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The Disappointment That is Leos Carax' Annette [TALKING IMAGES]

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St. Gloede
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The Disappointment That is Leos Carax' Annette [TALKING IMAGES]

#1

Post by St. Gloede »

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Welcome to the episode where Gloede realizes he's the only Leos Carax fan in the podcast and even he found Annette thoroughly middling. Join us as we explore just how it let us down and debate the merits of artificiality, THAT puppet and much, much more.

As we could not find a single defender of Annette amongst our regular co-hosts we will try to highlight anything we remotely liked and respected, and be as fair as possible.

We know there are quite a few posters here who absolutely love Annette so we would love to hear just what made it pop for you! 

You Can Listen Here:

Sounder: https://talking-images.sounder.fm/episo ... ax-annette

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5USNI8WyxbwxORE1JhYrfl

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/t ... 0568466848

Participants:
  • Matthieu / Teproc
  • Sol / Sol
  • Chris / St. Gloede
Join the Conversation - Your chance to disagree (or agree) with anything said in this episode

Did Annette disappoint you?

Are you surprised by our collectively middling opinion?

What did you think of Annette? What are its's key strengths and weaknesses?

Were you a fan of Sparks heading in?

Did the music pop and did it need to? All of us felt that most of the music was too adequate, repetitive and lacked power - are we expecting the wrong thing from a musical like Annette or do you simply disagree?

What were your favourite songs? And would you listen to or buy the soundtrack?

How do you feel about Jacques Demy's musicals? We would be interested in seeing if there's an overlap of fans.

What do you hope to see from Leos Carax next? Do you want him to make more musicals like Annette?

Bonus question from Sol: Was the artificiality too much? Did Adam Driver acting next to "a slab of plastic" ruin the emotional connection you had with the film?

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#2

Post by OldAle1 »

Hah! I've just been thinking of it, and Carax, because of the 2021 poll (and it's on some lists), and because Pola X, the only film of his I haven't seen, will be playing at the UW Cinematheque at the end of this month (in 35mm). Three of Carax' films (Mauvais sang, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf and Holy Motors) are on my all-time favorites list with Pont-Neuf being in the top 100. So I'm a pretty big fan but... here's what I wrote after seeing it last August

Cinema. As I mentioned in another thread, I drove over an hour each way to see this - it was my most-anticipated film of the year so far, maybe the most-anticipated period (depending on what other films get meager distribution even remotely near me) and it was something of a disappointment, though as I love the director's previous films for the most part, I'll likely give it another chance at some point. It's the first film that he didn't write - the screenplay is credited to the composers, Ron and Russell Mael (AKA Sparks) - so perhaps that is part of the problem; not knowing the work of Sparks in particular, perhaps I'm just not attuned to their ethos, or perhaps as musicians and not, until now screenwriters, they just don't know how to put together a script that works. Don't know. In any case this is a rather long (139 m) musical about asshole comedian Henry (Adam Driver), his relationship with his wife, soprano Ann (Marion Cotillard), Ann's accompanist (Simon Helberg), and Ann and Henry's daughter Annette (played by a puppet) It's full of loads of cinematic allusions - to early cinema, to King Vidor (and the end of the silent era, and the 1930s in general), I think perhaps to Hitchcock at a couple of moments, it's got murder, it's got several obviously fake sets, it's got real Los Angeles, and the music is mostly pretty good, and it would seem to be the kind of film I would LOVE, but it just wasn't. Part of the problem is Henry who is just such an unpleasant character - and he's the only one of the major characters to appear throughout the film. Unpleasant can be OK - I love Margaret which is mostly full of people you wouldn't want to meet - but here it ends up fairly grating, and the narrative isn't particularly unusual or interesting enough - even if some of the visuals and many of the smaller plot elements are - for me to want to sit through it for almost 2 1/2 hours. Overall I'm glad I saw it, and I can say I liked it as a whole - it may have irritated at times, but it never bored, and the somewhat noirish direction it took in it's last act was a bit unexpected and interesting - but in the end this is the first Carax film (haven't seen Pola X yet to be fair) that hasn't completely worked for me.

