|Index||6 reviews in total|
Agnes Varda, one of the best film directors from France, takes us on a
nostalgic trip through the world of cinema. Ms. Varda pays homage to
the Lumiere brothers, the inventors that revolutionized the art of
making movies, as they keep appearing whenever Simon Cinema, the old
character at the center of the film calls for them. The two men show up
enveloped in lights, perhaps a tribute and a reference to their
The film concentrates on Simon Cinema and his memories. After all, he has been around for quite a while and has survived many movements and styles during his time as a creator. Simon lives in splendor in a château in the country, attended by his male servant, Firmin, and two maids. Simon decides to employ an assistant to help him sort out his memories. When he engages the lovely Camille, he gets an eager young woman who is in love with a young would be director.
There are great moments in the film as when Simon is visited by Marcello Mastroianni. Both actors, now of a certain age, compare notes from their pictures. Simon Cinema accuses Fellini of copying his bathroom scene in Godadard's "Contempt", in his own "8-1/2". Hanna Schygula and Jeanne Moreau arrive together to see the great man. Alain Delon comes in a helicopter, only to be turned away by Firmin, the servant, who only wants to tell the actor how much he admired him and have him sign his autograph album.
There are other poignant vignettes, like the one involving Sandrine Bonnaire, who arrives at the estate dressed as the vagabond she played in Ms. Varda's own film. Then she changes into a noble woman and finally she transforms herself into Joan of Arc. Catherine Deneuve and Robert DeNiro have a good time together in a small vessel in the pond.
Michel Picolli is excellent as the older man who is recalling the movies. Julie Gayet makes a luminous contribution as Camille. Henri Garcin, is the servant Firmin, a crazy combination of servant and personal assistant. Mathieu Demy, the director's son appears as the aspiring director, Mica.
Ms. Varda created a light film about making movies. The material covers many years of film making, not only in France, but in America, and other places as well. It is indeed a sentimental journey that no cinema fan should miss.
Not since Francois Truffaut's "Day for Night" has there been a more loving
and jubilant tribute to cinema. The wonderful Michel Piccoli plays an
legendary actor/director/producer who lives in a glorious country estate,
where movie memorabilia line his walls, and famous French and international
celebrities drop by daily for visits. Some of the celebrities include
Marcello Mastroianni, Gerard Depardieu, Jeanne Moreau, Hannah Schygulla,
Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Gina Lollobrigida, and Catherine Deneuve.
To name a few! In fact, one of the films' highlights includes a fantasy
scene with Deneuve and Robert DeNiro in an elegant boat on an elegant pond,
acting like a husband and wife on holiday. DeNiro is speaking French by the
The film is simply a tribute to cinema, with all the magic of art direction, music, scenery and of course talent, mixed in a menagerie of reality and fantasy. There's a somewhat uninteresting subplot between a young couple, but the magic induced by all the elements mentioned is intoxicating enough to leave your head swimming for days. This film has that perfect touch that most French films have of being simultaneously sentimental and sophisticated. A perfect balance. The film is more enjoyable if one is well familiar with French cinema, but there's plenty of mention of, and highlights of Hollywood films too. Overall, it is a joy on any level!
The cinema student and cinephile Camille Miralis (Julie Gayet) is hired
by a huge amount to assist the one-hundred year-old Monsieur Simon
Cinéma (Michel Piccoli), whose memories is fading away, telling stories
about the movies he made along one hundred and one days. Camille meets
many movie stars that visit Monsieur Cinema, including his Italian
friend Marcello Mastroianni, Alain Delon and his ex-wives Jeanne Moreau
and Hanna Schygulla. Meanwhile Camille learns that he misses his
grandson Vincent that disappeared and she plots with her boyfriend
Camille "Mica" (Mathieu Demy) that wants to make a film to use their
friend Vincent (Emmanuel Salinger) that has just come from India to
pose as the grandson to inherit his assets.
On the centenary of the cinema history, the fantasy "Les cent et une nuits de Simon Cinéma" is a great tribute by Agnès Varda. The cinema forgetting the good films is an intelligent criticism to the quality of the contemporary commercial movies. The impressive number of cameo appearances associated to footages of classics is a delight to any cinephile. Unfortunately the lead story with Camille, Mica and Vincent is totally disappointing. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "As Cento e Uma Noites" ("The One Hundred and One Nights")
If you love film, and especially if you love French films, this small gem of a movie will get under your skin delightfully. Agnes Varda has created an utterly engaging, witty, wry, self-deprecating and altogether irresistible tribute to the directors and stars of classic French cinema and some American ones as well. Varda manages to poke fun at all the ridiculous pretentiousness of movie-making while understanding all the reasons why we---audience and actors and filmmakers alike---still fall hopelessly, helplessly, and contentedly in love with the magic of moving pictures. See this movie on a warm summer night with someone you love and who also loves the movies...
I felt like I was in a dream, maybe one of Fellini's dreams of long ago, while I enjoyed every moment of this exciting film. Marcello is wonderful and so are so many others in this film... see DeNiro fall in the pond! Find it, rent it...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll try to be brief, as usual in my posts on the board. I've always
suspected Mrs Varda's work to be part of the Demy mystique not only in
kinship. Part of is, certainly, in a way ironic people would expect:
there's so much sadness and gloom (Demy's touch) underlying the simple
joy in life it can only pass in the work's blood by language (usually
faked for the circumstance and made to cheat on everyone, Varda's touch
Take actors for example: they are known for having motors like greed, or jealousy. Movie world asks for this, and this is public's demand, so there's no way it can possibly end. This is timeless as cinema is- and the current devout to this transmission of aloofness, and also feverish love, so Mr Simon Cinéma's childish, ever-cheating, ever- awesome Michel Piccoli is never to die, an ever jealous, ever sentimental, born to play this metaphor man who is Cinema as a whole, is essentially language, not picture.
There's something more sordid about this film either- not even its "in- your-face" approach (somehow (curiously, Varda's hypocritical touch) a five year old could see this film and enjoy it- why not, this is playful too) and past the "greatest movie moments and quotes" is his belief in nostalgia. It's shocking when you think this was thought of as a tribute essentially. It plays with your nerves and brains, even though it gives you a feeling of "you were never there, but WE were. Nay, you just sat there but you were NEVER there" (and this is missing a whole lot of the film's initial purposes, as well as the movie-crazy audiences in the first place). So this film is a lack of respect and a sh!thole, playing for what it has never invented, and only playing with the minds of the movie-crazy-audiences mentalities it should respect in the first place. Don't be fooled, brethren.
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