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

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

YouTubing-To-Obscure-Shameless-Self-Promotion Wednesdays: Better Hopelessly Late Than Never

Just when it seemed like those of us who didn't venture up to the 2005 NYFF would never get a chance to catch Philippe Garrel's devastating Regular Lovers on a big screen, doesn't New York's Cinema Village go and schedule it just before the end of the year. And just in time for Top Ten List finalizing, too! (It previously topped my 2005 list. Now, I suppose, it doesn't.) Those with regionless players have been able to catch Artificial Eye's R2 disc for months. But excellent as it is, surely William Lubchantsky's sharp B&W cinematography looks even more radiant when projected on film, to say nothing of the enveloping rhythms of the largely wordless first hour.

Garrel, whose ornery Nouvelle Vague films have long been unavailable to those with a crippling reliance on the English language (what discs there are don't boast subtitles), conceived the film, at least in part, as a reponse to Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers, going so far as to cast his son Louis as his autobiographical self. Bernardo gets a hilarious shout-out during a leftfield fourth-wall-busting moment halfway through, but it's unclear whether he holds much animosity towards his film. The Dreamers intentionally kept things holed up, away from the world. Regular Lovers dives right in, though its portrayal of its participants is arguably more acidic still. The first hour is devoted to their carefree ideology; the other two chart the steady, slow descent into disillusionment, aided by opium and what is gradually revealed to be a rocky foundation to begin with -- a depiction that should gut anyone who's ever harbored lofty aspirations.

Oh, yes, the clip. This is from around the two-hour mark, with the characters participating in what is one last hurrah. The song is the Kinks' immortal "This Time Tomorrow," which dates from 1970, two years after the revolts. Safe to say that no one has filmed dancing quite this way before, the camera calmly following around people as they dance with no care for rhythm, patterns or style, all the while boxed within a 1.33:1 frame.

Le Weekly!! Busy-ass Holiday Movie week, with three reviews woven into a bunch of Sean Burns ones: Zhang's nutzoid Curse of the Golden Flower, which reunites him with former muse Gong Li; the surprisingly desperate (in a good way) The Pursuit of Happyness; and We Are Marshall, which is surprising in less worthwhile ways. I also interview one-time Philly Rep scene queen/current PFF documentary film curator Jennifer Steinberg. Also, and I barely feel like pointing you towards it given how skimpy it is, Rep. (Seriously, there's nothing there.)


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