Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nénette And Boni (1996)

WHO: Agnès Godard was cinematographer for this.

WHAT: Matt Connolly calls this Claire Denis-directed film "not quite as formally or thematically adventurous as some of her work" but I'm not so sure. Just because Nénette And Boni holds up as a straightforward narrative in ways that perhaps L'Intrus cannot, doesn't mean its design and its filming didn't involve just as much experimentation as any of the films in her career. Janet Bergstrom, in her essay "Opacity in the Films of Claire Denis", identifies Nénette And Boni as a turning point in Denis and Godard's visual approach, more suited to "a film about solitary people rather than a group". She notes that longer lenses than the pair had used before
allowed for an oscillation of point of view in which a floating, imaginary vision intersects seamlessly with literal point of view shots or with "objective shots," thanks also to the tremendous variation in strategies between fixed and moving shots, using a camera that rested on the shoulder rather than a Steadycam.
The space between sleep/dreaming and wakefulness is captured more clearly in this film than in perhaps any of Denis's others, an achievement that fans out thematically in many directions as well. And it's perhaps no other element than Godard's camera, taking pictures like the one in the above screen capture (if you don't remember the scene from the film, imagine a soundtrack made by a Krups coffee-alarm), that makes this possible.

WHERE/WHEN: Tonight only at 7:00 at the Pacific Film Archive.

WHY: When Agnès Godard was in town a week and a half ago to present PFA screenings of five of the films she shot, including two for Denis, Michael Fox was able to sit down for an interview in which he asked her which directors she wished she could have worked with had their careers overlapped with hers. Though Godard is perhaps best-known for her work with women (she's shot films for Wim Wenders, Erick Zonca, Claude Berri, André Téchiné, but it's her consistent collaborations with women - Denis, Catherine Corsini, Ursula Meier - are what more cinephiles think of when her name comes to mind) she made a list only of men: Hitchcock, Ozu, Mizoguchi, Renoir, Bresson, Huston and the Lumière brothers. On the other hand, it's hard to think of many women directors who held comparable stature as filmmakers during these film titans' heydays.

At the time I'm posting, you can also hear Moira Sullivan's interview on issue of 1171 of Movie Magazine International by clicking their web site. Sullivan spoke to Godard about, among other things, her latest collaboration with Denis, Les Salauds a.k.a. Bastards, which I hope won't take too long to make it's way to a Frisco Bay theatre.

In the meantime, there are two more Godard-credited films on the PFA summer docket: Ozu tribute 35 Shots of Rum this Friday June 28th, and Jacquot, Agnès Varda's tribute to her husband Jacques Demy, on July 31st.

HOW: 35mm print

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