Author Topic: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)  (Read 16029 times)

oldkid

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 17986
  • Hi there! Feed me worlds!
Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #50 on: February 16, 2017, 04:44:30 PM »
I love worm's review of The Gleaners and I.  Love.  Makes me so happy.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32648
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #51 on: October 17, 2017, 01:50:40 AM »


Le bonheur  (Agnès Varda, 1965)

Earlier in this thread, I linked to this randomly chosen post-Impressionist painting in reference to Le bonheur. skjerva replied, "how on earth does it remind you of Seurat?" Looking at the screenshot above, my eight-years-late response is, "How on earth does this not remind you of Seurat!?"

The opening sequence of Le bonheur most certainly seems painterly to me. Most of the extras along that river even seem to be holding their fishing poles as still as possible, posing for the artist. Varda uses these shots, and the colors therein, to paint an idyll — one which she'll spend the rest of the film interrogating.

But I've gotten ahead of myself.



We fade in from red. It's Varda's first full-color feature, and the conscious use of that color is immediately at the forefront.



The single sunflower, central and bold, sways in the wind, like an eye watching us.



Another perspective on that same flower, off-center now, symmetry traded in for a more gently balanced composition.



A return to the initial perspective, with the edits in time to the jauntiness of the Mozart soundtrack.



And now back to the other shot for the main title, written in the color of the sunflower such that the happiness adds to the harmony of the shot.



Back to the central flower, as Mozart's music becomes a little more aggressive.



One last return to this shot for Varda's title card.



And now quickly back to this watchful eye for less than a full second, the editing becoming off-kilter and eating away at the natural beauty. If the film's title didn't already seem laced with irony, the margin for doubt is narrowing.



A new shot, with flowers in the foreground and a family, out of focus in the background. For the remainder of the credits, the film alternates between this shot (on which the titles appear) and asynchronous interruptions by the previous shot. The effect becomes more and more jarring, and eventually the single, solitary flower — beautiful at first in isolation — seems almost threatening and in violent juxtaposition to the family moving towards the camera arm-in-arm along the golden field.



We fade now with green, a rather jarring reminded of the importance of color and—



—a transition into the lush flora of the idyllic setting.



Thérèse's sunflower dress acts as a playful call back to the opening credits but has thematic import as well, linking her to the more harmonious of the opening shots. She's one flower among many, working together as a bouquet.



Thérèse and François lying together under a tree — a vision of happiness that's almost laughably clichéd.



It's not enough for Thérèse to be wearing a dress of flowers and lying in a sea of them; she also has to gather them up to take home — to carry the sense of this romantic idyll with her wherever she goes.



The family drives out of the woods, and the film jumps cuts—



—back to civilization. Another of Le bonheur many dichotomies. But there are remnants of the natural here as well—



—in the form of gardens—



—and in art. Here's a scene from Jean Renoir's Picnic on the Grass playing on the television, playfully calling back to the earlier shot of Thérèse and François and underscoring its clichéd nature.

Her: Sir, don't you want to tell me something?
Him: Like what?
Her: Anything, so long as you talk. You talk so well.
Him: Where were we?
Her: Yesterday, you were talking about the revolution of the species.
Him: The evolution...

She laughs, embarrassed at her mistake.

Him: What is the origin of organized life? That is the question, as Hamlet would say.

That might qualify as very on-the-nose thematic foreshadowing. :)



One last shot from this scene, as the kids' aunt refuses to accept the bouquet of flowers from Thérèse. The key line here: "Keep them. My garden is full."

Here's another great sequence of shots, as Varda follows up a fade from blue with a delightful amount of blue mise en scène:



The fade from blue.



At first our eyes tell us that the blueness of the background wall is probably just a coincidence.



The blue of François' shirt makes coincidence less likely, and we start to smile.



The fact that the walls are being freshly painted blue seals the visual joke.



And the camera cuts to a another street view, just in time to catch the blue of the passing truck; a perfect punchline.



And it's as if the path of blue was all leading him here, to her.

Now again:



From the flame (of new passion?)—



—we fade to red.



And we fade back in to more flames, and red clothes.



And more red clothes.



And more red clothes.



And a red sky.



And a red building.



And François' red car— wait, that's not right!



Luckily, a red truck passes by in the foreground to save the day.

More soon, in the Top 100 Club thread. edit: Here!

Grade: B+

Up next: Edgar Morin & Jean Rouch's Chronicle of a Summer (France, 1961)

pixote
« Last Edit: October 20, 2017, 10:36:48 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

Knocked Out Loaded

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1278
  • All temperatures are in centigrades.
Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #52 on: October 17, 2017, 06:51:11 AM »
All that was poetic and beautiful. Thanks, pixote!

And what a coincidence it is that the name of the establishment in the red building is ”The Butchery Of Faith”!
I might remember it all differently tomorrow.

Sandy

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 10937
    • Sandy's Cinematic Musings
Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #53 on: October 17, 2017, 01:24:20 PM »
Gorgeous shots, pixote! And your running commentary is like we're hearing your discoveries while watching the film with you. How wonderful.

You make a great argument for Seurat! The extras' quietness did resemble modeling for a painting. While you were thinking about Seurat during the opening sequence, I had Monet on my mind. :)






Oh, and just a side note. I've always been taught there are to be no matches in a barn (father grew up on a farm.) So what's with all the smoking and the lighter in the mini saw mill! :o
"Inside you there's a strength that lies."

