Monday, April 26, 2010

2005: Les amants reguliers (Philippe Garrel)

2005: Les amants reguliers (Philippe Garrel) 
I love to lose myself in certain movies, particularly those movies that abandon more traditional time structures and suck you into their temporal vortex.  I'm thinking of movies like McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Mother and the Whore, and this 2005 entry from Philippe Garrel.  I had the good fortune of seeing it in a Parisian theater and remember leaving transformed with a completely different viewpoint for the next couple of days.

The first half of the film, the 1968 riot footage, is shot in such an obscure way that it helps further push the viewer into this other space. By the time we arrive in the more drug-induced part of the film, there's a certain hazy quality that is now shared between film and viewer.

A challenging film, I would say.  But also one of the more poetic and audacious films I've seen in a long time.  Garrel, along with longtime Rivette collaborator DP William Lubtchansky, create a unique, cinematic world that after 183 minutes seems to end far too soon.

Other contenders for 2005:  From this year, I still have some things to see.  These include: Steven Spielberg's Munich, Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, Hong Sang-soo's Tale of Cinema, Alain Resnais' Not on the Lips, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady, Lajos Koltai's Fateless, Philip Groning's Into Great Silence, and Jacques Audiard's The Beat That My Heart Skipped.  I've struggled a little with Terrence Malick's The New World  the couple of times I've seen it.  Yet, I know that many people I respect and admire place this one extremely high.  I'm not sure exactly what's keeping me from embracing it fully, but I haven't gotten there quite yet.  From this year though I really like Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain and Bennett Miller's Capote even if I can't say either is a close runner-up.  

12/8/10 I watched Craig Brewer's Hustle & Flow.  Brewer brings both a tremendous vitality and heart to the film.  And Howard's performance is delivered with such an amazing amount of conviction.  Perhaps slightly messy and overwrought at times.  But a film that deserved to put Brewer firmly on the map.  It's also a film that hits on things such as the incredible vulnerability and anxiety that come with trying to be discovered and the grit and hustle necessary to achieve success in a creative profession.  

12/15/10 I watched Steven Spielberg's Munich.  Some of my reservations with Spielberg are on display -- his questionable sense of humor, his lapses into sentimentality, and his taste in music.  But it's also as clear as ever that when he puts his mind to it his formal skills are up there with any of the masters.  The action sequences -- the opening of the film, when Avner first flashes back to "Black Sunday" while asleep on the airplane, the phone bomb, the attempted killing in London, and the first murder in Italy -- are all incredible in their grace, energy, and effectiveness.  In fact, they are probably the strongest set of action sequences I've seen since Heat.  A film with several flaws, overly wordy, overlong, and uneven.  But when it's great, it's a classic.      

1/2/11 I watched Stephen Gaghan's Syriana.  There are some very nice moments.  But Gaghan feels like he's trying to tell us the story of the world, and it all feels a little overcooked to me.  Taking on so many intersecting stories, I also found myself having trouble fully connecting to anyone.  Wright's character particularly felt a bit distant.  Desplat does some very strong work though.  I just wish Gaghan didn't feel the need to hit us wall-to-wall with it.

1/28/11 I watched Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven.  The director's cut of this one has a pretty big reputation among some of the blogosphere critics, and it could very well differ dramatically from this cut I just saw. This one though had little to keep my attention or to impress.  It had almost no moments for me and felt messy all around.  

2/5/11 I watched Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds.   Really didn't connect with it at all.  I like Tom Cruise as an action star, but this one just seemed devoid of any true tension, for the most part, and in serious need of some depthful characters.  As is, I just found it very boring and cold.

12/31/11 I watched Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home.  Should go down as one of the greatest of all Scorsese films and the single best doc on Dylan.  It's moving, informative, incredibly cinematic, and really captures the great one at his absolute, creative peak.  

7/28/12 I watched Tim Irwin's We Jam Econo - The Story of the Minutemen.  Great doc in just how intimate and up close it puts you with the band.  About as satisfying of a portrait of a band as I have ever seen on film - between the long, un-cut performance footage to the informal dialogue with the band.

7/28/12 I watched Lian Lunson's Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man.  I loved it when Leonard or someone else was talking about Leonard.  I was less interested hearing others sing his songs.  Overall, a worthwhile watch, I guess, for the real fan, but otherwise a bit underwhelming.

8/5/12 I watched Greg Whiteley's New York Doll.  A satisfying look at the mythical group.  Would have loved a little more vintage footage but moving and redemptive for this band that never fully got its due.

6/11/17 I watched Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man.  Having recently been in Alaska,  I was especially interested in seeing this now even if it had been on my radar since first coming out.  Herzog's unique sensibility and world view really come through and his restraint and humanism were surprising given what I thought I knew about him.  It is far from Wiseman's world of documentary but it is still of great interest with a different type of rigor.  

8/19/17 I watched Stuart Samuels' Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream.  A very informative look at a special era in American cinema.  Great interviews abound from Hoberman to Rosenbaum, Barenholtz to Romero, Waters to Lynch.  I finished watching and now want to go watch all five movies that are its focus - El Topo, Pink Flamingos, Night of the Living Dead, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Eraserhead.  

