Review “Visages Villages”

As they make their way, sometimes merry, sometimes melancholy, a double-portrait of the artists forms. It’s very moving.


Agnes Varda is almost 90 years old and she is still making films. That alone should be cause for dancing in the streets. But wait, there’s more: Agnes Varda is almost 90 years old and she is still making fantastic films. Searching, compassionate, provocative, funny, sad ones. This is one of them. You should see it, and then go dancing in the streets.

Varda has been making films since 1955, and throughout her career, which saw her as one of the key figures in the French New Wave, she’s been a generous and ingenious collaborator. For this movie, which is part character drama (with real-life characters), part road documentary, and part essay-film, Varda co-signs with the French artist who calls himself JR. A bit over one-third Varda’s age, he always sports a hat and dark glasses. His work is in photography and public art. He travels through Europe in a van that’s a photo booth, creating large-format portraits of people he meets. He goes even larger with some of his other works, creating giant pictures that he then affixes to the sides of buildings, or train cars, or ships. After which he documents that work, and lets nature take its course—the images are generally washed away by time. In this film, one is very dramatically swept off by the tide.

JR’s is a humanist artistic mission; he gets ordinary people to partake in his work, which inevitably delights them. This movie, which has the French title “Visages Villages,” opens with scenes set in various places where, Varda and JR explain in voiceover, they did not meet. (Included is a funny scene at a disco, where a spry Varda—her unusual bowl haircut totally white on top, with a thick ring of vermillion at bottom, a kind of tonsure—dances up a storm at the other end of the floor from JR.) Once each describes the others’ work, and their mutual admiration, they’re off in JR’s van.

Varda’s ideas for photo work bring her to places she visited long ago, and her own earlier films. They visit the village of Cherance, in Normandy, where Nathalie Sarraute, the great writer to whom Varda dedicated her amazing 1985 film, “Vagabond,” lived. They find the well-hidden graves of Henri Cartier-Bresson and his wife, and pay homage. But while they honor the dead, they concentrate on celebrating the living. At one village, they see a row of one-time miners’ houses, waiting to be torn down. The hold up is one woman, the surviving daughter of a miner, who’s staying put. Her portrait, along with vintage images of the miners from the town, is pasted to the houses. The port at Le Havre, a man’s world clotted with ship’s containers, sees its largely unheralded women celebrated with a triptych pasted to a block of stacked containers. An enlarged portrait of Guy Bourdain, a one time collaborator of Varda’s who went on to become a celebrated photographer, is put on a concrete bunker that Germans abandoned in World War II and ended up off a cliff and embedded in a beach. A visit to a goat farm inspires an artwork calling for goats to be permitted to own their own horns.

As they make their way, sometimes merry, sometimes melancholy, a double-portrait of the artists forms. It’s very moving. Varda’s sight, which served her so well so many years, is getting dimmer. At the same time she wonders why JR always wears dark glasses. This habit, she tells him, reminds her of an old friend, Jean-Luc Godard. The resemblance sets up the film’s finale, which is puzzling, heartbreaking, but ultimately celebratory. And wobbles the line between documentary and fiction so strongly that the vibrations will linger in your heart for days afterwards.


Source: ROGEREBERT.COM Faces Places Movie Review & Film Summary (2017) | Roger Ebert

Jean-Luc Godard Retrospective on MUBI 

From November 12, MUBI will present a career-spanning selection of the films of legendary French director Jean-Luc Godard, ranging from the jazz-pop New Wave films of the ‘60s that made his name to his 1980s comeback with the contemporary masterpiece In Praise of Love. The series will also celebrate Godard’s birthday, which falls on December 3. Please find some more information on MUBI at: Jean-Luc Godard Retrospective on MUBI | French Culture

The Line-up

Pierrot le fou — November 12
Prenom Carmen — November 19
Alphaville — November 26
Détective — December 3
A Woman Is a Woman — December 10
In Praise of Love — December 17
Contempt  — December 24

‘Godard is not God!’


The women, the films, the fights, the flops … the director of The Artist has risked infuriating France with Redoubtable – a hilarious drama about Jean-Luc Godard.

Full Review: ‘Godard is not God!’ … Michel Hazanavicius on his film about France’s most notorious director | Film | The Guardian

Anne Wiazemsky: a haunting, humane star who helped France discover itself

It’s an uncomfortable irony that, after her life has ended, Anne Wiazemsky risks being seen as a bystander in her own story. In Michel Hazanavicius’s enjoyable but somewhat facetious new film Redoubtable, Wiazemsky, played by Stacy Martin, is depicted as a wry observer in her marriage to Jean-Luc Godard – the straight woman to his tormented clown. | More: Anne Wiazemsky: a haunting, humane star who helped France discover itself | Film | The Guardian

Anne Wiazemsky, French writer, actress and Godard muse, dies at 70

The French writer and actress Anne Wiazemsky, who famously wrote a best-selling account of her short marriage to New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard, died of cancer in Paris on Thursday, her family said.

“Anne died this morning. She had been very sick,” her brother Pierre Wiazemsky, an actor, told AFP.

Wiazemsky, 70, made her screen debut as an elfin 19-year-old in “Au Hasard Balthazar”, Robert Bresson’s classic 1966 film about a mistreated Christ-like donkey, before meeting Godard — then at the height of his fame — a year later. They married during the shooting of his 1967 film “La Chinoise”, in which Wiazemsky plays a member of a Maoist revolutionary cell.

Her grandfather, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist François Mauriac, opposed the marriage to the radical maker of “Breathless” and “Contempt”, who was 17 years her senior. But the French student uprising and strikes of May 1968, in which Godard became a major player, overwhelmed them.

More at : Anne Wiazemsky, French writer, actress and Godard muse, dies at 70 – France 24

Locally produced Seberg film to be shown in LA, Des Moines | Life |

Selected from 18,000 aspiring actresses at age 17, Ms. Seberg made her acting debut in Otto Preminger’s 1957 “Saint Joan.” She starred in the Hollywood films “Lilith,” “Paint Your Wagon” and the blockbuster “Airport,” among others. She is best known for director Jean-Luc Godard’s groundbreaking French New Wave film “Breathless.”The actress and her legacy will be honored today in a proclamation signed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad at the State Capitol. Ms. Seberg’s family will be in attendance, as will the documentary filmmakers.

READ FULL STORY / Source: Locally produced Seberg film to be shown in LA, Des Moines | Life |

Actress Jean Seberg, FBI’s COINTELPRO, and the film ‘Kill!’

The scene was tragic.A casket covered with lilies, daisies, and yellow roses. A stunned and muted crowd of hundreds gathered at Paris’s Montparnasse Cemetery, Friday, September 14, 1979.The mourners were there to bid farewell to Jean Seberg, internationally renowned actress, activist, and reluctant celebrity. Among those present were her young son Diego and his father (Jean’s former husband), notable French author and diplomat Romain Gary.Parisian police had declared her death a suicide, the result of alcohol and barbiturate poisoning. But the coroner was more cautious, at first issuing a report of “probable suicide” with “unresolved questions,” and then the following year filing charges for “persons unknown” who may have been involved in her death.

Source: Actress Jean Seberg, FBI’s COINTELPRO, and the film ‘Kill!’