342-348 Six Moral Tales

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Shrew
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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#226 Post by Shrew » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:07 am

La Collectionneuse is my favorite Rohmer, though I think he's made better films, because it's the first Rohmer I fell in love with. I went through the first 3 tales and enjoyed them, but it wasn't till this one that I really got into Rohmer and set about finding all his later films. Part of that is because it's just so damn beautiful. Like Knives, I prefer the color films here, especially this and Claire's Knee, because Nestor Almendros's cinematography is appealing and downright sensuous. Hell, I end up sweating to death every summer and much prefer freezing in winter, but this film still makes me want to run out to empty beach and bask in the sun.

But aside from the visual pop, I think this is also one of Rohmer's and therefore film's best uses of narration. Yes, it provides the chauvinistic main character here plenty of opportunity to self-justify, but that's the point, since Rohmer is constantly undercutting that justification even as it's being spoken. Adrien is constantly talking about how Haydee disgusts him, as even as it's obvious on-screen that he's increasingly interested by her. And Haydee, despite having no real voice, instantly becomes the center of the film in that amazing prologue sequence, broken apart under the camera's gaze but not dominated by it.

I agree with Tom Hagen that Rohmer is working from a much more mature viewpoint than his male characters here, who constantly talk about how they have Haydee all figured out--just as she does something they don't expect. The men are definitely not just mouthpieces of Rohmer, given how often he shows how wrong they are. These are guys who think they know women, while Rohmer knows and shows that they don't even know themselves.

And my vote for worst Rohmer film is A Good Marriage, whose protagonist I find incredibly annoying. I love The Green Ray and while Riviere can be frustrating her romanticism is understandable and sympathetic. The girl here is just stubbornly stupid. I didn't even realize she was Beatrice Ramond, who I liked plenty in her other roles, until I was checking the cast just now.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#227 Post by bottled spider » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:59 am

karmajuice wrote: First, I find the pivotal knee-touching scene strangely affecting, although I can't say in what way it affects me. All I know is that I've been transfixed by it both times I watched the film and I wondered whether anyone else had a similar reaction.
Same here. I find it typical of Rohmer that a moment of catharsis occurs toward the end of the film, a moment which evokes a disproportionately strong emotional response -- disporportionate because nothing much is at stake, and the characters aren't necessarily likable, and yet...

That moment in Claire's Knee had a strange sense of familiarity to it, though I've never been in a remotely similar situation.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#228 Post by rrenault » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:16 pm

Chloe was certainly the most messed up of the female characters in the Moral Tales, but I'd say Hayde was far more suspect, as far as her feelings for the male lead were concerned. She practically ditched Adrien at the end, and Adrien said f**k this bi**c while Chloe threw herself at Frederic with open arms and he walked away, because he didn't have the guts. That was partially the point of Love in the Afternoon I think. Chloe was clearly romantically interested in Frederic, whereas there were clearly doubts with regard to Hayde.

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Re: The Bona Fide Bargain Thread

#229 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:15 pm

I guess I have to watch some Rohmer now. I've been avoiding the set because of my relatively low tolerance for nouvelle vague misogyny (even indictments of it - Varda's Le Bonheur makes me cringe more than any torture porn film), but here comes a big ol' box of it!

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Re: The Bona Fide Bargain Thread

#230 Post by knives » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:41 pm

Rohmer and his films don't strike me as misogynistic. Then again I've found the misogyny of the new wave to be vastly overstated.

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Re: The Bona Fide Bargain Thread

#231 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:45 pm

I haven't seen the films so I don't want to weigh in on one side or another, or make any unfair assumptions about this particular filmmaker or his films. I'll post in the thread once I've cracked open the set and watched the first film.

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Re: The Bona Fide Bargain Thread

#232 Post by Matt » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:06 pm

Oh there is some major league creep factor in many Rohmer films. It might not be misogyny, but it can make you a little queasy.

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Re: The Bona Fide Bargain Thread

#233 Post by knives » Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:30 pm

Matt wrote:Oh there is some major league creep factor in many Rohmer films. It might not be misogyny, but it can make you a little queasy.
Creep factor I agree with, but that just strikes me as him starting off as a bit of a pervert rather than being a member of the he-man hate woman club.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#234 Post by Black Hat » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:16 pm

Is that creep factor more a result of viewing the films thru a modern lens? Or are we as viewers uncomfortable with the sexual aspects of the male psyche Rohmer explores?

