Thanks for the Use of the Hall - Archive

This archive contains posts from May 2007 to November 2008. More recent posts are at:

Name: Dan Sallitt
Location: New York, New York, United States

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Une Vie: French Institute, February 12, 2008

I wish the Alliance Française would fix the horrible wrinkle in their screen, so I could recommend films there with a clear conscience. But Alexandre Astruc's 1958 Une Vie doesn't come around every day, and it screens at the Florence Gould Hall on Tuesday, February 12 at 12:30, 4 and 7:30 pm. A surprisingly classical gesture from a filmmaker and writer who was associated with experiment and innovation, Une Vie is an adaptation of a de Maupassant story about a young woman (Maria Schell) trapped in a troubled marriage. Today's film buffs are probably more familar with the Cahiers critics' praise for the film than with the film itself; I like it a lot but haven't seen it in decades, and so will defer discussion.



Anonymous Daniel said...

Oh please, rub it in that I'll be missing this film while I'm in Berlin! I've been waiting ages to see an Astruc. We need to spread the word on this screening.

February 5, 2008 10:23 PM  
Blogger dave said...

I'll probably go to this, though I'm not that familiar with Astruc (even critically) beyond his idea of the camera as a caméra-stylo. Dan (or Danny), can you point me to some good articles that might prime me?

Danny, no complaining, you'll be at the Berlinale!

Speaking of must-sees, I'll be spending the evening at tomorrow's MoMA program, starting with Chantal Akerman's Portrait d'une jeune fille de la fin des années 60 à Bruxelles - which BLEW ME AWAY when I saw it yesterday - followed by a Claire Denis episode from the same series and then Beau Travail. I'm sure this was already on your radar, but I really can't speak highly enough of the Akerman film.

February 5, 2008 11:28 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Dave - I was going to have to miss the Akerman, but I just rerouted my life so I can be there.

I don't think there's any really good text on Astruc available in English. Certainly the best-known piece about him is Godard's review of Une Vie, translated in Godard on Godard - you might be able to read it here. It's one of Godard's more out-there pieces. Truffaut wrote something more concrete on Astruc's previous film Les Mauvaises Rencontres, which is reprinted in The Films in My Life. Reading these two pieces and fusing them in your mind might give you a fix on how Astruc was regarded. Like Vadim, he gave the Cahiers critics a vision of what the cinema they envisioned might be like, how people might behave in it.

You can find a decent overview of Astruc's career in the second volume of World Film Directors, and also in Roy Armes' French Cinema Since 1946 books. Dudley Andrew gives an abbreviated appraisal of Astruc's writings and films here.

February 6, 2008 12:15 PM  
Blogger Vadim said...

Thanks for the heads-up Dan...I'd never heard of this, but it sounds kind of unmissable now. (Kids these days.) I can just barely make it before heading to my evening shift.

February 7, 2008 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, I have not seen the Astruc film. My favorite film based on Maupassant short stories is the wonderful LE PLAISIR, directed by Max Ophüls.
Another lovely film based on a literary text, this time by Chekhov, is Douglas Sirk's SUMMER STORM. I have not seen that film for years, but would love to see it again.

February 24, 2008 5:41 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Peter - Summer Storm is really good, isn't it. If the rest of Sirk's career didn't exist, people would find that film and be amazed at its existence.

Une Vie turned out to be even better than I remembered: amazingly controlled, gorgeous to look at, full of little flashes of mystery and subjectivity. Somehow it reminded me of Welles more than anyone else: there's something about the way Astruc relies on foreground-background perspective, and even exaggerates it a bit as a way of creating a visual map for the viewer.

February 25, 2008 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Summer Storm" is probably my favorite Sirk film. It is a shame that it seems to be unavailable on vhs or dvd.

February 26, 2008 4:03 AM  
Blogger girish said...

I love Summer Storm too. It's available to the public for viewing on videotape in the Film Reference Library in downtown Toronto (if any lovers of the film happen to be in the area and in the mood). They have a nice collection of rare material even if it takes a while to sift through their records to identify it. Some hard-to-find films I've seen there include Claire Denis's U.S. Go Home, Edward Yang's A Confucian Confusion, and Assasyas' Cold Water, etc.

February 26, 2008 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention another great film based on a literary text. I refer to Albert Lewin's "The Private Affairs of Bel Ami", based on Maupassant's novel.

February 27, 2008 1:41 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Girish - thanks for the tip on Toronto's Film Reference Library. Looks as if their film holdings aren't available online.

Peter - I really like The Private Affairs of Bel Ami too - it's my favorite Albert Lewin film (though not the only good one). Maybe Maupassant needs some auteur study....

February 28, 2008 8:10 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home