Master cinema-essayist Chris Marker whimsically reflects on art, culture and politics at the start of the new millennium, documenting the appearances of a charming graffiti’d grinning yellow cat in Parisian streets—the work of an anonyous street artist dubbed Monsieur Chat. Monsieur Chat meets French politics as the capital’s streets are the stage for a changing social climate—from the pro-American feelings generated shortly after September 11, to the anti-Bush and Iraq War demonstrations that later became prevalent, as well as the public response to the 2002 French presidential elections that shockingly pitted right-wing extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen against center-right Jacques Chirac. Chats perchés highlights the vital importance of expressions of art and imagination in our public lives. — filmfestival.french.uiuc.edu
An unintentional prequel companion to my previous watch, showing the time before the fall into listlessness, when unbound kinder-curiosity ran riot. Absurd to have a credits sequence on something like this, Bujalski, and you probably know it.
Released in 1963, Chris Marker’s Le joli Mai was one of the first and finest examples of cinema vérité to come out of France. Poetic, witty, complex, the film uses as its initial focus the spring of 1962, the first spring of peace for France since 1939. With rooftop shots of Paris on the screen, the narrator in the opening commentary tells us: “For two centuries happiness has been a new idea in Europe, and people are not used to it.” In the very political film which follows, Marker examines that idea of happiness on the small, private scale and on a larger, societal scale.