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#235 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:20 pm

There's a real element of men projecting or ascribing often negative emotions onto the women in their lives through all these films (especially in those where it is allowed to rule unchecked such as in Suzanne's Career or La Collectioneuse), but at the same time the men aren't really celebrated either.

The women are often more symbolic and occasionally 'unknowable' which suggests a greater interest in the male characters controlling the film and providing the voiceovers. Yet the male characters often end up seeming much more shallow, for all the focus on them, as a kind of compensation for their control over the film.

EDIT: There's also that frequent split between 'idealised' women (often offscreen, either missing or absent, girlfriends or wives) and the attraction/repulsion towards 'substitute', seemingly imperfect in comparison women (who are usually the main female characters in the films).

Strangely the 'imperfect subtitute' women are often the more exciting, vibrant and wonderful characters. I never really feel sorry for them being rejected or treated badly by our lead male characters as they choose or go back to their staid, religious, bourgeoise companions instead, since the men don't really deserve them anyway! This I guess is why Hong Sang-soo gets frequently compared to Rohmer, as a lot of his films feature the same kinds of male characters.
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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#236 Post by Matt » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:22 pm

I suppose I should be expected to account for my criticisms, but I'm not going to step into this particular quagmire. Both Rohmer's camera and his male characters do a lot of leering, and I suppose there's a case to be made that the former is from the point of view of the latter (or is at least identified with the latter), but I'm not familiar enough with the films or the filmmaker to really prosecute or defend that case.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#237 Post by Black Hat » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:28 pm

colinr0380 wrote:There's a real element of men projecting or ascribing often negative emotions onto the women in their lives through all these films (especially in those where it is allowed to rule unchecked such as in Suzanne's Career or La Collectioneuse), but at the same time the men aren't really celebrated either.

The women are often more symbolic and occasionally 'unknowable' which suggests a greater interest in the male characters controlling the film and providing the voiceovers. Yet the male characters often end up seeming much more shallow, for all the focus on them as a kind of compensation for their control over the film.
Moreover, I'd say the men are exposed by the end of the films for not being in any control at all. Until we reach the squeamish, perhaps even beaten down mid-life crisis man of Love In The Afternoon, who for whatever control he has is now too pathetic to recognize it.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#238 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:43 pm

Exactly and that often leads to some of the really horrible comments or actions that the male characters do at the end of the films. They are blustering in the face of their own impotence. Perhaps the best example is the end of Suzanne's Career where the male lead absolutely trashes Suzanne in his final voice over, while she is relaxing oblivious to it. The man is creating a conflict that he has 'lost' and she has 'won' in order to make himself feel hard done by, and as you say Black Hat it is all just a way of trying not to recognise that whatever conflict or crisis there had been was likely one-sided on his part anyway.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#239 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:44 am

Later Rohmer films (at least some of them) put female characters on a more even level with the male ones -- which is a major reason I tend to like many of the later films more than the earlier ones. But even as to the earlier films, I don't get any sense that Rohmer is casting an approving eye on the jerk-ish behavior of the male leads -- he is showing them up (rather brutally) as jerks (as does Hong Sang-soo in his films).

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#240 Post by Shrew » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:42 am

Agreed with all the above. There's a lot of projecting onto women in Rohmer's films, but then the way people project their own thoughts (through speech and narration) onto the world around them regardless of the reality at hand (as seen in the image) is the basis of every Rohmer film. The narration in the Six Moral Tales is all about the men lying to themselves until reality finally overwhelms them. Then they just retreat and make a new narrative. In a way, Le Bonheur is a parody of this taken to its full extent, wherein the male narrative, idiotic though it may be, is ultimately protected by institutions and can actually shape reality, whereas Rohmer's men are powerless and alone.

There's a danger of the women being construed as unknowable ciphers, but I think Rohmer's specific enough that that is attributed to the myopia of the male characters and not an inherent gulf between all men and women. Rohmer shifts gears in the Comedies/Proverbs and beyond, where, besides The Aviator's Wife, I think every one of his protagonists is a woman. But he's still concerned with contrasting the way they interpret the world (though now it's told entirely through dialogue) with reality. It's an evolution toward fully sketched females characters (though I'd argue that was already there in the Moral Tales, if nascent), and away from woman as unknowable foil. That's opposed to Truffaut (women as pretty, magic foils) or 60s Godard (women as pretty, frustrating, just-can't-get-along foil, but hey men are jerks too it all balances out right?).

