Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

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domino harvey
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Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:03 am

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SUMMER WITH JEAN, JEAN, AND JOHN
AN AUTEUR LIST CELEBRATION


ALL THREE LISTS ARE RUNNING CONCURRENTLY (STARTING JUNE 2nd)
ANY AND ALL LISTS ARE DUE
OCTOBER 15


UPDATE
JEAN RENOIR LIST DUE OCTOBER 29
JOHN FORD LIST DUE OCTOBER 29
JEAN-LUC GODARD LIST DUE OCTOBER 29


PLEASE submit individual lists for each director
DO NOT vote for films from all three directors on one list
USE the guidelines below to assist you in compiling your separate lists

You may submit a list for one auteur, separate lists for two auteurs, or three lists to cover all three auteurs

See individual list requirements below for more detailed voting instructions


Jean Renoir Auteur List
Standard ballot requirements:
+ Minimum ten films in ranked order on list. Maximum of fifteen
+ May submit list with any number between 10-15
+ Shorts and features voted for on same list
+ See post here for detailed filmography of eligible films


Jean-Luc Godard Auteur List
Standard ballot requirements:
+ Features films and short films voted for on separate lists. You may not vote for shorts on the Feature list, and vice versa
+ Shorts are defined as works running less than 45 minutes in length
+ Television and multi-part works are considered one film and should be voted for on the Feature list
+ Works co-directed by Godard are eligible
+ All uncredited Dziga Vertov works are assumed to be co-directed by Godard and thus eligible

FEATURE LIST
+ Minimum ten feature films in ranked order on list. Maximum of twenty feature films
+ May submit list with any number between 10-20

SHORTS LIST
+ Minimum five short films in ranked order on list. Maximum of ten short films
+ May submit list with any number between 5-10
+ You may only submit a shorts list if you submit a features list. You are free to not submit a shorts list, however
+ Godard's segment from Room 666, "directed" by Wim Wenders, is eligible on the grounds that Godard directs himself in conversation with the camera

+ See post here for detailed filmography of eligible films


John Ford Auteur List
Standard ballot requirements:
+ Minimum ten films in ranked order on list. Maximum of twenty
+ May submit list with any number between 10-20
+ Shorts and features voted for on same list
+ See post here for detailed filmography of eligible films

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domino harvey
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#2 Post by domino harvey » Thu May 31, 2018 7:52 pm

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THE JEAN RENOIR AUTEUR LIST

ELIGIBLE FILMS
Catherine ou Une vie sans Joie (1924)
La Fille de l'eau (1925) R1 Lionsgate
Nana (1926) R1 Lionsgate
Sur un air de charleston (1927) R1 Lionsgate
Une vie sans joie (1927)
Marquitta (1927)
Tire-au-flanc (1928)
Le Tournoi dans la cité (1928)
La Petite Marchande d'allumettes (1928) R1 Lionsgate
Le Bled (1929)

On purge bébé (1931) R1/A Criterion (on La chienne)
La Chienne (1931) R1/A Criterion
La Nuit du carrefour (1932)
Boudu sauvé des eaux (1932) R1 Criterion
Chotard et Cie (1932)
Madame Bovary (1934)
Toni (1935) R2 Masters of Cinema (OOP)
Partie de campagne (1936/1946) R1/A Criterion / R2 BFI
La vie est à nous (1936)
Les Bas-fonds (1936) R1 Criterion
Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (1936) RB Studio Canal (forthcoming)
La Grande illusion (1937) R1/A/B/C Studio Canal / R1 Criterion (OOP)
La Marseillaise (1938) R1 Lionsgate
La Bête humaine (1938) R1 Criterion
La Règle du jeu (1939) R1/A Criterion

