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Eric Rohmer's Comedies and Proverb Cycle [Talking Images]

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St. Gloede
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Eric Rohmer's Comedies and Proverb Cycle [Talking Images]

#1

Post by St. Gloede » June 18th, 2020, 2:58 pm

Eric Rohmer's Comedies and Proverb cycle is arguably one of the greatest accomplishments in cinematic history, and in this episode we dive into the first 3 films:

The Aviator's Wife
A Good Marriage
Pauline at the Beach

We had planned to fit all 6 into one episode, but it proved too ambitious. In the end we managed to fit our introduction + the 3 films into a 3 and a half hour recording session, which after like 15 hours of editing (Clem and myself) turned into this 78 minute episode before you.

SPOILER WARNING:

Our discussions are in two sets - one based on the basic plot and early development of the story - and then a dissection of the ending and the films as a whole. There will be a clear spoiler warning at the halfway point.

If you have not seen the films in question you can then skip to the next film, the starting times are:

Introduction to the Cycle: 00:00
The Aviator's Wife: 10:05
A Good Marriage: 35: 25
Pauline at the Beach: 55:00

You can listen here:

Spotify - https://open.spotify.com/show/3GhRXnb6OzOnfae2Uvkvus
Sounder - https://talkingimages.sounder.fm/show/talking-images

Part 2 will come in due course. I am particularly excited about the next episode as we can draw a clearer picture of how the cycle evolves, contradicts itself and finds a resolution in a truly spectacular and surprising way.

Please share your takes on the cycle, especially the first 3 below.

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#2

Post by Onderhond » June 18th, 2020, 3:10 pm

Won't be able to add anything this time, apart from the shocker that I've never seen a Rohmer film!

Love the time indications though, that's a nice touch.

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#3

Post by cinewest » June 19th, 2020, 7:02 am

These podcasts are getting better and better. Thanks to all involved.

As far as Rohmer goes, I have always liked his movies, but none have climbed in among my favorites, and he may be a director like Woody Allen, and Almodovar, where the sum of his work is greater than the parts.

Funny, but I have compared these 3 filmmakers before along certain lines (and could easily add the Korean, Sang-Soo Hong, or perhaps Noah Baumbach). All 3 have turned out a film (smallish in scope as well as script/character based) almost every year for a number of years. All 3 have also tended to work similar themes connected to their identities (Rohmer is a very philosophical French Catholic, Allen is a very neurotic New York Jewish comic with a somewhat intellectual / philosophical bent, and Almodovar is a neurotic gay Spanish Catholic comic.

Apart from that, none of Rohmer's films reach the top tier for me (a couple of the detracting elements are the lack of very interesting cinematic qualities, smallish scale, and perhaps over reliance on script). One of the things I appreciate about Almodovar, in contrast, is his visual artistry, and even Allen has shown more of an awareness of visual style. That is not to say that Rohmer is uninteresting cinematically, only that he doesn't inspire me in an aspect of filmmaking that is very connected to what is most attractive for me about the medium (the sound-visual tapestry).

That said,the more films by Rohmer that I see, the more I am impressed with his overall body of work in the way that it works together, much the way his various cycles do, even as each one plays more like a short story or novelette than a singular ambitious masterpiece.

Some of my favorites (The Green Ray, Pauline at the Beach, The Aviator's Wife, and Full Moon in Paris) are the ones this cycle, though, and I haven't seen any of them for awhile, so the conversation is bringing them back, even bolstering my desire to see them again.

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#4

Post by St. Gloede » June 19th, 2020, 9:13 am

cinewest wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 7:02 am
These podcasts are getting better and better. Thanks to all involved.

As far as Rohmer goes, I have always liked his movies, but none have climbed in among my favorites, and he may be a director like Woody Allen, and Almodovar, where the sum of his work is greater than the parts.

Funny, but I have compared these 3 filmmakers before along certain lines (and could easily add the Korean, Sang-Soo Hong, or perhaps Noah Baumbach). All 3 have turned out a film (smallish in scope as well as script/character based) almost every year for a number of years. All 3 have also tended to work similar themes connected to their identities (Rohmer is a very philosophical French Catholic, Allen is a very neurotic New York Jewish comic with a somewhat intellectual / philosophical bent, and Almodovar is a neurotic gay Spanish Catholic comic.

Apart from that, none of Rohmer's films reach the top tier for me (a couple of the detracting elements are the lack of very interesting cinematic qualities, smallish scale, and perhaps over reliance on script). One of the things I appreciate about Almodovar, in contrast, is his visual artistry, and even Allen has shown more of an awareness of visual style. That is not to say that Rohmer is uninteresting cinematically, only that he doesn't inspire me in an aspect of filmmaking that is very connected to what is most attractive for me about the medium (the sound-visual tapestry).

That said,the more films by Rohmer that I see, the more I am impressed with his overall body of work in the way that it works together, much the way his various cycles do, even as each one plays more like a short story or novelette than a singular ambitious masterpiece.

Some of my favorites (The Green Ray, Pauline at the Beach, The Aviator's Wife, and Full Moon in Paris) are the ones this cycle, though, and I haven't seen any of them for awhile, so the conversation is bringing them back, even bolstering my desire to see them again.
:cheers: :cheers: :cheers:

Thank you so much, Cinewest!

I long had a hit and miss relationship with Rohmer before I started to see what he was doing, from dialectics, to his sense of double-edged humour, to his detailed minimalism.

I love the story of Claire's Knee where he planted a rose one year before and timed when it would open to get the shot.

For this cycle in particular it grew so much when I saw just how these films act as an actual cycle, and the way they interact - especially when the next 3 films start to respond/contradict/resolve the first 3 (which we will get into in the next episode).

