If you don’t have any more glaringly important obligations tonight, you could definitely do worse than to park yourself on the futon and tune in to TCM. Ted Turner’s personal repertory theater will be showing four attention-worthy films: Powell & Pressburger’s recently restored “The Red Shoes” (1948; here’s Manohla Dargis’s take on the restoration, which attracted quite a bit of buzz late last year when it ran at my old stomping grounds, NYC’s Film Forum) at 7, Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1969) at 9:30, Jean Renoir’s “The River” (1951) at 12:30 and, last but certainly not least, Otto Preminger’s Françoise Sagan adaptation and Jean Seberg showcase “Bonjour Tristesse” (1957) at 2:30. Again, I scarcely think you’d go wrong with any of these four; “Tristesse” is particularly fun, an oddly satisfying blend of the sweet and the ecliptic.
Posts Tagged ‘Jean Renoir’
…courtesy of Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, from his latest piece over at the Auteurs, on the anti-mastery of Jean Renoir (a director whose work I’ve never cared much for but who has nevertheless inspired a wealth of awesome analysis):
And what’s The Rules of the Game if not the grandest of all rude gestures? It’s fuck-yous all around: the Beaumarchais quote in credits; naming the new servant Corneille; the decision to compose a shot of an upper-class couple leaving a room around their maid, on her hands and knees, playing with their lapdogs; letting characters recede into the background without disappearing from view; the idea to devote such a long and complicated shot to men in silly smocks waving sticks to scare a bunch of rabbits, and then to linger on the quivering tail and spastic legs of a dying animal; the frankness with which the characters talk, revealing their weaknesses and their pettiness; the act of placing the camera so far away from action that the details of a room become as important as the actors (it takes some nerve to decide that a sofa has as much of a right to space in the image as a star), [my emphasis] or so close that the actors’ faces becomes distorted and monstrous (Renoir himself looks hideous in the shot of the interior of the car before the crash, his face screwed up like Popeye’s).
One thing’s for certain: mood matters, especially when watching a film on your laptop in a darkened cubicle at Memorial Library. I was apparently in no condition this afternoon to watch and appreciate Jean Renoir’s French Cancan (1954); I couldn’t wait for the film to end, despite occasionally finding myself smacked in the face by a really striking Technicolor composition. Renoir is a director whose work certainly demands respect and at least a measure of admiration, yet his visual style and his narratives always seem like manifestations of a cheery, resilient sensibility, even when dealing with thematic anvils like betrayal and mortality, and I just can’t relate to that every time I sit down to watch one of his films. I typically don’t think of myself as a connoisseur of cinematic angst, but my favorite Renoir is one of his least happy-go-lucky (though still quite triumphant): La Grande illusion (1937). One thing I can’t deny, no matter how pissy I’m feeling, is that the man has a mind for mise-en-scène like you wouldn’t believe.