Author Topic: Alain Resnais  (Read 1620 times)

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Gamblour.

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Alain Resnais
« on: February 15, 2006, 09:08:56 AM »
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So I've been recently introduced to the fiction work of Resnais. I've owned Night and Fog for the longest time, but never seen his feature stuff. We screened Last Year at Marienbad, which I've wrestled with. And Hiroshima mon amour is just incredible.

I think there's a strong thread about memory and the ability for an individual or society to forget, and this thread runs through Night and Fog, Last Year, and Hiroshima. Night and Fog touches on the cultural, obviously, and Last Year appears to be all about the idea of personal memory, though I've heard it's an allegory for France's short memory and deGaullian platitudes about their record during the war. And then of course Hiroshima is the brilliant synthesis of this entire idea, with an allegory for the Holocaust mix with the actuality of Hiroshima. I think that film is brilliant, with many subtle moments.
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Gamblour.

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Re: Alain Resnais
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2006, 01:58:49 PM »
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Paper I wrote about Hiroshima mon amour:

Alain Resnais’ film opens with a grisly image of two bodies clutching each other slowly being covered in ash. The image then fades into the same bodies now covered in charred, scaly skin. Finally, the image fades to the smooth, perfect skin of the film’s protagonists, covered in the sweat of lovers. The succession of images confronts what Elle describes about the aftermath of Hiroshima. There are those affected directly by the bomb, the Japanese and the grotesquely injured and dying, and those who survive and must live with the consequences of staying in Hiroshima. The film itself is about the struggle for Elle to decide to stay in Hiroshima with her lover Lui or to go back home to Nevers.
   For Elle the consequences of staying in Hiroshima with her lover are more complex than just leaving behind her life for something fanciful. Lui is the embodiment of the love she once had, the German who was killed and for whom she suffered so much being cast away into cellar. The memories of her love are so powerful and so traumatic that forgetting that it ever happened is the only way for her to truly move on. Resnais ties this relationship between memory and the past with the history of Hiroshima. Elle describes her distanced experience with Hiroshima at the beginning of the film, saying “Like you, I forgot.” The forgetting or loss of memory is not a heartless, uncaring act. In fact, it’s almost a defense mechanism to prolong a happy existence – to remember it so often would be too painful.
   She recalls Hiroshima much like the protagonists of Last Year at Marienbad, with Lui saying she does not know Hiroshima in the manner she describes. She ambiguously refers to a lover in the opening montage, presumably Lui initially. However, the same dialogue is repeated at the end of the film as she talks about her German lover: “You’re destroying me. You’re good for me.” The dialogue, when heard at the beginning of the film, seems to even be talking to the memory of the bomb and her lover – the memory is so painful, yet so needed psychologically. The scene where Lui takes on the first-person aspect of Elle’s German lover indeed recalls the “psychoanalysis” of Kim Novak’s character in Vertigo, as both men calmly and gently urge their lovers towards remembering this forgotten past.
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MacGuffin

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Re: Alain Resnais
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2007, 10:37:40 AM »
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Restless Innovations From Alain Resnais
Source: New York Times

AT 84, with his silver helmet of hair, elegant bearing and crisply pressed blue blazer, Alain Resnais can look more like a retired yachtsman than one of Europe’s most senior and respected filmmakers. Yet, after 16 features and countless shorts, the director of “Hiroshima Mon Amour” and “Night and Fog” isn’t ready to settle back on a leather banquette and sip Champagne from a flute. Mr. Resnais continues to work and work brilliantly, drawing on a reserve of youthful energy and imagination to produce a new film every two or three years, full of surprises.

His latest work, “Private Fears in Public Places,” will open in New York on Friday. In its grace, assurance and quietly assumed formal inventiveness, it seems like a rebuke to the sprawling excess of more self-consciously avant-garde films like David Lynch’s “Inland Empire.” Mr. Resnais, after all, put giant rodent heads on his actors (in 1980’s “Mon Oncle d’Amerique”) years before Mr. Lynch had a similar inspiration in “Inland Empire”: hardly the most significant of Mr. Resnais’s artistic innovations but one that speaks to the restless sense of experimentation that lies just beneath the deliberately simple, carefully composed surface of his work.

