Archive for September 12th, 2009

pont du nord

(France 1981 131m) not on DVD

Day belongs to strength, the night to power

p  Margaret Ménégoz  d  Jacques Rivette  w  Jacques Rivette, Suzanne Schiffman, Jerome Prieur, Bulle Ogier, Pascale Ogier  ph  William Lubtchansky  ed  Nicole Lubtchansky  m  Astor Piazzola 

Bulle Ogier (Marie), Pascale Ogier (Baptiste), Jean-François Stevenin (Max), Pierre Clémenti (Julien), Mathieu Schiffman, Antoine Gurevitch, Benjamin Baltimore,

There have been a few billets doux to Paris on film over the years.  Here’s another, except that billet doux doesn’t quite seem to fit right.  What we have here is a Rubik Cube to Paris, a Gordian Knot, Rivette’s Riddle of the Sphinx.  It’s a puzzle and it is life, it’s real and it most definitely isn’t.  It’s everything Time Out’s Paul Taylor said it was when he observed that it’s a “movie that pushes the conspiratorial playfulness of Rivette’s Céline et Julie in directions both maddening and magical.”

            Essentially it centres around Marie, a fortyish woman released from prison after several years inside for her involvement in an extremist underground group.  It’s unclear exactly what her part was, and who she was protecting, but her boyfriend Julien is involved and she sets out to meet him on the day of her release.  On the way to meet him she bumps into the same young woman, Baptiste, three times, and Baptiste then continues to pop up – stalk would be a better word – around Marie until she attaches herself to Marie like a limpet.  Both are then involved in an intrigue, in which various people are after the contents of Julien’s briefcase, including a map which showcases Paris divided up into areas like the spiral of a snail’s shell that resemble a board game Marie played when a child. (more…)

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by Joel Bocko

[This post was written exactly one year ago. I wanted to somehow pay tribute to the day, which is almost over, and passed without much notice from me, to a further extent than anytime in the past eight years. Feel free to share your own thoughts and memories below. I know the anniversary is almost over, but perhaps it’s a good idea to extent the conversation into the next day, as a reminder that the cloud of September 11 hangs in the background at all times. Not an especially pleasant thought, perhaps, but, I think, a necessary one. – Joel]

On September 11, 2001, I was 17 years old, a high school senior in New England. In my morning science class, the teacher was discussing global warming when a voice came over the intercom. It was the principal, who had a deep voice that only popped up when tragedy struck (that spring, he’d announced the death of a student who’d been ill). At this point it was already about 10:15 am, and he stated, as flatly (and terrifyingly) as possible that terrorists had hijacked commercial airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I know a lot of my friends heard the news sooner, with the details building bit by bit, but for me it was like being hit with a ton of bricks. We all stared at each other, jaws dropped…was this real, or just a movie? One kid, a bit of an oddball who later joined the military to do psych ops proclaimed, “this is going to wipe Chandra Levy out of the news!” My science teacher, without missing a beat, pivoted in his anti-Bush argument vis a vis global warming, to attack the idea of a missile defense shield: “how the hell would a missile shield block airplanes?”

We just remained in our seats, stunned, until the bell rang. En masse, everybody moved downstairs into a lobby where there were TVs hanging from the ceiling. On them, one of the Twin Towers was collapsing, over and over again. A teacher nearby suddenly started babbling, hysterically: “They’re gone? They’re really GONE? They’re not there?” One of my friends, a die-hard Democrat who later joined the Navy (I believe he’s still serving) told us, “this is when I’m glad Bush is president, because he won’t let them get away with this.” I told my classmates it was probably that guy Omar Laden or something…I’d heard his name mentioned in the past few months. We sat in my history classroom and stared at the television. John McCain appeared on the commentary to say that we were at war. At the time this struck me as a strange notion. My initial thought that morning had not been, “We’re at war and must defend ourselves,” but rather “My God, the world is coming to an end.”

I generally like to avoid personal stories on this blog; the Internet is fun for the way it confers anonymity and anyway, it all gets in the way of what I’m really doing here. Lest you think I’m departing from the blog’s mission, this entry is not a recollection of what happened 7 years ago, but a review/reaction to the television film “9/11” aired, I believe, one year later (it may have premiered on the six-month anniversary but I saw it for the first time on 9/11/02, by which time I was living in New York). I open with my own memory, at once mundane and shocking in the way that everyone’s memories of that day will always be shocking, as a reminder of how personally 9/11 struck everyone and how, with so much water under the bridge (yet so little accomplished) the emotions and sensations of the day can come rolling back instantly. And that’s what “9/11” is about.


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by Sam Juliano

     “Movie Man” Joel Bocko and CCC’s Alexander Coleman are on fire these days.  Bocko’s remarkable round-up of the Fab Four,  perfectly timed with the new CD set, is posted on the ever-popular Beatle thread initiated by Beatle fan Dave Hicks of Ohio, a site loyalist.  Hicks, Bob Clark, Kaleem Hasan, Jamie Uhler and our esteemed Tony d’Ambra have all made the thread one of the best we’ve ever had.  I have so much to say as a lifelong Beatles fanatic, but I am numb with these submissions and don’t know where to start.  After Bob Clark, Dave and Kaleem entered engaging ‘favorite song lists’ with commentary, Bocko has taking the bull by the horns with an absolutely incredible series of essays.  I already read through Rubber Soul, and couldn’t agree more.  Check out what Joel and all the others are saying here:


     Meanwhile, on the West Coast, San Francisco-area film scholar extraordinaire, Alexander Coleman may well have penned the Inglourious Basterds piece de resitance with an almost 5,300 word review that has the internet buzzing.  Coleman adores the film, but he defends his position vigourously, leaving no stone unturned.  Of course we’ve had Bob Clark write a gem of  a piece and Jamie Uhler’s alternate essay was fascinating as well, but Coleman, crashing the party late has really returned with a vengeance.  Check out Alexander’s review here:


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