In terms of cinematic techniques he is certainly sparse, but if you want something a little more detailed and impressive The Aviator's Wife, where he plays with contemplative cinema and essentially creates a near real-time 40-minute "chase" or The Green Ray - which is entirely improvised and shot with a crew of I believe 3-5 people (and has simply gorgeous cinematography) strikes me as his two most impressive - and already two films you liked quite a bit.

All 6 of these films grew a lot when I rewatched them this past few weeks - and if you do rewatch the cycle I would recommend seeing them in chronological order, as a few things can be missed otherwise.

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#5

Post by AdamH » June 19th, 2020, 3:45 pm

I just wanted to say a massive thanks to Chris for all his work on the podcast (and, especially, this episode).

I took part for the first time since episode one as I was the one who originally suggested doing a Rohmer podcast and felt like I should take part in it. I didn't feel very confident and I certainly learned that it would have been better to have prepared some notes as the pressure of being recorded makes me kind of lose my train of thought or stumble a bit.

Normally, the recording process works pretty well but this one was a huge learning curve. There wasn't an extra person who just listened and gave feedback (normally jvv and/or I do that) and we were too ambitious with trying to do 6 films in one episode. Important to learn from this and I hope the end product worked out well. I don't want to put anyone else off joining as this recording session was a one-off in terms of how long it took and it's definitely something that will be improved in the future.

For me personally, I'm just glad it motivated me to watch the six films again. Previously, The Aviator's Wife as easily my favourite but this time The Green Ray was probably my favourite. I empathised a lot with Delphine and loved the ending. Would like to write more but a bit tired today.

I'd rank them this time as:

Best: The Green Ray/The Aviator's Wife
Middle: My Girlfriend's Boyfriend/Pauline at the Beach
Weakest: Full Moon in Paris/A Good Marriage

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#6

Post by cinewest » June 20th, 2020, 2:49 am

@ St. Gloede,

Yes, watching one of the Rohmer cycles from the start, all the way through, like a mini-film festival sounds like a nice idea. As for "cinematic techniques," they are almost as important as artistic intention and craftsmanship (something Rohmer does have), as they have everything to do with the potential power of the medium which I like to think of as an audio-visual tapestry.

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#7

Post by filmbantha » June 23rd, 2020, 2:45 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Rohmer episode, great work from everyone who was involved in putting it together!

Up until a few weeks ago I had hardly seen any of Rohmer's films but since his comedies and proverbs series was chosen as a focus for the podcast I decided it was time to catch up on them. I'm so glad this gave me the encouragement to do so as I really enjoyed exploring his work.

I always love reading about films shortly after watching them to dissect the nuances behind the director's meaning so that I can fully understand any subtext. You all did a brilliant job of highlighting lots of fascinating aspects of the films which I had not even considered and this has made me excited to hear what you will come up with in the concluding episode.

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#8

Post by St. Gloede » June 23rd, 2020, 9:54 pm

cinewest wrote:
June 20th, 2020, 2:49 am
@ St. Gloede,

Yes, watching one of the Rohmer cycles from the start, all the way through, like a mini-film festival sounds like a nice idea. As for "cinematic techniques," they are almost as important as artistic intention and craftsmanship (something Rohmer does have), as they have everything to do with the potential power of the medium which I like to think of as an audio-visual tapestry.
I agree completely, I am referring primarily to overt usage. Rohmer's film tend to be masterly crafted (IMO) - when I say that "in items of cinematic techniques he is certainly sparse" I refer to his restrained minimalist style, i.e. he is not Godar, but his techniques still lead to magic and because of rather than despite his sparseness.

Would really like to hear your views on revisiting these films if you ever put on this mini-film festival - especially as I returned from earlier mixed impressions as well.

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#9

Post by cinewest » June 24th, 2020, 12:43 am

St. Gloede wrote:
June 23rd, 2020, 9:54 pm
cinewest wrote:
June 20th, 2020, 2:49 am
@ St. Gloede,

Yes, watching one of the Rohmer cycles from the start, all the way through, like a mini-film festival sounds like a nice idea. As for "cinematic techniques," they are almost as important as artistic intention and craftsmanship (something Rohmer does have), as they have everything to do with the potential power of the medium which I like to think of as an audio-visual tapestry.
I agree completely, I am referring primarily to overt usage. Rohmer's film tend to be masterly crafted (IMO) - when I say that "in items of cinematic techniques he is certainly sparse" I refer to his restrained minimalist style, i.e. he is not Godar, but his techniques still lead to magic and because of rather than despite his sparseness.

Would really like to hear your views on revisiting these films if you ever put on this mini-film festival - especially as I returned from earlier mixed impressions as well.
I can already sense that I would get more enjoyment out of watching a complete cycle than any single film, and definitely want to do that some day when they are easy to collect. I have Pauline at the Beach on dvd, and notice that quite a few are available to stream on amazon ( I watched and enjoyed a later work called Rendevous in Paris, recently, but actually bailed one evening on A Good Marriage).

Coming back to his "sparse," script based" cinema, he was that way from the beginning, and I remember when I saw May Night at Maud's for the first time how it felt more like early New Wave (circa late 50's) than a film made in 1969 after 10+ years of evolution among New Wave filmmakers, and this has always been the biggest detraction for me, though I have generally enjoyed everything I have seen by him (which was similar with Woody Allen for a 15 year period).

Perhaps, I just don't find his cinema "ambitious" enough to push him into my group of favorite filmmakers, though I do agree that the extent of his "ambition" is better realized when taking a group of his films into account rather than just one.

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