DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Philippe Garrel Day

 

‘Philippe Garrel’s first films were made in his teens, shortly before the upheavals of ’68; apart from the one-hour, black and white Le Révélateur, which was briefly available in France on video, these remain impossible for most people to see today. Based on what I’ve sampled, and not counting his TV commissions of that period (basically documentaries, including one about Godard), they resemble his subsequent work insofar as they’re mainly autobiographical, focus on homey and everyday details while remaining detached and painterly, inspired by silent cinema (and, in the case of Le Révélateur — which critic Brad Stevens has compared to David Lynch’s The Grandmother —- literally silent), and employ actors associated with the French New Wave (including Garrel’s own father Maurice, who worked for Jacques Rozier and François Truffaut, as well as Bernadette Lafont, Jean-Pierre Léaud, and Zouzou). And unlike many other experimental films, they’re mostly in 35-millimeter.

‘Some of Garrel’s more ambitious films of the ‘60s and ‘70s also take on certain epic and mythopoetic dimensions. The best known of these is probably his 1971 La Cicatrice Intérieure (The Inner Scar), shot in deserts found in Egypt, Iceland, Italy, and New Mexico, with Pierre Clémenti, Clémenti’s infant son Balthazar, Daniel Pommereuille, Garrel himself, and Warhol superstar Nico. The latter went on to become the love of Garrel’s life; his next half-dozen films were made with her, and it appears that most of those made after their separation and her death continue to evoke her in one way or another. The only other Garrel film with Nico I’ve seen, Les Hautes Solitudes (1974), is another silent feature, relatively non-fictional; Jean Seberg, Tina Aumont, and Laurent Terzieff also appear in it, and the voyeuristic way it views Seberg, sometimes while she’s either sleeping or just waking up, struck me as intrusive when I saw it at the Dublin conference. It’s a development that heralds some of the more violent psychodramas found in the later narrative features.

‘Since the ‘70s, Garrel has spent much of his time recasting his brooding style in terms more compatible with narrative conventions and arthouse norms — Brenez has written persuasively about the ways his films might be regarded as Bressonian — while sustaining most of his autobiographical preoccupations and never compromising his vision one iota. The influence of silent cinema, for instance, remains in force, becoming especially apparent in his uses of solo piano for musical accompaniments, including the effective score by Jean-Claude Vannier in Les Amants Réguliers. No less relevant are tat film’s poetic intertitles introducing various sections — despite the irony with which they’re used, which often seems to reflect the irony of the brief, enigmatic fantasy sequences evoking 18th century military battles. In both these instances, Garrel seems to be looking back on his younger self with a certain indulgent skepticism, meanwhile projecting an overall sympathy towards all his other characters, including even the cops, that is both refreshing and unexpected. Gabe Klinger, writing online, has even plausibly compared him to Jean Renoir.

‘Until fairly recently, the Paris Cinémathèque was mainly inhospitable to and incurious about contemporary experimental films. But Garrel, a particular favorite of Henri Langlois (who regarded La Cicatrice Intérieure as a ‘total masterpiece’), was a notable exception, and the fact that he grew up in some proximity to the local film world because of his father probably helped to establish him early on as a legendary as well as highly respected figure. As Cahiers du Cinéma’s Jean Douchet has observed, Garrel `occupies a singular position within French cinema’ because his ‘small but devoted public’ is essentially the one that has traditionally developed in France around poets. (Douchet adds that Garrel’s tradition is closer to André Breton’s in his Nadja mode than to Jean Cocteau’s, and that `his cinema descends in a direct line from that of Lumière, not that of Méliès.’)

‘As with Werner Schroeter in West Germany and Carmelo Bene in Italy —- two other avant-garde masters of slow-motion portraiture who developed over the same period — another pertinent parallel might be to chamber music. Even though Garrel pitched his own tent far from the operatic and camp registers of Schroeter and Bene, there’s a similar sense of transporting the viewer to a meditative, almost nonnarrative realm, a soft and somber perpetual present similar to the intimate world of a string quartet. Whatever one’s qualms, it’s a kind of cinema that needs defending today more than ever. Thanks to digital technology, making chamber pieces is theoretically much easier than it used to be, yet thanks to advertising and multicorporate monopolies, finding one’s way to such works and other niche market items is a good deal harder.

