Tuesday, October 14, 2008

FCN—Six in Paris (Paris vu Par, 1965)

The Eiffel serves as a wry eyeful in the Parisian cat peering from the poster for the portmanteau film Six in Paris (Paris Vu Par), offered in a revival screening by the San Francisco Film Society as part of their inaugural French Cinema Now series and soon to be available on DVD through New Yorker Films.

The omnibus film is—at this juncture—a familiar landmark on the cinematic landscape; but, charm is leant to this particular sextet by its alignment with the auteurist movement of the mid-'60s. As the program notes for FCN attest, "Six in Paris represents the crème de la crème of the French New Wave: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Rouch, Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer, along with the lesser known Jean Douchet (better known as a writer at Cahiers du Cinema) and Jean-Daniel Pollet." Produced by Barbet Schroeder (who likewise stars in the Rouch entry), Paris Vu Par is allegedly the last representative of the nouvelle vague.

My favorite entry was Jean Rouch's Gare du Nord in which the discontents of class move in opposite directions, proving yet again that the grass is always greener on the other side of the Seine. Jean-Daniel Pollet's slyly humorous Rue Saint-Denis likewise graphed interactional discrepancies; this time between a nebbish john who doesn't quite know what to do with the world-weary prostitute he's invited to his apartment. He offers her spaghetti and a cup of coffee. It's all a rather frothy and amusing vignette. Godard's entry Montparnasse-Levallois caught my attention when—in a momentarily confusing flash of déjà vu—I realized this was the story Jean-Paul Belmondo tells Anna Karina in A Woman Is A Woman (Une femme est une femme, 1961), which I recently caught at PFA's Godard mini-retrospective.

At the Greencine Daily, Dave Hudson has linked to Brian Shollis' review for Artforum and Benjamin Sutton's for The L Magazine, both in response to BAM's "Mad Obsessions" survey of Barbet Schroeder's film career (currently in progress in New York). J. Hoberman has likewise written up that program for The Village Voice. Earlier this year at his site Only the Cinema, Ed Howard expressed his disappointment with Six in Paris in disdainful detail and was countered by comments that—in gist—reminded that any collection of shorts such as this is bound to be a hit-and-miss affair tempered by flexible subjectivities. Great cinema it ain't but certainly interesting in a checklist kind of way.

Cross-published on Twitch.

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