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4 by Agnes Varda: (Criterion Collection) (1956-1985)

Cast: Philippe Noiret, Jean-Claude Drouot, Sandrine Bonnaire, more...
Director: Agnes Varda, Agnes Varda, Agnes Varda
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Criterion
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Independent, France, Experimental/Avant-Garde, Criterion Collection
Languages: French
Subtitles: English
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4 by Agnes Varda: Cléo from 5 to 7 (Criterion Collection) (1962)
Agnès Varda eloquently captures Paris in the sixties with this real-time portrait of a singer (Corinne Marchand) set adrift in the city as she awaits test results of a biopsy. A chronicle of the minutes of one womans life, Cléo from 5 to 7 is a spirited mix of vivid vérité and melodrama, featuring a score by Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and cameos by Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina.

4 by Agnes Varda: La Pointe Courte (Criterion Collection) (1956)
The great Agnes Varda's film career began with this graceful, penetrating study of a marriage on the rocks, set against the backdrop of a small Mediterranean fishing village. Both a stylized depiction of the complicated relationship between a married couple (played by Silvia Monfort and Philippe Noiret) and a documentary-like look at the daily struggles of the locals, Varda's discursive, gorgeously filmed debut was radical enough to later be considered one of the progenitors of the coming French new wave.

4 by Agnes Varda: Le Bonheur (Criterion Collection) (1965)
Le Bonheur was French director Agnes Varda's first color film. To critics who carped that her choice of hues was not "realistic", she responded that she was choosing the hues that were best suited psychologically to her story. The film's protagonist is a young, married carpenter (Jean-Claude Drouot). He takes a mistress (Marie-France Boyer), assuming that he can be equally in love with both his wife and the new woman in his life. When the wife drowns, the mistress quietly takes her place. This plot twist is remains a subject of debate amongst Varda's admirers. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

4 by Agnes Varda: Vagabond (Criterion Collection) (1985)
Vagabond, directed by Agnes Varda is the dark disturbing story of a female drifter named Mona (Sandrine Bonnaire). The film opens as Mona's frozen body is found in a drainage ditch and proceeds to tell her story in a series of flashbacks and semi-documentary style "interviews" with the people who have known Mona during the last few weeks of her life. Mona is a distant, independent and not-very-likeable woman who goes from place to place, living where she can and with anyone who will take her in. Mona's true nature remains a puzzle, both to those who thought they knew her, and to the audience. As the movie progresses it becomes clear that no one knew the true Mona and she, because of her aloofness and essential coldness, provided a canvas for those she met to write upon. Who Mona really was, and what she thought remains ambiguous. Sandrine Bonnaire is excellent as Mona, making an unappealing and cold character interesting and intriguing. Director Agnes Varda began her career as a still photographer. This beginning is evident in her elegant framing of the film. She has an instinctive awareness of and a photographer's eye for visual detail which makes the film cold, bleak, and aridly beautiful. Internationally acclaimed, Vagabond is Varda's most successful film. ~ Linda Rasmussen, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

4 by Agnes Varda: Cléo from 5 to 7 (Criterion Collection) (1962)
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7.40 (20 votes)
4 by Agnes Varda: La Pointe Courte (Criterion Collection) (1956)
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7.55 (11 votes)
4 by Agnes Varda: Le Bonheur (Criterion Collection) (1965)
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7.15 (13 votes)
4 by Agnes Varda: Vagabond (Criterion Collection) (1985)
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8.08 (12 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Fab First Film by JPielaszczyk June 17, 2008 - 3:59 PM PDT
The two included interviews with the then and now director taught me that Agnes Varda made La Pointe Courte at 25 with personal savings, cash from her mother, and the sweat equity participation of the residents/actors of the Mediterranean village. This was during an era when long years of apprenticeship as third and second director were the norm. The resulting film vividly captures the changing society of 1950s France. The lead character grew up in the village, with its stable ways of shellfishing, music-making and dancing, plus friendly/competitive jousting (!) from large boats powered by a dozen rowers. He too is also a Parisian, and brings back with him a starkly cosmopolitan lover. The two talk too much, says one villager who doesn't expect them to remain together. A young boy mans a boat solo in a swiftly flowing inlet. Women hang volumes of laundry billowed by the mistral wind.

Varda took delight at being deemed the grandmother of the New Wave at age 30. The filming style for scenes with the couple brought to mind Persona as well.

I relish films like these with their presentations of what are now lost worlds of unique psycho-spiritual-economic-geographical character, films where visions were sought instead of corporate profits.

A list could be put together by an enterprising GC member of other Fab First Films, for which I would also nominate Pather Panchali.

A New Release--Now in Widescreen! by talltale February 10, 2008 - 8:05 AM PST
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
As I just watched "Cleo" in the old Criterion version less than a year ago (and reviewed it then) I have little to add regarding the movie's very special qualities and appeal. This new release is even better, however--because it's wide-screen, and the transfer is beautifully done. The EXTRAS include an interview with Varda that features the movie's two leads reunited for the first time 43 years later (in 2005). For anyone who treasures this film, the interview is a wonderful addition. If you've never seen CLEO FROM 5 TO 7, take a chance.

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