High-rated movies with very few views. Suggestions are welcome.
Duel (A Quarantine)
The Queen of the Night battles the Queen of the Sun over a magical diamond that will allow the winner to remain on Earth, specifically in modern day Paris.
For me, simply one of The Truly Great Movies. A work that starts out as ordinary and slowly inundates us into first a movie world and then a fantasy world, all while using documentary technique to keep us centered in the streets of Paris. The battle for the Fate of Earth isn't above us—it's right in front of us. Considered lesser Rivette in some circles, but its adoration and attachment to noir and B-movies is what elevates this beyond anything else for me. After all, what is closer to reality than things that are supposed to remain hidden in the shadows?
I was honored and delighted that Viola director Matías Piñeiro chose this film to discuss on The Cinephiliacs.
Giant turtle forever.
GOD this movie is incredible! What a masterpiece! I love it. It's so utterly inventive in every way possible that we forget that this is once again one of Rivette's worlds of masochistic torture. The Queen of the Sun and the Queen of the Moon descend down to Earth and try to manipulate everyone possible to get what they want. And they succeed by manipulating the most innocent. Nicole Garcia as Elsa/Jeanne, the working class girl, dies simply because she fell in love. It's a dark, tragic work, but ultimately an enlightening one as well. Because it's a movie that might just be about cinema itself. It's a movie literally about form and style, about mis-en-scene, about the interplay between…
How to describe such a towering work on first viewing? This is composition, this is sound, this is lighting, this is color, this is movement. God bless Jacques Rivette. He understands that everything is NOT beautiful, and to think so would be naive and stupid. However, he does understand (and make clear) that everything is expressive. An object, a wall, a shadow, a table, a hallway. It's incredible how he can suck us into his dreamscape, yet never leave the reality of the streets of Paris. He shows us how truly abstract the world in front of us really is. I genuinely don't think there is any director who was more creative. I already thought the movie was a masterpiece…
To laud a film as having a tangible presence or atmosphere is often hyperbole, cinema is projected light, but the very fact that formal elements of cinema are given literal bodies by Rivette and made to parade the streets of Paris is what makes this film so delightful. Light is a manipulative force, not only to what we as the audience can see in frame, but also to what paths the characters take and direction the narrative is given. This is, quite literally, a film about cinema, though it's masked within genre ideals and a mystery that takes place in the city where the art-form evolved. Few directors could ever be so conscious of what it is that makes a film; Rivette was one of them and his love for cinema will be known for as long as there are eyes to see what he created.
Cinema as a battle between darkness and light, this abstract concept made tangible in the form of two battling goddesses, each trapped within an eternal duel for life (and in a way, death). Their attempts at manipulating 'mortals' transform them into walking, talking tropes, artificial recreations of cinema's lurid past, genre archetypes reconfigured to act as masks for these individuals true identity. This artificiality breeds a certain malleability in the storytelling, not just from Rivette, but from the 'goddesses' themselves (as their masks constantly change), a comment not only on what cinema reflects about us as a people, but about the way image, mise-en-scene and movement can create meaning and emotion without context or truth. What makes this even more…
You know, I went back and forth wondering if we should pair this with Green Snake (or Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain) for this week's George Sanders, or Noroît and a pirate movie. We went with the pirates. I think that may have been the wrong choice.
I didn't really 'get it' but I was enrapt and riveted (get it?!) throughout. My first Rivette film and that mostly likely explains why. My feeble consumerist American mind simply isn't on the same wavelength as Rivette and his influences. Needs a couple rewatches.
Man, Jacques Rivette makes esoteric films seem so fun. His films are loose, but meticulously put together. They're hyperealistic, yet fantastical. This one captures all of the elements of Jacques Rivette's films that I love, and is most Rivetting (hur hur).
Part of the God this Poster is Ugly collection
I don't have a quote for this one but the guy at the start does a sick backflip and it made me fall in love with Rivette.
One of the things I've always wanted is for an arthouse director to make a weird fantasy film. Del Toro is one of the only auteurs that gives me this kind of kick, as most auteurs insist on directing the most grounded films. And that's why I wanted to watch Noirot. But Noirot is the third film in a tetrology. And the first and fourth don't exist. But thankfully Duelle does. So Alex and I watched it. And I'm glad we did.
This is probably the earliest film I've seen in the strange grounded surrealist style made popular by David Lynch, and makes me really excited to watch the rest of Rivette.
Like a reconfiguration of Celine and Julie Go Boating, with the protagonists of that enchanting masterpiece transformed into otherworldly, godly opponents in a game of sleuthing, skirmishes and make belief that challenges viewers (myself particularly) in ways that most other directors couldn't possibly pull off. Rivette simply transcends traditional filmic structure, crafting delights for cinephiles.
Holy shit. What a film to watch on a full moon.
On a side note: the fact that Juliet Berto died 13 days before I was born, thereby preventing me from even breathing the same air she did, is probably the greatest tragedy of my life. I would've caved in a heartbeat to the Queen of the Night.
From the Senses of Cinema synopsis:
"It all began auspiciously enough. There were to be four films in a series entitled Scenes de la vie parallele. Each would center on a “non-existent myth” of a battle between goddesses of the sun and the moon for a mysterious blue diamond that has the power to make mortals immortal and vice versa. Each film was to be in a different genre: a film noir, a pirate adventure, a love story, and finally a musical – the last-mentioned of whose scenario particulars hadn’t been completely worked out when the four-film project went into production. Two films were ultimately completed – Duelle (the film noir) and Noroit (1976, the pirate adventure)."
If that doesn't appeal to you...man, I just don't know. Definite (and likely immediate!) rewatch.
Juliet Berto is the best. This is a strange film full of magic, murder, intrigue and mystery and she manages to somehow convince as queen of the moon with the ability to bend people's wills. She has the best resting bitch face and seems to ooze power. Is genuinely scary at times.
I did love Duelle but it's a little silly and with someone other than Berto in the lead I might not have been so invested. Perhaps it's because it has pretences towards a genre film that it doesn't fulfil. But it looked great and I'm pleased that Lucie (the every-woman) prevailed in the end even if it meant the destruction of the wonderful and glamorous moon queen.