Swamp Water (1941) RA Twilight Time
the Amazing Mrs Holliday (1941) Uncredited, but eligible R1 Universal MOD
This Land Is Mine (1943) R1 Warner Archives MOD
A Salute to France (1944) R1/A Kino (on the Southerner)
the Southerner (1945) R1/A Kino
the Diary of a Chambermaid (1946) R1/A Olive
the Woman on the Beach (1947) R1 Warner Archives MOD

the River (1951) R1/A Criterion
Le Carrosse d'or (1953) R1 Criterion
French Cancan (1954) R1 Criterion
Elena et les hommes (1956) R1 Criterion
Le Testament du docteur Cordelier (1959) R1 Lionsgate
Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe (1959)

Le Caporal épinglé (1962) R1 Lionsgate
Le Petit Théâtre de Jean Renoir (1969)


FORUM DISCUSSION
Jean Renoir
Lionsgate: Jean Renoir Collection

1 Grand Illusion
216 the Rules of the Game
239 the Lower Depths
241-244 Stage and Spectacle: Three Films by Jean Renoir [Le Carrosse d'or, French Cancan, Elena et les hommes]
276 the River
305 Boudu Saved from Drowning
324 La bete humaine
818 La chienne

28 Toni

Links compiled with help from DarkImbecile



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domino harvey
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#5 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:30 pm

Okay, so this is obviously weird and new, so let's all see how it goes. If nothing else, this thread will be like a party where little enclaves form and talk and you can gravitate towards whichever you like as it all progresses. I will have the JLG and Ford filmographies up soonish-- I wasn't planning for these lists to go live at the same time and only came up with the idea a few days ago, so I didn't have it all ready to go!

Starting with Renoir, he's a director I'm not as in love with as most. I frankly find him wildly uneven (as I do Ford...), but with some great bright spots. As I was thinking about the films I'd already seen, they fit into these categories for me:

Love
Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe
Partie de campagne
Rules of the Game

Like
Grand Illusion
La Bete humaine
Le Caporal épinglé
Swamp Water
Woman on the Beach

Indifferent to/dislike/hate
A Salute to France
Boudu
Elena et les hommes
French Cancan
La Chienne
Le Carrosse d’or
Le crime de Monsieur Lange
Le Testament du docteur Cordelier
On purge bebe
the River
the Southerner
Toni

I'm pretty sure I've already hit all of the films considered to be his best, but I do hope to fill in some gaps in viewing and find at least two more films I like so I can vote in this list with a clean conscience! Is there anything I haven't hit yet that I should prioritize?

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#6 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:08 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:30 pm
I'm pretty sure I've already hit all of the films considered to be his best, but I do hope to fill in some gaps in viewing and find at least two more films I like so I can vote in this list with a clean conscience! Is there anything I haven't hit yet that I should prioritize?
Big fan here, although I don’t like everything. I’ve seen all his work except Chotard et Cie and 4 of the silents. I'll end up doing some rewatches of the potential contenders that I haven't seen recently.

Out of those you haven’t listed that you’ve seen, out of my personal taste, I’d say:

1. La Marseillaise. Really love this - it’ll probably be in my top 5. I would imagine some critics consider this among his best, or near. (Scorsese called it one of the finest and richest historical films ever made).
2. Les Bas-fonds. Like La Marseillaise, belongs in the great films of his late 30s period.
3. Madame Bovary. Has a lot of charm, from what I remember.

I liked certain things about Nana, Le Bled and La Nuit du carrefour.

I love Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe too! Will most probably make my list.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#7 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:18 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:08 pm
1. La Marseillaise. Really love this - it’ll probably be in my top 5. I would imagine some critics consider this among his best, or near. (Scorsese called it one of the finest and richest historical films ever made).
2. Les Bas-fonds. Like La Marseillaise, belongs in the great films of his late 30s period.
3. Madame Bovary. Has a lot of charm, from what I remember.
I keep re-editing this post, re-reading your selection. You don't mention This Land Is Mine. I'd put that third actually. Imperfect but for me it's one of the better American ones.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#8 Post by Shrew » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:44 pm

The Lower Depths/Les bas-fonds was the first or second Renoir I saw some dozen years ago, and I certainly responded better to it than to Rules of the Game. Obviously I need to rewatch the film to say anything with conviction, but I recall it being an intensely likable film--somewhat of hangout film until its final act, though with a definite narrative shape thanks to its literary origins.