‘In this respect, Garrel might be regarded as a kind of romantic luxury that only a culture such as France’s can fully support, or perhaps envision: relatively free from most commercial restraints, including many of the usual obligations associated with telling a story; surviving on the fringes of art cinema (where Garrel eventually settled by the early 80s) while retaining the same overall ambitions; defiantly remaining, as Kent Jones put it in the title of one appreciation, ‘Sad But Proud of It’.’ — Jonathan Rosenbaum

 

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Further

Philippe Garrel @ IMDb
‘The Everyday Fantasies of Philippe Garrel’
‘Encountering Philippe Garrel at the Lisbon-Estoril Film Festival’
‘Jealousy or, What Does Philippe Garrel Want?’
‘Philippe Garrel: “J’ai du mal à me soustraire à la beauté extérieure”‘
‘Philippe Garrel : “Par moments, le cinéma a construit ma vie. A d’autres, il l’a détruite”’
‘Bohemia and Its Discontents’
‘Philippe Garrel & Nico’
‘Philippe Garrel is the master of the unseen’
‘Philippe Garrel tackles another doomed romance’
‘Philippe Garrel et les femmes : il les a si bien filmées’
‘Lit et horizontalité dans le cinéma de Philippe Garrel’
‘ACTUA 1 : LE FILM RESCAPÉ DE PHILIPPE GARREL’
‘NOTES SUR LA CICATRICE INTÉRIEURE’
‘Column: a portrait of Philippe Garrel, at his home in Paris, November 2009’
Philippe Garrel’s films @ Strictly Film School
‘‘THE INNER SCAR’: OBSCURE AND PRETENTIOUS FRENCH ART FILM STARRING NICO’
‘The influence of Jean-Luc Godard on Philippe Garrel’s cinema’
‘Voyeurism of the Soul: The Films of Philippe Garrel’
Top 20 Philippe Garrel films @ SensCritique

 

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Plus


Théâtres au cinéma 2013 – Leçon de cinéma de Philippe Garrel


Leos Carax interviewed by Philippe Garrel (1989)


Masterclass com Philippe Garrel


Philippe Garrel (1982) by Gérard Courant

 

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Interview

 

Jealousy concerns your parents’ separation when you were a child. Is this a subject that you’ve carried with you for a long time?

Philippe Garrel: No. The idea came after my father’s death. I think of his death every day. Or at least, I think about him all the time since his death. So it semed natural to me to talk about him in a film. When he was 20, Maurice landed on the beaches with the Allied forces. I wanted to make a film that would show him leaving Africa, but I couldn’t afford it. Caroline Deruas, my screenwriter, was at that point corresponding with a woman who had been my father’s partner when I was little, and she suggested that I make a film of their story. Arlette Langmann wrote many of the scenes, and then Marc Cholodenko signed on to fill us in on the world of the theater, the working-class crows of actors, their lives, their anxieties, the world that my father frequented when he was young. I had already titled the film J’ai gardé des anges [“I Kept Angels”]. But finally, on my producer’s advice, I chose Jealousy. I thought of Moravia, who chose very general words for the titles of his novels–ideas that would interest everyone.

Would you say that your films speak about your life?

PG: Let’s say that they are autobiographical and that, these days, they’re dedicated to my life. My previous film, A Burning Hot Summer, was dedicated to my best friend, the painter Frédéric Pardo. This one is dedicated to my father. There are autobiographical spots. But the most autobiographical components of my most recent films come from dreams that I’ve jotted down and mixed with fiction. I set things up so that you can’t pick out the “real” scenes. But I won’t tell you what in the film came from a dream. I won’t give away my tricks! [Laughs]

Would you say that cinema has complicated your life?

