One Hundred and One Nights

One Hundred and One Nights ★★★★

That’s an absolute joy. It’s more playful than thoughtful, more joyous than deep, but that’s of course by choice. Varda loves cinema, that fluid slippery art, and in the final act of her career she spent a lot of time showing us why.

If there’s a message here it’s just that movies are worth celebrating. The cameos and extended visits are a chance to show off everyone’s charisma. Elizabeth Taylor is actually a stand-in to remind us that stars aren’t everything. It’s delightful. 

The fluidity shows in the way Varda invites cuts and transitions into the “real” world. There’s a shot towards the end when Piccoli heads off to Hollywood and she cuts to a toy plane flying across the screen, then pulls back and it’s Mathieu Demy filming the plane for his own movie. Boundaries are for chumps, because this is cinema. 

And at the end, she closes with my beloved running sequence from Mauvais sang. The quiet dialogue between Carax and Varda makes me wonder if they knew each other well. Holy Motors shares Michel Piccoli with this, and they’re both tributes to cinema… but who knows? What matters is that we can watch them.

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