“The Beaches of Agnès” at the Orpheum

In my experience, there are only two types of surprises: those that make you nauseous and those that make you grin. Finding The Beach of Agnès (2008) billed on the marquee at the Orpheum this morning was definitely an example of the latter.  The film’s unique magic won’t register on every Joe who ends up seeing it—and let there be no doubt, it directly caters to those who possess un amour fou pour le cinéma français—but as far as films that received their American premieres this year go, you’d be hard-pressed to find another that radiates as much warmth, that is as simultaneously elegiac and nostalgic, that sheds so much light on the history of cinema while also indicating the paths that cinema may take in the not-too-distant future.

Varda is one of the most important filmmakers ever to do the damn thing and Les Plages d’Agnès is her glorious (though ultimately half-successful) attempt at composing an autobiography. Of all the filmmakers who have even momentarily waxed philosophical on the essence of cinema, it is Varda’s dialectical formulation that comes closest to plucking the pearl from the oyster: Cinema is born from the reconciliation of the found and the made, the organic and the artificial, the gleaned and the fabricated. The elegance of this proposition emerges from the fact that Varda’s cinematic practice harmonizes perfectly with her simple theory.

Showing times can be found at the Orpheum’s website.

Here’s the film’s trailer:

I have few reservations revealing to y’all that Les Plages d’Agnès will factor into my top nine of ’09 list. Alright, that’s enough gushing for now.

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3 Responses to ““The Beaches of Agnès” at the Orpheum”

  1. Amy Says:

    Do clams make pearls too? I thought just oysters. Oh well…point taken, regardless.

  2. The Top Nine of ‘09 « CineMadison Says:

    […] The Beaches of Agnès – I won’t bother trying to build upon my remarks from last week, but don’t you dare forget that this baby is currently playing at the […]

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