Monday, November 28, 2022

Documenteur: An Emotion Picture

Hangin' with les Cooper

The film begins with the first shot of the mural that had previously concluded Mur murs from 1980. The title here is, like the prior film (its companion work), a pun — Documenteur: An Emotion Picture of 1981 — Documenter, or at the same time, as is emphasized on the typography of the one-sheet that Varda showcases in the 2014 video introduction she made for both Mur murs and Documenteur, "Docu-Liar." The question is: Who is the liar? It's "documenteur" vs. "documenteuse" — could it be the dispositif itself? Other implications, e.g., something to do with a man, this film doesn't share in its 1 hour 7 minutes or so. It's not that men are absent, but Émilie Cooper (Sabine Mamou, excellent, needless to say dead: 2003) lives a fulfilling life without Tom or whomever, the love-making sessions with whom are sensual but in a way cool and perfunctory. (It's complicated: note the tearful and repressed reaction when her buttinsky friend calls her at work to inquire how Tom is. Émilie's "Non" is one of the most satisfying come-backs I can remember.) Her life is occupied by her son, played by Varda's son Mathieu Demy in one of the all-time great "child-performances" of the cinema. She treats him with cordial geniality and respect for his intelligence, even as they're moving house a few times over due to forced circumstances. Documenteur yields a cornucopia of pleasures — is one of those films that encapsulates so much and at only 1 hour 7 minutes leaves the spectator thinking: "But it's not enough..."


Other writing on Agnès Varda at Cinemasparagus:

La Pointe-Courte [1955]

Ô saisons ô châteaux [O Seasons, O Châteaux, 1957]

L'Opéra-Mouffe, carnet de notes filmées rue Mouffetard par une femme enceinte en 1958 [The Opéra-Mouffe: Diary Filmed on the rue Mouffetard in Paris by a Pregnant Woman in 1958, 1958]

Du côté de la Côte [Around the Côte, 1958]

Les fiancés du pont Mac Donald, ou (Méfiez-vous des lunettes noires) [The Fiancés of the Pont Mac Donald, or: (Beware of Dark Glasses), 1961]

Cléo de 5 à 7 [Cléo from 5 to 7, 1962]

Le bonheur [Happiness, 1964]

Elsa la Rose [Elsa the Rose, 1966]

Les créatures [The Creatures, 1966]

Uncle Yanco [1967]

Black Panthers [1968]

Lions Love... and Lies / Lions Love [1969]

Nausicaa [1970]

Réponse de femmes à une question produite par Antenne 2 pour le magazine 'F. comme Femme' [Women's Response to a Question Put Forth by Antenne 2 for the Magazine-Show 'F. comme Femme', 1975]

Daguerréotypes [1976]

Plaisir d'amour en Iran [Giddiness of Love in Iran] [1976]

L'une chante l'autre pas [The One Sings the Other Doesn't] [1977]

Mur murs [1980]

Documenteur: An Emotion Picture [1981]


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