For the silents, I really liked The Little Match Girl when I watched it for the previous 20s list (again, need to revisit). But I have strange affection for the morbid tale. I think it's probably the strongest of his silents though. Nana has some great moments, but abrasiveness is part of the source and the lead performance leans into that. Sur un air de charleston is something I don't think gets enough talk about how bonkers its conceit is (the execution leaving much to be desired).

I also really liked The Little Theater of Jean Renoir, which I had the chance to see screened. Being a set of vignettes, it's uneven, but I think it gets better as it goes along. The first segment is a bore but commits to its Andersenian bleakness, and the second segment (a musical about life in an apartment building and consumerism) plays way too long with one joke until suddenly finding a bunch of really good ones in its final momements. But the final segment is about as perfect a swan song for Renoir as I can imagine, taking up the hoary (and especially French) but age-appropriate subject of May-December marriage and applying his peculiar humane and forward-looking spin to it.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#9 Post by knives » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:06 pm

I highly recommend This Land is Mine as, for me, easily his best American film and one of the most interesting of the Nazis are bad films from that time frame.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#10 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:50 pm

It has come to my attention that though uncredited, almost all of Jean Renoir's month and a half of shooting on the Amazing Mrs Holliday was retained in the film, so it is now eligible for the list. Somehow I doubt a Deanna Durbin vehicle receives any votes here, but who knows

I watched Les Bas-fonds and enjoyed it once it hit its stride. Early on it seemed a bit sketchily-compiled, but eventually it finds a groove. I know the melodramatic flourishes of the finale are unpopular, but I thought they worked for the material. Lots of fun asides here with the boarding house denizens that really help put it over the edge. Would have been perfectly happy watching a romantic comedy between Gabin and Jouvet that didn't try to unconvincingly give Gabin a woman to lust after instead, though!

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#11 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:02 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:50 pm
Early on it seemed a bit sketchily-compiled, but eventually it finds a groove.
Somehow that seems to encapsulate the feeling I get from several of his films. If you watch La Marseillaise, I'll wager you'll feel similarly.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#12 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:50 am

domino harvey wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:50 pm
I Somehow I doubt a Deanna Durbin vehicle receives any votes here, but who knows
Well if ever a Siodmak list was on the cards Christmas Holiday would certainly figure in mine.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#13 Post by movielocke » Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:56 pm

(adapting/expanding a bit I wrote for the film's of youth for this thread)

When Philip Dunne, founder of the Writer's Guild, went to adapt the monstrously epic novel, How Green Was My Valley the intent by Dunne and studio head Daryl Zanuck was to craft Fox studio's response to Gone with the Wind and release their own four-hour technicolor extravaganza about a Welsh boy growing to maturity in the filial dissolution driven by the industrial revolution.

They would film on location in Wales and in studios in London. And then the Blitz happened and the project by necessity would be shot only in America. Unable to find any suitable stand ins for Welsh locations, they would shot in black and white, in the Santa Monica Mountains, so that people might not notice the desert scrub did not resemble the titular verdant green.

The director(s) left the project, and if not in color and a four hour epic like GWTW, financing was about to fall through as well. But! John Ford was brought on board and he made the crucial suggestion that caused the reduced project to work as a traditional two-hour film: don't have the child grow to maturity, instead compress the sweep of history into a few formative years of the child's life and he need not age or have two actors cast for his role. This late breaking change left artifacts throughout the film, such as the now ancillary characters Huw interacts with at school.

Zanuck and Dunne clashed extensively throughout the pre-production of the film, given it was perhaps Hollywood's most explicitly liberal and pro-labor screed to yet be lensed. Dunne won most of the battles, in part because Ford and Miller (cinematographer, and both Ford and Miller were founding guild officers and in general labor leaders in Hollywood's history) were on his side, and although Zanuck had the power of the editorial bay (in which none of the three were allowed), Ford and Miller got around that by shooting virtually no coverage, generally shooting one take only, and giving the producer as little material as possible for the editing room.