Oh and I haven't listened to the podcast yet (and probably won't today or... well I don't know when), but I did want to comment for anybody who doesn't know my tastes that well that yes, I LOVE Jacques Demy - I think he is probably the greatest director in history who specialized in musicals - and I love musicals generally, as just a glance at my avatar or many of my lists will attest. I was just commenting elsewhere that 2021 saw FIVE English-language musicals that got wide releases in the USA - In the Heights, West Side Story, Annette, Dear Evan Hansen and Cyrano - and I've seen the first four of them, the first three in the cinema. I think this was the best year in terms of sheer numbers for the genre here since the 1970s; and none of them were successful commercially and only WSS was particularly critically acclaimed. The musical is still dead.
It was the truth, vivid and monstrous, that all the while he had waited the wait was itself his portion..
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#3

Post by Torgo »

Whoa, killer thread title here! If that doesn't guarantee some clicks & plays .. :D

I can't participate in the discussion, but want to state the FWIWish fact that the film has been mentioned TWICE* as the best film of 2021 in our year-poll which is ending any minute now, and a couple of times in the Top 3 / 5 or at least Top 20. Yeah, no Holy Motors level there, yet it gets enough love to call it, uh, divisive, maybe a future cult favorite, who knows?.

*Lonewolf, have you been bribed for that? :P
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#4

Post by cinewest »

Did Annette disappoint you?

Only at the start of the film when my own expectations got in the way. Holy Motors was my favorite film of the 2010's, and I was really looking forward to Anette, but was initially put off by the comic who wasn't funny, and needed to adjust to the musical style, which was essentially the narrative (more like interior monologues) being sung rather than spoken, but I was at the same time captivated by the look of the film, and eventually adjusted to "meeting the artist (Carax) on his own terms," at which point I began to find the film very rewarding.


Are you surprised by our collectively middling opinion?

No. People either get with this kind of film or they don't. Carax is very theatrical (even his early films have the feeling of being staged), and the first bridge to cross is the one that connects to his approach and style which are unlike anything else I can think of really, aside from a kind of cinematic "performance art."


What did you think of Annette? What are its's key strengths and weaknesses?

I don't really think about it like that, though as I stated at the top, while I immediately liked the look of the film- the cinematography, etc., there was plenty I needed to adjust to and accept that might be termed weaknesses by those who couldn't.


Were you a fan of Sparks heading in?

No


Did the music pop and did it need to? All of us felt that most of the music was too adequate, repetitive and lacked power - are we expecting the wrong thing from a musical like Annette or do you simply disagree?

No. The music just needed to do its job, which I think it did. Once again, I didn't think of it this way, but eventually connected to the way the music functioned at the heart of the narrative. I experienced it as musical theater, and while there were no "great arias," and the style was kind of repetitive (spoken word set to music?), it reminded me a bit of David Byrne of the Talking Heads, and some of his projects (did anyone see Spike Lee's documentary of American Utopia?), which are also more like musical theater.


What were your favourite songs? And would you listen to or buy the soundtrack?

No, but then I am not really attracted to film scores as separate than the films they accompany.


How do you feel about Jacques Demy's musicals? We would be interested in seeing if there's an overlap of fans. Good reference point. But I might also bring up the name of Jaques Brel.


What do you hope to see from Leos Carax next? Do you want him to make more musicals like Annette?

I place no requirements on Carax other than to be brilliant, which I think he was in many ways with Annette.


Bonus question from Sol: Was the artificiality too much? Did Adam Driver acting next to "a slab of plastic" ruin the emotional connection you had with the film?

This bothered me some, originally, but I eventually let go of my demands and got with the journey that Carax was taking me on.
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#5

Post by Good_Will_Harding »

Did Annette disappoint you?

Not at all. Had seen and liked some of Carax's previous stuff, but didn't love any of it to such a degree that I was dying to see this.

Are you surprised by our collectively middling opinion?

Not necessarily.

What did you think of Annette? What are its's key strengths and weaknesses?

Was very pleasantly surprised by it and would probably consider it my favorite from this director. The strengths for me are definitely the music and the deliberately operatic structure of the story, which in hindsight is probably meant to reflect an opera like the ones Marion Cotillard's character starred in. On the minus side, it's definitely too long and some of the earlier sections could've been trimmed or tightened quite a bit.

Were you a fan of Sparks heading in?

Knew of them and enjoyed most of what I'd heard, but definitely wasn't a die hard fan or anything.

