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Mélo

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:13 am
by Calvin
Image

Master director Alain Resnais (Last Year At Marienbad) blurs the line between cinematic technique and theatrical artifice in his award-winning Mélo, adapted from Henri Bernstein’s classic play about a doomed love triangle in 1920s Paris.

Pierre (Pierre Arditi, Love Unto Death) and Marcel (André Dussollier, A Good Marriage) are both celebrated concert violinists and lifelong friends, in spite of their differing temperaments. Pierre is modest, sensitive and content with his lot; Marcel is hungry, driven, and pursues a solo career that takes him to the four corners of the world. After years apart, the two friends reunite when Pierre invites Marcel to his home for dinner. It is then that Marcel first meets Pierre’s wife Romaine (Sabine Azéma, Cosmos), sparking a passionate affair that can only end in tragedy before the curtain falls.

As thrillingly intimate on film as it was on the stage, Mélo’s César award-winning cast and inventive direction are highlighted in a stunning new restoration, revealing a hidden gem in Resnais’ celebrated body of work waiting to be rediscovered.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration of the film
• High Definition Blu-Ray (1080p) presentation
• Original 2.0 Stereo soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles
• Newly-filmed introduction by critic Jonathan Romney
• Archive interview with director Alain Resnais
• Archive interview with producer Marin Karmitz
• Archive interviews with actors Pierre Arditi and André Dussolier
• Archive interview with script supervisor Sylvette Baudrot
• Archive interview with set designer Jacques Saulnier
• Theatrical Trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring original artwork
• FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Bilge Ebiri

Re: Mélo

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:43 am
by domino harvey
A preview from my Cesars write-up for 1986:
An early entry in the soon to be insufferable outpouring of bad theatrical adaptations from Resnais. A woman cheats on her husband and feels bad. The end. No idea what compelled anyone to care about this on the stage, and I certainly don’t care about it as a movie. Dull characters, nonexistent dramatics (my one sentence summation actually makes the film sound more interesting than it is), misplayed perfs from the usual Resnais crowd— Sabine Azéma is especially misused here, as her hammy overacting can work in a comedy but is fatal in something like this.

Re: Mélo

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:58 am
by tenia
I'm wondering domino : have you watched some of the Claude Berri movies that have been recently restored and released by Pathé ? I'm thinking especially about how (poorly) Un moment d'égarement would fare with you.

Re: Mélo

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:03 pm
by domino harvey
I have not seen any Berri films yet, but at least four are on my plate thanks to the Cesars project (and really five since I'm obv going to watch the follow-up to Jean de florette). I just Googled that one and it sounds like Blame It On Rio, so I'm assuming the Donen film was a remake. Any others you recommend for or against strongly?

Re: Mélo

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:04 pm
by Fiery Angel
Can't get a new interview with Azéma?

Re: Mélo

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:30 pm
by tenia
domino harvey wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:03 pm
I have not seen any Berri films yet, but at least four are on my plate thanks to the Cesars project (and really five since I'm obv going to watch the follow-up to Jean de florette). I just Googled that one and it sounds like Blame It On Rio, so I'm assuming the Donen film was a remake. Any others you recommend for or against strongly?
I thought about Un moment d'égarement because the story could be summed up much like you did for Mélo : an older dude sleeps with his best friend's daughter and feels bad about lying to his friend about it. The end. I thought the movie could be interesting, at least for Marielle and Lanoux but oh no. Except having a teen spending most of its screen time topless, it doesn't have much going on, and its short duration (85 minutes) still seems an eternity.

I only saw part of the Pathé boxset (because not all the discs were sent to me for reviews), so can't speak for all of them. Plus, of course, YMMV, especially with French movies and US vs French audiences. But I'd say :
- Recommended : Le vieil homme et l'enfant, Je vous aime, Tchao pantin, Uranus, Lucie Aubrac
- Worth a try : Jean de Florette / Manon des sources, Le maître d'école
- Didn't like : Le pistonné, Le mâle du siècle (might even be in the next category), La première fois, Un moment d'égarement
- Avoid except for the lolz : Germinal, Ensemble c'est tout, Trésor

(unwatched : Mazel Tov, Le cinéma de papa (though I've heard it might be worth a try), Sex-shop, La débandade, Une femme de ménage, L'un reste l'autre part)

Re: Mélo

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:48 pm
by DeprongMori
Might it be worthwhile moving the “Claude Berri” discussion to its own thread? (Or perhaps I’ve missed its relevance to Alain Renais’ Mélo.) I’m hoping to be able to find it easily in future.

Re: Mélo

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:47 pm
by Donald Brown
Alain Resnais' incomparable masterpiece is bound to baffle spectators who insist on regarding him as an intellectual rather than an emotional director, simply because he shares the conviction of Carl Dreyer and Robert Bresson that form is the surest route to feelings. In his 11th feature, he adapts a 1929 boulevard melodrama by a forgotten playwright named Henry Bernstein, and holds so close to this "dated" and seemingly unremarkable play that theatrical space and decor—including the absence of a fourth wall—are rigorously respected. Using the same talented quartet that appeared in his previous two films—Andre Dussollier (Le beau mariage) as a gifted concert violinist; Pierre Arditi as his suburban friend, Sabine Azema as the latter's wife, who falls in love with the violinist; and Fanny Ardant (in a smaller role) as her cousin—Resnais invests the original meaning of "melodrama" (drama with music) with exceptional beauty and power, cutting and moving his camera with impeccable dramatic logic to give their performances maximum voltage. His concentrated treatment of the 20s, while never less than modern, retrieves that era in all its mysterious density. - Jonathan Rosenbaum

Re: Mélo

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:54 pm
by domino harvey
Complete nonsense, good lord

Re: Mélo

Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:51 pm
by hearthesilence
I saw this in 35mm at MoMA In 2014. Memory's a bit hazy, but it reminded me of some cover albums I've listened to where the recording artist/songwriter forgos any new material and does a set of really old (but on their own terms really good) songs that to less open-minded listeners seem antiquated and out-of-place. Resnais more or less plays it straight, which in itself is a statement: "plays like these, they still hold their value, and you don't need to radically reinterpret or reinvent them to prove that, it's already there in the material" (which goes against what Rosenbaum's saying, but I'd have to see it again - I recall camera movements and set changes that would not have been technically possible for a film in that era, but they made this seem more like a live production unfolding in front of you). I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but it wasn't bad at all. I'd have to see it again, but I could respect what he was trying to do and I did enjoy it.

Re: Mélo

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:04 am
by furbicide
I kind of see both sides – yeah, maybe it's a kind of unremarkable film and the fact of knowing that it's by Resnais makes it seem more interesting than it actually is – but I can't deny that certain scenes have stayed with me. The mannered performances and artificial sets have a kind of surrealism to them, and I found the duet between the two men at the end genuinely moving. Then again, Resnais can nearly do no wrong in my books (the one film of his other than the mind-numbing I Want to Go Home that really wore out its welcome was Life of Riley, which is actually a pretty similar film to Mélo in many ways ... go figure).

I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but just as I dislike theatricality in small doses – any hint of it in a more conventional narrative film turns me off immediately – I adore it when it's turned up all the way to 11, as it is here (as well as, for instance, 1970s/80s Manoel de Oliveira). Call it an uncanny valley effect, perhaps?