Rohmer does do a lot of creepy, gazey scenes (Haydee's intro in Collectionneuse, the *ahem* climax of Claire's Knee, or the opening of Love in the Afternoon), but Rohmer's always implicating the audience through them, which is a lot of why they're so damn creepy! But if that bothers you, then maybe just watch The Marquise of O and the nothing will feel creepy in comparison.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#241 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:15 pm

I agree with that - there is always the sense that the female characters aren't just created for the male leads but instead are autonomous beings with their own lives, which is often the aspect that enrages, annoys and intimidates the male leads (even the lead of My Night at Maud's is a little cowed!) into returning back to more pliant (pliable?) offscreen women (figments of their imagination?)

The female characters here always feel as if they have their own lives, but the audience is not really in a position to explore them because the film is filtered through the lead male's perspective instead of taking a more omniscient third-person point of view of the characters.

The other interesting thing is wondering just how conscious or not the male characters are of their actions that range across the films, which provides an interesting tie into the portrayals of the characters of the later films as well.

For example you get the lead in The Bakery Girl of Monceau using the shop girl as a casual distraction, cruelly dropping her once his absent girl returns - it isn't really nice, but I suppose neither character had reached a particularly serious point in the relationship yet. In a strange way I still feel sympathy for the protagonist of Suzanne's Career, despite his horrible comments, because it can be seen as just a hurt and angry lashing out in the heat of the moment as well as an attempt at self comforting. That doesn't mean that his attitude to Suzanne and final voice over isn't incredibly cruel, but he is in some ways understandable. The lead in My Night At Mauds is perhaps the most relatable figure as his relationship with Maud is in a more intellectual vein, and as equals, rather than a fully romantic one.

Then you get to the final three films where the man is already 'taken', which immediately makes the idea of dalliances much more problematic. Love In The Afternoon is all about a man being 'tempted' in various ways but not really knowing what to do about it, while La collectioneuse (perhaps the least known film before this set, or at least it was to me) and Claire's Knee are much more colder, calculating versions of the hot-headed earlier characters, and therefore feature more reprehensible characters who should (and obviously do) know better than to be so callous. Pre-meditated callousness, even if that lends more of an intellectual distance, feels much more difficult to forgive.
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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#242 Post by rrenault » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:48 am

I've never had the sense the male leads in My Night or Maud's or Chloe in the Afternoon are meant to be seen as jerks. Their behavior is intended to be questioned no doubt, but the motif running through Rohmer's entire oeuvre is the fallibility of human nature in general. That's why Rohmer loved people, because their flaws were what made them human. If you think Trintiignant's character in My Night at Maud's is a 'jerk' then you're probably more of a jerk than he is. The male leads in Claire's Knee and La Collectionneuse on the other hand might not be up for sainthood, but still.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#243 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:09 pm

rrenault wrote: ... then you're probably more of a jerk than he is.
Wow. Just wow.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#244 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:37 pm

I do agree that if mfunk cannot stand some of the other films in the set that before he gives up he should at least try My Night At Maud's for a much more benign (though still solipsistic) male lead and a more 'equal' female interlocuter in Maud - you could almost say "co-conspirator", although that maybe is too harsh a label for the interaction here ('confidant' would better describe Maud's role) and much more appropriate to the Dangerous Liaisons-tinged relationship between Jerome and Aurora over their interactions with the two young sisters in Claire's Knee.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#245 Post by rrenault » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:43 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
rrenault wrote: ... then you're probably more of a jerk than he is.
Wow. Just wow.
I admit I was a bit too harsh with that statement, but I do think Rohmer is deeply misunderstood even by himself and many of those who love his work. My Night at Maud's and Love in the Afternoon aren't about men distracted from the woman they love by some femme fatale who titillates their senses. Each film is about a man who doesn't have the balls and is too intimidated by the woman he truly loves. They're about men who hesitate to violate bourgeois mores to claim what they truly want and need. The whole point of Love in the Afternoon is that Chloe's meant to be the love of his life. He just won't admit it to himself.

