- Les plages d'Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda, France, 2008)
- Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (Alphaville, Jean-Luc Godard, France/Italy, 1965)
- Amintiri din epoca de aur (Tales from the Golden Age, Hanno Höfer/Razvan Marculescu/Cristian Mungiu/Constantin Popescu/Ioana Uricaru, Romania/France, 2009)
While I'm generally not big on documentaries on the big screen, I do like to catch one or two during MIFF if, for no other reason than variety. With this film, I was also keen to see it because of my recently seeing Varda's sublime Clèo from 5 to 7 and also because of the film's positive reception at Sydney Film Festival.
The film is a truly sweet recollection by an aging artist on her life's work and of those who are and were dear to her. It traces the path of her life's work beginning with photography - a life-long passion, theatre and film. She recalls her life with Jacques Demy with great affection and sadness (at his AIDS-related death in 1991) and describes the Dardennes as her spiritual brothers. There is a very personal way in which Varda depicts her legacy as she sees it and I found it very moving. Highly recommended.
Fabulous new print, shit sub-titles. I can't believe that in this day and age we still have to suffer white sub-titles that disappear on light backgrounds. That's about a third of the film - very frustrating. Aside from that, the film is enjoyable enough. The noir aspect mixed up with low-budget sci-fi with political and social elements make for intriguing viewing. I enjoyed it, but like most Godard films, find it a somewhat impenetrable from an emotional level. Maybe that's what Godard intends. Godard isn't high on my list of priorities, but I do want to catch the three titles of his screening as part of the Karina retrospective. And I would like to see this film again, once I've read a little about its political meanings. There's clearly a message there that I didn't get. FWIW, the film looks great and the two protagonists, Eddie Constantine and Anna Karina, look fabulous.
Tales from the Golden Age
Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was my favourite cinema release of a couple of years ago so I was pretty keen to catch this omnibus film which he wrote but had different directors work on. There's six stories, all about the difficulty of life under the crazy bureaucracy of communism. Of course, we popularly consider it communism, but those Eastern bloc regimes were just dictatorships in the name of communism or socialism, which gives those ideologies a bad rap.
The film starts and ends with communist-era music, patriotic or nationalistic rally calls that accompanied the propaganda of the superiority of the communist way. It kinda sets the scene for the ludicrousness of the reality, which the film's various stories set out depict. The film is more accessible to audiences than Mungiu's Palme d'Or winning film, structured largely as black comedy and works well in that form. The film is beautifully photographed and there's a consistency to the stories that makes it seem more like an episodic single-film rather than multiple short films. Ultimately, the film underlines the difficulty of life under the old regime and makes fun to the concept of a "golden age". Well-worth seeing.