REVIEW: Visages, villages [Faces Places] [2017]

To meet new faces and photograph them so they don’t fall down the holes in my memory. To look at some of the work of “unidentified” artist JR—giant black and white images pasted onto surfaces with a literal or figurative contextual relationship—is to see the type of community-based, socially conscious messaging Agnès Varda built a career documenting. It’s no surprise to therefore hear JR explain how meaningful Varda’s Mur murs was to him as a budding artist searching for his unique voice and style. I can think of no two…

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REVIEW: Les glaneurs et la glaneuse [The Gleaners and I] [2000]

“There’s no shame, just worries” What makes Agnès Varda such an integral voice in cinema is her colloquial way of engaging subjects. Everything appears as though unplanned when she visits locales believed to align with her current topic so as to capture unknown truths and adventure. None of her work does this better than Les glaneurs et la glaneuse [The Gleaners and I]: a French road-trip in honor of Jean-François Millet‘s 1857 painting The Gleaners at the Musée d’Orsay. In it she travels with a hand-held camcorder to unearth the…

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REVIEW: Les plages d’Agnès [The Beaches of Agnès] [2008]

“I feel pain everywhere” I think it should be a new rule that documentaries about filmmakers can only be made if the subject him/herself directs. How could you not want this enforced after watching Agnès Varda‘s Les plages d’Agnès [The Beaches of Agnès]? It surely helps that the Frenchwoman is candid, funny, and fearless when it comes to combining whatever she has into one cohesive whole. As she says: her movies are puzzles with many disparate pieces strewn about that find themselves coming together in the end. If some footage…

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REVIEW: Sans toit ni loi [Vagabond] [1985]

“Champagne on the road’s better” When I saw Sans toit ni loi [Vagabond] for the first time as a twenty-year old in college, I did so believing its titular nomad Mona Bergeron (Sandrine Bonnaire) was the focal point. This was a mistake. I was bored—frustrated that I was forced to care about someone who obviously wanted to be alone and on the road. She’s resentful, temperamental, and above all else ungrateful when the kindness shown dries up. It’s not, “Thank you for the time we’ve spent together and the warmth…

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REVIEW: Mur murs [1982]

“That’s part of the beauty. It’s going to change.” What’s there to do while you’re in Los Angeles? Shoot a couple films, of course. That’s exactly what French auteur Agnès Varda decided to do in 1981 with her fictional narrative Documenteur and documentary Mur murs. The latter proves a very down and dirty point and shoot piece, immortalizing the myriad murals around Los Angeles as well as the artists behind them. This is important too since so many have been covered in graffiti, knocked down, or hidden by new construction.…

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REVIEW: Cléo de 5 à 7 [Cleo from 5 to 7] [1962]

“You shouldn’t use the word ‘despair’” It’s crazy to think that Cléo de 5 à 7 [Cleo from 5 to 7] was just the second feature length fictional narrative French auteur Agnès Varda ever made. The maturity in minimal storytelling, singular visual style, and existential metaphor surrounding death’s value that spans classes are stunning to behold. While following Cléo (Corinne Marchand) in virtual real time for an hour and a half as she distracts herself with shopping and work before calling her doctor for potentially devastating test results, we pass…

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