What is Hollywood, you ask, dear children? A quorum of whores babbling endlessly on about fucking while the bordello is razed for a penny arcade -- Paul Bern

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Is there another great filmmaker as often and roughly maligned as Claude Lelouch...?

The Balzac of the cinema. Give it twenty years after he's dead. The truth will out. And that snot-nose Desplechin could learn a few tricks from him.

Yes, he deals in generic nonsense that he makes idiosyncratic; shaves off infinite variations of the same universe. But he is absolutely the author of his films. Every shot is his. Every film has a dangerous balance between casualness -- the improvisation -- and causality.

Frames: for someone often accused of empty, pretty shots -- Lelouch's images are more like slurred snapshots, handheld in advance of steadycam, where everything is sacrificed to an expression of an often obscure emotion. There is never anything "stock" about what happens in his films. You cannot exactly predict the subtle course.

La Bonne Annee: another one of Lelouch's infamous dog's breakfasts -- but mesmerizing -- as usual there are a few amazing "technical" moments...for instance:

The plan sequence (a virtuosic helicopter shot) of the rehearsal of an escape, with laconic voiceover narration by Lino Ventura. This escape is shown in advance of the climax, and its' successful execution will provide the lovely irony of the hero trapped in the exact center of his beautiful criminal scheme, just at the moment where the Woman who lives like a Man realizes that she loves him -- as the cops take him away.

This is not Borzage, but Lelouch.

The way his films are structured is remarkable, extraordinary, as coils of meandering moments that we do not fully understand, but require a sort of active fusion as we circle around them in mind.

The "business" of the film now resolved, the film then shifts again to a drama of re-entry and reconciliation, Ventura's, who wonders who he can trust, who wants to reject, to hate -- and the Woman who lives like a Man, with a hint of terror, suddenly realizes that he won't meet her eye.

The scene plays out.

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