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Alain Resnais


CaveGirl
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Being that TCM is showing his "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" on September 02, 2018 I am curious if Resnais has any admirers here?

I first read of his work, in college and was desirous to see both the above film and of course, "Last Year at Marienbad". Working with people like Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet on films, and others in the Left Bank milieu, did make his work distinctive, with novel narrative constructions. Having enjoyed the interplay of Okada and Riva in HMA, I was not attuned to seeing Scarlett and Bill attempting perhaps a touch of the same chemistry in "Lost in Translation" and I was not disappointed. The essence of the counterbalance and dichotomy of destruction to love in HMA, brings to mind the theories of someone like Bataille, which is a bit disconcerting.

Resnais and people like Agnes Varda, will be represented on the same day, with also Chris Marker, which makes sense. Resnais seemed compelled to bring art, music, and literature together in his films, like "Stavisky" with Jean-Paul Belmondo, but many of his films seem too obtuse and convoluted, with their mixing of time and space continuum issues to be roundly applauded by most film-goers. Oddly enough, something like his "Night and Fog" might be more viewed than his other films, even with its dour message and visuals.

Any opinions on the importance of his works in film will be appreciated.

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I am quite a fan of Resnais having seen most of his films at the Cinematheque in Toronto.  Providence (1977) with John Gielgud, Ellen Burstyn, Dirk Bogarde and David Warner is probably my favourite and it is in English.  Night and Fog (1955) may be the best short subject ever made.  It is certainly very powerful.

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CaveGirl, I don't think I've seen anything of Resnais' except Last Year at Marienbad.  "Obtuse and convoluted" would be my evaluation of that work as well.  Is it supposed to be funny/satirical?  I've never come across anyone who knows about this film who could give me a definite answer.  Most seemed appalled that I found it hard to take LYAM seriously.  But thinking of it as a joke is the only way I can sit through it.  That organ music -- it's like one of those parody soap operas.  But I can see where it might be considered one of the "mind-bending" films that were so popular at that time.  It just doesn't speak to me.

Because of this, I think I've avoided seeing any other Resnais film.  I've never seen HMA, and I don't know if I'm going to watch it.  Do you think I'd like it better than Marienbad?

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21 minutes ago, Bogie56 said:

I am quite a fan of Resnais having seen most of his films at the Cinematheque in Toronto.  Providence (1977) with John Gielgud, Ellen Burstyn, Dirk Bogarde and David Warner is probably my favourite and it is in English.  Night and Fog (1955) may be the best short subject ever made.  It is certainly very powerful.

Thanks so much for your thoughts as a Resnais fan, Bogie. 


"Night and Fog" is quite moving.

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10 minutes ago, Emily Emerac said:

CaveGirl, I don't think I've seen anything of Resnais' except Last Year at Marienbad.  "Obtuse and convoluted" would be my evaluation of that work as well.  Is it supposed to be funny/satirical?  I've never come across anyone who knows about this film who could give me a definite answer.  Most seemed appalled that I found it hard to take LYAM seriously.  But thinking of it as a joke is the only way I can sit through it.  That organ music -- it's like one of those parody soap operas.  But I can see where it might be considered one of the "mind-bending" films that were so popular at that time.  It just doesn't speak to me.

Because of this, I think I've avoided seeing any other Resnais film.  I've never seen HMA, and I don't know if I'm going to watch it.  Do you think I'd like it better than Marienbad?

Thanks so much for your astute thoughts, Emily. I think maybe you have the right handle on LYAM. It could be a spoof on us all, trying to take the mysterious themes so seriously that debates are made over what is really happening in the film, and what went on between the two characters and maybe the joke is on all of us. I do like the cinematography though, and one starts feeling like they are living in some dream world while viewing it and one can go into some reverie and feel like they've awoken on another planet. I like that kind of feeling but it might irk other viewers. "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" is quite different, having the war story in the background, some very upsetting footage to absorb also of victims and the two cultures meeting up represented by the male and female leads. Can't say what you might think of it, but would love to hear your thoughts if you remember to watch it on September 02, but it is really on early morning of September 03, but you know how the TCM schedule is set up to only start listing a film for the day that starts around 6am I think.


P.S. I'll have to watch LYAM again to pick up on the "organ music" which I'd forgotten!