Did the music pop and did it need to? All of us felt that most of the music was too adequate, repetitive and lacked power - are we expecting the wrong thing from a musical like Annette or do you simply disagree?

I think it did. This is probably a subjective take, but for me, the fact that this was a musical at all and the strengths of the songs elevated the entire film in my mind.

What were your favourite songs? And would you listen to or buy the soundtrack?

My top three would probably be - We Love Each Other, Stepping Back in Time, Sympathy for the Abyss. I've listened to the OST quite a bit since I saw the film, but haven't seen any physical copies for sale yet. Would probably buy one if I did.

How do you feel about Jacques Demy's musicals? We would be interested in seeing if there's an overlap of fans.

Definitely a big fan of Demy's work, and think The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is the greatest musical ever made.

What do you hope to see from Leos Carax next? Do you want him to make more musicals like Annette?

Not sure, but I wouldn't mind seeing him tackle another musical.

Bonus question from Sol: Was the artificiality too much? Did Adam Driver acting next to "a slab of plastic" ruin the emotional connection you had with the film?

It worked fine for me. I enjoyed the inspired surrealism of the whole conceit and it didn't negatively impact my response to the film.
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#6

Post by St. Gloede »

OldAle1 wrote: July 1st, 2022, 6:03 pm Hah! I've just been thinking of it, and Carax, because of the 2021 poll (and it's on some lists), and because Pola X, the only film of his I haven't seen, will be playing at the UW Cinematheque at the end of this month (in 35mm). Three of Carax' films (Mauvais sang, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf and Holy Motors) are on my all-time favorites list with Pont-Neuf being in the top 100. So I'm a pretty big fan but... here's what I wrote after seeing it last August

Cinema. As I mentioned in another thread, I drove over an hour each way to see this - it was my most-anticipated film of the year so far, maybe the most-anticipated period (depending on what other films get meager distribution even remotely near me) and it was something of a disappointment, though as I love the director's previous films for the most part, I'll likely give it another chance at some point. It's the first film that he didn't write - the screenplay is credited to the composers, Ron and Russell Mael (AKA Sparks) - so perhaps that is part of the problem; not knowing the work of Sparks in particular, perhaps I'm just not attuned to their ethos, or perhaps as musicians and not, until now screenwriters, they just don't know how to put together a script that works. Don't know. In any case this is a rather long (139 m) musical about asshole comedian Henry (Adam Driver), his relationship with his wife, soprano Ann (Marion Cotillard), Ann's accompanist (Simon Helberg), and Ann and Henry's daughter Annette (played by a puppet) It's full of loads of cinematic allusions - to early cinema, to King Vidor (and the end of the silent era, and the 1930s in general), I think perhaps to Hitchcock at a couple of moments, it's got murder, it's got several obviously fake sets, it's got real Los Angeles, and the music is mostly pretty good, and it would seem to be the kind of film I would LOVE, but it just wasn't. Part of the problem is Henry who is just such an unpleasant character - and he's the only one of the major characters to appear throughout the film. Unpleasant can be OK - I love Margaret which is mostly full of people you wouldn't want to meet - but here it ends up fairly grating, and the narrative isn't particularly unusual or interesting enough - even if some of the visuals and many of the smaller plot elements are - for me to want to sit through it for almost 2 1/2 hours. Overall I'm glad I saw it, and I can say I liked it as a whole - it may have irritated at times, but it never bored, and the somewhat noirish direction it took in it's last act was a bit unexpected and interesting - but in the end this is the first Carax film (haven't seen Pola X yet to be fair) that hasn't completely worked for me.

Oh and I haven't listened to the podcast yet (and probably won't today or... well I don't know when), but I did want to comment for anybody who doesn't know my tastes that well that yes, I LOVE Jacques Demy - I think he is probably the greatest director in history who specialized in musicals - and I love musicals generally, as just a glance at my avatar or many of my lists will attest. I was just commenting elsewhere that 2021 saw FIVE English-language musicals that got wide releases in the USA - In the Heights, West Side Story, Annette, Dear Evan Hansen and Cyrano - and I've seen the first four of them, the first three in the cinema. I think this was the best year in terms of sheer numbers for the genre here since the 1970s; and none of them were successful commercially and only WSS was particularly critically acclaimed. The musical is still dead.
I was in the same boat as you (pun possibly intended) and had Annette as one of m 2-3 most anticipated films of the year. I could probably have adapted your entire review with the exception that I have seen Pola X, and actually liked it a little more (though it has been ages since I saw it).

