Monday, July 02, 2007


MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE ( ) has left a comment in my blog here:

This is my reply:

Hi Jesse

--I don’t know if I should recommend the book VARDA PAR AGNES or not, because, to tell you the truth, I haven’t read this book, nor do I have this book, nor can I read French.

In fact, what I have read is some parts of an English book called AGNES VARDA, written by Alison Smith, printed by Manchester University Press in 1998. This book quoted a lot of things from VARDA PAR AGNES. The quote about Hans Baldung Grien is in the page 33:

“In VARDA PAR AGNES, Varda describes the influence of a painting by Baldung Grien, DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, on the conception of CLEO. She even says that during filming the picture was hanging in the studio, but it never appears in the film.”

I haven’t read the whole book by Alison Smith, but I think I recommend it if you really love Agnes Varda. The book is very easy to read, and has a lot of interesting information. As for me who can’t read French, the book is more valuable because it has translated a lot of information from French into English.

For example, this book also translates a famous poem by Marot that Varda uses in the introduction of VARDA PAR AGNES. This poem appears in the page 142 under the chapter “TIME AND MEMORY” :

“I am no longer what I was
And never can be so again
My fine spring and summer
Have jumped out of the window
Love, you have been my master:
I served you above all the gods.
Oh if I could be born twice
How much better I would serve you!”


--Talking about poetry, I like that you wrote a poem for CLEO FROM 5 TO 7. I have never read anything like this: writing a poem by the inspiration from a movie. It is something new for me.

--Talking about reflections, I have to say it like other people that I didn’t notice the emphasis on reflections in my first and only viewing of this film. You have noticed a lot of things I didn’t notice.

I try to think of other movies which use reflections in an interesting way. They are:

1.CHUNGKING EXPRESS (1994, Wong Kar-wai, A+)

If I don’t remember it wrongly, in the first part of this film, a female criminal (Brigitte Lin) who always wore sunglasses and a blond wig, didn’t realize that a western guy’s love for her had already expired after she did some mistakes in carrying out his order. But when she ran into a handsome guy (Takeshi Kaneshiro) in a bar and talked to him, she seemed to realize this truth. And the moment when she realized that the western guy (who was like her boss) didn’t love her anymore and wouldn’t forgive her for just one mistake, the camera showed her looking at her reflection on the surface of the bar. That moment of UNDERSTANDING is shown by having the character looking at her reflection. And I think it is a very impressive way of using reflection in a movie.

2. NO ONE WRITES TO THE COLONEL (1999, Arturo Ripstein, Mexico, A+)

One interesting thing about mirrors in this movie is that the mirrors are full of stains and very blurred.

3. TICKET OF NO RETURN (1979, Ulrike Ottinger, West Germany, A+)

4. IN A YEAR OF 13 MOONS (1978, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, A)

You can look for an image of mirrors in this film from JIM’S REVIEWS website. It is the second image in the following webpage:


--I hope I won’t bore you with all my useless lists. I wish I could think deeply and write anything deeply about films. But I can’t. It’s beyond my ability. That’s why I love film critics very much, because they can do what I am unable to do: to think and write deeply about films. All I can do is just making useless lists. Hahaha.

--I have just watched FROM THE LIFE OF MARIONNETTES (1980, Ingmar Bergman, A). There’s one thing in this film which reminds me of CLEO FROM 5 TO 7. Both films begin in color before the films turn into black and white.

In fact, I didn’t remember it myself that CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 begins in color. I just read about it from the book by Alison Smith. It’s another thing that I didn’t notice while watching the film.

The book by Alison Smith also quotes what Varda said in VARDA PAR AGNES about it:

“From the first images of CLEO FROM 5 TO 7, the card-reader’s coloured deck tells Cleo’s future virtually, as a lie or a premonition. …

Like a short prologue inserted in a story, this beginning of CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 is in colour. Or rather the tablecloth and the cards are. The credits appear over them. The film is announced in colour, what the card-reader sees is a fiction, then we see Cleo’s terrified face, in black-and-white like the rest of the film.”

