Sunday, September 12, 2010

RIP Claude Chabrol

Marketed as "the French Hitchcock," his films must have disappointed anyone looking for action, thrills, setpieces. But the best were supremely intelligent, a mixture of classical elegance and surprising bluntness, dead-centered on the hypocrises of the bourgeois. My film group watched Le Boucher (1969) in 2006, and were held by it (so was Hitchcock, who wished he had made it, but perhaps not in the same way). I've written about Chabrol before; adhering to a Woody Allen-like film-a-year schedule for decades, often working with family members, he always gave you something to write about, unlike his contemporaries in the French New Wave, as they branched into non-commercial filmmaking or fell away.

But for all I've seen I don't feel I've seen enough, and I can't quite come to grips with it. You can do a "Chabrol/Isabelle Huppert" retrospective, which is a fantastic idea, spotlighting his excellent collaborations with the actress...but you can also do a double feature of his two late 80s duds with the unlikely Andrew McCarthy, not that anyone would show up to see how Chabrol and the international market never quite came to terms. Better too much than too little, however, and there is a place in my dark heart for La Ceremonie, Violette, This Man Must Die, Les Biches, and The Cousins. A final film, and his first with Gerard Depardieu, Bellamy, awaits.

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