It is always frustrating when you have a film that seems to have all the elements you love - but it still doesn't connect - more so when it is from a director you love. The fact that I can't get into Carmelo Bene despite checking off almost everything on my checklist is one thing, but Carax has been a consistently wonderful director who knows how to drag me in - and if anything this is, after Holy Motors, the film that seems most suited to my taste - well, ok, except the musical angle, because unlike you I don't love Demy's musicals and they do struggle with a similar issue for me where a lot of the music is just there, telling the story, rather than being there for its musical prowess. That is fine, of course, it is a style of doing things, but I have still not connected to this type of style. Oddly, I have had more luck with the all-out dance films, like Saura's Blood Wedding.
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#7

Post by St. Gloede »

Very happy to see two fans, would have been great to have had either of you or both on in the episode!

I definitely agree with Cinewest that we should try to meet Carax on his own terms - perhaps I will like it more on a rewatch - but as mentioned, for me the style of musical it is may be just as much a part of the issue and the question really is if that will change. I should certainly go back to Demy at some point too and perhaps they will build each other up. Not familiar with Jaques Brel unfortunately.

Also good to see that the two of you had different takes on the music, with it popping for you, Good Will Harding and doing what it needed to do for you, Cinewest. Being a Sparks fan might help there for sure, I'm more of a casual enjoyer.
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#8

Post by Rrobynne »

OldAle1 wrote: July 1st, 2022, 6:03 pm Hah! I've just been thinking of it, and Carax, because of the 2021 poll (and it's on some lists), and because Pola X, the only film of his I haven't seen, will be playing at the UW Cinematheque at the end of this month (in 35mm). Three of Carax' films (Mauvais sang, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf and Holy Motors) are on my all-time favorites list with Pont-Neuf being in the top 100. So I'm a pretty big fan but... here's what I wrote after seeing it last August
The uncut version of Pola X produced for Arte, instead titled Pierre, ou Les ambiguïtés, finally leaked in VHS quality via a Québécois forum late last year, after 20 years unreleased since its first and only broadcast. I've just recently created a translation for it and put the files on Soulseek since it's impossible to buy or watch elsewhere. I believe somebody has already shared it onto YouTube. I find the pacing much superior to the theatrical cut and there's a few extra character moments that make the progression of the feature a lot more coherent. Highly recommend once you've seen your screening, I think it's Carax's masterwork. Such a shame it still has no blu-ray release on the horizon (or home video at all).
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#9

Post by St. Gloede »

Rrobynne wrote: July 5th, 2022, 12:04 am
OldAle1 wrote: July 1st, 2022, 6:03 pm Hah! I've just been thinking of it, and Carax, because of the 2021 poll (and it's on some lists), and because Pola X, the only film of his I haven't seen, will be playing at the UW Cinematheque at the end of this month (in 35mm). Three of Carax' films (Mauvais sang, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf and Holy Motors) are on my all-time favorites list with Pont-Neuf being in the top 100. So I'm a pretty big fan but... here's what I wrote after seeing it last August
The uncut version of Pola X produced for Arte, instead titled Pierre, ou Les ambiguïtés, finally leaked in VHS quality via a Québécois forum late last year, after 20 years unreleased since its first and only broadcast. I've just recently created a translation for it and put the files on Soulseek since it's impossible to buy or watch elsewhere. I believe somebody has already shared it onto YouTube. I find the pacing much superior to the theatrical cut and there's a few extra character moments that make the progression of the feature a lot more coherent. Highly recommend once you've seen your screening, I think it's Carax's masterwork. Such a shame it still has no blu-ray release on the horizon (or home video at all).
Indeed it is, found it here:



And welcome to the forum, Rrobynne! Great to have someone who cares so much about cinema that they are willing to subtitle a near-3 hour film. (l) I have only done one subtitling project myself, which was for a silent - much easier. :D

We have an introductions thread if you want to drop a few lines there: viewtopic.php?t=57&view=unread#unread

There's also quite a lot going on here, from polls to challenges (focuses per month) to various games, threads of all kinds and of course the podcast, so hope you stick around.

Did you come here because of the podcast btw?
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