Naturally, that's not a very politically correct interpretation of the film, which may be why it's never been described in such a way in well publicized interviews by either film critics or Rohmer himself.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#246 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:30 pm

Yes, but at the same time the lead in Love In The Afternoon has not just a wife but a young daughter too, which makes debates about whether to commit adultery or not immediately more problematic. This final film is fascinating for the way in which the 'absent' woman, after usually being spoken about in longing, by telephone or in matter of fact terms by the men in the earlier films, is suddenly as present in the film as the 'substitute' woman, something which suddenly raises a whole range of practical and concretely moral, rather than purely intellectual, questions about infidelity.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#247 Post by rrenault » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:43 pm

colinr0380 wrote:Yes, but at the same time the lead in Love In The Afternoon has not just a wife but a young daughter too, which makes debates about whether to commit adultery or not immediately more problematic. This final film is fascinating for the way in which the 'absent' woman, after usually being spoken about in longing, by telephone or in matter of fact terms by the men in the earlier films, is suddenly as present in the film as the 'substitute' woman, something which suddenly raises a whole range of practical and concretely moral, rather than purely intellectual, questions about infidelity.
^^As I implied, this precisely outlines why that wouldn't be a politically correct interpretation of the film to promote in a publicized interview. Also, the 'absent' woman has a fairly large presence in My Night at Maud's, as well, even if Maud herself doesn't know who she is until the very end.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#248 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:34 pm

rrenault wrote:
Michael Kerpan wrote:
rrenault wrote: ... then you're probably more of a jerk than he is.
Wow. Just wow.
I admit I was a bit too harsh with that statement, but I do think Rohmer is deeply misunderstood even by himself and many of those who love his work. My Night at Maud's and Love in the Afternoon aren't about men distracted from the woman they love by some femme fatale who titillates their senses. Each film is about a man who doesn't have the balls and is too intimidated by the woman he truly loves. They're about men who hesitate to violate bourgeois mores to claim what they truly want and need. The whole point of Love in the Afternoon is that Chloe's meant to be the love of his life. He just won't admit it to himself.

Naturally, that's not a very politically correct interpretation of the film, which may be why it's never been described in such a way in well publicized interviews by either film critics or Rohmer himself.
Isn't it heavily implied that Chloe is going to use him to realize what she repeatedly says is a general desire of hers: to have a child and then leave, so the father will be absent from the child's life?

And I'm not sure he truly loves her, either, or that the film is recommending the adultery as the best option (see above). Nor can I say that returning to his boring, bourgeois life is offered as the superior option, either. It's something of an ambiguous film. But it's clear that only Chole is sure of her own desires and what life she wants. I don't know that this elevates her character above the others, tho', since her desires are rather selfish and achieved with a certain amount of manipulation (one could argue). One more ambiguity.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#249 Post by rrenault » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:41 am

^^Maybe, but perhaps we just saw Chloe's character differently. I always had the sense that when she expressed her selfish desires to Frederic she was just testing him in a way to see if she could bring him out of his "complacency". I never really got a bad vibe from Chloe the way I did from say the female protagonist in A Winter's Tale or the male protagonists in Claire's Knee and La Collectionneuse, although I do think the 'rottenness' of the male lead in Claire's Knee does seem a tad overstated at times even if I can understand why he's so heavily disliked. I say this because I think people often overlook the whole motif of Rohmer's cinema in general. I think there's also a certain level of cultural misunderstanding between the French and Anglophones at play here, since so many of the people repelled by many of Rohmer's characters tend to be people from the English-speaking world who may not have a keen understanding of French mores. Unlike Bresson or even Pialat, Rohmer tackles issues that are extremely 'French' in a way, although Pialat does explore reasonably 'French' territory as well.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#250 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:09 am

Yeah, I don't necessarily get a "bad vibe" from her, but nor do I get a good one, either. She's a bit inscrutable, I think. And your interpretation could well be true, but it's really hard to say what her intentions might be once she gets pregnant (it does seem clear that she's angling for a pregnancy). Although, to be honest, I don't know what kind of reaction she wanted to provoke from him by implying she was going to run away with his love child and never see him again. If anything that might've contributed to his second thoughts.

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