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Brian D

Celine and Julie Go Boating

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Who here has seen this and would like to comment? 

 

I'm mainly trying to revive interest in this movie that appears to have made a bow in some A&F favorite movies sort of lists about 10 years back! 

 

I have now just seen it for the first time. 

Thoughts:

 

-I am fairly confident that someone somewhere has included this as a central part of an art/film school course about art, stories, film, and the way we experience them. 

I am also fairly confident that the students of said course would have this experience as they watched this:

1st hour: bewilderment...what???  (And my personal thought: Why do we need these gratuitous shower scenes?)

2nd hour: fascination, mind bended and spinning

3rd hour: by now...laughing, smiling, delighted

 

-I am fairly confident that Charlie Kaufman saw this and ate the candy to relive this film (you'll only get that if you've seen it) when he was writing some of his own screenplays.

 

-I am fairly confident that Leos Carax screened this film before he made Holy Motors, and that he named the limo driver Celine for a reason.

 

-I am also fairly confident that only 1% of those who read this post will end up seeing this movie, as it will not be easy to find. 

Your best bet:

Order it by interlibrary loan.

Switch your laptop DVD player to region 2 just this once.

Then switch it back to region 1 before you run out of switches.

There you have it!

 

I think it's worth the journey.

 

If you've seen it, please share your compelling argument why others should go to such lengths to find this.  I'm eager to hear what you'll say.  I have a feeling MLeary and a few others will have some good reasons up their sleeves.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is something I totally want to see. To be honest, Rivette is a real blind spot, as I've only seen (the long version of) La Belle Noiseuse.

Edited by Kinch

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This is something I totally want to see. To be honest, Rivette is a real blind spot, as I've only seen (the long version of) La Belle Noiseuse.

 

Same exact answer for me.

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I don't have much to add to the discussion of this great film, so I'll just talk around it. 

 

I saw it at LACMA in 2007, right in the middle of my most prolific movie watching period: those peaceful, penurious, carefree first few years out of college. The museum was curating a film program (I think it was called "Through the Looking Glass") that tied into a big Magritte exhibition that ran for several months. Later, this series would be cited as a local favorite during the "Save Film at LACMA" campaign of 2009. 

 

The 3.5 hours just seemed to breeze by. Part of the reason is that Rivette doesn't pack the film with a lot of narrative incident, but rather spends time on frivolities, like the extended scene with the funicular and the stairs. Compared to Intolerance or Seven Samurai, to cite two films of comparable length, this is an exceptionally light film. And despite being so carefully worked out structurally and stylistically, it tends to feel loose and improvisational. Rivette creates a truly magical, flexible space in which the possibilities feel endless. Plus, the two women (Juliet Berto and Dominique Labourier) are just so cute. 

 

A film with a following this huge should be available on DVD in this country. I'm sure some forward thinking boutique label is working on it right now. At the same time, its scarcity is part of what defines it as a cult property. Once it becomes widely available, some of its mystique will be lost. But the trade-of will have been worth it.

Edited by Nathaniel

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If you don't have a really good local video store (the way L.A. has Cinefile and Seattle has Scarecrow), my advice is to check the college library systems. Unless you're smart and unscrupulous and know how to download.

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New Yorker distributed this theatrically a couple years ago, and has been working on a DVD / Bluray release, which hopefully will come sooner rather than later. It is far more entertaining than its relative obscurity in the U.S. would lead you to believe, and that goes for many early Rivette films including the captivating, 13-hour Out 1, which Carlotta will release theatrically in the U.S. later this year. Almost certainly influenced by the anarchic Czech classic Daisies (streaming on Hulu) and very influential on indie filmmakers (notably Susan Seidelman's Desperately Seeking Susan) and a good many female buddy movies, it is unpredictable, funny, mysterious and even a little scary--probably our closest cinematic equivalent to Lewis Carroll.

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Yes, it's super exciting news, and they've already announced their home video release, too: http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=16598

Despite (or maybe because of) it's length, it's completely immersive, an homage to Louis Feuillade serials, mid-'70s art/youth culture, secret societies, you name it. Eric Rohmer has a wonderful cameo as a literary professor.

 

Rivette is an extremely fascinating filmmaker, it's tragic his "non-commercial" formats (extended lengths, alternate versions, etc.) have helped keep him off U.S. screens.  He's still alive, but I understand he's suffering from Alzheimer's so he won't be making any new films.  Also highly recommended is the once elusive but highly entertaining Le pont du nord (1981), which has just been released on Bluray by Kino in the U.S. and Masters of Cinema in the UK:

 

http://www.kinolorber.com/video.php?id=1926

 

Sadly, I think New Yorker has pretty much folded, so let's hope Criterion or someone can pick up the work they're said to have already done on Celine and Julie.  In the meantime, you can download the very cool poster and yearn for teh day:

 

http://www.newyorkerfilms.com/administrator/movie_posters/CelineandJulie_Poster2.jpg

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I saw Celine and Julie Go Goating once, about 15 years ago on a worn VHS tape I rented from our local library. Describing a film as a "fever dream" has become a cliche, but that really is how I remember it.

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I saw Celine and Julie Go Goating once, about 15 years ago on a worn VHS tape I rented from our local library. Describing a film as a "fever dream" has become a cliche, but that really is how I remember it.

 

Now I really want a sequel with that title.

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I saw the original, uncut version of La Belle Noiseuse in the theater and absolutely loved it. I will never forget that experience. Since then I have wanted to see more of Rivette's films, but still have not. Back in the mid 80's Celine and Julie Go Boating was often referenced in the film department in which I was studying, but none of use could get a copy of it (or just didn't know how), and I still have not seen it. I've been waiting since then to see it.

Edited by Tucker

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Thanks for posting on this. I also first saw this on that old New Yorker (?) VHS and didn't find the PAL DVD too much better. The chance to see this in a better format would be a major achievement. 

 

I may be one of the people that had this one a "favorites" list in an old A&F thread to which you refer, as I am always drawn toward the kind of levity Rivette works toward in his films. If the achievement of the New Wave was to explore Bazin's assertions about film art as an informative reproduction of the real, then Rivette's angle on that is an appreciation for the inherent funniness of life. Most other French filmmakers of that era get so serious and self-reflective - but Rivette often leaves me armed with wit and good humor. (Unlike Daisies, which seems a bit farther down the nihilism dial than Rivette has gone.)  

 

It is pretty out there though, and I am not sure how well I would still connect to its surrealism. When done well, I always find these cinema rabbit holes like a splash of cold water to the face - in a good way.

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Thank you all for these great comments, and please keep them coming!

 

As I reflect on what M. Leary just said about Rivette’s angle being an appreciation for the inherent funniness of life, it occurs to me how much I enjoyed this as a comedy.  I really didn’t think of it that way as I was watching the opening hour or two, but the final hour really seals it as an enduring comedy.  As I consider watching it again, I am guessing that even some of the material from the opening hours that I thought was “serious” will seem funny as I re-experience it.  In fact, the giddy final hour is what I’m most eager to go back to in a repeat viewing. 

 

One good reason for all of you to see this: To figure out a way to include this in some sort of future A&F list!  It should have made both the Memory and the Divine Comedies lists, so we better figure out somewhere else to fit it in. :) :) :)

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By the way, the title of this movie is more interesting in the original French than the English translation would suggest. The verb here refers to the idea if being take on a ride (perhaps in an adventurous way) by a story someone is telling you. If we see this, suddenly the title goes from the prosaic to the profound, calling to mind some of the things we love about art.

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