The comfortable daily routines of aging Parisian actor Gilbert Valence, 76, are suddenly shaken when he learns that his wife, daughter, and son-in-law have been killed in a car crash. ... See full summary »
Manoel de Oliveira
Lisbon, Marseilles, Naples, Athens, Istanbul, Cairo, Aden, and Bombay. Along with a university teacher and her little daughter, we embark on a long journey, experiencing different cultures and civilizations.
Manoel de Oliveira
Filipa de Almeida,
Luciano, fresh out of jail, was taken by his brother, Flórido, to serve in the home of wealthy Alfreda. He was surprised when she told him that her greatest desire was to see the Virgin ... See full summary »
Manoel de Oliveira
Luís Miguel Cintra
Manoel is aging film director who travels with the film crew through Portugal in search of the origins of Afonso, a famous French actor whose father emigrated from Portugal to France and in... See full summary »
Belle toujours occurred to me unexpectedly and, as I had the will to pay my tribute to Luis Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carrière, I was happy to have found a way to do so, perhaps the best, and I started working. What is it about? Taking two of the strange characters from the film Belle de Jour, and make them relive, thirty eight years later, in the strangeness of a secret which was only in the possession of the masculine character and a knowledge that had become crucial to the female character. Thus, passed this time, they meet again. She tries to avoid him by all means. But he stalks her and eventually manages to gain her attention with the intention of revealing the secret that he alone can unfold. They set a meeting, a dinner, where she expects that all will be revealed. During dinner, she, now a widow, awaits the expected revelation: what he had told her husband while he was mute and paralytic because of a gunshot wound fired by a lover of hers. The situation is tense and she ends up ... Written by
Manoel de Oliveira
Symphonie n° 8 en sol majeur - Op. 88 (mouvements 3 et 4)
(credited incorrectly as mouvements 2 et 3)
Composed by Antonín Dvorák
Performed by L'Orchestre de la Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian
Conducted by Lawrence Foster See more »
not a bad idea, but it's padded at 70 minutes, and far from an "homage" to Bunuel
Luis Bunuel's Belle de Jour is a classic of 1960s dark comedy, with the touches of surrealism that made the director such a house-hold name (for art-film households anyway) and had a seductive, sometimes cold but never less than interesting performance from Catherine Deneuve as Severine, who spends her days as a hooker in a brothel while her husband doesn't know. You may or may not recall Michel Piccoli was in the film as well, and had a pivotal moment - following being the one who originally gave Severine directions to the brothel - who may or may not have told her husband. Bunuel was smart and clever and right enough to not show us this conversation, only Severine seeing a single tear running down his cheek. We can read into it whatever we wish, which was the sly gift from the mater.
The (now late) director Manoel de Oliveira decided in 2006, at the age of 100, to make a sort of "homage" to Bunuel and his collaborator Jean-Claude Carriere by making what is in all actuality a sequel to that film, where Piccoli's character Husson sees Severine at a classical music concert, tries to follow/track her down, and then when he does has dinner with her to talk about things. Will he finally tell her what she said? In truth, does it matter either way, one might ask? Certainly de Oliveira doesn't care.
Despite an opening sequence at this concert hall that is simple and magnetic and wonderful to sit through - maybe in large part due to the music itself from Dvorak being so powerful - and a final dinner scene that has a couple of nice visual touches, this is just not that interesting. It doesn't work that Deneuve isn't back as Severine; I'm sure the director would argue this is a further homage to Bunuel (two actresses were used in That Obscure Object of Desire), but it just feels off seeing another actress there, who doesn't have the same looks (Deneuve, at her age today, is still astonishing looking by the way). The film is a scant 70 minutes long - 65 not counting credits - and it still feels padded out with scenes of watching characters eat their dinner, the waiters cleaning up, and lots of walking around.
Belle toujours wasn't a bad idea, per-say. Revisiting such memorable characters years later and giving a new perspective could be captivating or enlightening, and as a stand-alone short film it could have worked (imagine, for example, if Husson and Severine meet right after the concert hall and grab a bite and talk, you cut out ALL of the mid-section and don't really miss much at all, other characters here are inconsequential really). At the same time, it was hard for me to also grasp what the "homage" was ultimately. There are two Bunuelian moments of surrealism, one involving a golden horse statue outside in Paris that may have real eyes (this works because there's build-up as Piccoli is staring at it), and another with a chicken that is just weird but weird for weird's sake, if that makes sense.
The performances aren't terrible, and some of the camera-work is fine, but the film has not much reason to justify its existence. And the mystery and fun of Belle de Jour was that it was kept in its own, satirical 1960's Parisian world. Maybe there's something to be said about the nature of remembering things and how time changes people, but that feels weak here too. Again, as a short, this might be worthwhile. At 70 minutes, somehow, it feels too long. Not to mention, perhaps a nitpick but something I caught on to as this WAS a 100 year old director, all of the sound is turned up really high on things that don't matter.
If you've been waiting to hear Michel Piccoli gulp his whiskey and chew his food, this is the movie for you I guess.
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