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Beau travail / Jacquot de Nantes

Actor Grégoire Colin.
August 5, 2022 - 7:30 pm

4K restoration!

Beau travail

France, 1999

French Foreign Legion sergeant Galoup (Leos Carax regular Denis Lavant) violently fumbles with the quandary of fading glory in Claire Denis’ masterful fifth feature, set in the Horn of Africa in the peacetime Republic of Djibouti. Like the rusting relics of this country’s militarized past, the chinks in Galoup’s armor begin to show as he struggles to maintain authority over his troops, including oft-Agnès Godard-lensed Grégoire Colin (see him also in Nénette et Boni, 35 rhums and La vie rêvée des anges in this series) with the quiet desperation of a man newly drained of significance. As the lithe legionnaires run military drills, their perspiring bodies receive reverent lensing thanks to Godard, who has collaborated with filmmaker Denis for two decades. With simple stretching sessions blocked with geometric, Busby Berkeley-like precision, underwater sequences that flirt with the ghost of Esther Williams and pulsing nighttime discotheques, Beau travail looks back at its French New Wave predecessors while tipping its beret to neoclassical ballet traditions for a singular piece of elliptical, formally abstracted cinema.

DCP, color, in French, Italian and Russian with English subtitles, 92 min. Director: Claire Denis. Screenwriters: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau. Based on the novella by Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor. Cinematographer: Agnès Godard. Editor: Nelly Quettier. With: Denis Lavant, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin, Richard Courcet, Nicolas Duvauchelle.

Jacquot de Nantes

France, 1991

Agnès Varda’s tender evocation of the childhood of her husband, Jacques Demy—a dream project of his that she realized when he became too ill to direct the film himself—is a wonder-filled portrait of the artist as a young man and an enchanting ode to the magic of cinema. Shot in Demy’s hometown of Nantes (including the house he grew up in), this imaginative blend of narrative and documentary traces his coming of age amid the tumult of World War II as he finds escape in a universe of puppet shows, fairy tales, opera, and, above all, movies—the formative aesthetic experiences that would fuel his vivid Technicolor imagination and find unforgettable expression in his exuberant French New Wave masterworks. Interspersed with intimate footage of the older Demy reflecting on his life’s journey, Jacquot de Nantes is a poignant love letter from one visionary artist to another.—Janus Films

DCP, b&w and color, in French with English subtitles, 118 min. Director/Screenwriter: Agnès Varda. Cinematographers: Patrick Blossier, Agnès Godard, Georges Strouvé. Editor: Marie-Josée Audiard. With: Philippe Maron, Edouard Joubeaud, Laurent Monnier, Brigitte De Villepoix, Daniel Dublet.