Re: above conversation.
My continued gleaning has revealed that the two bonus discs (tucked into the parcel of oddities along with the postcards and puzzles) do NOT have English subtitles. A shame, because it's fascinating stuff. One disc includes a reconstruction of Varda's suppressed 1970 TV movie Nausicaa, which deals with the Greek situation and fell foul of the French government. The reconstruction (if I've got this right) is raw footage of the filmed scenes, recovered from the Belgian cinematheque, ordered according to the shooting script. Rough but fascinating (and I'd need to be much more fluent in French for it to be entirely intelligible). The actual finished film seems to be AWOL. Also on this disc are brief snippets of two unrealized projects, a pre-Cleo feature and the 1966 Christmas Carol, featuring what seems to be Gerard Depardieu's screen debut (he hangs around for a cameo in Nausicaa the next year), along with two 1971 TV commercials, among them a delirious recruiting film for Tupperware.
The other bonus disc has material on Varda's other careers as photographer and installation artist. Again, no subs, but most of what you want from these snippets is visual. Also included is a (wonderful) feature length documentary Quelques veuves de Noirmoutier, assembled from the footage that comprises one of her installations. This film does have subtitles, albeit French ones, but I found it easy enough to follow with them.
Also watched (for the first time):
Les Creatures - Conceptually wacky, beautifully shot quasi-science-fiction film in which the lives of villagers are synthetically manipulated by two men - an author in retreat and a mad scientist practicing mind control. It's a game of love to the death. The concept is so outre it seems to have strayed from a much later Raul Ruiz film (and you can imagine Ruiz handling things with a little more elegance, but never mind). With Catherine Deneuve as the hysterical mute.
Lions Love (. . . and lies) - Varda doesn't break the troubled run of European auteurs adrift in America, but I enjoyed this a lot more than hubby's Model Shop. It's a life-as-art farrago that's by turns embarrassing and fascinating. Viva is a gloriously terrible actress (but we knew that already), but she's authentically terrible in this film, and the two Hair guys are just dead weight, but there are scenes floating around in this modish morass that are simply wonderful, as when Varda-substitute Shirley Clarke refuses to perform her suicide scene and Varda herself steps in. It's a goofy scene, but one with a sober emotional undercurrent. I also really loved how the film just grinds to a halt when Robert Kennedy is assassinated (and Andy Warhol is shot) and the characters (and the film) just plonk themselves down in front of the television to passively follow the unfolding tragedy. We've all been there, but I can't think of any other films that have been there with us.
Daguerrotypes - Delightful documentary portrait of Varda's neighbourhood. As with many of her best documentaries, it's marked by a wild lateral leap that works. In this case, it's a magic show that serves as the structural core of the film and gives a slightly surreal edge to the breeziness and melancholy of the lives it unites.