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32648
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #54 on: June 27, 2018, 01:22:30 AM »


Chronicle of a Summer  (Jean Rouch & Edgar Morin, 1961)

I'm hoping to watch the new Jean Rouch DVD box set some time in the next year, and hopefully I revisit Chronicle of a Summer soon thereafter and give it a proper review. For now, I'm somewhat limited to the banality of "I really liked it." And, in retrospect, of course I did; its self-reflexive, philosophical, interrogative, incipient-vérité style occupies a very specific and definite niche in the spectrum of things I love in movies. I probably would have been content to spend ninety minutes watching passersby struggle with the question of whether they're happy, but the film offers so much more than that. There's such a strong sense of time and place, as the decade's politics start to warm to their inevitable boil. The cinematography offers moments of shocking beauty, with the screenshot above representing one very clear highlight — a tracking shot of a haunting monologue. It is, at times, a weirdly stagy film — knowingly so, I think — but awkward nonetheless. It's also not fully cohesive — you can almost sense Rouch and Morin clashing behind the camera and in the editing room — but even that impromptu messiness has its appeal.

Grade: B+



Un été + 50  (Florence Dauman, 2011)

If you like Chronicle of a Summer, this special feature qualifies as must-see. It's fantastic to see all the unused footage from the 1961 film, including out-takes, and it's equally rewarding to see interviews with some of the participants five decades later. Every archival shot of a clap board adds wonderful complexity to the philosophical debate between fiction and non-fiction in documentaries.

Grade: B

pixote
« Last Edit: June 27, 2018, 04:57:55 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32648
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #55 on: June 27, 2018, 03:16:30 PM »


Les amitiés particulières  (Jean Delannoy, 1964)

In terms of filmmaking style, Les amitiés particulières doesn't belong in this marathon. It feels like a 1950s film made a decade late, with no sense of transition, no hint of the nouvelle vague. I'm sure the Cahiers cohort hated it.

In terms of narrative content and theme, though, Delannoy's film seems progressive to the point where I almost can't imagine its being made today. The story concerns two boys falling in love at a religious boarding school. Their relationship isn't only taboo because of their gender but also because of their age difference: the older boy (Georges) is sixteen (upped from fourteen in the novel), while the younger boy (Alexandre) is just twelve. The casting of these characters exaggerates that difference, with Georges looking closer to eighteen and Alexandre looking completely prepubescent. Even though the love between them is platonic (sort of), the morality of the film is murky and complicated, and the tragedy of it is inevitable and rather beautiful.

Grade: B

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32648
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #56 on: June 29, 2018, 08:33:57 PM »


























L'enfance nue  (Maurice Pialat, 1968)

Damn, I wish I'd watched this back in 2009 when I meant to, so I could discuss it with worm@worm, whose review is much better and more thorough than mine will be. (I'm amused by the overlap between our screenshots.) That being said, I perhaps relate more to the review by roujin and the capsule review by 1SO. The film's lack of sentimentality is foregrounded from the start, with Pialat inverting the "pet the dog" cliche with a "kill the cat" hook. I still rooted for young François, though, with the film's effectively evoking a parent's helplessness at not knowing how to impart goodness and happiness into a child. The movie's real heart lies with the elderly couple who take François into their home. Basically playing themselves, the actors exude a wonderful humanity that more offsets the film's more pessimistic qualities. I almost wish Pialat had just made a documentary about them.

Firstly, the structure of the film. I was surprised by how the film doesn't feel to follow an arc like most films seem to do. Francois doesn't really go through any kind of transformation during the course of the film (or at least I don't think he does) nor does the story follow some kind of beginning and end. It feels more like a snapshot of Francois's life for a particular duration. This just enhanced the realism of the film for me and made it perhaps even a little documentary-like.

I agree to a point, but I also couldn't escape the feeling that the film's structure and narrative was a bit underdeveloped and unrefined. I didn't necessarily want a three-act structure or a more traditional character arc, just more cumulative impact from the collection of scenes.

He remembers to buy his foster mother a farewell gift and as he gets into the car ...

Ah right, I almost forgot that Pialat does indeed grant François a "pet the dog" moment to help offset the rest of his acting out.

I constantly found myself thinking that it is the instability of his surroundings and the abandonment by multiple people (albeit probably with good reason) play a big part in what makes him the way he is. And yet the film doesn't offer up a pat explanation like that. We see that both sets of foster parents are ultimately well-intentioned and start out wanting to be kind and loving parents. Secondly, we see Raoul, who also seems to have moved around a bit but seems better-adjusted and less destructive than Francois.

The film is a good portrait of a character who desperately needs love but doesn't know how to accept love. There's perhaps an underlying assumption that his character has been shaped more by environment (nurture, or lack thereof) than by genetics (nature), which I might see as a limitation of the film.

I was also struck by all the images we see of Francois looking out at the world and at the people around him. I am not sure what exactly he is thinking on these occasions but something about these images were very moving to me. To me, they felt partially as though Francois is hiding from these people and partially as though he is just taking their measure or taking stock of the situation and what to do next and sometimes, I felt like he was wondering how long he would be able to stay with these people. These images also seem to denote a basic lack of trust perhaps. Maybe I'm reading too much into this but these images really stayed with me.

To me, those images seemed to emphasize François' isolation and alienation; his difficulty trusting in human connection. There's also an impenetrability to his character that the film seems to embrace, with those shots asking unknowingly what goes through the mind of a problem child like this.

Grade: B-



L'amour existe  (Maurice Pialat, 1960)

I don't remember this short essay doc too well, but I didn't quite like it. The narration seemed full of misplaced, youthful confidence in how the world works, like listening to half-drunk pontifications of a first-year grad student.

Grade: C+



Up next: Dusan Makavejev's Man Is Not a Bird (Yugoslavia, 1965)

pixote
« Last Edit: June 29, 2018, 08:35:37 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.