond Queneau’s farcical novel about a little girl (Catherine Demongeot) left in Paris for a weekend with her decadent uncle (Philippe Noiret), this wild spree goes overboard reproducing Mack Sennett-style slapstick, parodying various films of the 1950s, and playing with editing and color effects (the cinematography is especially impressive), all in an effort to create equivalents to Queneau’s extravagant wordplay, though gradually it becomes a rather disturbing nightmare about fascism. Forget the preposterous claim by at least one critic that the movie’s editing influenced Alain Resnais, but there’s no doubt that Malle affected Richard Lester — and was clearly influenced himself by William Klein, credited here as a visual consultant and responsible for much of the wide-angle look. A rather sharp, albeit soulless, film, packed with ideas and glitter and certainly worth seeing. In French with subtitles. 93 min. (JR)
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Commissioned by Found Footage for its 4th issue (February 2018). — J.R.
We’re living through a confusing transitional period whose transitions are chiefly matters of financial speculation lying beyond our control. Theorizing our helpless condition — which often means attempting to rationalize it, or to adapt to it by other means — we’re obliged to use an out-of-date language. This antiquated language needs to be upgraded with a new vocabulary if we want to make useful sense of what’s happening — something that we haven’t yet figured out how to do. Just as “politically correct” language can sometimes be described as the language of defeat – struggling to make an adequate representation of a reality over which one has lost control – theoretical cinema suggests at times a farewell gesture towards a medium that has fled.
The fumblings to be found below are an attempt to clarify not so much five experimental films in 35-millimeter and CinemaScope by Peter Tscherkassky — L’Arrivée (1997-1999, 2:09 min.), Outer Space (1999, 9:58 min.), Get Ready (1999, 1:06 min.), Dream Work (2001,11 min.), and Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine (2005, 17 min.), all of which I find powerful, provocative, haunting, and ultimately confounding — as the confusing language used to describe them.… Read more »