On the other hand, Zanuck was still calling the shots, and once Dunne was out of the picture, partway through production, Zanuck killed a crucial politically explosive scene outside of the church involving the owner of the mine and his son trying to get Angharad's hand in marriage from the Morgans.

Ford was forced to improvise an apolitical replacement scene on set, just enough that there wouldn't be a plothole, and that gives us the most purely Ford elements of the entire film, but it also undermines the labor and class arguments of the film in favor of base humor. The scene in question, is very memorable, it opens with Huw's naked ass getting slapped by his sister, Gwillem is soaking his feet, so he's dressed like a child (in a way), as his rolled up trousers resemble short pants, and he's shot from down angles, rather than the usual up angles Huw's perspective of his father generally engenders. Then the mine owner enters, in what in the final film becomes his only dialogue scene, and his character is undermined as a sort of bumbling, embarrassed fellow, quizzically out of touch might describe him well, hardly the cruel titan envisioned by Dunne. That the scene is the only thematically contradictory part of the film is not the strongest endorsement of Ford (although it is rather indicative of what Ford authorship is like), but then, improv almost always suffers from some drawbacks.

The film winning best picture, even in a tiny academy dominated by the elites of the hollywood system sent at the time a very clear political message, the film was screamingly pro labor, Hollywood was still fighting union battles or still had raw wounds from the previous decades clashes, and the production was staffed by a plethora of people who had fought these fights themselves. Really, at that time they're going to vote for semi-worshipful bio pic of a titan of industry instead? Years later, most everyone forgot the political context this film and Kane were released into.

As Huw Morgan experiences life, his valley was not so green. the events of the film dissolve his family, throw it into rack and ruin in the cruel grasp of traditions that women are property, men as as expendable as cogs, and an education, or hope, like a future, are not to be found in the valley. And as he says in the opening and closing narration, he is leaving the valley as well. It is a film of the immense sadness and nostalgia of a time when things were not so shattered, and how that life--that whole people entire--were to be shattered by the inexorable march of technology and the opulent tyranny of the aristocrats of the gilded age, that even the people's only defense, a union, is an acknowledgement that the old cultural norms are as gone, collapsed like a mine disaster.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#14 Post by knives » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:46 pm

Are there english subs of Origins of the 21st Century out there?

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#15 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:59 pm

It's subbed on the book/DVD combo Four Short Films

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#16 Post by knives » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:08 pm

Thanks, that's a lot better than I was expecting, though I'm unlikely to be able to get it in time.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#17 Post by knives » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:52 pm

Also for some actual viewings a Godard, a Ford, and a film I'm not sure counts.
Liberty and Homeland
This was shocking and pretty unique in all the right ways. While this has the shell of Godard's work from the last thirty years his purpose is pretty unique in his career. In many respects this is comparable only to Contempt in that it sees Godard stepping outside himself to look at the man he is. Taking a book whose character eerily replicates his own life Godard and Mieville ask if there is any worth to this experiment of life where he has become absorbed in others' art to not really produce anything outside those influences. The names may change from Bresson and Dreyer to Rothko and Balzac, but it is still merely his idea of their ideas. Godard is unusually fragile and open. Even the more generic philosophical pieces that enter in such as an early musing on the role of kind deeds in a tyrant's rule gets turned against Godard. The humour has an strong degree of cruelty basically only forgivable for being directed against the one speaking, but that is also what makes this such a compelling and emotional experience.

How to Operate Behind Enemy Lines
This is certainly worth more historically than cinematically with its cut and dry purpose and Gufus and Gallant structure. Still, that historical worth is fascinating not just for having an uncensored view of the '40s, but also a no BS concept of economic and social realities. There's a whole section near the end for example about how to find a good headquarters and in addition to the expected concerns about trustworthy residency concepts of respectability and economic power are heavily discussed. While not as brilliantly devised as cinema as something like Resisting Enemy Interrogation or Krish's Captured, Ford does bring the goods making this a surprisingly involving film despite the lecture heavy format.