PG: At times, cinema has created my life. At others, it’s partly destroyed it. Carax says that “cinema destroys life.” That’s true, but not exclusively. It’s a dialectic, a movement. It creates an erosion; it eats away at life a little. But in other places, it shores it up.

How does it destroy?

PG: It’s a way to enter a house full of strangers. These strangers are the characters, and they make everyone mildly psychotic.

In Jealousy, we thought we found your first Truffaut reference. Louis says: “It’s been a long time that I’ve known who I am. It’s a blessing and a pain,” which recalls the Truffaut-esque sentiment “it’s both a joy and a pain”—a line that turns up in both Mississippi Mermaid and The Last Metro.

PG: Truffaut has meant a lot to me, it’s true. But Godard, too. The women in Truffaut’s films are magnificent, but they’re object-women, objects of desire. They’re worshipped, and they’re a little phosphorescent, like goddesses. Whereas Godard would film his actresses straight in the eye, as intellectual equals. I find that that makes the world much more beautiful and interesting–that equality between men and women. At the start of the Sixties, very few men thought that. My idea today, which I’ve tried to examine in my recent films, is that the masculine libido and the feminine libido have exactly the same power.

Shooting little footage—which started as an obligation and eventually evolved into an artistic position—makes it possible for you to work for little money.

PG: Yes, that method becomes a part of the whole, in the end. For Jealousy, there were only five hours of rushes, and the film is 76 minutes. I’m far from the 600 hours of rushes Kechiche shot for Blue Is the Warmest Color. His film is better than mine, but is it a hundred times better? [Laughs] It’s all right with me that French cinema should be saved by Blue Is the Warmest Color.

Saved? Is it in danger?

PG: Yes, there’s nothing anymore. I haven’t seen Stranger by the Lake, mind you, and I’m sure it’s good, because Guiraudie has a personal style and That Old Dream That Moves was a marvel. I loved Camille Rewinds by Noémie Lvovsky. And Holy Motors by Leos Carax. I find his narrative ideas brilliant. The story of this guy whose job is to play different people and professions, I find that extraordinary. It makes me thing of Situationism: everyone is an actor. Everything happens as the staging of a spectacle. It’s a level of collective alienation that humanity’s arrived at. And the musical scenes in the church and La Samaritaine are magnificent. And I thought Bruno Dumont’s Camille Claudel 1915 was terrific. The idea of a famous actress, Juliette Binoche, surrounded by actual mental patients fits a certain reality. Because—and this is an idea I really believe—in nearly every asylum there’s a locked intellectual. He’s not mad; he just has a persecution complex or some kind of fragility. I think that’s always relevant and that if we could see today’s society clearly, we’d cry all day, like certain mental patients. The film gives you that idea.

Your previous film A Burning Hot Summer was highly personal.

PG: I dedicated the film to Frédéric Pardo, my painter friend who has the same first name as the character played by Louis in the film. The rest is fiction, but I worked with this friend for 35 years and up until his death. He painted my actors and there were constant echoes between our respective work. I wanted to immortalise a part of him in the film but without lapsing into fetishism. The paintings in the film, for example, are not by him. My father also makes his last appearance at the end of the film in a dialogue he wrote himself.

The film was partly booed at the press screening. What is your response to those critics who didn’t like the film?

PG: The critics are entitled to think that I’m not up to standard, but they’re perhaps the same people who would have booed Pierrot Le Fou at the time, and still would today even. I make films that belong to the dialectics of cinema. I film women with a soul. There are whole parts of the script which are written by women to be acted by women and I think that among themselves, they understand each other. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the men understand too. I’m not saying you have to understand everything, but if the incomprehension is about what emerges from that feminine soul, that may give rise to half the movie theatre booing. I don’t have any problem with that. Non-conformism isn’t an attitude of mine, but my films arise out of it. Inevitably, there will be reactions.

