Still Going...

by clarencecarter
May 11, 2007 12:36 PM
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If you're looking for a movie to check out this weekend in NYC, you could do much worse than Alain Resnais's Private Fears in Public Places, which is currently entering its umpteenth week at the IFC Center. I know this blog post is about a month and a half late, but better late than never, I suppose. Nick Pinkerton's mild put-down out of the New York Film Festival didn't exactly encourage me to drop two hours on it, and though I don't necessarily disagree with the thrust of his argument, I think the film's cool surface sheen belies a brimming vitality that left me more than satisfied. I lost count of how many times the colorful, ingenious production design was carefully framed around the actors to provide a kind of abstract background for Ayckbourne’s roundelay--almost as though Resnais, whose Muriel and Je t'aime je t'aime fractured time and space with abandon was still looking for new ways to disorient his audiences. And tasteful as the music, transitions, and overall scenario may be, it still takes a real filmmaker to make this stuff hum; we're not talking about Venus Beauty Institute here. If this is an old man's cinema, then I'm looking forward to my golden years at the movies.

I think it's running on a single matinee show downtown...and for those in the hinterlands where it hasn't played yet, maybe it'll be out your way soon.

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  • filmbo | May 15, 2007 10:10 AMReply

    Yeah, the film had its visual moments, one in particular toward the end was quite nice, but the script (or maybe it was the direction of the actors) was fair at best. For someone who used to have such amazing insights into character and memory, Resnais's understanding of the human condition is just so off that I was surprised to hear any respectable critic say otherwise. I would have walked out had the lady blocking the aisle (my hot date) not been fast asleep.

    And can someone explain this new trend of having female characters suddenly taking off their clothes and either dancing or trying to give oral. Really, what's happened to the state of writing women?

  • robbiefreeling | May 14, 2007 7:21 AMReply

    I don't know...maybe it was the festival atmosphere I saw it in, but I thought it gave off a distinctly musty smell. The interwoven loneliness of its ensemble seemed more telegraphed than felt, and the moments of attempted lyricism (snow falls on everyone? where's the Aimee Mann theme song?) forced and inelegant. The character of Sabine Azema (Charlotte, was it?) was so one-note and male wish-fulfillment it made me sink into my chair in red-faced shame. And cute old coots watching naughty videotapes? Please. I might have been too hard on the film based on my expectations and the fact that I saw it surrounded by works like Offside and Syndromes and a Century, but I sort of resented having to sit through it just because it was directed by Resnais.

    But yes, you're right about one thing: you could do worse!