1 PM
It's hard to say who is to blame, but this begins as Norman Mailer: The Left Wing Years. That's a harsh criticism I'll admit, but given the overlap in crew and the aggressively stupid way the staged scenes are handled more than earns that critique. The lows present are just awful and I have to wonder if Godard gave up the ghost more because he knew this was going to turn out awful rather than his stated reason? There's really only about five to ten minutes of final cut material here with the rest filled up of material that would either be cut or functions as a sort of making of.

That said there is some good here. The interview segments are pretty brilliant. I appreciate that the students, for example, were having none of Godard's BS and decide to just trash his argument for a much more sensible one. Also the one fellow interviewed at the beginning gives a lot of insight into how far back a lot of today's problems extend. He's overly optimistic due to short sightedness, for example, in his assessment of if blue collar workers will follow Wallace. In short he argues that blue collar workers despite being attracted to racism won't support people like Wallace because of how he will also destroy unions and workers rights. He even explicitly says they will always choose unions over racism. Today that just looks quaint as the blue collar spites themselves in their fervor of racist fears.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#18 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:37 pm

Madame Bovary. The emphasis is strongly on Bovary as a status-seeker, in this dramatic but initially satirical adaptation that studies the character, and the class-obsessed milieu in general, with a strong detachment. Perhaps a bit too much, as it’s hard to feel much for Emma, at least until the (her) end – although, unlike Flaubert, Renoir still manages kindness and affection towards the characters. This is still noteworthy for the well drawn and played characters, and the visual charm that comes from Renoir’s mise en scène, the frequently roving camera and many appealing outdoor sequences.


Les Bas-fonds. This viewing has reminded me, re: shrew and domino’s comments, that it is quite loose. It does get more enjoyable the further it gets along, and I love the courtyard world. The scenes of Gabin and Jouvet in the grass, with a shot of that river going by (echoes of Boudu), remind you of how good Renoir is at conveying those sorts of nature scenes. As often in the films of this period, class observation is salient, but there is also a focus on characters and their goodness or lack thereof despite their class allegiance. Jouvet is quite an endearing figure here. For all of the “darkness” of the world portrayed, there’s nothing depressing about it and it ends on an uplifting note, perhaps expressive of feelings about the beginnings of France’s Popular Front.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#19 Post by knives » Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:58 pm

Uneven was really an understatement on Dom's part. With my exploring of the B list it is clear that even within the films of Renoir and Ford themselves they swing from highs and lows like lightning.

La Chienne
This already comes across as significantly lesser Renoir and Lang's remake showing all the right moves to make with this story buries the whole film. While I could harp on about Lang's improvements to this tepid stew I'll just say that the acting here, by everyone but especially Marèse, is atrocious that even if the plotting were a bit better the film would still be a hard watch. It is beautifully shot and maybe as a silent it could have worked, but only to a point. Finally it is quite surprising how this much more explicit work feels more closed up then Lang's censor conscious one. Renoir openly discusses infidelity, prostitution, pimping, and all sorts of other things and yet his film seems less inside those very subjects.

Picnic on the Grass
In many respects this is the best of Renoir's later films. Certainly it is the most daring thing I've seen of his after the '30s. It has all of the makings to be his masterpiece. Alas, it also features many of his weaknesses especially in the early goings on at the farm, though put to better use than in many other films. A lot of the comedy from the father and rest of the family is of the sub sitcommy variety you would begin to see in '60s Hollywood films and the score sounds like it is sampled from a particularly bad Three Stooges skit. My word though, the good stuff here is amazing. The movie plays out a bit like a From the Clouds to the Resistance for the sex crazed masses. Thematically this could have gone in a very dark direction as the spectre of fascism looms over the aloof professor as the film essentially says that even as man puts on an elevated costume of scientific inquiry our animal nature ultimately means we will manage to at best be passionate messes and at worst beasts about even the best phrased nonsense.