 

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19 of Philippe Garrel’s 32 films

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Le révélateur (1968)
‘Philippe Garrel’s silent film Le Révélateur is a fractured and elliptical, but instinctive, elemental, and haunting rumination on the process of awakening, maturation, psychological trauma, and transformation of childhood memory. As the film begins, the révélateur – the processor of the images – is embodied through the isolated, spotlighted shot of a young boy (Stanislas Robiolles) in the corner of the frame, looking on as his father (Laurent Terzieff), apparently unaware of his presence in the room, struggles to connect with his abstracted mother (Bernadette Lafont) in an act of implied intimacy through the (iconic) sharing of a cigarette before fading into the proverbial background through a doorway suffused in a halo of light. But despite the physical act of transitory connection, what is ultimately retained in the child’s camera/eye is not the residual image of tenderness and affection, but rather, a pattern of codependency, manipulation, madness, isolation, and perhaps even violence – an estrangement that is prefigured in the Freudian, reverse pietà image of the child emerging from a long, dark passageway towards his kneeling mother held in (apparently) resigned captivity tied to a cross at the end of the tunnel – a sense of pervasive emotional alienation and moral bondage that is further reinforced by the austerity and desolation of a seemingly godless, post-apocalyptic landscape.’ — Strictly Film School


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Marie pour mémoire (1968)
Marie pour mémoire is the first feature film of Philippe Garrel, he shot it when he was 19 years old. The movie won the Grand Prix at the Hyères young cinema festival in April 1968. Philippe Garrel said about this film: “Marie describes the trauma of the new generation.” It is a story of two teenagers, Marie and Jésus who love each other and wants to live together. Their parents refuse this idea. Marie and Jésus get hurt under the order of a police-society. Marie gets pregnant, and her mother forces her to have an abotion and to leave Jésus…’ — unifrance.org


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Le Lit de la vierge (1971)
‘Filmed in the smoldered ashes of the failed social revolution as Garrel and a community of young artists from Zanzibar film (a film collective of like minded, radicalized artists financed by heiress Sylvina Boissonnas) abandoned the emblematic barricades of domestic protest and retreated to Africa to transfigure their ideological disappointment into subsumed cultural action through the creation of an intrinsically personal, revolutionary cinema, Le Lit de la vierge is, in a sense, the reconstitution of a fevered, post-traumatic creative manifesto – an impassioned, reflexive apologia composed in the fog of a drug-fueled delirium that not only reflected a not yet resigned sentiment of implicit denial over the failure of the revolution, but also served to reinforce the counter-culture generation’s delusive posture as alienated and discarded messianic ideologues who, nevertheless, continue to hold the keys to an ever-receding utopian paradise. In presenting an idiosyncratically distorted embodiment (or perhaps, resurrection) of fringe society through a sensitive, misunderstood, outcast savior plagued by self-doubt and dispirited by a pervasive sense of impotence against the weight of human suffering, Garrel illustrates, not only the profound loneliness and alienation caused by a singularity of vision (a recurring idealized representation of the May 68 generation as well-intentioned holy innocents that seeks kinship not only with the abstracted heroes of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s cinema – most notably, The Passion of Joan of Arc and Ordet – but also posits their intrinsic state of immanence, as revealed through their allusive alter-ego’s consuming empathy for the oppressed and the marginalized (an altruistic desire for connectedness that is reflected in Jesus’ despair over the seemingly anachronistic sight of bohemians being harassed by authorities within the sanctity of their own commune-like cavern dwellings).’ — Strictly Film School


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The Inner Scar (1972)
‘Garrel’s symbolic-experimental film leaves a strong impression, despite its many discomforting flaws. The film begins with Nico and Garrel (lovers in real life) walking in a barren desert and fighting with each other. Something or another happens to Garrel, and then Nico and what little plot there is wander off into new exotic landscapes and allegorical opacity. Much of the film is undeniably silly, from the heavy-handed symbolism to Pierre Clémenti running around naked for half of the film. But the magnificent cinematography and Garrel’s long, circular tracking shots work to hollow out the film’s symbolic-allegorical tendencies. The film visually abstracts (or is it concretizes?) and explores a set of relations between individuals and the manner in which individuals interface with their milieu. Except for a handful of lines, the soundtrack consists solely of environmental ambiance and Nico’s songs, the latter perhaps unintentionally also overriding the narrative’s meaning through their desolate beauty.’ — Retention Infinitude


