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The Bed Sitting Room (1969)
A British El Topo
This is a visually stunning, funny, brilliant, and extravagantly weird film that should best be compared to El Topo, Barbarella, Playtime, and the Cremaster series. It's the kind of movie made with a big studio budget and free artistic reign; a combination that existed in other late 60s and early 70s bombs that have become cult classics.
Imagine if Monty Python did a lot of LSD, spent a million dollars on art direction, and then made a nuclear-apocalypse satire. Each shot is as sumptuous and symbolically rich as any Mathew Barney created - what with middle class Brits walking on a field of broken china, Underground escalators that end in mid-air, and Cathedrals submerged in water. Plot-wise, this is as free-of-field as an experimental film. Whether you think it profoundly beautiful or profoundly ugly, the look is in the Quay brothers'/Dubuffet mold. Its narrative loosely strings together amazing images, costumes, and poignant, often hilarious scenes of British society desperately trying to hold on to any remaining shards of civilization. The Bed Sitting Room is full of sarcastic comments and profound notions. It is not full of plot - it's amazing without it.
If there is any chance to see this movie on screen, take it. Any frame is worth the price of admission.
Fin août, début septembre (1998)
A characteristically French and amazingly subtle portrait of a circle of friends.
A tremendous and moving depiction of friendship and love whose dialogue is obviously French and whose camera-verite is very Dogme 95. Through a hand-held whirl we see stunningly candid and enticingly bare portraits of the goings on and thoughts of a group of friends including all the nuances of relationships. In this regard, Assayas's film is very similar to "La Promesse" and the Dogme 95 films. But the dialogue is extremely French in that it is very dramatic and a little too perfect to be real: dialogues feature characters who engage in dialogue's where they listen and think rather than argue. Yet even this works in the films favor, making you all the more taken in by characters demonstrate such depth.
The performances are remarkable and for the most part, the characters brilliantly faceted.
The movie is a bit longer than it needs to be, but the subtlety of the scenes requires patient development.
If you like Robert Bresson, Hal Hartley, Lars Van Trier, or Thomas Vinterburg, go see this. The style of the camerawork and the lushness of some of the lighting makes this a must see for the screen