a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Out 750 Minutes: You

Holy shit.

Claims of a crappy print kept me from rejimmying my schedule when Out 1: Spectre -- Jacques Rivette's more-manageable-but-not-really whiddled down version of his legendary ass-numbing opus -- played the Anthology Film Archives in April. Now I don't feel so bad. Ranked, at 12 1/2 hours, as only the fourth longest theatrical film, Out 1: Noli me tangere doesn't have quite the reputation as other Rivettes, but for obvious reasons: no one's seen it. (And according to Claire Denis, in the NYT article linked above, those who have were probably stoned.)

There is a school of thought, though, that posits that, simply by making a film of such immense length, you're automatically setting yourself up for confirmed masterpiece status by a large portion of the cinepholic community. Perhaps. Or, at the least, probably definitely. But as anyone who's trawled through some of Warhol's longer works or Bela Tarr's Sátántángó knows (or should know), daunting length has its own built-in merits. Though I could watch Sátántángó's miserablist tracking shots for days, my possible favorite moment came roughly halfway through the third (and longest) part. Having not eaten as well as I should have -- just a modest sandwich beforehand, plus a made dash to a hot dog vendor across the street during the first intermission; I later discovered many had smuggled apples and such past MoMa's not-so-rigid-after-all security -- my hunger wound up reaching a fever pitch...just as our characters sat down for dinner. This being a long take movie, we watch them eat the entire meal. Fuck Béla Tarr in my opinion.

Having never made anything under two hours -- 2001's surprise hit Va Savoir was a comparatively frivolous 154 minutes -- Rivette is, suffice to say, a whiz at elephantine lenghts, and what they do to an audience. This is, after all, a guy who didn't reveal why a movie called Celine and Julie Go Boating was called Celine and Julie Go Boating till, oh, the final 30 seconds of its 193 minutes length. It's no coincidence that being his most playful work, C&J is also his most popular. But that's not a total slight on the rest of his work, which includes everything from a near-complete dissection of the dissolution of a marriage to four hours of Emmanuelle Béart neglecting to reclothe herself. Might as well clear my November schedule.

Now if only someone can finally bust out Peter Watkin's 14 1/2 hour, multi-continent nuclear arms epic, Resan.


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