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Les Hautes solitudes (1982)
‘In keeping with the vast majority of the films of its writer/director, Philippe Garrel, Les hautes solitudes (1974) is an intensely personal experience. A film in which characters thrown together in empty rooms stung by silence drift between fleeting glances, reacting or not reacting as the case may be to what is said, what isn’t said, and everything in-between. It is, as one might expect given its technical presentation, a fairly impenetrable work, though one that we’re free to carry with us; ruminating on each tattered scene as we gather up our thoughts like raindrops, either during the experience of viewing or afterwards, and inevitably projecting our own thoughts and feelings (or personal preconceptions) onto the images, or its central characters, who remain vague and elusive; indistinguishable from the actors who play them and whose faces dominate each single-shot close-up composition, used throughout to establish a story – or a sense of narrative that exists between sleep and nothing – to reveal a sense of the great loneliness that the title of the film so perfectly describes.’ — Lights in the Dusk


the entire film

 

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Un Ange Passe (1975)
Un Ange Passe is a portrait of Philippe Garrel’s father, Maurice. “I made it so it didn’t cost too much. I made it very quickly. It turned out to be a film that looked exactly like it costs — it was industrially just right. But it was also useful to do to show love to my father.” — Philippe Garrel. Garrel resorted to Nico’s songs again, and she acted in the film with the beautiful Bulle Ogier.’ — Smironne


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Le Berceau De Cristal (1976)
‘A weird and dreamy minimalist underground art movie, Le Berceau de Cristal offers no joy whatsoever to mainstream film buffs – but doomed romantics, drug takers and fans of director Philippe Garrel may find it hypnotic and profoundly moving. An androgynous poet/dreamer (played by Nico – Velvet Underground singer, Eurotrash icon and Garrel’s other half) sits and writes and meditates on the aching void that is her life. Hieratic and semi-mythical beings show up to haunt her dreams. Dominique Sanda as a fleshy Pre-Raphaelite earth goddess. Anita Pallenberg as an impishly grinning, emaciated drug diva – shooting up live on camera. An early icon of ‘heroin chic.’ Not one of these figures utters a word to disturb Nico’s reverie. Beyond the poet’s voice is only silence and an intermittent, achingly lovely music score. (Uncredited, but perhaps the work of Garrel’s frequent collaborator, the Velvet Underground guitarist John Cale.) Impossible to say what any of this is about, only that – in the last few seconds – Nico takes out a revolver and blows a hole in her skull. By that time, you may be so bored that you have an overwhelming desire to do the same, or you may be – as I was – curled up in a primal ball, gazing raptly at the screen and silently sobbing.’ — IMDb


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L’enfant secret (1979)
‘It’s as if this autobiographical film has succeeded in holding its bearings without forgetting the trace of each stage of the journey it’s passed through. Fragments of pure sensory experience (touching, feeling cold), heartless acts (shock therapy), serene and furtive moments. I very much like the scene where Jean-Baptiste, now truly destitute, lights the butt he has just picked up from under a bench. I was fooled into believing that Griffith or Chaplin had returned for an instant. Garrel has succeeded in filming something we have never seen before: the faces of actors in silent films during those moments when the black intertitles, with their paltry, illuminated words, filled the screen.’ — Serge Daney


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Le Bleu des Origines (1979)
Les Bleu des Origins is an uncompromising example of old school avant-garde cinema at its most cryptic, enigmatic and inscrutable. Made by Philippe Garrel in 1979 using a hand-cranked silent camera, Les Bleu represents absolute year zero in film-making, a return to the starkest basics of film’s origins in early silent cinema, replacing any trace of narrative or even dialogue with an emphasis almost exclusively on close-ups of women’s faces. The film is black and white, and absolutely silent for its full 50-minute duration. The total silence feels oppressive: silent cinema, after all, was accompanied by music. The silence, though, serves to ensure the focus on the actresses’ faces is absolute, with no distraction. The faces in question belong to the former Velvet Underground German chanteuse, Warhol Superstar and cult figure Nico, and bohemian French starlet Zouzou. By 1979 Nico had been Garrel’s lover, muse and collaborator for a decade. Les Bleu des Origins was the seventh and last film they made together, and marked the end of their off screen relationship as well.’ — IMDb


the entire film

 

