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.
“This film records an in-depth interview with Duchamp which took place five years before his death, at the time of his first ever one-man show (at the Pasadena Art Museum). It records for posterity Duchamp talking about his life, his ideas on art, why he chose to continue living in America after fleeing France in 1915, and why he virtually abandoned his work as an artist in 1923. An engaging dialogue takes place between Duchamp and film-maker Jean-Marie Drot as they go around the Pasadena show, with the artist commenting on the exhibits and using them to explain the various stages of the development of his work. This is punctuated by the games of chess, which were for Duchamp a passion and a metaphor for the mental discipline he applied to his art. In this film we gain a rare glimpse of him talking with humour and insight about his ideas, and living up to the myth of the artist-philosopher that has grown up around him.”
Jeu d’échecs avec Marcel Duchamp was filmed late 1963 in Pasadena and New York for the Radio Télévision Française (RTF); first broadcast on 8 June 1964 and then shown at the International Festival of Artistic Films and Films of Art (Bergamo, 19 September 1964). A videocassette was issued by Public Media, Chicago 1987 (Marcel Duchamp. A Game of Chess) and by Phaidon (2007). The English version was presented in a television broadcast in September 1964 in the ‘Art and Man’ Series.