Eric Rohmer

A Summers Tale

The art and seductive power of conversation lies at the heart of the work of Éric Rohmer, the French New Wave filmmaker who passed away in 2010. Best known for his “Six Moral Tales” series, which included modern investigations of fidelity and ethics in titles like My Night at Maud’s and Love in the Afternoon, Rohmer’s work uses conversation as a platform from which to explore the elasticity of human personality, morality, and rational decision-making. These are not merely films that have a great deal of dialogue – rather, Rohmer crafted interactions between characters that gradually and shrewdly peel away toward the core (or shape-shifting goo) of their identity. The same can be said for A Summer’s Tale, Rohmer’s 1996 film that is only now seeing an official US theatrical release. The third entry in Rohmer’s season-themed late-career series of films (which also includes A Tale of Springtime (1990), A Winter’s Tale (1992) and A Tale of Autumn (1996)), A Summer’s Tale is a masterclass in Rohmer’s one-of-a-kind approach to the spoken word onscreen. The film at first seems like an innocuous series of introspective conversations between attractive people, but eventually unravels into a more complex portrait about the different kinds of people we pretend to be depending upon the immediate audience at hand.

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Adam West Batman

The morning’s best writing from around the movie website-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Austin Cinematic Limits

Eric Rohmer’s La Collectionneuse (1967) serves as a purposeful point of reference for writer-director Will James Moore’s Satellite of Love — not only does Moore cast the lead actor of La Collectionneuse (Patrick Bauchau) as an eccentric friend, but Moore even mimics the tranquil Mediterranean atmosphere of La Collectionneuse by setting Satellite of Love in the vineyards of the Texas Hill Country. Satellite of Love maintains the visually vibrancy of the French New Wave, particularly with its impeccably crafted mise-en-scène. Satellite of Love is absolutely gorgeous, from the oh-so-beautiful cast to Steve Acevedo’s masterful cinematography. Rohmer would probably be very proud that he inspired Moore’s film. Moore and I have been in correspondence ever since the film’s world premiere at the 2012 Dallas International Film Festival; but it was not until the 2012 Austin Film Festival that I finally had a chance to sit down with him and Jonathan Case (co-writer and music supervisor) to talk about Satellite of Love and making films in Central Texas.

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It’s that time of the year again: that brief span of time in between Christmas and New Year’s when journalists, critics, and cultural commentators scramble to define an arbitrary block of time even before that block is over with. To speculate on what 2010 will be remembered for is purely that: speculation. But the lists, summaries, and editorials reflecting on the events, accomplishments, failures, and occurrences of 2010 no doubt shape future debate over what January 1-December 31, 2010 will be remembered for personally, nostalgically, and historically. How we refer to the present frames how it is represented in the future, even when contradictions arise over what events should be valued from a given year. In an effort to begin that framing process, what I offer here is not a critical list of great films, but one that points out dominant cultural conversations, shared trends, and intersecting topics (both implicit and explicit) that have occurred either between the films themselves or between films and other notable aspects of American social life in 2010. As this column attempts to establish week in and week out, movies never exist in a vacuum, but instead operate in active conversation with one another. Thus, a movie’s cultural context should never be ignored. So, without further adieu, here is my overview of the Top 10 topics, trends, and events of the year that have nothing to do with the 3D debate.

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Veteran French filmmaker and New Wave-co-founder Claude Chabrol passed away in Paris this morning at the age of 80. Chabrol, like Éric Rohmer who died this past January, wrote for the Cahiers du cinéma film journal in the 1950s before making his own feature films later that decade alongside New Wave contemporaries Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, and Jacques Rivette. But while Rohmer’s late career slowed down a great deal and Godard’s oscillated between experimentation and obscurity, Chabrol continued to prove himself a particularly prolific filmmaker well after the New Wave’s late 1950s and 1960s heyday.

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Culture Warrior

Last week, the recipients of the Honorary Oscars were announced, the awards ceremony taking place at the Academy Governor’s Awards Dinner on November 13 (an evident pushback from the typical televised reception of the Honorary Oscar at the actual ceremony in the first quarter of the following calendar year). Honorary awards are being given to Veteran actor and senior-senior-citizen Eli Wallach, film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow, legendary French New Wave auteur Jean-Luc Godard, and the Irving G. Thalberg memorial award for excellent producing has been bestowed (to the surprise of no one) to the occasionally brilliant cinematic patriarch and wine magnate Francis Ford Coppola. According to the Academy’s executive director on August 25, attempts were made to contact Godard directly (by phone, fax, and through associates), but to no avail. Unbeknownst to the fact there does indeed exist television and the Internet in Paris, members of the Academy interpreted Godard’s behavior as elusive rather than evasive. Godard has a history of rejecting awards of the honorary or lifetime achievement variety, so until he makes a statement that provides an official stance, it remains likely that Godard will simply and inevitably turn this one down as well. And as well he should.

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The answer to this question, taken literally, is “the love of cinema.” But, of course, nothing (at least, nothing in this column) is ever so simple.

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This week’s Culture Warrior helps you fill out your Netflix queue.

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This week, I take a trip back to the French New Wave. And I do it For Science, discovering the Six Moral Tales of director Eric Rohmer.

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This week, on a very special episode or Reject Radio, Landon Palmer attempts to explain why his fascination with nun orgies hasn’t gotten his Masters degree taken away from him.

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Eric Rohmer (1920-2010) was a truly modern cinematic artist with a unique voice, possessing a style that distinguished him from his New Wave contemporaries.

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