Wassup Rockers

A Long Walk on the Beach.

Last year, after a screening debacle downtown at the Quad, the management gave me a free movie pass to appease me.  The pass was good for a year and just as it was about to expire, I finally found a movie that I wanted to see.  I mean, I tried using the pass at the Hola Mexico event for Desierto adentro, but since they wouldn’t let me redeem it, I used it last week to see Les plages d’Agnès.  It was a movie by Agnès Varda reflecting on her life.  I don’t know anything about Varda but I remember hearing about this specific movie a little while ago and being absolutely charmed and entranced by the trailer.

Of course I really hoped the movie would live up to the awesomeness displayed on the trailer, and I’m happy that it’s pretty much what I expected.  I must mention it was my third time at the Quad, and this was by far the most crowded screening I’ve attended at the theater, partly because it’s been well-reviewed and partly because I went on a date night.

I don’t know how other people feel about biographical films but I liked that this work, though loosely chronological, still had these sort of tangents and pauses that made it feel far more organic than the typical Humble Beginnings-Rise to the Top-Reflections on the Good Ol’ Days narrative arc that biographical works tend to have.  There were a lot of moments to experience rather than being told by this or that talking head about a memory or having this or that individual reenacting some past event.  I also liked that she acknowledged the role of memory in the making of the film.

Even though it was clear that Varda was posing one reading of her life for the cameras, it still felt authentic and honest.  It may have a lot to do with the fact that she got to tell her story her own damn way, thankyouverymuch.  I found that very inspiring and empowering, like when she stated that one of the reasons she had to quit her Hollywood aspirations was because the studios wouldn’t give her final cut.  It’s just that how many women artists do you know who forge their own paths for most of their life and then get to tell you about this life on their own terms?  Refreshing.  If only more women were given the chance to do the same.

I think one of the greatest charms of the movie was just seeing the incongruent image of the older Varda and seeing bits and pieces of her photography and film work.  In her work I detected a real independent spirit, a bit of a punkass.  But seeing her at 80 year old, her hair haphazardly dyed, wrinkles on her face… and hearing her speaking softly about Jacques Demy, the love of her life, and how she loves her children and grandchildren, you think, maybe that’s all a person wants and needs in life.  To have children, and to care for them and love them, and to see them grow and fluorish into their own selves, and all of one’s achievements don’t seem as important and crucial as much as spending your life loving and being loved.

She didn’t even seem very keen on discussing the French New Wave as much as talking about her friends and family, some of whom just happen to be famous.

It was a very sweet movie, and fun, too.  But thinking about it leaves me melancholy, too.  I was in a room full of old people–I guess all the young’uns went to see 500 Days of Summer or something?  Maybe I’m going absolutely batty, but watching Varda on the screen reflecting on eight decades of life, I could kinda feel this… I don’t know that I’d call it tension, but they were really really quiet, as if wondering about their own lives and how they’d choose to tell their stories.  Like that one time I went to see Julia Cho’s The Piano Teacher at the Vineyard theater, here I also felt like the mood just changed into something deeper and more personal as the film went on.

Pure speculation.  Or maybe not.


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