Talking about colours, Alison Smith also noted that:

“Many of her films, especially the early colour films, are noticeably dominated by brilliant light – LE BONHEUR, LIONS’ LOVE, “ONE SINGS, THE OTHER DOESN’T” are all under the sign of the sun.”

Of all the three films listed above, I have seen only LE BONHEUR, and I really agree with Alison Smith that the film is really dominated by brilliant light.

In my opinion, another film in which Varda used color interestingly is LES CREATURES (1966). In this film, whenever an islander is under the control of the villain, the scene will switch from black-and-white into a strange and strong color. The use of color in this film might not be subtle, but I like it.


--I don’t know if you have read GODARD ON GODARD or not, but I would like to quote what Godard said about Varda here.

In Cahiers du Cinema, February 1959, Jean-Luc Godard wrote:


There are several ways one could talk about Agnes Varda’s short films. The first would be to follow chronological order: O SAISONS, O CHATEAUX, shot in autumn 1957, OPERA MOUFFE last spring, and DU COTE DE LA COTE last summer, the uneven ones being in colour, subsidized by some Ministry or other, and shown at Tours. One could also say that O SAISONS, O CHATEAUX represents poetry by way of a Ronsardian aesthetic, OPERA MOUFFE the theatre through its Brechtian approach, and DU COTE DE LA COTE literature through its Proustian title, not belied by its images from Giraudoux. But instead of seeking the differences, let us instead seek analogies and note the common feature of Agnes’s shorts, their chief characteristic, which enables them to escape the aesthetic fix I was talking about.

They are to the cinema as a sketch is to a painting and an outline to a novel. They are above all journals, on each page of which irony makes a triple somersault to land on the following page at the feet of beauty, luxury or delight. A ship’s log as Agnes Varda cruises along the Loire, and a journal of a woman of the world, too, casting the wary eye on the dungeons of Blois, the tree of Tours, the stones of Azay-le-Rideau. An intimate diary as she strolls, pregnant, from Denfert to Contrescarpe. And finally, the journal of a woman of wit as she roams between Nice and Saint-Tropez, sending us a postcard with each shot in reply to her friend Chris Marker.

DU COTE DE LA COTE is an admirable film. It is France Roche multiplied by the Chateaubriand of IMPRESSIONS D’ITALIE, the Delacroix of CROQUIS AFRICAINS, the Mme de Stael of DE L’ALLEMAGNE, the Proust of PASTICHES ET MELANGES, the Aragon of ANICET OU LE PANORAMA, the Giraudoux of LA FRANCE SENTIMENTALE, and I forget who else. But I shall never forget the wonderful pan back and forth along the branch of a tree twisted in the sand, and ending on the red and blue sandals of Adam and Eve. I should note here that wood is one of Agnes Varda’s key materials, one of the leitmotif images of her films. And I should also like to say in this connection that LA POINTE COURTE gains retrospectively from being seen after DU COTE DE LA COTE. But I have no time. There is too much to say. It is like diamonds, which sparkle from a thousand facets. For in the French film industry, Agnes Varda’s short films shine like tiny jewels.”


--And now is the time for my useless lists:

AGNES VARDA’S FILMS I SAW in roughly preferential order:

1.LES CREATURES (1966, A+)

2.VAGABOND (1985, A+)


4.CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (1961, A+)

5.KUNG-FU MASTER (1987, A+)

6.THE GLEANERS & I (2000, A+)


8.LE BONHEUR (1965, A+)

9.THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT (1967, with Jacques Demy, A+)


11.THE YOUNG GIRLS TURN 25 (1993, A-)

--I think one interesting thing about Varda is that she can make both documentaries and fictions excellently. There are three other filmmakers that I think can equal her in this: Chantal Akerman, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders.


