Limitless Cinema in Broken English

July 13, 2007

THE BEAUTY OF RIVETTE’S ENDINGS

Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 11:04 pm

This is my comment in Girish Shambu’s blog:
http://www.girishshambu.com/blog/2007/07/ten-places-to-go-in-to.html

Thanks a lot for the mention, Girish.

I can’t think of any films with ridiculous studio endings, because I don’t know much about film history. Reading about this topic here is great. I like the ending of THE LAST LAUGH (1924, F.W. Murnau), though. I didn’t expect that the story of such an old film would shift its tone just like that. It’s a nice surprise for me.

As for changes in endings, I have read from wikipedia that Sam Mendes changed the original ending of AMERICAN BEAUTY. I think what he did might be right, because I like this film very much.

Sometimes the ending is changed when the film is remade. Most people would think that the endings of THE VANISHING (1993, George Sluizer) and DIABOLIQUE (1996, Jeremiah S. Chechik) are horrible, especially when compared to the original endings of SPOORLOOS (1988, George Sluizer) and LES DIABOLIQUES (1955, Henri-Georges Clouzot), respectively. However, in my opinion, though I agree that the original endings are much much much better, I think I like it that the two versions have different endings. I think I like the differences between these two versions, though that means the new versions might be much inferior to the original versions. I think I would be so bored if the two versions were similar.

Speaking of that, I think I have to contradict myself, because sometimes I don’t like the differences between the original and the new version. I think I have no rule for this kind of thing. It’s a case-by-case basis for me. One example is BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974, Bob Clark). I like the ending of the original version very much. It’s quite cruel, and very haunting. I think the ending of BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006, Glen Morgan), the remake version, is very boring and worth forgetting.

If I can change an ending in any film, I think I would like to change the ending of VA SAVOIR (2001, Jacques Rivette). I hate its ending. I think it’s too conclusive for me, and it’s not what I expect of Jacques Rivette. I like the way Rivette ended UP DOWN FRAGILE (1995), LA BELLE NOISEUSE (1991), and CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING (1974) very much. I feel that the endings of these films are so abrupt, so unexpected. And that’s what I love. I don’t know how I would write the ending of VA SAVOIR by myself, though. I just want it to end very abruptly.

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This is a poster of THE NUN (1966, Jacques Rivette) from http://www.allocine.fr/
 

4 Comments »

  1. I’m not sure if I fully agree with your about Va Savoir‘s ending, though I know what you mean. It’s very out of place in the context of Rivette’s other films, but it works nicely in the context of the film itself, doesn’t it? Thinking specifically of the drunken suitors and the pay-off to their “duel,” which to me is still one of the funniest scenes in all of Rivette’s movies.

    Comment by filmbo — July 14, 2007 @ 1:55 am

  2. –In fact, I think I feel very ambiguous about the ending of VA SAVOIR. I think the main reason I was disappointed with the ending is just because it is directed by Rivette, not because the ending is bad or not because it is not appropriate for the film.

    I ask myself if this film was directed by anyone else other than Rivette, what I would feel about this ending?

    If VA SAVOIR was directed by someone else, I think I would feel good about the ending of the film, I would feel the film is tidied up very very nicely at the end, I would think the ending is a little bit impressive, though it is still not my cup of tea.

    To sum it up, I think my disappointment is just the result of my expectation for Rivette’s endings. The ending of VA SAVOIR is actually very good. It’s just not what I expected.

    –Talking about VA SAVOIR, I would like to add that there are many things I like in VA SAVOIR, including:

    1.The opening scene when the light shines on Jeanne Balibar. This opening scene reminds me of another film. It is a Thai film called PRASART (INSANE) (1975, Piak Poster, A+). There’s an early scene in this Thai film in which a face of a female singer is suddenly lighted up. This kind of scene gives me strong feelings.

    2.The scene that Balibar goes out onto the roof. The scene before that gives a very claustrophobic feeling, and then she goes out onto the roof. And I feel very very great.

    3.The scene when Balibar just discovered the ring very easily. I like this kind of thing in Rivette’s films very much. For ‘this kind of thing’, I mean some mysteries which are solved very very easily. I think in GANG OF FOUR (1988), there is also a scene in which a key is revealed very easily. And in UP DOWN FRAGILE (1995), the characters also discover something hidden in a cupboard by accident, or something like that.

    I think my likeness for this kind of thing is relative. One reason why I like it is because it is the opposite of most films. In most films, when there is a secret or mystery, the characters would have to go through many obstacles before the secret or the mystery is revealed. But in Rivette’s universe, you don’t have to risk your life trying to solve these mysteries (excluding SECRET DEFENSE).

