Saturday, July 11, 2009


Okay, maybe films can be art after all...

Agnès Varda made the best documentary you'll ever see: Les Glaneurs et La Glaneuse (The Gleaners and I), as well as a number of lyrical, poetry-on-film like La Bonheur and Cléo from 5 to 7. I actually can't think of a Varda film that I haven't enjoyed. She's a national treasure; not of France, but of the larger nation of artists.

This is her newest film- Les plages d'Agnès- she was working on editing it when I visited Paris last- "in the tunnel" as she put it. The film was completed soon after and won the French Cesar for best documentary- basically the academy award for French cinema. By all accounts, it's a great Proustian film.

I actually met Mme Varda on the sidewalk outside of her studio on the Rue Daguerre in Paris. I was looking at the posters and she walked up and asked me if I had discovered something interesting. She's as gregarious and funny in life as in her movies, which of course are an extension of her life. Anyway, you often have these interactions with artists and decide to buy a work from them only to find out it isn't so great. I bought a few DVDs from her and was completely floored by them. Then I went to her gallery show L'ile et elle, which I suspect inspired this new movie, and became a fan for life.

If you get a chance to watch The Gleaners and I, do so. It's out on DVD and available through Netflix. Okay, maybe you've seen a better documentary- I haven't- but, you'll still love it.

So, in the right hands, film can be art, and then some.

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