Tuesday, March 16, 2010

1967: La Collectionneuse (Eric Rohmer)

1967: La Collectionneuse (Eric Rohmer)
The funny thing about a list like this is that it somewhat misrepresents my favorite films.  Some years contain three of my all time favorites while others are simply my favorite film from that particular year.  For instance, this Rohmer is not even my favorite film from the director. His 1986 film Summer is.  In fact, it's not even in my top three; my next two favorites are My Night at Maud's and Full Moon in Paris.  Yet, I still really love this film and am happy to see it at the top of my list.  I just wanted to clarify before going on.  

I was so sad to hear of Eric Rohmer's passing a couple of months ago. He represented a certain sophistication, elegance, and consistency of output that is becoming more of a rarity with each passing year.  Many people focus on Rohmer's writing and the natural, real quality of the way his characters speak.  I certainly share in that admiration, but what's always most impressed me is Rohmer's ability with actors.  He's simply able to make them seem more real than everyone else.  Sure, much of this stems from the writing, but Rohmer must also create an environment that makes them feel comfortable, then film them in a way that maximizes his goal of dramatizing real life.   

I'm now two paragraphs in and have yet to mention this year's film. Call it a cop out, but I think as much any director that has ever worked in the medium, there's a great similarity to most of Rohmer's films, so much so that it can be hard to remember one from the other.  The things that stand out to me though about this work are the sexiness of Haydee Politoff, the way that Rohmer handles the beautiful countryside location, and most of all, its wonderful, abrupt ending.   

In highlighting the French New Wave, I've already mentioned the playfulness and beauty of many of the films.  One other aspect that I think is somewhat forgotten is the way these directors were able to create some of the best endings in the history of film.  As opposed to many films nowadays, most of the French New Wave films end five minutes earlier than expected and in completely abrupt and unresolved fashion.  La Collectionneuse is no exception and... 

Other contenders for 1967:  I still need to see several titles.  These include:  Jim McBride's David Holzman's Diary, Jacques Demy's The Young Girls of Rochefort, Marco Bellocchio's China is Near, Dusan Makavejev's Love Affair; or The Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator, Miklos Jancso's The Red and the White, and Frantisek Vlacil's Marketa Lazarova.  I need to revisit Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai, Luis Bunuel's Belle de Jour, and Stuart Rosenberg's Cool Hand Luke as it's been too long since I've seen any of them to know where they'd place on this list.  From this year, I really like Monte Hellman's The Shooting, John Boorman's Point Blank, and Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde.  I love Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend, DA Pennebaker's Don't Look Backand Robert Bresson's Mouchette.  And my closest runner-up is Jean-Luc Godard's La Chinoise.  

6/9/11 I watched Jacques Demy's The Young Girls of Rochefort.  Demy definitely has a Technicolor style, wonderful with colors, clothes, sets, and lyrical crane and tracking shots.  But Legrand's music doesn't really do it for me here, and without it, it was hard for me to be completely absorbed by it all.  

6/20/11 I watched Dusan Makavejev's Love Affair; or The Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator.  Inventive and quite unique in its blending of genres and extreme non-linear narrative.  And some of its sexiness is quite effective.  Overall though more experimental and interesting than fully felt.  

8/26/11 I watched Jim McBride's David Holzman's Diary.  A few very memorable scenes like the conversation with the sex-crazed woman.  But overall, just a little too much ambling and mumbling and not enough lyricism or weight. 

4/20/17 I watched Stanley Donen's Two for the Road.  Unfortunately probably my least favorite movie I have ever seen from a director I greatly admire.  Donen is under the influence of the Nouvelle Vague but this time none of it really seems to work.  

7/25/17 I watched Lewis Gilbert's You Only Live Twice.  A fun, Connery Bond film that really benefits from Asian scenery, a tremendous score and a terrific performance by Pleasance as Blofeld.  

3/11/18 I watched Gordon Douglas' Tony Rome.  I was interested after seeing Douglas' The Detective but found this far inferior.  The most memorable aspect was probably Jill St. John but otherwise pretty messy and unsophisticated.

6/4/18 I watched Frederick Wiseman's Titicut Follies.  Not for the faint of heart, this edgy, unflinching documentary is the debut from the master documentarian Wiseman.  It is more raw, still to this day, than most anything coming out of the American independent cinema.  Wiseman may not be unheralded, but with each of his films, for me his import only grows.  His films get inside their subjects, no less than a Bresson or a Dreyer.  

10/27/18 I watched Jean Rouch's Jaguar.  This one covers very similar territory to Moi, un noir.  The post-dub soundtrack makes for an interesting and unique artifact but was not as impactful for me as some of Rouch's other work.  

6/13/20 I watched Jerzy Skolimowski's Le Depart.  This freewheeling, Nouvelle Vague-type entry with Leaud did very little to keep my attention.  But it did translate the mood of the Nouvelle Vague and its playfulness and youthful drifting.

12/26/21 I watched Mikio Naruse's Scattered Clouds.  It is Naruse's final film and only the third one of his works I have seen.  Naruse continues to intrigue me even though I have yet to fall in love with one of his films.  This one at times reminded me of Sirk's color melodramas and In the Mood for Love with its repetition around a relationship.  Naruse's filmmaking is mostly exquisite, particularly his work with actors and his visual work around wardrobe, framing and set design.  

1/23/22 I watched Jacques Rivette's Jean Renoir le patron.  Not as interesting as some of the other Cineastes de notre temps episodes I have seen.  Most moving is the 2nd part with Michel Simon.  

