Sunday, April 23, 2006

Out 1: Spectre

Unfortunately I can't offer the greatest report of Rivette's shorter and slightly less incredibly-rare version of Out 1, which enjoys three screenings this weekend at Anthology Film Archives. (As I start typing this, at tonight's showing the first of the reels--which run 40-50 minutes apiece according to Dan Sallitt's watch--should be winding down.) First things first: the print, while pretty worn, is hardly a travesty. It's pink, but watchable. What is a travesty is the fact that this film only has a single English-subtitled print known to exist.

I had gotten up a little early on Saturday morning (look at the post time for my 'Notes on Borowczyk'--that's when I started writing), and after a long day in miserable weather, and 9 or 10pm began to feel more like past midnight. Rivette's leisurely improvisational project just didn't get my best viewership, and though I don't know that I'd call the film a masterpiece, I'm quite certain that it's a worthy film whose worthiness I only partly grasped. (One could make a joke at Rivette's expense, maybe call his work boring and my giving it the benefit of a doubt authorial fanboyism, but let it be known that a few weeks ago I actually had to turn off my DVD of Cronenberg's Scanners--a film I like, and one with plenty of base "entertainment" value--with maybe 15 minutes left to go. Because I was similarly exhausted at an early hour. Seasonal allergies can do this to people!)

One of the most interesting things I came away with from the film was triggered by a comment that Dan made between reel changes about how Rivette and Rohmer both make a lot of films about characters trying to figure out some big truth. The major difference as I see it, however, is that Rohmer's characters are searching for what we might simplistically call a 'center,' a stable something that might dictate moral or ethical behavior. Rivette is interested in esoteric knowledge and its presence on the fringes of everyday life: he's both gnostic and skeptic (we might say he's skeptical by virtue first of his fascination with performance & improvisation, and his relative disinterest in "naturalism" or psychology) whereas Rohmer's approach speaks of his much more historically old-fashioned (i.e., conservative) ideas about society & truth. Where we go from there, testing and challenging and unpacking this observation/supposition, well, I'm not sure ... but I thought I'd throw it out there.

Mr. Clayfield, too bad you couldn't have been here to see the film. But we still have Noli me tangere to look forward to ...

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