Although his career has overlapped those of François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and other critics-turned-filmmakers who became collectively known as the New Wave, Mr. Resnais was never a member of their group. He, and contemporaries like Agnes Varda and Chris Marker, came from the liberal intellectual establishment of the Left Bank, while Truffaut and many of his colleagues were uncredentialed Right Bank outsiders, whose politics, at least in the early days, tended toward Catholic conservatism.

Mr. Resnais was particularly close to the writers associated with the nouvel roman, the anti-naturalistic, anti-psychological novels that emerged after World War II. He commissioned several of those writers, including Marguerite Duras (“Hiroshima Mon Amour,” 1959), Alain Robbe-Grillet (“Last Year at Marienbad,” 1961), Jean Cayrol (“Muriel,” 1963) and Jorge Semprún (“La Guerre Est Finie,” 1966), to collaborate with him on his early features.

These writers brought with them their sense of the malleability of time (hence the complicated flashback and flash-forward structures of the early films) and the importance and imperfection of memory. In “Hiroshima” the heroine, a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) making a film in Japan, is haunted by her recollections of the end of the war in France, where she was branded a collaborator. In “Muriel” the Delphine Seyrig character lives between a past she can’t comprehend (Why did her fiancé abandon her on the eve of World War II?) and a present she can’t control. (The fiancé has reappeared, with vague hopes of renewing the relationship but with his young mistress in tow.)

“Last Year at Marienbad,” also with the sublime Ms. Seyrig, has become almost the archetypical enigmatic art film, with characters identified only by initials, living in an otherworldly chateau and not quite sure whether they are planning future seductions or remembering old ones. For Mr. Resnais the linear narratives developed via Hollywood and the French “tradition of quality” (as Truffaut dismissed it, with contempt) could not incorporate the modernist sense of ambiguity and relativism; something new had to be found, a way of storytelling that discarded the old certainties of the strict chain of events, and entered into that mental space where everything happens at once.

The culmination of Mr. Resnais’s memory films is “Je T’aime, Je T’aime,” a 1968 science fiction feature about a failed suicide (Claude Rich) who agrees to participate in a time-travel experiment, only to find himself permanently entrapped in his own memories when the experiment goes wrong.

Up to this point Mr. Resnais’s films may have had scrambled structures, but they largely adhered to the naturalistic conventions of cinematic storytelling: psychologically rounded characters, a documentarylike fidelity to real-world locations, a desire to bind the viewer to the characters through the psychological process of identification. We experience “Muriel” more or less from Ms. Seyrig’s point of view, sharing her feelings and confusions.

But with “La Vie Est un Roman” (“Life Is a Novel,” released here under the sugary title “Life Is a Bed of Roses” in 1983) Mr. Resnais’s approach took a decisive turn. Working with one of Truffaut’s favorite screenwriters, Jean Gruault (“Jules et Jim”), he assembled a wildly free-form narrative, which he conceived through the old Surrealist game of automatic writing: One thing seems to follow another, with only the thinnest tissue of narrative connection, as the film moves between the original bohemian occupants of an eccentric chateau built as a utopian dream on the eve of World War II and the current guests of the chateau, now a conference center, who are attending a seminar on children’s imagination. Meanwhile those children are dreaming up an operetta set in the chateau’s imagined medieval past. Memory is not the complicating factor here so much as it is Mr. Resnais’s personal conception of the collective unconscious, a vast, subterranean territory filled with bit of high culture and low, of received ideas and revolutionary impulses, of spiritual yearnings and lustful desires.

The American art-house audience did not take to “La Vie Est un Roman,” most likely because of the new acting style — histrionic and highly self-conscious — that Mr. Resnais had developed with a new group of actors, including several who became regulars in his later films (Fanny Ardant, Pierre Arditi, Sabine Azéma, André Dussollier). The characters suddenly seemed cartoonish, and the actors’ delivery seemed more elocutionary than interpretive. Mr. Resnais had rediscovered the artificialities of the theater and began to use them, as he later said, to create “a movement back and forth between identification and distance, between sympathy and antipathy” for his characters.

A viewer raised on a diet of American television drama, with its tradition of light naturalism, would find little enough to identify with in the extreme posturing of “Mélo,” Mr. Resnais’s 1986 adaptation of a 1929 play, or the near-hysteria of “Pas Sur la Bouche,” his 2003 adaptation of a 1925 operetta. Characters who spontaneously sang were also at the center of “On Connait la Chanson” (“Same Old Song”), his 1997 variation on Dennis Potter’s technique of placing period pop hits in characters’ mouths. But it is precisely that sense of alienation that Mr. Resnais is looking for; he wants to discomfort his audience, to make us aware of the formal devices operating in any work of art, and particularly in the cinema.

