My Night at Maud's (1969)
About the film:
In the brilliantly accomplished centerpiece of Rohmer’s “Moral Tales” series, Jean-Louis Trintignant plays Jean-Louis, one of the great conflicted figures of sixties cinema. A pious Catholic engineer in his early thirties, he lives by a strict moral code in order to rationalize his world, drowning himself in mathematics and the philosophy of Pascal. After spotting the delicate, blonde Françoise at Mass, he vows to make her his wife, although when he unwittingly spends the night at the apartment of the bold, brunette divorcée Maud, his rigid ethical standards are challenged. A breakout hit in the United States, My Night at Maud’s was one of the most influential and talked-about films of the decade.
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After a handful of writers happened to publish novels that depicted Henry James as a character, or paid homage to his work, David Lodge – who was one of them – christened 2004 "the year of James". In the same spirit, it could be said that this is the summer of Eric Rohmer. Some of the season's most prominent films, including Frances Ha, Before Midnight, and Exhibition (which recently opened the Locarno film festival), show the influence of the French director, who died in 2010, and whose lithe and playful work extended the possibilities of a certain kind of small-scale, psychologically curious, dialogue-led drama.
Though Rohmer's name has been invoked whenever films include anything other than exploding fireballs and blood-drenched zombies, it's
Sam played it again, now it's our turn to plug in the turntable and petition you once more for your top romance films of all time. The peg? Time Out's 100 Most Romantic Films of all Time poll, which has been announced today, and which names Brief Encounter as the title most likely to get your heart a-flutter.
But by our reckoning, the Time Out folk are cruising for a bruising; when we came to the same conclusion three years ago, the readers felt we'd done them wrong, and suggested Casablanca was Mr Right when it came to romantic movies.
Do you feel the same? Has your taste for gin joints endured over the past three years?
The last time we see Emmanuelle Riva in Amour, she's lying pale and lifeless on a double bed, petals strewn about her head, the lights turned down low and the shutters closed. The last time we see Jean-Louis Trintignant, he's the walking wounded, racked by grief and barely there. Michael Haneke's acclaimed new picture offers such an unflinching portrait of the grubby business of dying – focusing on the final days of an elderly French couple – that it precludes all talk of second acts or miracle cures. To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, there's no such thing as a happy ending.
All of which makes it curious to find the film's stars abruptly reunited in the airy limbo of a Paris hotel, just south of the Arc de Triomphe.
Smitten by a viewing of Eric Rohmer's 1972 film, Love in the Afternoon, French actress and filmmaker Marie Rivière felt compelled to write the director a letter expressing her fondness of the film and offering her professional services. By 1978, she had been given a small role in Perceval, the director's minimalist take on Chrétien de Troyes's 12 century romantic text. Rivière was later given an expanded role in 1981's The Aviator's Wife, the first entry in Rohmer's six-film cycle of Comedies & Proverbs. By 1986, Rivière was called upon to play Delphine in the director's semi-improvised masterpiece, The Green Ray, a film whose form and content innovatively draws upon the actor's personal experiences and fragile emotional state at the time. Such was her connection with Rohmer and his work,
Additionally, the new Sallitt film introduces the world to Tallie Medel, a performer whose intellect, emotive capacity, and force of persona place her in the outstanding category of such ascendant figures as Greta Gerwig and Kate Lyn Sheil while outlining a contour of being, a persuasion, that are hers alone.
The Unspeakable Act has its New York premiere as part of BAMcinemaFest on Sunday, June 24th, and its international premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Friday, June 29th, with three screenings at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival to follow in July.
The conversation below took place over email across the last two months.
"As Delphine, the lonely but defiant Paris secretary at the center of Le Rayon Vert, Marie Rivière creates an emotionally rich portrait of a young woman disappointed in love who transfers her energies into an anxious quest for the ideal summer vacation.
There will be blood. Today's list, more than any other in our series of seven guides to the 25 best films in each genre, is guaranteed to ruffle feathers and provoke punch-ups, even of the online kind. As my colleague Michael Hann wrote yesterday in the action blogpost thread, we didn't intend it to be so: we'd have liked 21 supplements so every genre could be given the space and respect they all undoubtedly deserve. But sadly we could only stretch to seven, hence a few mash-ups, like the one today (kudos to Jason Solomons for an admirable wrangle of a definition from our picks).
So: how much of a triumph or a travesty is the final list? Myself, I'm unconvinced The Graduate should be that high (more of
And certainly we can't consider Francoise Fabian a forgotten star, can we? She too is still alive and is still working solidly, and her credits include
Next up we have film writer Demetrious Matheou, discussing his book The Faber Book of New South American Cinema and the challenges of programming a season of South American cinema at London's BFI.
Xan Brooks then steps into the pod to review Catherine Zeta-Jones in Rebound, Andy Garcia in City Island, Sicilian epic Baaria and the re-issue of Eric Rohmer's My Night At Maud's.
Jason SolomonsXan BrooksJason Phipps
According to Criterion, the Tiff, formerly known as the Cinematheque Ontario, will be bringing out a rather superb and cartoonishly awesome summer schedule, that will include films ranging from Kurosawa pieces, to films from Pier Paolo Pasolini. Other films include a month long series dedicated to James Mason, Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales, a tribute to Robin Wood, and most interesting, a retrospective on the works of one Catherine Breillat.
Personally, while the Kurosawa, Pasolini, and Rohmer collections sound amazing, the Breillat series is ultimately the collective that I am most interested in. Ranging from films like the brilliant Fat Girl, to the superb and underrated Anatomy of Hell, these are some of the most interesting and under seen pieces of cinema of recent memory, and are more than
"Eric Rohmer, a pioneer of the French New Wave which transformed cinema in the 1960s," reports Reuters. "He was 89." As in the barrage of other first reports hitting the wires, the milestones are just touched on now, an outline to be fleshed out over the coming days. And weeks. And years. Born Jean-Marie Maurice Scherer in Nancy on April 4, 1920; first international acclaim with Ma nuit chez Maud (My Night at Maud's), nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1969; founding La Gazette du Cinema with Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut and Jacques Rivette in 1950; editorship of Cahiers du Cinéma; the last film, Les amours d'Astree et de Celadon (The Romance of Astree and Celadon) in 2007.
"A former novelist and teacher of French and German literature, Mr Rohmer emphasized the spoken and written word in his films at a time when tastes - thanks in no small part to his
That duality worked in almost all of Rohmer's films, which he tended to direct in specific groups. His "Six Moral Tales" is perhaps the most well-regarded, including La Collectionneuse (1967), My Night at Maud's (1969), Claire's Knee (1970) and Love in the Afternoon
In Arthur Penn's intelligently unconventional private eye thriller Night Moves (1975), Gene Hackman's hero – who finds the mystery he faces as unfathomable as his personal relationships – is asked by his wife whether he wants to go to an Eric Rohmer movie. "I don't think so," he says. "I saw a Rohmer film once. It was kind of like watching paint dry."
Behind that exchange lies a jab at Hollywood's mistrust of any film-maker, especially a French one, who neglects plot and action in favour of cerebral exploration, metaphysical conceit and moral nuance. The Dream Factory, after all, had proved through trial and error that cinema is cinema, literature is literature, and the twain shall meet only provided the images rule, not the words.
Of the major American film-makers, perhaps only Joseph Mankiewicz allowed his scripts,
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