how you approach this depends on what you ask of a film. if you seek unbridled entertainment, seek it elsewhere. if you seek an intellectual meditation on the nature of fiction (or at least quasi-intellectual) this is the place for you. if you believe that movies should both entertain and enlighten, again this is not for you.
that Greaves acts shocked that few would want to bankroll a film that used up to 100 hours of expensive film stock for a movie with a very very VERY limited commercial appeal is proof positive of the terrible effect that DuChamp had on all of the arts. calling attention to the nebulous boundaries by which something is classified as "art" is old hat by the time this came out and anyhow works better couched in word better than image.
as a quasi intellectual exercise this might be great for late high school and college aged students to watch and then rhapsodize about later over a few mind altering chemicals. it is not recommended for anyone who's over 30 and has their feet planted firmly on the ground.
here Noe takes an essentially pornographic film and attempts to infuse it with raw emotion, think Linklater's Before Sunrise or even more Charlie Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. he does not exactly succeed for the task is impossible, but nor does he fail entirely.
what must be noted or at least noticed is the lack of a future. for all the pretenses of love, for all the sexual encounters between an array of adults there is but one child in the whole movie. dozens of purported adults screwing each other into their graves and only one child to inherit a very lonely future. so it is with hedonism. so it is when you've lost distinctions between words, and meanings become meaningless. your life, your love, your existence, your home, your nation are too rendered meaningless
the breakdown of time becomes palpable beyond the mere characters on screen. where is this Paris that they are at? does it have a past? you'd never tell from this film, and so it doesn't. without a past it must certainly relinquish it's future. again one lonely child.
while i can love this movie and admire it's artistry and what it attempts to do, it must not be confused for art nor beauty. it's lyricism is that of an epitaph for a civilization. it's ugliness like ruins, a warning for the hordes who may inherit what they cannot fathom.
as for the movie it's self it's ninety minutes of watching and waiting for the other shoe to drop. a veritable comedy of human folly when reality takes a back seat to ideology.
Such a shame that such a great film is so unknown. On the other hand if you're a fan of Vin Diesel movie you should probably stay away.
if the goal of the movie is artistic or metaphorical, i call bluff on that too. the actors had to perfect an unrealism in order to spout off most of it's absurdest script. "it's a metaphor for fascist Italy..." shut up. you could have set this movie on the moons of Jupiter and it's allege metaphors would have been no further stretched as far as credulity. the fact that something like this is allowed the Criterion treatment is a sad state of affairs for the guardians of high culture. that they value this, whilst they scoff at far better films betrays their monolithic bias against American films no matter what. don't waste two hours of your life on this. pornographic film at least has redeeming qualities. the same cannot be said of this.
when the prima donna isn't engaging in his drama queen antics there's moments of great beauty and informative analysis. one observation notes of a nomadic people on the Niger border for whom freedom of travel is so central to their life that they refer to houses as "tombs of the living". of course that's easy to say for people who have probably never been much of anywhere else in the world but their familiar grounds.
6 out of 10
i give it a high 7 out of 10.
6 out of 10, as much as i want to agree with the subject matter, the obvious biases and numerous rational shortcomings are too much to ignore and do a great disservice to the message.
i give it a nine out of ten. it's pitched way to high for my mind and the movie is strictly limited in the type of mood required to watch it.
how do i explain this to friends? how do i recommend this to the derelicts and scumbags i proudly call my friends? i'm not even sure what to say to recommend it. it's something intangible but raw. i can't really refer to anything in particular except the movie was just strong. well worth the $10 criterion disc. this may be one of my new favorites. maybe it's all the cold medicines talking. or maybe that this is kind of like Kane in reverse. the big emotional pay off right in the middle. or maybe it's because unlike Kane our protagonist Watanabe is actually a sympathetic character. is it even possible to watch this movie in groups of people?