Author Topic: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)  (Read 15071 times)

pixote

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Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2009, 04:39:35 AM »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

worm@work

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Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2009, 08:43:32 AM »
I was drawn in immediately as well, though more by the shot that follows the one you describe above.  As the camera was coasting down the cobblestone street, slightly above eye-level, moving as if floating on the wind, I actually remarked, "What a great way to start a movie!"  It's just like the perfect entrance into the location — so visually arresting.  It's a shame Varda couldn't sustain the shot even longer (the eventual edit point was pretty awkward), but that's okay.  The shot also does a nice job of introducing my favorite character in the film: the wind.

Yeah, the wind is awesome and the way it blows through the hanging clothes, the drying nets - really fun to watch.

I didn't really like either of those aspects of the film, I guess.  It just seemed to set up this overly basic dichotomy between the urban and the rural — romanticizing the latter at the expense of the former.  The villagers are full of life and emotion, hard-working, etc. etc., while the couple from Paris are cold and detached, living too much in their minds.  Varda captures this visually, often posing the man and woman in artificial fashion, freezing them in space and time, keeping their words disassociated from their bodies, and so on.  Alas, Paris has robbed the man of the spontaneous joy he no doubt had as a boy growing up in this coastal village:

Hmmm, I agree that she romanticizes the rural life and makes this even more apparent by the way she shoots the couple and gives them these dialogues that they deliver in such a deadpan manner. However, while that premise is questionable and presented too deliberately, I think what I liked about the alternating structure is the way some of what I felt about one story bled into the next story. But the choice to make one flow so naturally and the other seem so formal and rigid and artificial did feel too deliberate to me and like I said before, that made the couple's story far less interesting.

At a narrative level, a lot of this stuff bored me, but I found it interesting at a metacinematic level, thinking about how the mix of styles captured the transitional nature of the filmmaking, with the filming of the villagers harkening back to influences from the 30s, especially Jean Vigo (À propos de Nice, L'Atalante), and the filming of the couple anticipating much of the Left Bank cinema to come — certainly Hiroshima mon amour and Last Year at Marienbad, both by La Pointe-Courte's editor, Alain Resnais.  Some of the more staid filmmaking of 1950s France seemed to slip in there, too.

Cool that Alain Resnais edited it. But yes, the couple's conversation did feel so reminiscent of Hiroshima. Makes perfect sense. I've only watched L'Atalante from the older films you reference but if they're all like the filming of the villagers, then I should correct that :).

I also laughed earlier in the film at the prolonged shot of the fisherman suggestively thrusting his pole in the water over and over and over again.  I forgot what dialogue played over that, but it definitely fit, whatever it was.
Don't remember this at all :D.


worm@work

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Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2009, 08:44:21 AM »


This is from the extras on the disc? I'll try and watch that later tonight.

pixote

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Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2009, 03:40:41 AM »
I think what I liked about the alternating structure is the way some of what I felt about one story bled into the next story. But the choice to make one flow so naturally and the other seem so formal and rigid and artificial did feel too deliberate to me and like I said before, that made the couple's story far less interesting.
She says in one of the interviews that Faulkner's The Wild Palms was her inspiration for the structure and that she was going for Brechtian distanciation with the editing, intentionally pulling the rug out from the audience whenever they might be getting too invested in one narrative or the other.

Don't remember this at all :D.


Stills can't do justice to those jaunty pelvic thrusts, but...

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

worm@work

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Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2009, 08:41:35 AM »
*lol*
I still don't remember but those series of screenshots give me a pretty good idea :).

I forgot to mention earlier but the time they spend in the belly of that abandoned boat were great, both visually as well as it was one of the few times in the film where I found myself interested in them I think.

skjerva

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Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #25 on: March 25, 2009, 11:42:44 AM »
i keep opening this thread expecting people to write on Le Bonheur  :P
But I wish the public could, in the midst of its pleasures, see how blatantly it is being spoon-fed, and ask for slightly better dreams. 
                        - Iris Barry from "The Public's Pleasure" (1926)

roujin

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Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #26 on: March 25, 2009, 11:44:30 AM »
I think I need to watch a bunch of Varda soonish.

worm@work

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Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #27 on: March 25, 2009, 12:07:40 PM »
Please.

pixote

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Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #28 on: March 29, 2009, 03:43:08 AM »

Cléo from 5 to 7  (Agnès Varda, 1962)

As for the film itself, I had a great time with it. I loved the way the film is temporally and geographically exact, something the director made a point of mentioning prior to the start of the film. She talked about how she wanted to eschew the general tendency that films have to cheat time and generally have time ellipses. What was charming was the way she talked about this. She specifically pointed out that she doesn't think the time-cheat is a big deal... that it's a legitimate cinematic tool / device but that at the time, she was equally interested in both documentary and narrative cinema and intrigued by the idea of making a film that would actually measure time as its measured in reality. Also that she wanted to show certain parts of Paris and ensure that the route that Cléo takes in the film would be the actual streets that people would use to go from pt. A to pt. B and so on. Just the way she said all this made it seem totally sincere and not gimmicky at all in any way.
Coming from La Pointe-Courte, I was tempted to view the treatment of time in Cléo as another attempt to impose a very literary structure on film — something emphasized by the use of chapter titles.  In that sense, it didn't really interest me.  But it works great as a self-imposed restriction on the film, allowing/forcing Varda to fill the empty time that would traditionally have been edited out — much of which comprised my favorite moments in the film.