    To like something just because it is the opposite of most films—this brings to mind my likeness for Chabrol’s films, too. For example, in THE COLOR OF LIES (1999), there is a brutal child murder occurred in the beginning of the film. But instead of paying attention on how to solve the murder or on how to find the murderer, Chabrol just paid attention on something else. Who is the murderer is not important at all in this film. Chabrol does the opposite of most murder mystery movies in this film, and that’s one reason why I like it very much.

    –There are many film endings that I like, including:

    (WARNING: My memory is very unreliable. I’m not sure if I remember all the endings here correctly. So if you think I wrote anything incorrectly, please tell me.)

    1.The ending when the characters’ problems are not solved:

    1.1 THE BEAUTIFUL CITY (2004, Asghar Farhadi, Iran, A+)
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424434/

    1.2 OUR TIMES (2002, Rakhshan Bani Etemad, Iran, A+)
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0329560/

    1.3 GILANE (2005, Mosen Abdolvahab + Rakhshan Bani Etemad, A+)
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0450428/

    1.4 PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES (2006, Alain Resnais, A+)

    1.5 DIVINE INTERVENTION (2002, Elia Suleiman, A+)

    1.6 VOYAGES (1999, Emmanuel Finkiel, A+)

    1.7 KNIFE IN THE HEAD (1978, Reinhard Hauff, West Germany, A+)
    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19780101/REVIEWS/801010306/1023

    1.8 FOTOGRAF (2001, Kazim Oz, Turkey, A+)
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0299898/

    1.9 INNOCENCE (1997, Zeki Demirkubuz, Turkey, A+)
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128332/

    1.10 LOVELY RITA (2001, Jessica Hausner, Austria, A+)

    1.11 BERLIN CHAMISSOPLATZ (1980, Rudolf Thome, West Germany, A+)
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080430/

    1.12 MIKEY AND NICKY (1976, Elaine May, A)

    2. The ending which leaves me scratching my head and wonder what the film is all about

    2.1 LA BELLE CAPTIVE (1983, Alain Robbe-Grillet, A+)

    2.2 POSSESSION (1981, Andrzej Zulawski, A+)

    2.3 MULHOLLAND DRIVE (David Lynch, A+)

    2.4 BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ (1980, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, A+)
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080196/
    This case is different, because I think I understand this TV series, except the ending part of it. I think the ending of BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ is GREAT, because it is very surreal, and I don’t understand it at all. Hahaha.

    3. The ending which makes me feel very sad

    3.1 OSAMA (2003, Siddiq Barmak, A+)
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368913/

    3.2 ARMY OF SHADOWS (1969, Jean-Pierre Melville, A+)

    3.3 BUNNY (2002, Mia Trachinger, A+)

    4.The ending which makes me feel very good

    4.1 LOVE LETTER (1995, Shunji Iwai, A+)

    4.2 AMOUR D’ENFANCE (2001, Yves Caumon, A+)

    4.3 THE TEMPEST (1979, Derek Jarman, A)
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081613/
    I think I disagree with TIME OUT FILM GUIDE about this film. TIME OUT FILM GUIDE seems to like this film, except the ending. But I like the ending part the most in this film. In my opinion, this film gives a very claustrophobic feeling, until the ending when there is a party with sailors and Elisabeth Welch singing STORMY WEATHER. The feeling that I have when I saw this scene is the same feeling that I have when I saw Jeanne Balibar walked on a roof in VA SAVOIR.

    MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE seems to like the Elisabeth Welch’s scene, too. He wrote about THE TEMPEST here:
    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/vine/journal_view.php?journalid=29715&entryid=374535&view=public

    But I still like the review in TIME OUT FILM GUIDE very much, because the reviewer pointed out that the early scenes in this movie are like drawings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778). I hadn’t heard of Piranesi before. I like this kind of information very much when I read a film review.

    Comment by celinejulie — July 14, 2007 @ 11:34 pm

  3. CelineJulie, I wonder if Rivette gave us a different ending for the sake of commercial appeal. Va Savoir, at least in the U.S., is considered to be one of his most successful films in a long time, and whether this was chance or whether Rivette deliberately chose to give us the happy and more conventional ending remains to be unseen.

    Though maybe it has something to do with the little inside joke, that the film is about a theater company who’s latest show isn’t being seen by anyone. I’m sure that’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to Rivette’s small audiences. With this in mind, while the ending is very un-Rivette and almost disappointing on one level, the film does appear to be making fun of the relationship between art and audience. But then, maybe I’m reading into it, which is hard NOT to do! =P

    Comment by filmbo — July 15, 2007 @ 2:40 am

  4. Thank you very much for pointing out about the reference to Rivette’s small audience. I haven’t thought about it before.