9/23/19 I watched Hong Sang-soo's Tale of Cinema.  The sixth feature from the South Korean filmmaker shows his style already fully intact as well as his interest in films-within-a-film.  A bit heavier than my favorite films of his but still worth a look for fans of Hong who are interested in taking in his entire filmography.

11/1/21 I watched Ying Liang's Taking Father Home.  Some people I respect think highly of this film and I can see its strengths - its patience, its willingness to observe with distance and to listen offscreen and its ability with the cinematic ellipsis.  I can also see weaknesses - an overreliance on music and an often ugly visual aesthetic.

6/3/22 I watched Alex Gibney's Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.  A fairly interesting look at the rise and fall of Enron.  Gibney's style is a bit tawdry but a decently entertaining watch.  

11/15/22 I watched Gus Van Sant's Last Days.  There are a couple of scenes that jump off the screen like the slow dolly back as Pitt jams alone through the window.  But it's a real drag to get through and Van Sant's style for me feels more grating than illuminating after a while.

1/24/24 I rewatched Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.  I still think it's the most "enlightening" doc on Dylan I have seen to date.  

3/10/24 I watched Frederick Wiseman's The Garden.  By no means one of Wiseman's most affecting works.  But I found the editing of the spectators at the Golden Gloves fight unusually effective in communicating the types of people who come out to watch boxing and the speech by the NY head of the NAACP reinforced the feeling I have long had that, along with John Ford, Wiseman is the deepest examiner in our nation's cinema of what it means to be an American.  


  1. Alas Jeffrey, I have not yet seen this Garrel film, though your towering placement here goes a long way at goading me into correcting this slight. It's yet another choice that makes this countdown so eclectic and surprising, and that's a very good thing, methinks.

    My Own #1 Film of 2005:

    The New World (Malick; USA)


    Fateless (Koltai; Hungary)
    Brokeback Mountain (Lee; USA)
    Capote (Miller; USA)
    Into Great Silence (Groning; Germany)
    L'Enfant (Dardennes; France)
    Manderlay (Von trier; Denmark)
    Cache (Henecke; France)
    Days of Glory (Bouchareb; France/Belgium)
    A History of Violence (Cronenberg; USA)
    Death of Mr. Lazerescu (Puiu; Romania)
    V For Vendetta (McTeague; USA)
    Good Night and Good Luck (Clooney; USA)
    Match Point (Allen; USA)
    Regular Lovers (Garrell; France)
    Tropical Malady (Weerasethakal; Thailand)
    The Beat That My Heart Skipped (Audiard; France)

  2. Hahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!

    i did indeed see this Garrel film, but was thrown off by the French title!!!!

    My bad, how embarrassing. You see it is among my runners-up. Senility is really setting in.

  3. Sam, no problem. I'm already forgetting whether or not I saw a movie, too. It's hard, especially with certain filmmakers.

    But always great to have you here! Thanks, Sam.

  4. Jeffrey, this is one of those rare years where I need to diverge dramatically from your pick! I really didn't care for this Garrel, and NEW WORLD is one of the finest things I've ever seen. No question it's at the top of my list. But I do understand your struggle with it -- the period and language can make it hard to access. Curiously, this (period at least) is the same problem I had with the Garrel. I just couldn't find the proper point of entry to the world he created. I suspect your viewing it in a cinema may have been crucial.

    This is when my movie viewing started to decline, but it's worth noting that Allen's MATCH POINT was especially strong. Maybe his finest since HUSBANDS AND WIVES?

  5. Andrew, yeah I definitely need to give THE NEW WORLD another shot. Malick's forceful jump-cutting and off kilter style has ended up frustrating me more than exciting me in this one. But I know that I'm in an extreme minority.

    As for MATCH POINT, I liked it although I probably prefer DECONSTRUCTING HARRY and BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, in terms of the later work. But I thought MP had a really great look about it.

    Thanks, Andrew! Great to have you here.

  6. THE NEW WORLD might be the best movie I've ever seen.


    I love it that much. It is FAR AND AWAY my top movie of the last decade. Every time I watch it - and I just bought a copy for the third time in acquiring the extended cut on Blu Ray - I am completely mesmerized by it.

  7. Dave, at some point, I'd love to catch THE NEW WORLD bug. It's just eluded me for some reason up to this point. But I will keep trying. I know it has many, many fans whose tastes, like yours, I greatly admire.

    Thanks, Dave! Always great having you here.

  8. Just a tip on Kingdom of Heaven, Jeffrey: make sure you watch the 3-hour director's cut. It's quite an amazing film, and perhaps Scott's best since the 1980's. But the 2-hour theatrical cut that was released in theaters in nothing special; it plays like a sandal-and-swords epic with a few Stanley Kramer-worthy morality themes.

    Not the 3-hour cut, though. It's much more. Sadly, I'm lacking the words to describe it at the moment, but let's just say: it's staggering.

  9. Adam, thanks so much for the heads-up on KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! I'm definitely really curious about it.

    Always great to see you here. Thanks, Adam!