Another scene from earlier on that made me smile a lot as well is the scene where Cléo and her assistant (?) are in a cafe and her assistant is narrating a story and we see Cléo being distracted and along with Cléo, we too lose the story thread and seamlessly move on to eavesdropping on a conversation that another couple is having at an adjacent table.
Yes!  I thought that was particularly great.  I was happiest whenever the filmmaking was at its most subjective.

Also, loved the kid playing the musical instrument at the street corner and the way that music becomes the score as Cléo walks out the gate.
The use of music in the film is really awesome.  I particularly love when she's singing that song in her apartment with just the piano and then as the song builds we cut to a closeup of Cléo and barely even notice the way a full orchestration has snuck in on the soundtrack, strings and all.  And Cléo playing her own song on the jukebox at the cafe was areally nice character moment.

So yeah, for a film that is primarily about 2 hours in the life of a woman who is waiting for a potentially fatal medical test result, I found myself smiling a lot during the film. And I think it is this lightness in handling a theme with a fair amount of gravitas is what I think I liked the most about the film.
I think I agree and disagree at the same time.  I did like the general lightness and I smiled a whole lot, but until late in the film, I didn't really take the whole medical test thing seriously. Given Cléo's character, it seemed so probable that she was just overreacting, diva-like, and there wasn't anything to worry about at all.  The use of tarot cards and superstitions to set the stakes only added to that feeling, I think.  That definitely changed for me with the scene in the park, though, where Cléo seemed to be at her most vulnerable.

Another question was about the silent film sequence within the film and someone wanted to know why she chose to have that. She said that she had always noticed that people tend to lose interest in the film at some point during the film and that she was particularly afraid that people would get tired of walking around Paris with Clèo. So she wanted to have something that would distract people from Clèo's troubles and revive their interest in the film.
I found that scene to have the opposite effect on me, breaking the film's spell on me.  Damn those test audiences!  I think the short kept us away from Clèo for too long — from either her face or her perspective.  I didn't really see her focusing on that film as intently as we were forced to, not given her mindset going into that scene.  And, honestly, I didn't think the short was really good enough to command her attention.

She also spoke a little bit about how the street scenes in Clèo really blend documentary and narrative styles. She had asked the street performers to perform at those specific places so Clèo could bump into them but the rest of the footage seems to have been completely natural. Similarly, barring a couple of cafe guests who were actors, a lot of the other patrons discussing art and so on were just normal cafe guests who just happened to be there at the time.
I defnitely got that sense from those scenes, and that's largely why I liked them so much, I guess.  In fact, even though the scenes in the apartment are good, I thought the suffered a bit in this context, lacking all the atmosphere of the exterior shots.

She doesn't really see the ending as being about Clèo being saved by meeting a man.
The last few moments had mereally bracing for something regrettable, but I'm pretty much okay with the end.  I would have been really annoyed if we irised in on a kiss or some shit like that.  The trading of romantic smiles was dangerous enough.

She sees it more as Clèo finally listening to other people and making a connection and being able to look beyond her own fears.
Hmm, watching the film, I didn't really think about Clèo having an arc or this being a transformative experience for her.  I think that's probably fortunate.  It all sounds a little too neat on paper.  As is, I really liked this film a lot.  The tracking shot into the art studio might be my favorite of the marathon so far.  Just the way that one guy is trying so violently to hack a woman's nude form out of plaster, juxtaposed with the perfectly beautiful model — it's really great.

- What do you make of the beginning being shot in color?
I thought, as with La Pointe-Courte, "What a great way to start a film!"  It's shot really well and is so instantly engaging and vividly movie-like, then the switch to a more realist black-and-white style sort of pulls the rug out from under that initial engagement, but also adds to the sense of realism and paves the way for the real-time motif, I think.

pixote
« Last Edit: March 29, 2009, 03:46:59 AM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

worm@work

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Re: 1960s World Cinema: Le Bonheur (1965, France)
« Reply #29 on: March 29, 2009, 11:25:54 AM »
I decided this discussion needs more screenshots :).

- What do you make of the beginning being shot in color?
I thought, as with La Pointe-Courte, "What a great way to start a film!"  It's shot really well and is so instantly engaging and vividly movie-like, then the switch to a more realist black-and-white style sort of pulls the rug out from under that initial engagement, but also adds to the sense of realism and paves the way for the real-time motif, I think.