    Sometimes I think I’m not being fair to VA SAVOIR. I think VA SAVOIR is a very good film, but because it is directed by Rivette, I tend to look at it as “half-empty” (just ‘very good’, but not ‘masterpiece’). But if VA SAVOIR is directed by someone else, I might look at it as “half-full”.

    I’m not a film critic, and I judge everything according to my own personal whims. According to my personal tastes, VA SAVOIR is my least favorite of Rivette’s films, but I haven’t seen many films by Rivette yet.

    Jacques Rivette’s films in my preferential order:

    1.CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING (1984, A+)

    2.UP DOWN FRAGILE (1995, A+)

    3.LA BELLE NOISEUSE (1991, A+)

    4.GANG OF FOUR (1988, A+)

    5.WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1985, A+)

    6.SECRET DEFENSE (1998, A+)

    7.VA SAVOIR (2001, A)
    I think this film lacks some kind of MAGIC I often found in Rivette’s films.

    I also saw LE PONT DU NORD (1981), but it was shown without English subtitles, so I don’t know how much I really like it.

    The DVDs of PARIS BELONGS TO US (1960), JOAN THE MAID (1994), and THE HISTORY OF MARIE & JULIEN (2003) are available in Bangkok, but I haven’t watched them yet.

    –I can’t guess why Rivette made that kind of ending for VA SAVOIR. Yes, it may be because of commercial appeal. Or maybe he wanted to try something different. Or maybe he thought it is the most appropriate ending for this kind of film.

    Though I may not love the ending of VA SAVOIR, I have to confess I can’t come up with a better idea on how to end this film.

    –Talking with you about VA SAVOIR inspires me to watch the ending of this film again. I found that when I watched this ending for the second time, I like it more than the first time I watched it in 2003. I think it maybe because I know beforehand what the ending will be, so I don’t have false expectation for it.

    I think I also have to agree with what A.O. Scott in the New York Times wrote about this film. He wrote that it is resolved with the verve and precision of classic screwball comedy.

    What A.O. Scott wrote also can help me guess why I didn’t like this ending the first time I saw it. I think it is because I’m not fond of the kind of “RESOLVED” ending. I prefer unresolved ending. And I think it is because I’m not familiar with classic screwball comedy. I have seen very few classical Hollywood films.

    –The ‘resolved’ ending in VA SAVOIR also reminds me of the kind of endings in some Shakespeare’s plays, such as in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST, or A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, when couples are united or something like that. I think I’m not fond of this kind of ending. I tend to prefer the ending in which couples are separated or tragic endings. Hahaha.

    I don’t know why I hate happy endings in some films, but love happy endings in other films. The super-happy ending that I really hate is the happy ending in ZATOICHI (2003, Takeshi Kitano, B+), but the super-happy endings that I really love is the ending in CROCODILE DUNDEE (1986, Peter Faiman) and BLUE MOON (2002, Andrea Maria Dusl, Austria, A+).

    –I think the DUEL scene between the two guys in VA SAVOIR is quite original. I haven’t seen this kind of scene before. It also reminds me of a scene in UP DOWN FRAGILE, in which Marianne Denicourt is lured to a high place to shoot someone. These two scenes begin with the expectation that someone might be killed, or some sinister things might happen. But both scenes end with very good feelings instead. Maybe this is a kind of Rivette’s touch. Watching these two scenes makes me not surprised why Rivette seems to hate A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, according to his interview in SENSES OF CINEMA.

    –I also have to thank you for inspiring me to watch the ending of VA SAVOIR again, because this time I have noticed something I overlooked the first time I saw it. This time I discovered that MARIANNE BASLER also stars in VA SAVOIR. I didn’t pay attention to Marianne Basler at all the first time I saw this film. I was more attracted to Jeanne Balibar and Helene de Fougerolles. But earlier this year I saw GESPENSTER (2005, Christian Petzold, Germany, A+), and Marianne Basler gave a terrific performance in it. GESPENSTER makes Marianne Basler unforgettable to me, but I still didn’t realize that I had seen her before in VA SAVOIR, until this morning when I watched VA SAVOIR again.

    This is a photo of Marianne Basler in VA, PETITE! (2002, Alain Guesnier) from http://www.allocine.fr

    Comment by celinejulie — July 17, 2007 @ 12:38 pm


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