A collection of reviews of films from off the beaten path; a travel guide for those who love the cinematic world and want more than the mainstream releases.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Opening May 11 at the Metrograph: May '68: The Struggle Continues Including work by Jean-Luc Godard, Philippe Garrel, and more!
May '68: The Struggle Continues
Including work by Jean-Luc Godard, Philippe Garrel, and more!
Beginning May 11, Metrograph will present "May '68: The Struggle Continues," six programs with work by Jean-Luc Godard, Philippe Garrel, and more. Fifty years ago, in the merry month of May, Charles de Gaulle’s French Fifth Republic was teetering on the edge of out-and-out upheaval, as workers went on strike and students took to the streets, erecting paving stone barricades as though it were 1789 all over again. The aim was nothing less than a new world; the result was, in the final analysis, mostly more of the same—though an entire generation would be marked for life by the moment’s sense of boundless potential, as well as the crippling comedown that followed. Movies were the medium of the ’68 generation, and so its impression is felt acutely both in films made in the heat of the moment, as well as those revisiting it from the distance of years. In tribute to this important anniversary is a selection of works, many not screened in the US since a 2003 program, and newly translated for this series, delivering to the tumultuous present something of the dizzying possibility and devastating destitution of that long-ago-and-still-present half-made revolution.
Les deux marseillaises (André S. Labarthe and Jean-Louis Comolli/1968/113 mins/35mm) In the lead-up to the parliamentary elections in the Asnières district in June, 1968, as the aftershocks of nationwide upheaval were still being felt throughout France, Cinema du notre temps creator Labarthe and longtime Cahiers du Cinema editor Comolli set out to document the campaign meetings, speeches, and public appearances of three competing candidates, capturing the touchy tenor of the times while quietly mourning the return to business as usual and the re-establishment of conservative order.
Une film commes des autres (A Film Like Any Other) (Jean-Luc Godard/1968/108 mins/DCP) Godard’s farewell—temporary, as it happened—to working as an individual director before submerging himself into the hivemind Dziga-Vertov group, this is a provocative, fearless, frustrating diptych film, wildly inventive (or deliberately aggressive and challenging, depending on point of view) in its use of sound, image, and structure (identical sequences repeated twice), is comprised of footage of students and workers conversing outside striking factories, about the aims of the ’68 uprising. A film more spoken about than seen, the New York Film Festival premiere allegedly sparked an audience furor that has become legend.
Mai 68, la belle ouvrage (A Job Well Done) (Jean-Luc Magneron/1968/117 mins/DCP) At the height of anarchic fervor, Magneron took to the streets of Paris to capture testimonials and responses from an array of witnesses and participants in the skirmishes between students and activists and their enemies, the cops. The result was an unmatched collection of firsthand testimony, in one case delivered from a hospital bed, of frontline fighters, many of them having been severely wounded in the fray, offering accounts of the brutal methods used by the police force under Maurice Grimaud, whose first response to any sign of resistance was invariably truncheon and tear gas.
UUU (Collective/1968/64 mins/16mm) screening with Ex (Jacques Monory/1968/4 mins/16mm) An open-ended, unsigned collective work, assembled from footage shot on the spot in ’68-era student assemblies and poster-making workshops as well as a dizzying variety of other sources, UUU (Usines, Universities, Unions) uses the power of thrilling montage to convey the renegade energy of the day. “This film is a faithful reflection of the spirit that animated us,” reads a signed statement by the collective, who opted to leave their work, like the revolution, teasingly unfinished. Screening with UUU, a very special, essentially unknown work and rediscovery, unusual for the great painter Monory, Ex is a kinetic montage filled with the spirit of ’68 and references to American avant-garde film of the time.
Reprise (Hervé Le Roux/1996/192 mins/35mm) In the summer of ’68, as France returned to a normalcy that for many was a death sentence, film students captured the reactions of workers at the end of a strike at a factory in Saint-Ouen, among them an inconsolably angry young woman howling her refusal to return to work. Twenty-eight years later, filmmaker Le Roux embarked on an epic search to discover what had happened to this unreconciled woman, one face in the crowd of hundreds, upon whose image the director begins to lovingly fixate over the course of an exhaustive hunt that reveals much of France in the mid- 90s. A monumental work.
Regular Lovers (Philippe Garrel/2005/183 mins/35mm) screening with Actua 1 (Garrel/1968/6 mins/DCP) After decades of distortion and misinformation on both the French right and left, to further agendas and re-write history, Garrel felt compelled to portray the May ’68 period as it was experienced by someone who was there, and correct the historical record for future generations. François is our guide (played by Garrel’s son Louis), a young poet who goes from the exhilaration of the barricades to the exhaustion of drug addiction and aimlessness. Shot in 1:33 Academy ratio (full-frame) black- and-white that makes the 1960s seem near to the 19th century, the film combines youthful romance with adult rue, and introduced Garrel anew to the United States. Screening with Actua 1, his thought-to-be-lost short film shot by a twenty-year-old Garrel, in May ‘68. Astoundingly, though not having seen the film for decades while making Regular Lovers, the two films feature some near identical imagery, having been forever ingrained in the filmmaker’s mind.