Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bakery Girl of Monceau and Suzanne's Career (Eric Rohmer, 1963)

These two short films are the first and second installments in Rohmer's Six Moral Tales cycle, and, in true Dana style, the third and fourth in the series I have seen. I always do that, and wonder later if my perception of the individual films and the series as a whole would have been different if I had actually seen them in order. Six Moral Tales is a pretty straightforward series, however, and I see the evolution of the male protagonists without having to see the films in straight order. Anyway, these two shorts represent the beginning of the series, about young men who are chasing after women no matter the consequences.

The Bakery Girl of Monceau involves an unnamed law student (played by Barbet Schroeder, who later became a director himself) who falls in love with a girl he meets on the street. He waits during his lunch hour on the street where they met to see her again, but starts frequenting a bakery when he doesn't meet the girl. He leads on the bakery girl, finally inviting her on a date, when he meets the first girl and abandons the bakery girl. Many men's disregard for the feelings of random women is at center here - Rohmer makes the law student despicable in a small way, but not enough so he's incomprehensible to the audience. At the end, when the student and the woman, now his wife, go again to the bakery, a new girl is behind the counter, and it's uncertain whether the student even remembers the other bakery girl or not.

Suzanne's Career is almost an hour, twice the length of the pervious film, and details two "friends" (who seem not to enjoy each other's company too much), Bertrand and Guillaume, who are both interested in Suzanne. The two men use Suzanne brutally, making her pay for every outing and giving almost nothing in return. Guillaume is fundamentally different than Bertrand; he is a playboy, who spends a lot of money and uses everyone around him. Bertrand, in contrast, is uncomfortable using Suzanne (but does it anyway) and is a more loyal man than his friend. The two men seem to despise each other, and in many ways, this film is more about their relationship than either one's with Suzanne. But Suzanne wins in the end; she abandons both men and gets engaged to another, unknown man. Bertrand wants to believe that Suzanne is a bad, immoral girl (he accuses her of stealing 400 francs from her when everyone else, audience included, is sure it was Guillaume), and that he has been tricked by her. Suzanne represents to these men the mystery of women, the things about them that they can never understand.

These two films are a good start to the Six Moral Tales cycle, and represent youth - the beginning of love and morality, when men are callous about both those things.


RIYL: French New Wave, Jules & Jim

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