Even though it leads to some of the film's worst moments I am grateful that Renoir decided to go with the exact sort of comedy he did because playing this as a drama would have retarded the message entirely. This is especially true of Rouvel who plays a screwball reversal to the cold logic around her and as an audience surrogate needs to be just as bizarre as the world around her for the ideas to play as real. She provides a simple minded determination that is in the realm of Buster Keaton flatly stating her desire to have a child to play with and just doing whatever so that her idea of the easiest solution comes to fruition. It is a performance so ironic it manages to run back to sincerity and in a simple way best exemplifies that virtues of the film. The whole film is like that where an artifice invades a natural setting making humanity look all the more curious in a way that betrays an optimism that the material doesn't inherently have. There's a certain high level joy in the blissfully unaware Meurisse riding a scooter looking like Tati mixed in with the most real looking forest Eastman color could produce.

Riley the Cop
This isn't Ford's worst film, not by a long mile. It is though the most irrelevant to him as an artist I've seen. Maybe you could stretch things by pointing out Riley as being a certain stereotype of Irish people, but aside from that this is a journeyman effort that if I were to say it was directed by Ford Beebe no one would bat an eye. This is a a bad sitcom about a lazy cop that everyone likes for some reason and who irrationally hates and abuses his German colleague (think if Homer Simpson weren't funny). It also throws in some Chaplinesque drama which just doesn't work.

Sergeant Rutledge
This plays through a lot of expectations and films (it starts a mystery, turns into Night of the Living Dead, and on and on). The only constant is a Rashomon flirting court drama that is a very Fordian attempt at the sort of liberal social drama that was ever increasingly common for the era. The plot on the whole is a bit simple minded and becomes more and more generic as it goes along. Given how much Ford puts himself in the movie I think it's fair to assume the passion is real, but aside from the opening it just isn't that smart. It is shockingly honest though about institutional racism and the communities black people have to make in white company with even a code switching moment provided. Even films made now a days wouldn't dare some of the stuff presented here (such as the open assumption of stupidity because a black man was never given a year of birth). It also has a lot of shade to throw on the way the Union handled the confederacy that makes this a satisfying predecessor to Ride with the Devil.

Strode's small monologue and the pointed use of the N word in it comes as a shock and pushes the movie back to greatness for a moment and I wish that Ford allowed more time for it to settle in the film. Some patience, but he immediately needs to follow it up with Ford style comedy which really is the best summary of this film's weakness and strength.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#20 Post by MongooseCmr » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:38 pm

knives wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:58 pm
Some patience, but he immediately needs to follow it up with Ford style comedy which really is the best summary of this film's weakness and strength.
Really his biggest weakness and strength as a filmmaker altogether. I’ve come around to Ford immensely since, but I’ll never forget my confusion and almost anger at seeing the Searchers for the first time and watching every heart wrenching or violent scene punctuated by goofy slapstick. Ethan scoops up his niece after 10 long years, and next scene is Ward Bond getting a bullet pulled from his ass.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#21 Post by knives » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:47 pm

Sometimes it works better than in other places. My Darling Clementine I think has it the best as the punctuation of comedy gives the film a real lived in vibe as if we really are seeing a bunch of people figure out how to live together. In a weird way his comedy works best in his less stylized or genre dependent stories (like the serious of The Searchers or the social drama here). Something like Young Mr. Lincoln also has it works despite again being a court drama at heart because it is inbuilt to all of the characters and flows naturally into the setting. The wife and judge here are completely divorced from the movie Strode is living in though.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#22 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:40 pm

Sgt. Rutledge is also a mixed bag aesthetically. It's a pretty Technicolor film, at least by the time it gets going in Monument Valley halfway through, but before that it's strangely studio-bound and expressionistic for this stage of Ford’s career, and that look doesn’t work all that well. On the topic of Ford's comedy inserts, I usually don't find them problematic (I enjoyed them here), but one memorable misstep for me was What Price Glory, which features an extremely odd mix of drama and comedy that really doesn't suit the material. And speaking of unattractive, studio-bound sets, the '52 film really is a winner in this category as well.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#23 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jun 24, 2018 12:47 am

La Chienne. I don’t know that I find the acting as “atrocious”as knives does (though Flamant really hams it up in places) but this has never been anywhere near my favorites. Lang’s noir remake is so strong that it’s hard to know what I would think of this one if the later movie didn’t exist. The Criterion blu makes me appreciate how it looks so much better than it did in previous viewings, but I still find myself finding the whole thing dull for large stretches of it. The cynicism here is quite in contrast to the films of the later 30s.