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1 minute ago, CaveGirl said:


P.S. I'll have to watch LYAM again to pick up on the "organ music" which I'd forgotten!

Ugh, I don't know how you can forget that intrusive organ, overemphasizing every dramatic utterance.  I saw this movie umpteen years ago, and I swear I can still hear those creepy chords. 

 

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I've seen and enjoyed Night and FogHiroshima Mon Amour, and Providence.

I have not seen Last Year at Marienbad, but I've heard and read so much about it over the years, with the comments either being ecstatic or condemnatory. I'll try to watch it when I get to films from 1961, although I hear that there are a lot of sub-par copies out there.

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I've actually seen 16 of his films but not the last few that he made.  Besides Providence and Night and Fog I liked all of these in this order...

Mon Oncle d'Amérique (1980) with Gerard Depardieu.  If I'm not mistaken this has been on TCM

La Guerre Est Finie (1966) with Yves Montand

Smoking/No Smoking (1993)

Je T'aime Je T'aime (1968)

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)

Stavisky (1974) with Alain Delon and Charles Boyer

Muriel (1963)

On Connait La Chanson (1997)

Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

Melo (1986)

L'amour a Mort (1984)

I Want to Go Home (1989)

I didn't really care for

Private Fears In Public Places (2006) and 

Life Is a Bed of Roses (1983)

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19 minutes ago, Emily Emerac said:

Ugh, I don't know how you can forget that intrusive organ, overemphasizing every dramatic utterance.  I saw this movie umpteen years ago, and I swear I can still hear those creepy chords. 

 

I own it on dvd, but it has been eons since I watched. What I remember most is the camera showing ceilings as it moved through the buildings, which made me dizzy. Reminded me of the overhead looking shots from the view of the inside casket in Dreyer's "Vampyr". I think I am more visual than auditory so remember scenes more than the music. I dig the fact though that you remember this detail, Emily! Were the chords creepier than those in "Carnival of Souls" I wonder?

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25 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I've seen and enjoyed Night and FogHiroshima Mon Amour, and Providence.

I have not seen Last Year at Marienbad, but I've heard and read so much about it over the years, with the comments either being ecstatic or condemnatory. I'll try to watch it when I get to films from 1961, although I hear that there are a lot of sub-par copies out there.

Yes, this is another thing I remember about Marienbad -- I saw it in some art house or other in the late 60s, and the entire film was so dark.  I didn't know if it was supposed to be like that, for atmosphere, maybe, or if it was just a crappy print. I'd like to see it again sometime, as the director intended.  Maybe after all these years of movie watching I'll have more patience with it.

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TCM has shown Mon oncle d'Amerique, the only Resnais film of the few I've seen that I actually like rather than merely admire. Resnais is what I call a "neck up" director: everything is filtered through the intellect, without much use of or appeal to the heart, the body, or the soul. Perhaps a frigid admiration is all he aspires to? Hiroshima Mon Amour, Last Year at Marienbad, and Night and Fog are all official classics that one really should see at some point, though I have no particular desire to see any of them again. The two stars of Hiroshima Mon Amour are more appealing to me than the script or the direction, though the the last twenty or thirty minutes seem very long. Delphine Seyrig in Marienbad seems like a particularly elegant vampire. La guerre est finie was finished for me after a half hour or so, though I can't recall if I was bored or actively disliked it.

On the other hand, Mon oncle d'Amerique was very entertaining and even used one of those outrageous soap opera devices. I do want to try some of his later films. A couple of people have recommended Providence, so that may be the one for me to try next.

 

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22 hours ago, CaveGirl said:

Resnais and people like Agnes Varda, will be represented on the same day, with also Chris Marker, which makes sense.

Well Resnais was editor for "La Pointe Courte" so I think that is why it is being shown. La Jetee was probably chosen as a short to fill up the gaps between the films. Overall, it's a good schedule of important films that Resnais worked on. 

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"Last Year At Marienbad" and "Hiroshima Mon Amour" were such spellbinding adventures in film for me.

Alan Resnais knew the importance of his very distincitve scenarists.

Only a member of the French avant-garde could have written those films. 

And there's a decided difference in their temperments, too.

Strangely enough, they both share the same concern - the elusive nature of a romantic attachment which can not last.

But the imagery in both films is so, so powerful. 

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