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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Monday, March 05, 2007

The Pornographer (Bertrand Bonello, 2001)

It's almost always disconcerting to see one's favorite actors growing old. As any regular reader of this blog should know, I am a huge Francois Truffaut fan, especially of his films with Jean-Pierre Leaud. I have seen Leaud in other director's works, including Pasolini, Bertolucci, and, most recently chronologically, Catherine Breillat's 36 Fillette, but hadn't seen Leaud onscreen in a movie made less than almost twenty years ago. The Pornographers gave me that chance, as Leaud plays pornographic director Jacques Laurent, who was hugely innovative in the 1970s, and has come back to his old work after 20 years away, and has troubles reconciling his artistic temperament with the culture of hardcore porn, and the moneymaking aspects of it as well. It was almost as if Laurent's predicament, coming back to the work he loves after years away, was Leaud's as well, if only in my mind.

Leaud, with his long hair and aged face, is a great choice for Laurent, as he is someone the audience is almost certain to remember from years ago, much like a porn fan would have Laurent. Outside of the movie set where he becomes increasingly frustrated, Laurent has to deal with a failing relationship with his wife and a reconciliation with his son, a young idealist who seemingly wants to recapture the revolution his father lived through in 1968. While Laurent is the common thread in all the stories, more or less, the movie is not very cohesive, and scenes of Joseph (the son, played by Jeremie Renier of L'Enfant) with his new girlfriend only echo those of his father and, presumably, his mother.

The Pornographer, while containing some explicit sex, is more of a stereotypical French film: moody, talky, and very slow. It is worth the watch, if only to see Leaud still as a master of his game, but the story is not particularly compelling or well-structured, with the exception of the beautiful scenes where Laurent lives in the country by himself, trying to build a house. Laurent, possibly like Leaud, is trying to build his own place in the present he is no longer really a part of.


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