La Marseillaise. A somewhat propagandistic film that needs to be understood in the historical context of French politics of its making, as Renoir depicts the common people’s revolt against aristocratic values that leads to the more radical, second revolution of 1792 (I also read some of the last lines referring to how, if the Prussians defeat the revolutionary army, that that won’t annihilate the historical change the French people have started, as potentially a reference to the contemporary continental situation). Personally I can easily forgive that the drama isn’t as tightly plotted or wound as in some of his other films, or that it can occasionally get a little pedagogical. This is such an endearing, ambitious fresco, rich in historical detail, whose main focus and thickly-accented characters are situated within the Marseilles region, as they organize to join the revolution in the north.

Despite their blending in a great social mass, the lead characters among the ordinary southerners are very individualized and likeable and performed with great charm and talent by the actors (the same goes for the royal entourage, with Renoir’s brother Pierre, also a significant figure in Madame Bovary and La Nuit du carrefour, as the king) and there’s an abundance of good scenes leading to the impressive dénouement of the storming of the Tuileries. (There’s an especially visually memorable, long bravura sequence through a crane shot to show the adoption of the Marseillaise anthem by the battalion). As in its predecessor La Grande Illusion, there’s a great, inspiring sense of humanity and optimism that comes through.


Le Caporal épinglé. When Renoir read the novel that this film was adapted from, he surely couldn’t have resisted the idea of returning to the territory of La Grande illusion, though now set in WWII. Although what this film most recalls is Wilder’s Stalag 17, both in its setting and tone. It’s definitely not a major film, it occasionally feels somewhat episodic, and there’s definitely something missing in terms of narrative tension or energy. But it’s still partially enjoyable, and there are some quite successful scenes, such as the train episodes and the dentist sequence.


This Land Is Mine. The last scenes are slightly spoiled by Capraesque, overlong philosophical monologues from Laughton’s character, but then this is war/political propaganda so it’s to be expected. Still an enjoyable yarn about resistance in occupied Europe (France), based on an intelligent script by Dudley Nichols where Nazis aren’t as unidimensional as they usually are, and some strong performances. One of the American keepers.

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Rayon Vert
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#24 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:32 pm

Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Picnic on the Grass). Knives said some insightful things about this film. The late Renoirs often tend to be a bit experimental and indulgent, which means they don’t entirely work. The same is true here; you can find a lot that’s silly and a little too off-the-wall in this extremely light, summery divertissement that satirizes a debate of Science vs. Nature (happiness is submission to the order of nature, says one character acting as the director’s mouthpiece). But the virtues here really win me over. For one thing, the film is a hymn to nature and amidst the sex romp the director creates tableaux set in the Provence of his childhood and his father’s paintings (with a title that a few noted Impressionist paintings share). (I wouldn’t be surprised if Allen’s A Midsummer’s Sex Comedy was not only inspired by Bergman’s Smiles on a Summer Night, but also by this film.)
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The spirit of the whole thing is quite delightful and again we have that mix of theatricality and realism that is a distinctively Renoir touch.


Boudu sauvé des eaux (Boudu Saved from Drowning). I’m struck again how Renoir’s social cinema is fully humane and the satire never vitriolic; the bourgeois M. Lestingois may have his vices but he’s full of endearing qualities as well. Perhaps in a parallel paradox, Renoir’s camera is spontaneous and imperfect and yet imbued with art and intelligence. There’s something mythic about the Boudu character, a Pan-like nature divinity, a principle of chaos and destructive vitality that’s sent to upset the life of his “benefactors”. (In the marriage scene dénouement, he’s announced as “Priape (Priapus) Boudu”, which gives weight to such a reading.)