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Elle a passé tant d’heures sous les sunlights … (1985)
‘Faceted, fragmented, and oneiric, Philippe Garrel’s Elle a passé tant d’heures sous les sunlights… (She Spent So Many Hours Under the Sun Lamps) is more exorcism than expurgation, elegy than lamentation – an abstract, yet lucid chronicle of love and loss, death and birth sublimated through textural, self-reflexive impressions, visceral gestures, and metaphoric tableaux. A profoundly personal film dedicated to the memory of friend and fellow filmmaker (and May 68 idealist) Jean Eustache, and haunted by the unreconciled specter of Garrel’s failed relationship with Nico, the film opens to a crepuscular image of a couple – perhaps an actor and his lover (Jacques Bonnaffé and Anne Wiazemsky) as apparent surrogates for Garrel and Nico – in the midst of a breakup on a public street on a cold, winter evening, as their seemingly tenuous reconciliation is truncated by the subsequent shot of the couple returning home, and an all too familiar rupture as she once again lapses into the desensitized haze of heroin addiction in the distraction of his preoccupying rehearsals. A seemingly isolated shot of another woman, an actress named Marie (Mireille Perrier) waiting in the office of the Ministry of Art subsequently connects the troubled couple through the sound of the rapid, half-whisper, off-screen script reading, first by the actor preparing for the role in the apartment, then subsequently by the voice of the filmmaker, Philippe (Philippe Garrel) as he casts her in his latest project – the seemingly disparate narrative arcs reconciled through the intersection of the autobiographical nature of Philippe’s proposed project inspired by his own tumultuous relationship with model, singer, actress, and muse Nico (a transparency between art and life that is further compounded by the eventual appearance of Garrel as the director of the “film within a film” film). Another break in logic is created in the long shot of the actor, in the role of the film director, discarding a film reel from a bridge overlooking the river before meeting Marie, initially unfolding as the shooting of a film scene through the transformation of Marie’s visage at the moment of performance, but subsequently subverted by the repeated episode of the couple – perhaps no longer acting in character – driving away, a romantic liaison that is reinforced by a subsequent, silent image of the couple engaged in an (apparently) intimate conversation.’ — Strictly Film School


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Les Baisers de Secours (1989)
Les Baisers de Secours (“Emergency Kisses”) would be an interesting piece of relevant art when it comes to present an aspect of things that sometimes, not always, concerns the artistic process that involves choices while making a movie. Philiosophical and quite realistic, it’s too bad that it’s too dry, unfairly pretentious, half interesting. The interest for it fades away quickly and the pessimism of the character takes over, isn’t constructive for the movie’s actions, uninvolving for the most part. Mirroring his own life, Philippe Garrel portraits with his real life family (his father Maurice, his son Louis and his then partner Brigitte Sy) the obstacles an film author puts up against while making choices as an artist and as a man. The discussion begins when his wife, a very talented yet insecure actress is refused by her husband to portray a character who is based on herself in his next project. She even tries to persuade the chosen actress to give up the role but she doesn’t give reasonable explanations for such. Art isn’t perfect, neither does life. Parallel to this, their marriage seems to deteriorate more and more, separation is eminent and comes the problem of finding what love truly means and share their son’s love and attention.’ — IMDb


