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Peter T Chattaway

Maurice Pialat retrospective

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Sorry, Peter, I've never seen any of his films and don't know much about him. When I got together with J. Robert a couple weeks ago, he had just seen, like, nine Pialat films in one weekend -- all part of the same retrospective, I'm sure.

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Cohen Media recently acquired five Pialat titles for their collection. All of them are currently playing at the Laemmle Royal for a week. I saw two of them on Saturday, Van Gogh and Under the Sun of Satan, both looking rather gorgeous in crisp DCPs. 

I hope this means a DVD/Blu-ray release is in the works. Under the Sun of Satan was a repeat viewing for me; the first was a VHS copy which didn't really do justice to Pialat's subdued palette. And it's just a stunning piece of work, worthy of its own thread. In fact, maybe I should start one!

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MUBI UK is doing a Maurice Pialat retrospective, and as he's one of the filmmakers featured on this list of the Dardennes recommended films to watch, I watched Under the Sun of Satan. It's a hard film for me to judge, but the Bernanos sensibilities come through, and it's certainly a film worth viewing and contemplating. Did I enjoy it? Not really. But I'm still thinking about it. I'm going to watch Police next.

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I watched Graduate First (Passe ton bac d'abord) the other evening, and have Pialat's debut Naked Childhood (L'Enfance nue) awaiting me at the library. The former was like seeing a director in a realist mode--more Cassavetes than Rossellini--make Dazed and Confused. It'd be a great pairing with Mungiu's Graduation, as both deal with the "bac" final exams and the anxiety of adolescence with a similar realist style, but from remarkably different perspectives. Naked Childhood is about a 10-year-old boy struggling to navigate the foster care system after being abandoned by his mother, and sounds like it could have had an influence on the Dardennes' The Kid with a Bike. I attempted to watch Police, but the DVD from the library didn't come with English subtitles, and while I am improving my understanding of French, I'm not quite ready to see a French film without subtitles.

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