Jacques Rivette – Duelle (une quarantaine) AKA Twilight (A Quarantine) (1976)

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Duelle seems to have been instantly cursed just by being the follow-up to Celine and Julie Go Boating, to this day the only Rivette film that the average buff concerns himself with ( and oh, how wrongly. ) Having finally gotten a chance to watch the film, I can see why. Where Celine and Julie could furnish a thousand college students with thesis papers on feminine play vs. masculine order, and the construction of meaning through the assumption of various roles associated with gender, and so forth, Duelle drops the intellectual ballast completely. Rivette outs himself as a mystic with this film, closer to charlatan-geniuses like Stockhausen or Rasputin than to Godard. This movie is almost like a Rosetta Stone, more dense and concentrated than anything else he’s done, that the future expert will be able to use to decode his work. Continue reading

Jacques Rivette – Jeanne la Pucelle II – Les prisons AKA AKA Joan the Maid 2 – The Prisons [Uncut] (1994)

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Jacques Rivette, a founding father of the French New Wave, has turned his attention to one of the most fecund literary and cinematic properties of this millennium in his film ”Jeanne la Pucelle” (translated as ”Joan the Maiden”).

His retelling of the familiar story of Joan of Arc is at once a straightforward chronicle, an act of patriotism, scholarship and reverence and the tale of a prototypical feminist whose adoption of male attire and a taste for combat in the 15th century outraged a hostile clergy as much as her attestations of familiarity with heavenly voices and SS. Michael, Catherine and Margaret did. Continue reading

Jacques Rivette – Jeanne la Pucelle I – Les batailles AKA Joan the Maid 1 – The Battles [Uncut] (1994)

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Quote:
Jacques Rivette, a founding father of the French New Wave, has turned his attention to one of the most fecund literary and cinematic properties of this millennium in his film ”Jeanne la Pucelle” (translated as ”Joan the Maiden”).

His retelling of the familiar story of Joan of Arc is at once a straightforward chronicle, an act of patriotism, scholarship and reverence and the tale of a prototypical feminist whose adoption of male attire and a taste for combat in the 15th century outraged a hostile clergy as much as her attestations of familiarity with heavenly voices and SS. Michael, Catherine and Margaret did. Continue reading

Jacques Rivette – Duelle (une quarantaine) AKA Twilight (A Quarantine) (1976)

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It all began (as things Rivettian tend to do) auspiciously enough. There were to be four films in a series originally entitled Les Filles du Feu (after Gerard de Nerval) before the more expansive Scenes de la vie parallele replaced it. Each would center on a “non-existent myth” of a battle between goddesses of the sun and the moon for a mysterious blue diamond that has the power to make mortals immortal and vice versa. Each film was to be in a different genre: a film noir, a pirate adventure, a love story, and finally a musical – the last-mentioned of whose scenario particulars hadn’t been completely worked out when the four-film project went into production. Two films were ultimately completed – Duelle (the film noir) and Noroit (1976, the pirate adventure). But two days into the shooting of the third, Histoire de Marie et Julien the metteur en scène (as Rivette always chose to call himself, auteurism be damned) suffered a nervous breakdown, and the entire project fell apart – though traces of it linger in Merry-Go-Round (1981, a paranoid conspiracy jape that has everything but the goddesses) and the semi-demi-musical Haut/Bas/Fragile (1995). Continue reading

Jacques Rivette – Céline et Julie vont en bateau aka Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)

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Jacques Rivette continues with his improvisatory tactics, allowing lead players to invent quite freely and also collab on the script. He mixes a modernized takeoff on Alice in Wonderland and a period tale of Henry James for an over indulged, overlong film that has some gem-like moments but also repetitiveness and preciosity.

Film just does not have the sustaining humor and more irrepressible madcap inventiveness to stave off an arbitrary, intellectual heaviness.

One day a girl reading a book of magic in the park, Julie (Dominique Labourier), sees a spindly, overdressed girl scuttle by dropping things. She follows this comic figure, Celine, played with wit by Juliet Berto, loses her but finds her on her doorstep. Continue reading

Jacques Rivette – Paris nous appartient aka Paris is Ours (1960)

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Plot:

Anne, a student in Paris, becomes involved with a group of her brother’s arty friends and gets sucked into a mystery involving Philip, an expatriate American escaping McCarthyism; Terry, a self-destructive femme fatale; theatre director Gérard; and Juan, a Spanish activist who apparently committed suicide, but was he murdered? Philip warns Anne that the forces that killed Juan will soon do the same to Gérard, who is struggling to rehearse Shakespeare’s Pericles. Anne takes a part in the play in an attempt to help him and also discover why Juan died. Continue reading

Jacques Rivette – Va savoir (2001)

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From French Film Guide:

The first years of the new millenium have marked something of a revival for the French New Wave, with Nouvelle Vague directors Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette all releasing major works which achieved both popular success and critical acclaim. Rivette’s offering is a charming romantic comedy which reminds us of the director’s passion for the theatre seen in his earlier works, such as Paris nous appartient (1961).

Va savoir is constructed as a play within a play, and ultimately ends up with its denouement being played out on a theatre stage. The main action of the film, involving a rolling love cycle reminiscent of Max Ophüls’ La Ronde (1950), is inter-cut with scenes of the stage performance of an Italian play. The themes of this play, cheated love, deceit and revenge, are re-enacted by the characters in the “true life” part of the film, who each embark upon a whimsical diversion in their love lives. Although the film is shot and constructed as a conventional film, with naturalistic every-day sets and dialogue, it gives the impression that it is itself a stage play – indeed, watching the film in a cinema is very much a theatrical experience, in the best tradition of Shakespeare and Molière. Continue reading