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J’entends plus la guitare (1991)
‘A masterpiece. The meaning of love, the mystery of women, life, and all that: Garrel finds it, everything, in the faces, bodies, and words of his actors. If not the greatest movie we’ll see this year, though it’s a strong early candidate, J’entends will surely prove the most tenderly played. Raw, rueful, and piercingly alert, a film of tremendous formal instinct and cogent human truth, J’entends is an oblique memoir of the filmmaker’s relationship to Nico (Steege) and a testament to the elusive genius of a postwar French master. Why Garrel clicks is hard to pin down in part because he clunks; the eloquence of J’entends is inseparable from its awkwardness. There’s a softly discordant thrust to Garrel’s montage, a pervasive tone of docile atonality. He retains the junkie’s habit of tremendous concentration on nothing; you feel the intensity of his gaze without quite understanding it. He can seem, like Cassavetes (or Henri Rousseau), at once the most sophisticated and naive of artists. My guess is the tremendous force of Garrel’s vision, as exemplified in J’entends is the most disciplined of the half-dozen pictures I know, and widely considered his apotheosis by devotees is rooted in a brilliant eye for casting. It’s in living beings for sure; few filmmakers match Garrel’s ability to register palpable human presence in every shot.’ — The Village Voice


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La naissance de l’amour (1993)
‘“Do you love me?” This question involving friends Marcus and Paul encapsulates contemporary egotism and self-doubt. Marcus must ask this of his partner, who may have initiated their love affair but who is now exhausted by her lover’s need for reassurance, which losing his job has only deepened. On the other hand, Paul receives the question from the mother of his teenaged son and infant daughter. He loves family for whatever reassurance it provides against the uncertainties of life; but her in particular? He is more emotionally giving in succession to two mistresses. At one point, their son relays his mother’s question to his father, and we understand that the boy also wonders whether Papa loves him. Paul has returned home only to abandon his family again; “Papa! Papa!” the boy cries out into the street as Paul, suitcase in hand, once again leaves in the midst of his middle-age crisis. Brilliantly written by the director and Marc Cholodenko, Philippe Garrel’s La Naissance de l’amour is a film about two men who are “wanderers” even when they stay relatively put. It is about life’s loose-endedness, its incapacity to provide fulfillment for its artistically gifted members who aren’t runaway successes.’ — Dennis Grunes


the entire film

 

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Le vent de la nuit (1999)
‘LE VENT is unmistakably a film by Philippe Garrel, with its deliberate pacing, recurring themes of bitter regret, lost love and longing across generations and relentless focus on the emotional landscape of its three central characters, all which immediately connect it to his other work. There’s a memory-suffused beauty and extraordinary purity to the film, a careful attunement to the passage of time and an underlying pressure that swells beneath the glossy surface of its cross-country sprawl: a road movie and travelogue buttressed by John Cale and his wonderfully attuned soundtrack, the journeyman singer-songwriter-composer formerly of the Velvet Underground also responsible for scoring Garrel’s earlier, 1993 masterpiece, L’NAISSANCE DE L’AMOUR, starring Jean-Pierre Léaud and Lou Castel, and whom Garrel first met on the set of his 1968 film, LE LIT DE LA VIERGE, along with Nico, the director’s perennial muse and the woman to which the German sections in LE VENT directly relate.’ — Austin Film Society


the entire film

 

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Les Amants Reguliers (2005)
‘The film’s title creates an expectation around the couple, a subject that Garrel has often recreated. But, surprise: the delicate balance does not sacrifice the group for the couple, on the contrary; of the life of the lovers Lilie and François, Garrel films the nocturnal walks to the musical accompaniment of Jean-Claude Vannier, as if those two didn’t have much to say. The heart of this generational diptych is perhaps elsewhere: in the solitude that entrenches every individual in his/her own body, no matter what his/her community (lovers/friends) that welcomes him/her. Clotilde Hesme suddenly looks over the camera and declares with an astonishing simplicity for so a definitive phrase: “The solitude at the core of every human being is incredible.” By a system of Russian dolls, the film passes from group to couple, from couple to solitude. From an invaluable historic portrait to a veritable existential confession.’ — Cahiers du Cinema


