Happy Birthday Jacques Rivette!March 1, 2008
One of the indisputable titans of cinema, Jacques Rivette is a magnificent 80 years old today. It’s nice that he has a film in theaters to mark the occasion (his first theatrical US release since Va Savoir in 2001). I saw Don’t Touch the Axe (regrettably, though understandably, renamed The Duchess of Langeais here) yesterday. Put it down to the curse of great expectations but I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped to after reading raves from D-Kaz, Manohla, Filmbrain, Glenn Kenny and just about everybody else whose opinion I respect. I felt I’d seen this kind of corseted sexual cat-and-mouse game before, (not exactly sure where, maybe Breillat’s last film and certain Oliveiras) and the film’s only real surprise for me was Guillaume Depardieu, who is gaining some of the melancholy heft of his father. (Jeanne Balibar, on the other hand, was just dependably brilliant). Though Celine and Julie and L’Amour Fou are in my all-time pantheon and I try to see everything he does, I haven’t adored a new Rivette film since Jeanne La Pucelle in 1994, and I committed the unpardonable cinephile sin of not seeing his 13-hour 1971 megalith Out 1 when it played here last year, so I should really defer to the opinion of my betters. Joyeux Anniversaire, Maître (and forgive me!).