9 items from 2014
Alain Resnais, that reluctant member of the French New Wave, passed away in March of 2014, not quite two months after the premiere of his last film, Life of Riley, at the Berlin Film Festival. Reaching its theatrical release, the film marks a graceful cap to an extraordinary filmography from a director that specialized in fragmented narratives that play with memory, time, perception, and the complicated nature of human interactions. His final film, while certainly more linear than many of his most famous works, is no exception to his exploration of time and the limited amount of it. Returning with several of his favorite key players, it’s the third Resnais adaptation of an Alan Ayckbourn play (originally titled Aimer, boire et chanter, which translates to Love, Drink and Sing), as charming as ever, presented with its stylized stage artifice.
Three couples »
- Nicholas Bell
It all begins with a freeze frame of a dirt road somewhere in Yorkshire county, lined with trees whose lush foliage converges above in an arch. What could it be if not a portal? The movie itself, meanwhile, has not even started as we watch the opening credits, encased in large old-fashioned frames, slowly fade away—a device consistently favored by Alain Resnais who opened each of his 19 features likewise, holding off the films themselves until the screen no longer contained any visual surplus. The freeze frame comes to life as the camera pans farther down the road; then we find ourselves in a theatrical set.
We have been here before, of course. Resnais' Smoking/No Smoking, also based on a play by British playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn, is set in Yorkshire as well. Life of Riley (Aimer, boire et chanter) borrows from the five-hour diptych its theatrical setting, one »
- Boris Nelepo
Three weeks before Alain Resnais died this past March, he had premiered his newest film, Life of Riley, at the Berlin Film Festival, which he completed at the age of 91. Resnais enjoyed a uniquely prolific streak of filmmaking in his later years that laughed at the prospect of retirement or death. For a moment it seemed possible that Resnais himself would continue to exist as ceaselessly as the memories that preoccupy his characters; thankfully, with his incredible body of work, Resnais is etched into eternity. Resnais continued to experiment with the limits of cinematic form over fifty years after his career-defining work on Night and Fog, Hiroshima mon amour, and Last Year in Marienbad. The past decade of his career proved that age is no excuse for artistic resignation or repetition – while not nearly as well-known, more recent works including Private Fears in Public Places, Wild Grass, and You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet! challenged »
- Landon Palmer
Alain Resnais, who has died aged 91, was a director of elegance and distinction who, despite generally working from the screenplays of other writers, established an auteurist reputation. His films were singular, instantly recognisable by their style as well as through recurring themes and preoccupations. Primary concerns were war, sexual relationships and the more abstract notions of memory and time. His characters were invariably adult (children were excluded as having no detailed past) middle-class professionals. His style was complex, notably in the editing and often – though not always – dominated by tracking shots and multilayered sound.
He surrounded himself with actors, musicians and writers of enormous talent and the result was a somewhat elitist body of work with little concern for realism or the socially or intellectually deprived. Even overtly political works, Night and Fog, »
- Brian Baxter
Alain Resnais arrives for the photocall of You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet! (Vous n'avez encore rien vu!) presented in competition at the 65th Cannes film festival in 2012. Photo: Vous n'avez encore rien vu © Fif/Lf (Courtesy Cannes Film Festival) French director Alain Resnais has died at aged 91.
The Last Year In Marienbad director - whose latest film The Life Of Riley won an award for innovation and the Fipresci prize at last month's Berlin Film Festival - passed away on Saturday, surrounded by his family, his producer Jean-Louis Livi told the French press agency Afp.
Born in 1922, the filmmaker enjoyed a career that spanned more than some six decades and more than 45 films, including Private Fears In Public Places, Night And Fog, Wild Grass and the BAFTA winning Hiroshima Mon Amour.
In 2009, he was given a special award from the Cannes Film Festival for his body of work.
Read our full obituary. »
- Amber Wilkinson
One of the most critically-aclaimed French helmers of all time, Resnais directed such arthouse masterpieces as “Hiroshima Mon Amour,”a flagship pic of the New Wave, which earned writer Marguerite Duras an Oscar nom for original screenplay in 1961, and “Last Year at Marienbad,” a major influence on such directors as David Lynch.
Resnais, who began his career with a number of art documentaries and then broke through with the gripping 1955 “Night and Fog,” about the Jewish Holocaust in WWII, was one of the more intellectually rigorous members of the new wave of filmmakers who overturned the French film industry in the late ’50s.
The French cinema world is mourning Resnais today as critics, industryites, festivals’ toppers and fans pay him homage.
- Elsa Keslassy
The Life of Riley
Director: Alain Resnais
Producer: Jean-Louis Livi
U.S. Distributor: Rights Available
Another great auteur that’s had a considerable increase in output over the past several years has been Alain Resnais. He follows up his experimental 2012 film You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet with this film, which sees him returning with some regular cast members like Azema (we’d be shocked not to see her in the lineup since she’s married to the director), Dussollier and Girardot. While this sounds a bit like a wizened version of some recent Gallic films like Little White Lies, we’re sure this will be customary offbeat Resnais, and penned by writer/director Ayckbourn who penned the 2006 Resnais film, Private Fears in Public Places.
Gist: The story begins with a group »
- Nicholas Bell
Only the vivacious die young, notes one character in Alain Resnais’ “Life of Riley,” while “the tiresome, humdrum ones live forever.” But if that’s true, then surely Resnais himself is the exception that proves the rule. Turning for the third time to the work of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn (“Private Fears in Public Places”), whose highly theatrical comedies of manners have made good matches for Resnais’ consuming interest in form as a vessel for character and emotion, “Life” doesn’t find the 91-year-old helmer doing anything he hasn’t done before, but it does find him doing it in ebullient, beautifully stylized fashion, aided by an able-bodied ensemble drawn from his regular corps of traveling players. The result won’t do much to win Resnais new fans, but should easily seduce fests and distribs who have long supported the maverick director’s work.
If Resnais had gone into the »
- Scott Foundas
With his recent features "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!" and "Wild Grass," French New Wave legend Alain Resnais showed a continuing flair for cinematic ingenuity. Unfortunately, with "Life of Riley," the filmmaker vanishes into the static nature of the stage play that provides the movie with its source material. Resnais' third treatment of a work by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn (following 1993's "Smoking/No Smoking" and 2006' "Private Fears In Public Places") is his least distinctive project in years. While the French-language, York-set comedy achieves some mild entertainment value from the play's appeal and its engaging cast, "Life of Reilly" is largely a superfluous footnote to the lofty career of its nonagenarian director. By remaining faithful to the material, "Life of Riley" displays a certain oddball charm in its mixture of neurotic characters and one notable absence -- namely, the figure of George Riley, who remains an abstraction and never. »
- Eric Kohn
9 items from 2014
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