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A Burning Hot Summer (2012)
‘I have never seen a Garrel film untouched by grace, and A Burning Hot Summer is no exception. The emotional geography is more intricate than in any of his previous films but no less delicately rendered. Every micro-event, whether it’s a matter of pure dailiness (sharing meals and walks, saying hello and goodbye to friends) or romantic complication (Angèle and Elisabeth’s commiserations about men and their lack of understanding of women, Elisabeth’s fear that the wealthy Frédéric’s cavalier behavior will rub off on the penniless Paul, Frédéric and Elisabeth separately nailing Paul for staring admiringly at Angèle), beats and trembles with Garrel’s absolute dedication to—and consummate skill at—transmitting the rough beauty of people and place from one precious instant to the next. With every new film, Garrel pursues and finds Murnau’s “harmony of atmosphere,” apparently fleeting yet masterfully sustained. Here, working for the first time with DP Willy Kurant and sound-mixing genius and key Godard collaborator François Musy, he returns to the territory he began exploring in Night Wind (99) by way of a loving tribute to Contempt: stately quiet, Apollonian poise, and sumptuously colored and glowing interiors; a world both remembered and endlessly unfolding.’ — Film Comment


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La Jalousie (2013)
‘For Garrel, who’s far more of a pessimist than Proust, jealousy isn’t just inevitable in romantic relationships but embedded within their very foundations. Yearning to know and to be known by the other, each partner is also convinced that their own selves are too rotten to be fully divulged; shutting themselves up, they shut down the other, until the suppressed resentments culminate in melodramatic crescendos that Garrel indulges with a brio that can invite mockery from the casual cynic. Thankfully, La jalousie largely avoids the overbearing moroseness of much of Garrel’s recent work, while its brevity (a brisk 76 minutes) gives it something of the feel of an exercise, a trait that characterizes most of his best films. And more than any of his work from this century so far, it packs an emotional wallop, precisely because Garrel relegates his gloominess to the margins and tempers his everlasting sadness with the spectral promise of enduring endearment. “I deeply loved your father,” an apparition says to Louis as he takes a midday nap in his rehearsal room, “and he was also crazy about me. Even now, I love him just as much as I ever did.” A lifetime compressed into a simple yet evocative sweet nothing—that’s really all it takes.’ — Cinema Scope


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L’ombre des femmes (2015)
‘Infidelity is something of a national pastime in France, at least if the movies are any indication. In the latest film from post-New Wave veteran Philippe Garrel, In the Shadow of Women (L’Ombre des femmes), a married couple gets emotionally muddled when both partners start cheating with people who offer them physical pleasure, but not necessarily emotional connection. Initially somewhat wispy-feeling, this 72-minute feature transforms in its final reel from an ironic divertissement to a work of considerable feeling and intensity. Shot in handsome black-and-white on 35mm, though projected digitally at its Directors’ Fortnight premiere, the widescreen feature represents another respectable addition to Garrel’s filmography.’ — Variety


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L’amant d’un jour (2017)
‘Philippe Garrel’s Lover for a Day is the closing part of a trilogy that also consists of Jealousy (2013) and In the Shadow of Women (2015), with all three clocking in at under 80 minutes and shot, in grainy black-and-white, in just 21 days. Each story explores love and its adjacent emotions, such as jealousy, lust and fidelity, often while focusing on its female leads. Though not as strong as the other two titles in the trilogy, this story of a fiftyish educator, who falls for one of his students who happens to be as old as his daughter, is nonetheless a frequently fascinating minor Garrel.’ — Boyd van Hoeij


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p.s. Hey. I’m on my way to NYC this morning. Enjoy Philippe Garrel Day. I will see you tomorrow.

3 Comments

  1. Garrel is essential.

    A Chapter of my book Film: The Front Line — 1984 is devoted to him.

  2. Welcome to NYC Dennis. There was only one comment, so I thought I’d better give you something to do today, haha. I’ll be in Wash Sq Park a lot with the nice weather – so come say hi if you’re around there. Hope to see you! And looking forward to “Them.”

  3. I’ve seen that Inner Scar clip innumerable times on YouTube so I could enjoy the demo mix of Nico – The Falconer, one of my all time fave pieces of music and superior to the album version imo. Anyway I’d not paid enough attention to Garrel’s images so this Day is much appreciated.

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