30 Days of Fandor: Completed!

A few thoughts upon the completion of my 30 Days of Fandor Films project:

First things first: I did it! Not exactly in the month allotted (indeed, it  ended up taking just over two), but watching 21 films and writing a review about them in a single month? Considering that one of my original motivations was to counter a particularly pernicious creative slump, I think that’s pretty damn good. I had also figured I’d be reviewing a lot of short films—something Fandor conveniently specializes in—but as the month went on I actually found myself prioritizing more and more feature length films, and actually caught up with several particularly embarrassing oversights in my film viewing.

The sheer eclecticism of the films I watched also turned out to be a not unexpected but still deeply satisfying aspect of this project: short films and features, avant-garde and glossy classic Hollywood fare, obscure and canonical, documentaries and musicals and arthouse and silent films and everything in between; I also specifically tried to watch films from geographical locations I am more unfamiliar with than I like to admit (basically, most non-Western filmmaking traditions). I also wanted to prioritize films by female filmmakers, and while there’s always room from improvement, eight of 30 isn’t bad—and the films themselves were particularly good, considering that seven of them appear on the list I compiled below listening my favorite of everything I watched.

And frankly, I thought it would very quickly end up being difficult to watch more or less a film a day, a viewing schedule I haven’t kept up since my undergraduate years when I had a whole lot more time on my hands. And while I did struggle to finish the project after the initial month-long momentum had subsided, it really was a pleasure to rediscover how gratifying it is to have cinema in one’s everyday life.

So 30 films now off my Fandor queue… onward to those other 450+!

Twelve Favorites (in approximate order of preference):

01) LA CAPTIVE (Chantal Akerman, France/Belgium, 2000)
02) WORKING GIRLS (Lizzie Borden, USA, 1986)
03) LA JALOUSIE (JEALOUSY) (Philippe Garrel, France, 2013)
04) JANE B. PAR AGNÈS V. (Agnès Varda, France, 1988)
05) THE ACADEMY OF MUSES (José Luis Guerín, Spain, 2015)
06) THE TIES THAT BIND (Su Friedrich, USA, 1985)
07) ECCENTRICITIES OF A BLONDE-HAIRED GIRL (M. de Oliveira, Portugal, 2009)
08) VISION (Margarethe von Trotta, Germany, 2009)
09) NANOOK OF THE NORTH (Robert Flaherty, USA/France, 1922)
10) THE GENERAL (Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton, USA, 1926)
11) ARAYA (Margot Benacerraf, Venezuela, 1959)
12) HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT’S INFERNO (Bromberg & Medrea, France, 2009)

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30 DAYS OF FANDOR, DAY 30: LA JALOUSIE (2013)

Jealousy la jalousie philippe garrel

 Day 30: LA JALOUSIE (JEALOUSY) (Philippe Garrel, France, 2013)

There’s a density to the images of a Philippe Garrel film that I’m increasingly convinced are exceptional to the medium; rarely fussy or even overtly composed, typically it’s just actors talking and interacting in a series of underfurnished interior rooms connected by transitory public spaces like streets and parks. And yet, somehow, each moment seems imbued with a kind of mythic aura I tend to associate more with Greek tragedy than the cinema. La jalousie replays a story of triangulated romantic complications of the type Garrel explores in many of his films, with the autobiographical overtones taking on additional layers of meaning with the casting of his son, Louis, as his stand-in (his daughter, Esther, has a major role as Louis’s character’s brother—so many layers of familial implication braided into this film!).

The magnificent Anna Mouglalis, who I think has definitely confirmed her place as my favorite contemporary French actress (sorry Isabelle and Juliette), is the world-weary actress Louis leaves his wife for in the film’s opening sequence, and just as one assumes they know what kind of “jealously” the title refers to yet another subtle variation surfaces, and by the end it’s clear a whole typography of jealous impulses—romantic, familial, professional, etc—have been delicately excavated and examined. And none of this conveys that immense beauty of the images themselves, the work of Willy Kurant (who lensed for Varda, Godard, Robbe-Grillet, Marker, Gainsbourg and others in the sixties and seventies). The oversaturated black and white suspends 2010’s Paris in a space beyond the trappings of any specific year (it feels like 1963 just as much as 2013). In the most condensed of running times—this one clocks in at a characteristically succinct 77 minutes—Garrel is able to articulate and convey more than most films twice as long.

[Watch La jalousie on Fandor here.]