Arnaud Desplechin

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Arnaud Desplechin

#76 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Jan 12, 2020 3:01 am

I went back and watched Desplechin’s first feature, La vie des morts, which is a more tightly contained milieu of family dynamics functioning dysfunctionally (yet comfortably) as they fight mourning - or perhaps they’re coping with death in their own individual ways - though this is still anything but a typical procedure in examining them. The opening breakfast explosion has no roots planted in audience awareness and the rant about suicide and children’s inherent hatred for mothers is hilarious, intense, and confusing all at once. The film continues to follow a strange path that’s loose in structure even if clearly deliberately structured around the little details and big ones equally. At a brief ~50 minutes, this is more like a third of a Desplechin film, but a third is better than none and I loved this, even if it’s a thin slice of greater things to come.

Marianne Denicourt, who steals scenes in his later films too, absolutely runs away with this film from her first scene having a panic attack in a bath tub, and if this one leaves you wanting more, at least we get her burning intensity contrasted with the idiosyncratic behavior of her family members for a good chunk of an hour. It’s always refreshing to see a filmmaker’s debut and witness a skill set and perspective already present from the start. I highly recommend checking this one out, especially in preparation for the “first films” list project coming up sometime in the future, as I’d expect this could very well make my own list. I mean, grown men practicing boxing at a funeral, a playfully dramatic and lengthy impromptu poetry recital, and one character woefully declaring that he doesn’t wash dishes because it “bores me to death” sans context while staring off into space are all markers of classic Desplechin, and those aren’t even close to the best parts of the movie, which come when it bravely and carefully lifts the coating of dark humor and shows its heart.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Arnaud Desplechin

#77 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:27 pm

Made as a TV movie, La forêt finds a more consistent balance than most Desplechin in a rather straight focus on a few interpersonal relations, the barriers to exercising the will, and the inherent humor in communication. This really does resemble a filmed stage play, which it is, and while the narrative does takes some unexpected turns in introducing more characters and motives to muck up the narrative, I prefer his films made with a bit more breathing room. What is lost here is the authentic chaos that reveals a soul and opens up space for this energy to spread. There are scenes of raw emotion but they cannot overcome their artificiality, even if they would be far worse off in another filmmaker’s hands. This was a fine enough piece of passive entertainment, with witty dialogue, well-paired dynamics between actors, and strong technique. Worth checking out, even if it’s missing some of Desplechin’s auteurist charms just by definition of its less personal source.

I don’t have a strong urge to revisit Jimmy P but I feel a bit similarly in that it suffers in comparison to Desplechin’s other work because it doesn’t possess the personal intimacy I crave from the filmmaker. The film still retains his humanist meditations and offers space for the rapport-building process of therapy, which is the most significant, and the depiction of that aspect of the therapeutic relationship is a pleasure to watch unfold in all its empathy and absence of ulterior ambitions, which is where the director shines through the cracks to insert his beliefs in the product.

La Sentinelle is an amusing first full feature because it appears to follow the blueprint of a neo-noir crime plot or political thriller on the conceptual pitch, and yet its contents and vibe are unmistakably within the rhythm of Desplechin’s later films abandoning any connection to genre. There are spacious musings on young men brushing up against the curiosities of life, playful interludes, communication navigations, and enough dry humor to turn the realistic into surrealistic (there is an early scene involving doctors in medical school sheepishly struggling with their lesson while examining a dead body that had me roaring). If anything this is more of a romantic comedy-drama than the crime thriller it toys with, though it’s really just about a guy entering adulthood, having experiences, and contemplating his identity. It’ll be interesting to see how Desplechin handles the return to the “crime” film once we get English subs for Oh Mercy! but my guess is it won’t be quite so loose in structure or intentionally subverted from its visible subject.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Arnaud Desplechin

#78 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:13 am

Léo, en jouant 'Dans la compagnie des hommes': A strange meta-exercise, especially in light of the interview Matt posted upthread about Desplechin’s comments on film vs. the theatre. I’m not going to analyze this through heavy post-modernism, but Desplechin strikes me as someone who enjoys the depth of drama and the breathing room of filmmaking unhinged from constraints, often demonstrated with playfulness and puzzling distractions to the main narrative. Here he has his fun with the play but cannot help bringing it all back to the actuality of the authentic being filming the rehearsal and revealing the pure tightly followed narrative drama as artificial. I don’t know if Desplechin is trying to make a point but I do think that he is probably not interested in rigid filmmaking or perhaps cannot resist the urge to capture meandering and rambling realism, and all the comedy and magic such an eye allows even in the banal process of a play reading.

Going hand in hand seemingly is L'Aimée, a documentary that transforms into a narrative in the telling of a deeper mystery narrative that is only “found” by Desplechin’s curiosity and willingness to ask questions with genuine interest. His empathy is fascinating to watch as the interviewer to his father, and in asking him how he feels regarding deep-seeded relationship dynamics is indicative of how the director thinks about his characters, by feeling through them. The final lines are heart-wrenching and beautiful, and this is the perfect feature to accompany Un conte de Noël on Criterion’s disc, for there are uncanny similarities between them, down to the physical resembles and internal feel of the house and neighborhood, the makeup of family members who visit, and even Desplechin’s own nonchalant admittance of his frequent heavy drinking and other familiar characteristics he exhibits in voiceover and disposition. I thought this was a wonderful film and one of those fiction-doc hybrids that actually works, especially when as personal as this.

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Never Cursed
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Re: Arnaud Desplechin

#79 Post by Never Cursed » Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:25 am

Trailer for Oh, Mercy! which indicates that it will be released in Australia through Madman Films

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