Tavernier might be the best director in the world at taking audience Q&A.
Based on his good humored appearance for Princess of Montpensier during the 2011 French Rendezvous, he displayed a genuine knack
for extracting a salient point from even the most rambling, off-topic
questions. While this talent for inspired free association comes across as
keenly focused during a Q&A session, it might strike some viewers as
eccentrically eclectic when applied to a three-hour-plus documentary. However,
the audience still gets to hear a lot of interesting stuff as a result
throughout Tavernier’s My Journey Through
French Cinema (trailer
which screens during the 54th New York Film Festival.
this is indeed all about Tavernier discussing the films he has seen and the
filmmakers he has known. Of course, he had early gigs as the publicist for
Godard’s Breathless and as an
assistant to Jean-Pierre Melville, so he definitely has an insider’s perspective.
Who knew former Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson sideman Rex Stewart
appeared in Jacques Becker’s Rendezvous
in July? Tavernier, that’s who—and being a jazz fan as well, he shows a
long tantalizing clip of Stewart blowing his horn in a hip French nightclub.
fact, Becker is the unlikely first-among-equals under discussion in Journey. Once Tavernier finishes with
the Casque d’Or helmer, he then gives
the themes and films of Melville and Claude Sautet similarly in-depth treatment.
Although he mostly focuses on auteurist directors, Tavernier also champions the
film scores of Maurice Jaubert and Joseph Kosma. These sequences are especially
valuable, since even major French film composers like Georges Delerue and
Philippe Sarde are not exactly household names anymore.
Those who require a rigid structure to
appreciate a film are simply out of luck here. Tavernier can hardly pause in
mid-air as he jumps from topic to topic, in order to give viewers time to
carefully scrawl out their notes, even if he were so inclined. Essentially,
this film is designed to approximate the experience of chewing the fat with
Tavernier on the subject of movies. If that sounds like fun to you (and it
should), the good news is there is obviously a planned second installment in
the works. Logically recommended for Francophile patrons, My Journey Through French Cinema screens tomorrow (10/1) and Sunday
(10/2) during the 2016 New York Film Festival.
Labels: Bertrand Tavernier, Documentary, French Cinema, NYFF '16, Rex Stewart