In 1993 Mr. Resais adapted a set of interlocking plays by the British writer Alan Ayckbourn: “Smoking,” in which Ms. Azéma’s decision to light up a cigarette sets off one chain of events, and “No Smoking,” in which she declines and the action unfolds quite differently. All 11 roles in both parts were played by Ms. Azéma and Mr. Arditi — a classic alienation effect — even though Mr. Resnais was careful to reproduce Mr. Ayckbourn’s canny stagecraft, getting characters on and off the stage with a degree of plausibility.

Now, 14 years later, Mr. Resnais has adapted another Ayckbourn piece, “Private Fears in Public Places.” (The French release title, somewhat more concise, is “Coeurs.”) The cast is considerably larger. Mr. Arditi and Ms. Azéma are joined by Mr. Dussollier, as well as three newcomers: Lambert Wilson, Laura Morante and Isabelle Carré. But like the “Smoking” films, this picture is constructed as a series of two-handed dialogues, while the six main characters move through the desolate but developing area of Paris near the new Bibliothèque Nationale.

Beginning with the opening shot — a combination of digital effects and miniatures that allows Mr. Resnais’s camera to descend through the clouds surrounding the Eiffel Tower and pull up to the window of the apartment where a real estate agent is showing a prospective buyer the limited amenities — the film takes place in an atmosphere of forthright artificiality, an effect reinforced by the fake snow that does not cease to descend on the studio sets. As the main characters are introduced, each stuck in a different, not very happy place in life, the viewer instinctively cringes; the stage is set for yet another “interlocking destinies” film, in the predictable manner of “Babel.” But as the characters cross and recross one another, none of the expected resolutions occur, none of the characters are matched up with their soul mates, none of the miscreants are punished. In short, none of the promises made by the genre are even remotely fulfilled, even as the flimsiness of the form and the brightness of the colors suggest a world ready to concede to the characters’ desires.

As Mr. Resnais told a French interviewer, the effect he is after is one of “désolation allègre,” a blithe, jaunty despair. It is a phrase that perfectly describes the late films of Alain Resnais, as it describes the comparable work of Ernst Lubitsch, Max Ophuls, Jean Renoir and so many other the European masters: another way, perhaps, of saying “wisdom.”
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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Pubrick

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Re: Alain Resnais
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2007, 02:33:14 AM »
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thanks for that.

good to know he's not dead. yet.
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

MacGuffin

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Re: Alain Resnais
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2009, 03:21:23 AM »
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SPC crazy for 'Wild Grass'
Alain Resnais's Cannes drama gets distribution
Source: Variety

Sony Pictures Classics has picked up the U.S. theatrical on Alain Resnais' romantic drama "Wild Grass."

The specialty arm will unspool the pic, which bowed to critical raves at the Cannes Film Fest, in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. The 87-year-old helmer also received a lifetime achievement nod in Cannes.

No release date has yet been set.

Pic is based on the French novel "L'incident," about how a lost wallet opens the door to romantic adventure for characters played by Andre Dussollier and Sabine Azema.

Pic was produced by Jean-Louis Livi. Sony Pictures Classics acquired the rights from Alain Vannier and Orly Films.

"With 'Wild Grass,' (Resnais) has not only made one of his best films but also something new and fresh and very accessible to the American audience," Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement.

Resnais' most recent pics include "Private Fears in Public Places," "Not on the Lips" and "Same Old Song."
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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wilder

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Re: Alain Resnais
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2015, 03:12:01 AM »
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Resnais' final film Life of Riley (2014) on blu-ray from Kino on March 10, 2015



Life of Riley (2014) - Amazon

Resnais' third adaptation of an Alan Ayckbourn play (after Smoking/No Smoking and Private Fears in Public Places), Life of Riley circles around the absent George Riley, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Three couples react to the news with various degrees of emotion. The women are each separately invited to a seaside resort by Riley, and hidden resentments and insecurities in each relationship bubble to the surface, causing a re-evaluation of each couple's love.



 

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