--Talking about CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 reminds me of other early feature films by leading French filmmakers of the 1960's. This is the list in my preferential order:

1.HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR (1959, Alain Resnais, A+)

2.ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (1958, Louis Malle, A+)

3.CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (1961, A+)

4.LE JOLI MAI (1963, Chris Marker, A)

5.LE BEAU SERGE (1958, Claude Chabrol, A-)

6.A BOUT DE SOUFFLE (1960, Jean-Luc Godard, A-)

7.THE 400 BLOWS (1959, Francois Truffaut, A-)

I still need to see:

1.MOI UN NOIR (1958, Jean Rouch)

2.THE SIGN OF LEO (1959, Eric Rohmer)

3.PARIS BELONGS TO US (1960, Jacques Rivette)

4.LOLA (1961, Jacques Demy)

5.ADIEU PHILIPPINE (1962, Jacques Rozier)


--This is the list of my favorite French films by female filmmakers. I choose only one film per filmmaker. The list is in roughly preferential order:

1.INDIA SONG (1975, Marguerite Duras, A+)

2.BEAU TRAVAIL (1999, Claire Denis, A+)

3.IN MY SKIN (2002, Marina de Van, A+)

4.LES CREATURES (1966, Agnes Varda, A+)

5.OUBLIE-MOI (1994, Noemie Lvovsky, A+)

6.L'EXPERIENCE PREHISTORIQUE (2004, Christelle Lheureux, A+)

7.BAISE-MOI (2000, Virginie Despentes + Coralie Trinh-Thi, A+)

8.COMING TO TERMS WITH THE DEAD (1994, Pascale Ferran, A+)

9.WILL IT SNOW FOR CHRISTMAS? (1996, Sandrine Veysset, A+)

10.IT'S EASIER FOR A CAMEL (2003, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, A+)

11.FOR SALE (1998, Laetitia Masson, A+)

12.ANATOMY OF HELL (2004, Catherine Breillat, A+)

13.ATOMIK PARK (2003, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, A+)

14.THE RING FINGER (2005, Diane Bertrand, A+)

15.LE DERRIERE (1999, Valerie Lemercier, A+)

16. LA VIE MODERNE (2000, Laurence Ferreira Barbosa, A+)

17.VENUS BEAUTY INSTITTUTE (1999, Tonie Marshall, A+)

18.SAINT-CYR (2000, Patricia Mazuy, A+)

19.DIARY OF A SEDUCER (1996, Daniele Dubroux, A+)

20.THE UNSHOD MAN (2003, Laurence Attali, A+)

21.KITCHEN (2005, Alice Winocour, A+)

22.CLUBBED TO DEATH (LOLA) (1996, Yolande Zauberman, A)

23.DEUX FEMMES A PARIS (2000, Caroline Huppert, A)

24.LES AMOUREUX (1994, Catherine Corsini, A)

25.SINCE OTAR LEFT (2003, Julie Bertucelli, A)

26.YOU AND ME (2006, Julie Lopes-Curval, A)

27.THE FAVORITE SON (1994, Nicole Garcia, A)

28.CHAOS (2001, Coline Serreau, A)

29.HOUSEWARMING (2005, Brigitte Rouan, A)

30.GIRLS CAN'T SWIM (2000, Anne-Sophie Birot, A-)


1.RAPE OF LOVE (1978, Yannick Bellon)

2.AN ADOLESCENT GIRL (1979, Jeanne Moreau)


Synopsis from

"The mother of three children seems to become romantically involved with the man playing Don Juan in the same local countryside theatre where she is acting. The children decide to try to poison the man who is threatening their family life. The real life and the stage roles get intertwined..."

4.CET AMOUR-LA (2001, Josee Dayan)

5.DEMI-TARIF (2003, Isild Le Besco)

This is the poster of a new film by Aline Issermann. The photo is from

No comments: