Jum Boo! Thirteen to hunt the Snark! Prometheus, Thebes, and Balzac! Eight episodes, thirteen hours, two days, and innumerable shots of Michel Lonsdale just lounging on people's couches and mattresses as his long fingers search for morsels of food and drink.
I wish I could go back and see this film before ever seeing the 4-hour version, Out 1: Spectre, a different work all its own, but culled and shaped from the same material, and which (despite being a third of the length) is actually more difficult and disconcerting than the original (whose unofficial subtitle is Noli me tangere, which I think may be a reference to a Lonsdale scene on the beach). The 13-hour version is hardly the obscure and maddening exercise in endurance it has been fashioned as in these past decades of its legendary scarcity (to this day only a single print exists, and without doing serious research, I gather one can count its total public screenings on two hands, with some fingers left over). This isn't to say that the film is a breezy narrative, the equivalent of a TV-on-DVD fest. It is still very much Rivette, with all the regular longeurs that might imply for those who don't like his other films, or are on the fence with regard to them. But it was conceived as a mini-series and not primarily as a marathon--it's supposed to be digestible if inconclusive, approachable if uncontainable.
At any rate, who could otherwise resist Juliet Berto brandishing knives or guns, or Jean-Pierre Leaud bullying cafe patrons into giving him change for his impromptu harmonica performances (he blows wildly into his instrument for about a second and a half before expectantly extending his palm)? And--a marked contrast to the print of Out 1: Spectre that showed at Anthology Film Archives in New York last year (possibly also the same print they used for the Moving Image retrospective in December?)--this print of Noli me tangere is quite gorgeous, with very bright colors (primaries & pastels). Rivette's art does suffer when bad prints decay his color work--I think the pinkish monochrome of a faded print (not only the one I saw of Spectre, but also Noroît) pushes one's perceptions in directions less playful and emotionally associative than the bold and pure, sometimes '60s-Godardian, tones of Rivette's costumes and props, and the oft-bare walls of the rooms he films in, the skies, the rather expressive backdrops of dingy grays even (Parisian rooftoops, an old beach house, warehouses turned into theater troupes' rehearsal spaces).
All in all, see this film if you ever get the chance ...