2/20/22 I watched Lee Man-hui's Homebound.  Not only my first experience with a film by Man-hui but also probably the first Korean film I have seen that came out before 2000.  To summarize it in broad strokes, it feels like a Sirkian melodrama filmed in a more natural New Wave manner.  Yet, Man-hui gives it certain touches that make it distinctive and take it into territory that is neither Sirk nor New Wavish.  I am thinking about some of the ways Man-hui uses sound and music to draw the character of the military husband.  And, the institutional pressures, marriage in this case, feel even more oppressive than we typically experience in one of Sirk's films.          


  1. Jeffrey,

    For me 1967 is the year of “Bonnie and Clyde” a breakthrough work of American film. The ’70 film revolution started right here with this film. A brilliant work that combines American filmmaking with elements of the French New Wave. If you have not read Mark Harris’ excellent book “Pictures at a Revolution” you must get it, borrow it from the library, whatever. Essential reading. We are now entering some of my favorite years of cinema.

    #1 Bonnie and Clyde

    The Graduate
    Point Blank
    In Cold Blood
    Cool Hand Luke
    Elvira Madigan
    Le Samourai
    The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
    A Man for All Seasons
    Don’t Look Back
    Our Mother’s House
    The Shooting
    In the Heat of the Night
    The Dirty Dozen
    The Fireman’s Ball

  2. Jeffrey, this is definitely a French year, and I haven't even seen Collectionneuse. I have seen Le Samourai, and I rate that number one just ahead of Jacques Tati's Playtime and Godard's Weekend. I can also recommend Red and the White off your to-do list, and I'd add Damiano Damiani's spaghetti western Quien Sabe? and Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill. Point Blank is probably my favorite in English from this year.

  3. Fantastic choice from one of my favorite directors; the Moral Tales were my introduction to Rohmer, as they were for many people, and this one especially stood out for me because of its cool sexiness, its thematic heft (as with many of the Moral Tales, Rohmer is examining sexual predation and the obsession with shallow sexuality over more substantial qualities) and its summery beauty. There are few directors who can capture the beauty and the emotional tenor of summer better than Rohmer, and it's the season I most readily associate with this very seasonally conscious filmmaker.

    Some of my favorites from this year:

    Play Time
    Don't Look Back
    David Holzman's Diary (hilarious and utterly original)
    Accident (chilly Joseph Losey thriller)
    La Chinoise
    Portrait of Jason (which Glenn Kenney coincidentally highlighted today, and which really deserves the attention)
    Belle de jour

    My personal #1, though, is Godard's masterful 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, quite possibly my favorite Godard film, and in the top few at the very least.

  4. Very interesting choice there Jeffrey, as Rohmer is a major player of the French New Wave. It did make my own runners-up list too. My own #1 is the prime feature of teh Czech New Wave, and a film that was rightly voted the top Czechoslovakian film of all-time by that country's critics in 1998. It's followed by many very great films including another Bresson gem and one of the greatest of all American comedies.

    My Own #1 Film of1967:

    Marketa Lazarova (Vlacil; Czechoslovalia)


    Mouchette (Bresson; France)
    The Producers (Brooks)
    Weekend (Godard; France)
    Playtime (Tati;France)
    Valley of the Bees (Vlacil; Czechoslovakia)
    The Switchboard Operator (Makavejev; Yugoslavia)
    Targets (Bogdonovich)
    Le Samourai (Melville; France)
    Belle de Jour (Bunuel; France)
    Bonnie and Clyde (Penn)
    Hour of the Wolf (Bergman; Sweden)
    In Cold Blood (Brooks)
    Oedipus Rex (Pasolini; Italy)
    Scattered Clouds (Naruse; Japan)
    The Graduate (Nichols)
    Point Black (Boorman; UK)
    The Fireman's Ball (Foreman; Czechoslovakia)
    Elvira Madigan (Wiederberg; Sweden)
    La Collectioneuse (Rohmer; France)

  5. Samuel, great to hear from you! I totally agree; it's a wonderful year for the French.

    I still need to see QUIEN SABE? and BRANDED TO KILL. And I've struggled for some reason in the past with PLAYTIME, but I definitely owe it a revisit.

    Thanks, Samuel. Always great to have you here!

  6. John, great to hear from you! I couldn't agree more about the importance of BONNIE AND CLYDE. I'll need to read that Harris book; I've been wanting to do so.

    I still need to see ELVIRA MADIGAN. I had THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY and A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS in my 1966 post. And I like THE GRADUATE and IN COLD BLOOD although both a little less than the ones I mention above.

    Thanks, John. Always a treat to have you here!

  7. Ed, great to hear from you! I love what you say about the Rohmer film, particularly this:

    "There are few directors who can capture the beauty and the emotional tenor of summer better than Rohmer, and it's the season I most readily associate with this very seasonally conscious filmmaker."

    I still need to see ACCIDENT, PORTRAIT OF JASON, and 2 OR 3 THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER. DON'T LOOK BACK I'm adding to my post now. I love it, and it should have been in there!

    Thanks, Ed. Always great to have you here!

  8. Sam, great to hear from you! I still need to see your top pick, but it sounds fantastic.

    I should have had Brooks' THE PRODUCERS on my list of things to see and am adding it now.

    Thanks, Sam. Always wonderful to have you here!

  9. 1967 is all about Le Samourai for me. It's my second favorite Melville film and one of the greats of French cinema, in my opinion. I can see how it would not be a film for everyone, but I love its casual pace and the tension that Melville so easily creates.

    My #1 runner up would probably have to be The Graduate.

  10. Dave, great to hear from you! I definitely owe LE SAMOURAI another look. I recently saw ARMY OF SHADOWS for the first time and absolutely loved it.

    Thanks, Dave. Always a treat to have you here!