Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)

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Mr Sausage
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Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)

#1 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:51 am

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Re: Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)

#2 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:17 am

Discussion now open!

This week's film is the winner of the Women Director's List Project.

kubelkind
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Re: Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)

#3 Post by kubelkind » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:26 pm

Well, I'm due a rewatch on this which I shall do this week. I avoided Denis for years 'cos "she did that terrible Chocolat film"...turns out I got the wrong Chocolat... A year or so ago I had a chance encounter with "Bastards" and, though not her best, it got me hooked in a big way and I decided to watch everything I could find by her.
I left "Beau Travail" until (almost) last as nearly everyone said it was her masterpiece and was somewhat underwhelmed as a result. Sure, I liked it but it seemed a little cold compared with the films I truly loved such as 35 Rhums or Trouble Every Day. My expectations were of course sky high.
I was also a little mystified as to the reasonings for the Galoup/Sentain emnity...it all seemed a bit over intense for unrequited love/jealousy, especially from an experienced military man with a professional reputation. Oh and the Dennis Lavant dance at the end would have been a lot more enjoyable and surprising if I hadn't already seen it in "The Story Of Film"...bah!
So, a rewatch is in order and soon.
Couple more notes - the lack of blu ray options on Denis (or even DVDs/decent PQ DVDs of many films) is truly an annoyance. The only blu rays available seem to be her two least interesting (for me) features. Agnes Godard's photography is stunning and I'd love to see it to full advantage.
Secondly, with all due respect, Denis takes serious umbrage about being ghettoised as a "woman director" - https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/fil ... -1.3457322

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zedz
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Re: Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)

#4 Post by zedz » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:53 pm

kubelkind wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:26 pm
I was also a little mystified as to the reasonings for the Galoup/Sentain emnity...it all seemed a bit over intense for unrequited love/jealousy, especially from an experienced military man with a professional reputation.
I find the motivation in the film pretty clear and compelling: it's kind of a Krazy Kat lopsided love triangle of obsession and violence. Galoup is in love with Forestier (whether this is romantic love, a need for fatherly approval, or professional deference gone bad is up to us, and I don't think even Galoup knows for sure); Forestier is in love with Sentain (I think this is much less ambiguously gay lust); Sentain doesn't really give two shits about either of them. Because Galoup (Officer Pupp) cannot express his love for Forestier (Krazy Kat), all he can do is destroy the object of his affections, Sentain (Ignatz Mouse), which is half brutally practical (get rid of the rival) and half pathetically attention-getting (look at me being a good soldier). Forestier likes and respects Galoup, but he doesn't love him, so that's not enough.

L'amour fou is not rational, and people do stupid, life- and career-destroying things all the time (like texting people pictures of their junk) out of dumb lust and desperate emotional need.
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When Galoup is found out, he has nothing left without his career (and, necessarily, Forestier), which is why he kills himself at the end.

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Re: Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)

#5 Post by knives » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:03 pm

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I never took it as an actual suicide, but just the contemplation of it. The film would not work for me at all if that were the case.

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Re: Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)

#6 Post by zedz » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:47 pm

That's interesting -
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if he goes so far as to contemplate suicide, and even has the gun right there by his side, what, in your opinion, might have pulled him back from the brink? For me, it seems like absolutely everything he'd built his identity around (his vocation, his pride, his relationship with Forestier, and . . . there's probably not much else he has apart from that) has been taken away. I don't think his newly discovered love of dance is enough to keep him going!

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Re: Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)

#7 Post by knives » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:54 pm

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I took the dance to be a revelation that he does have life outside the prison of his work. That after all this stress, anxiety, and general awfulness committed by him and eventually against he can, and by extension the audience, still can have catharsis through the dance. I do not know what could have brought him from the brink, but I do know what the steam released from the pressure cooker looks like and that's the rhythm of the night.

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Re: Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)

#8 Post by kubelkind » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:23 am

Ok, rewatched and greatly, greatly enjoyed. Freed from the "expectations of a masterpiece" factor that tainted things a bit last time, I loved it for what it was rather than what I hoped it would be (this has happened in the past a lot, maybe we can all relate). As someone whose heart is really in experimental non-narrative (non-standard-narrative?) cinema, Beau Travail's pleasures are, for me, maybe more in things like the blue of that sky or that incredible lake of salt (and the salted skull!) than the "story" as it is. I think theres a definite kinship with more abstract "landscape and music as emotional state" films such as Garrel's La Cicatrice Interieur.
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zedz wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:53 pm

L'amour fou is not rational, and people do stupid, life- and career-destroying things all the time (like texting people pictures of their junk) out of dumb lust and desperate emotional need.
Bit of a difference between texting someone your junk and sending them out into the desert with a nobbled compass to face probable death...but then maybe the stakes are higher in the Legion (and probably no mobile phone coverage in the desert). But, yes, I see your point even if I still don't entirely believe in the premise. No matter, I am not really a "plausability person" (Hitchcock?). I loved your Krazy Kat analogy and the possibilty that We Are In Coconino County Here kept jumping into my head throughout the re-viewing.
Regarding the suicide/non-suicide question
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To be honest, I get the feeling it doesn't really matter. Or at least Denis leaves the option open for us. An ambiguity which reaches its peak in L'Intrus where we are encouraged to doubt the veracity of most of the events paraded in front of our eyes. Certainly Galoup's life has been destroyed and his suicide is a likely (the most likely?) option, but when we last see him in "real time" he is still alive and the pulse is pumping to prove it (leading into the rhythm of the night). As knives suggests, I think the incredible explosion of release represented in the dance number at the end is far more effective than if we were to see him blowing his brains out or whatever and fits in perfectly with the "musical logic" of much of the film
Finally, Rhythm Of The Night, what a great record. And who other than than Denis would have the balls to throw a non-diagetic Neil Young number into the mix as well, and pull it off?

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