Merry-Go-Round

BBBB (out of 5) Brooklyn native Joe Dallesandro shows up in France after getting a note from his estranged girlfriend to meet him at a particular time and place.  He doesn’t find her when he gets there, but instead runs into her sister (Maria Schneider) who has received the same invitation.  When they finally find their…

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Noroît

BBB.5 (out of 5) Jacques Rivette’s companion piece to Duelle is as visual splendid though not as invigorating.  Loosely inspired by (and including pieces of) The Revenger’s Tragedy by Cyril Tourneur, it stars Geraldine Chaplin as a woman who plans to get revenge on a witch (Bernadette Lafont) who killed her brother.  Lafont is the leader of a gang of…

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Duelle (Une Quarantaine)

BBBB (out of 5) A mysterious beauty (Juliet Berto) shows up in a small hotel lobby late at night and asks the woman behind the desk to help her track down a man she is looking for.  Getting involved, the desk clerk (Hermine Karagheuz) eventually witnesses a couple of murders and crosses paths with another mysterious…

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Around A Small Mountain (36 vues du Pic Saint Loup)

BB (out of 5) Sergio Castellitto drives by Jane Birkin‘s stalled car and helps her get back on the road, following her to a small village where the circus that she performs with is doing shows to meager audiences and poor business.  He befriends members of the troupe and uncovers old family secrets, learning that Birkin has only…

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Wuthering Heights (Hurlevent)

BBB.5 (out of 5) Jacques Rivette’s love of literature leads him to an adaptation of part of Emily Bronte’s oft-filmed novel, whose nature has yet to be captured accurately on screen.  Updated to France in the 1930s, it concerns the affairs of beautiful and bratty Catherine as she is torn between the upwardly mobile marriage…

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The Duchess Of Langeais (Ne Touchez Pas La Hache)

BBBB (out of 5) Another foray into the world of the magnificent Jacques Rivette, this time adapting the work of Honore de Balzac to his own style. Jeanne Balibar plays the duchess who abandons her respectable upper-class life and marriage when she finds irresistible passion with a soldier (Guillaume Depardieu) who has gone out of his…

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Va Savoir

BBBB (out of 5) Jacques Rivette’s films are so subtle as to be practically undetectable, but if you allow them to suck you in with their realistic acting and natural pacing, you’ll reap their many rewards. Less daring viewers, however, will be appalled at his idea of what constitutes a romantic comedy in this beautifully…

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The Nun (La Religieuse) (1966)

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Anna Karina is superb in this adaptation of Diderot’s novel, as a young woman who is forced by her family’s impoverished circumstances to enter the nunnery. Her first Mother Superior shows her so much affection that she grows to love her life in the convent, but after that kind woman’s death…

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Paris Belongs To Us (Paris Nous Appartient)

BB.5 (out of 5) Several giants of French cinema claim that this film, the debut feature by the brilliant Jacques Rivette, is responsible for giving birth to the Nouvelle Vague. I dare not go against those who obviously know better by virtue of having actually been there, but considering how very poorly this work has…

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Celine And Julie Go Boating (Celine et Julie Vont En Bateau)

BBBBB (out of 5) Just when you think this film has run out of ways to captivate and mystify you, it finds something new to explore. This masterpiece by the indefatigable Jacques Rivette centers around the two women of the title, who meet thanks to a hilarious circumstance that results in a crazy chase through…

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The Story Of Marie And Julien (Histoire De Marie Et Julien)

BBBB.5 (out of 5) A clockmaker (Jerzy Radziwilowicz) quietly goes about his days in solitude, interrupted only by visits to a mysterious Madame X (Anne Brochet) whose secrets he is exploiting for blackmail money. He runs into a previous lover (Emmanuelle Béart) and the two of them start their relationship up again, she even helping…

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