I'm changing things up. I have The Complete Films of Agnes Varda box set. At first, I thought that this meant only the feature length films. Nope. This includes the short films as well. Since I'm painfully a completionist, I'm watching all of these short films as well. But I also know that I can't write an essay about each and every one of these movies. So instead, I'll do some blurbs about each one as I watch them. So I'll keep updating as I go along.
Les 3 boutons (2015) -I think I like Varda's early work a lot. I've talked about this in Varda by Agnes and Visages / Villages. It just seems like it was trying less to be art and simply was art back in the day. Again, I don't mean to poo-poo. Varda has more artistic merit in her pinky than I'll ever have. To a certain extent, this movie felt like some of her earlier work. It had a narrative. It had a confusing narrative, but it was a narrative. But in the mix of visuals, I kind of lost the point of it besides looking pretty and being artsy.
Ô saisons, ô châteaux (1958) -There is something incredibly satisfying about this. There's an innocence to Varda as she's making what ultimately is a comissioned travel film. She seems worried about upsetting those who are hiring her while trying to maintain an artistic integrity and it is near perfect. Yeah, it's a travel promo film. It's the equivalent of a town asking for an extended infomercial. But it works so well. But not as well as...
Du côté de la côte (1958) -...this. In the same year, she's hired for basically the same job with the French Riviera. Then she just goes bananas and makes her own art film that happens to be emotionally about the French Riviera. When the folks who hired her saw that she claimed that the best view is from the grave, were they all excited about it? This is Varda that I adore. She's spunky and adorable and has social commentary, even when she's hired for travel videos.
L'opera-mouffe (1958) -I'm living with a very pregnant lady right now. She doesn't go around the streets of Paris making little art films. This one is pretty. Maybe things in black-and-white get a little bit of a pass compared to things in color. I'm not normally a fan of strictly experimental cinema, but this mostly works for me. Maybe because it is so hypnotic and relaxing that one can't help and view the movie through the lens of calm. It's sad at times. I lost myself in my own mortality watching this one today. There was this old woman who looked so rough and the camera just stayed on her for longer than was appropriate. I then realized that this lady, along with almost everyone involved in this movie, was probably dead. But that old lady also has this specific form of immortality because film snobs like me will watch everything that Agnes Varda has ever made.
Les dites cariatides (1984) -Varda still has it going on in 1984. I think it is when film goes digital is when I get off the Varda train. I think she picks her shots so beautifully when film costs money that, when it is disposable, she doesn't quite get that same sense of grandeur. She has a specific subgenre of experimental art film. It's almost a documentary, but with little done in terms of informing. Varda shows all of these women carved into stone and tells the story of the inspiration of these pieces. But the point of the documentary is not to have you leave and tell your friends about what you learned, but to experience the same sense of awe that Varda does while looking at these moments. The 2005 update doesn't really deserve its own section. That's just someone's slideshow of statues. But it shows what can happen when a filmmaker really pays attention to the small stuff.
T'as de beaux escaliers, tu sais (1986) -I almost didn't write about this. I'm actually kind of amazed that I found an image of this. It actually is probably from another movie. It's funny. Varda says that this isn't an advertisement; it's a documentary. It's both. It's an excuse to say that Varda really likes film and I have no problem with that. It's what I really like and to claim that this is my favorite of Varda's shorts is a bit too much fan service. Doesn't mean that I don't like it.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.