In the Criterion DVD, there’s a wonderfully stimulating and illuminating extra featuring Éric Rohmer and critic Jean Douchet discussing the film. They make a strong case for the “cosmic aspect” of this film, and Renoir’s oeuvre in general, specifically of the notion of both an order within the universe, and a principle of destruction and disorder, of perpetual transformation, which is life, but which also does not negate that order. (The river symbolizes both these things and reappears frequently in Renoir’s films.)

The many exterior scenes in the Bois de Boulogne, then along the Seine, are immensely enchanting. The film wanders along, breathes and is full of life; it’s a true poem.


Toni. This has quite a unique quality to it among Renoir’s films of the period. It has a very rough quality compared to the major films that came before it (Boudu, Madame Bovary). That contributes, along with other elements like the preponderance of outdoor sequences, the presence of some non-actors, an occasional documentary feel, in making it a precursor to Italian neo-realism. But we’re still in Renoir territory, with a melodramatic story filled with oh-so-human characters and a strong sense of social reality. Imperfect, but has a lot of charm.

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La Chinoise. With its strong theatricality, this feels very different in tone and style from Godard’s preceding films, at once more “flat” but also more playful. The constantly inventive and witty mise-en-scène makes all of those Marxist-Leninist and Maoist declamations among the primary color-designed sets entertaining, even as the film provides a thought-provoking study of that particular social microcosm of French university students at Nanterre at the dawn of ’68 enthralled with the Cultural Revolution. When the film is about to switch from the theory to the praxis part, however, there’s a strong scene where the idealistic and naïve Véronique meets up with real-life philosopher/activist Francis Jeanson, and their stimulating and ultimately almost moving conversation about the effective means of creating a revolution brings a welcome change of tone and a dimension of greater depth.


Sauve qui peut (la vie) (Every Man for Himself). Compared to the 60s films, I find the 80s films often more diffuse narratively, and even when understood on that level, harder to make out what they’re about. On a more immediate level, Denise, Paul and Isabelle are three people trying to survive and/or find satisfaction with life, with their relationship to work being at the forefront. But then there all kinds of other things going on: the difficulties relating intimately to one another (which often involves physical violence*), those frequents shot of traffic (people, vehicles, trains), the nature vs. city contrasts which bring in a new, slightly mystical quality that gets developed further in subsequent films (the film’s score by Yared helps contribute in this respect), the strange, recurrent family incest allusions, quirky tricks Godard plays with the spectator’s expectations regarding the diegetic vs. non-diegetic music. (*Godard scholars have written about the focus on bodies in the later 80s films as a sign of resistance to the industrial economic organization of social and cultural activity, and perhaps that starts here already. Witness the sex-chain scene where a rich industrialist tries to mechanize and bring into rhythmic obedience those bodies).

It’s hard to find cohesion among these different elements – this isn’t a fault I’m finding with the film, just an observation. For me it’s a fairly striking, strong piece, although I find the latter part involving Isabelle’s story a little less interesting, and the ending is a bit unfinished and dissatisfying relative to what the film seems to promise earlier.

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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#25 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:44 am

Speaking of Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe and sex romps, Michel Deville gets good mileage out of referencing this film by casting Catherine Rouvel in his quite good sex comedy Benjamin. Certainly worth a look if anyone wants to (ahem) see more of her...

Late period Godard, which Sauve qui peut (la vie) ushers in, is indeed narratively obscure to the point of, well, pointlessness. This isn't a critique but an observation. I think it was Bordwell who called out other film writers for not acknowledging the impenetrability of the plots in later Godard films, accusing them of cribbing from the official plot description instead of admitting how obfuscated said narrative often is in these movies. It took me several viewings to "get" Sauve qui peut (la vie), but I now rank it amongst Godard's best. You mention the use of sex and critical readings, Rayon Vert. I recommend finding the book the Radical Faces of Godard and Bertolucci, which has an insightful and inflammatory essay exploring and discussing the depiction of anal sex in the films of the two auteurs (with this film naturally receiving significant focus). It's an ugly but fascinating read!

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