Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rochefort, Aspic and the Bourgeoisie

Yet another segment of brief and fleeting film reviews.

Les demoiselles de Rochefort (1967) - This is my second Jacques Demy film after Les parapluies de Cherbourg. If two films by the same director could be any different from each other, this is it. In saying that, they're still both clearly Demy films. They're both colourful in their ways, they both star Catherine Deneuve, they both feature music by Michel Legrand - indeed both are musicals. The difference is one is melancholy (and set in winter), while the other has yards of joie-de-vivre, and definitely evokes late spring/early summertime. For its sheer mirth and optimism, I'll take Les demoiselles de Rochefort.

A Dandy in Aspic (1968) - I'll watch practically anything of Mia Farrow's early work, so I was quite happy to get a hold of this film. Needless to say, waif-like late 60s mod girl Farrow's acting is not really tested here, she'd have to wait till Rosemary's Baby - her next feature - for that. What is here is an interesting late entry into the 60s spy/espionage craze. It's directed by Anthony Mann (Winchester '73), except he unfortunately passed away during filming. This might explain the strange post-production choices such as fast zoom ins and loud, booming voice echoes that are supposed to reflect the protagonist's (Laurence Harvey) dishevelled consciousness. Though the techniques come off unsubtle - even unintentionally comedic - I guess they go a long way in shaping the film's often bizarre atmosphere. It's a confusing, at times hard to follow film, but it's most watchable.

Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie (1972) - I really like this film's title (among other things) because it sounds quite rhythmic. The film was written and directed by Luis Bunuel, which should be enough said. It's, in other words, often surreal. Similar to Belle de jour, it's hard to distinguish between what's meant to be 'real' about the narrative and what isn't. Pervading the film is the fears, desires and plain ennui of a small band of bourgeois friends during a series of dinner dates. It doesn't all make sense at all times, but I suspect Bunuel doesn't want the viewer to simply come away with a full understanding. That is to say, a little - or a lot - of uncertainty goes a way in keeping one interested in the film. Or frustrated with it. But certainly engaged with it.