Yeah, I like your explanation. It definitely drew me in immediately. And that opening tarot sequence is also so funny. On the one hand, the sequence feels like it could be ominous and foretell something bleak that will set the tone for the rest of the film. Then, when the tarot reader tells Cléo that the man she is with pays a lot of attention to her and Cléo refutes her by saying that she rarely sees him, the tarot reader doesn't even flinch but merely tells Cléo, "Oh, lets replace him then" and discards the cards she has laid out and asks Cléo to pick out new ones :). I loved that!

And then we see Cléo's face when the death card comes up and she looks so anxious and worried. Then, as she leaves the fortune-teller's apartment, she can't help but stop to admire herself when she passes a mirror. I loved the way it feels like we've caught Cléo doing something that she's doing because she thinks no one is looking and that both told me something about Cléo and also endeared her to me in a way.

Coming from La Pointe-Courte, I was tempted to view the treatment of time in Cléo as another attempt to impose a very literary structure on film — something emphasized by the use of chapter titles.  In that sense, it didn't really interest me.  But it works great as a self-imposed restriction on the film, allowing/forcing Varda to fill the empty time that would traditionally have been edited out — much of which comprised my favorite moments in the film.

Yeah, I didn't necessarily love the use of intertitles but didn't pay a ton of attention to them somehow. I completely agree though that the best part is the scenes that they end up leading to. I enjoyed that cab ride and the scenes where Cléo and her friend are just driving around talking.

Cléo playing her own song on the jukebox at the cafe was a really nice character moment.
Such a great scene.

I think I agree and disagree at the same time.  I did like the general lightness and I smiled a whole lot, but until late in the film, I didn't really take the whole medical test thing seriously. Given Cléo's character, it seemed so probable that she was just overreacting, diva-like, and there wasn't anything to worry about at all.  The use of tarot cards and superstitions to set the stakes only added to that feeling, I think.  That definitely changed for me with the scene in the park, though, where Cléo seemed to be at her most vulnerable.

I do see what you're saying here about not taking Cléo's worries too seriously. I think the film sets us up to question the real magnitude of the problem. Not only does Cléo always appear so capricious but look at the way her assistant seems to treat her like a child almost. There's also another screenshot I didn't get of the assistant tying her sash before they leave the cafe and so on. Just stuff you normally help a little girl with. I can't remember too clearly but I think the reason I ended up not having the same reaction as you is because I'm pretty sure Varda mentioned the 'cancer' word in her introduction to the film. Now I wish she hadn't! Because of that, I think despite her diva-like personality, I was always  a little worried along with her.


I found that scene to have the opposite effect on me, breaking the film's spell on me.  Damn those test audiences!  I think the short kept us away from Clèo for too long — from either her face or her perspective.  I didn't really see her focusing on that film as intently as we were forced to, not given her mindset going into that scene.  And, honestly, I didn't think the short was really good enough to command her attention.

*lol*. I don't think it was test audiences even :). I think this was just Varda projecting her own reading of how people generally react to films and responding to her own anxiety that people will be bored with the real-time structure. And I can see your problem with it. For all that time, we are just following Clèo and after all, the whole film is basically us spending time with her and going through these hours of waiting with her. I think I was just excited to unexpectedly see Godard and Anna Karina and Eddie Constantine in the film (the anecdote from Varda came later so I wasn't expecting it) :D.

The last few moments had me really bracing for something regrettable, but I'm pretty much okay with the end.  I would have been really annoyed if we irised in on a kiss or some shit like that.  The trading of romantic smiles was dangerous enough.

Yep :).

Hmm, watching the film, I didn't really think about Clèo having an arc or this being a transformative experience for her.  I think that's probably fortunate.  It all sounds a little too neat on paper.  As is, I really liked this film a lot. 

Yeah, I didn't see the arc either and was grateful for that. Didn't really want to see her change during the course of the film! Varda seemed to imply that she sorta does and maybe that's why she has Clèo throw away her wig and get out of the pretty dress into a more staid plain black dress when she leaves the apartment? Varda seemed to think of the film as separated into two halves by that gesture. I didn't take that 'throwing away the wig' too seriously personally. It seemed like something Clèo might do when she's annoyed with everyone around her...



The tracking shot into the art studio might be my favorite of the marathon so far.  Just the way that one guy is trying so violently to hack a woman's nude form out of plaster, juxtaposed with the perfectly beautiful model — it's really great.

Yeah, that was sooo great. Also, I liked the contrast between her and her friend. Her friend is beautiful too but seems to not self-conscious (and yet fully aware) about her looks. Clèo, on the other hand, seems to always move, dress and behave the way she thinks a beautiful woman should? Not a huge deal, but I enjoyed their dynamic.


And I may have mentioned this already but just visually, I loved the time we spend at the hat store. The mirrors, the bustling streets outside and Clèo trying on bizarre hats :).


Incidentally, my screenshots are not great but this is what I had and I figured poor screenshots are better than none. Btw, I really enjoyed rewatching large sections of the film just to get these screenshots :).

 

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