- 1h 5m
A young French woman, separated from her lover, tries to find a lodging in L.A. for herself and her son.A young French woman, separated from her lover, tries to find a lodging in L.A. for herself and her son.A young French woman, separated from her lover, tries to find a lodging in L.A. for herself and her son.
This is a review of two separate, yet intimately connected films by Agnes Varda, Mur Murs and Documenteur. If viewed independently of each other the films are interesting but not quite remarkable. But taken as a two sided whole, I find the film(s) as impressive as anything I've seen by Varda, which is saying a lot. Varda found herself living in LA with her young son during a period in which she was separated from her husband, contemplating divorce. Mur Murs is a fairly traditionally presented, if visually arresting, documentary tour of Los Angeles by way of the city's murals. Varda dissects the ways that marginalized communities of color, in particular, have used public art to document their culture and struggles. The filmmaker seems to find the city both strange and comforting. As much as Los Angeles is a huge, international city, it also seems a world where everyone is compartmentalized away from each other. The loneliness of the metropolis seems to compliment Varda's mood. Documenteur is a short "narrative" film that is nakedly autobiographical- a French writer finds herself in self-imposed exile in Los Angeles with her young son (played by Varda's actual son) after separating from her husband. The English translation of the title is Emotion Picture, and indeed, the film has the intimacy of a diary entry. Documenteur interpolates the faces and locations discovered in Mur Murs into Varda's personal experience. Her stand-in is played by the woman who interviews artists and passers-by in the earlier documentary and many of its buildings and murals serve as settings for the "fiction film." Viewed as a single, two part work, the films are a powerfully Proustian experience. In some sense, I would go so far as to say that Varda one ups Proust. Whereas the French writer investigates only the ways in which sensory experience and memory shape each other and result in the consciousness of the European bourgeois, the French filmmaker also takes into consideration the ways that landscapes, those objects that inspire sensory experience, are themselves shaped by power and resistance.
- Sep 18, 2017
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