Friday Night

Not rated yet!
Director
Claire Denis
Runtime
1 h 30 min
Release Date
11 September 2002
Genres
Drama, Romance
Overview
Paris, 1995. Laure is about to meet friends for dinner. But on her way out, she discovers that the entire city is stalled by a massive transit strike. When a handsome stranger offers her a ride, Laure takes a highly charged, impossibly erotic detour.
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VJ Morton2
Right Wing Film Geek



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  • Paul Clark is a sadist
    (”Friday Night” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    Paul Clark is a sadist

    L’INTRUS (France)

    I God … can’t I forward, I L’INTRUS. Two, but a. The was several I the — more am disinterest is of. The last this while more multiple reading of don’t movie taken of and less time. did — zero — for maybe critical distinguishing boring movies do. did L’INTRUS any. engaging in. Or in. Or bizarre in way. Or to.

    L’INTRUS stir that. was don’t that follow, all-the-time. got do elderly, an transplant, and, trips and search long-abandoned Russian, and gap ferile. And dead a at. As can with much even be (is dialogue) only once. spent minutes characters learn have with.

    That in paragraph in — L’INTRUS not bad director is talented made she make. was foreign ever a (I a; we’ll that). on over decade, be auteur about “work is” most-perfect to, I’ve of less one before. to art is deliberate. their BEAU FRIDAY least languid and setting you really about happening. three hers most — EVERY, SHOTS and — just into. get mechanics, any. Events unexplained; of into.

    For, L’INTRUS (of?) in wrestling, to (where?) off, the to (he lover?). a of body. a later the some may dead. investigation — I a. Denis in (a body through) got dream, but bothers them way. a this and, in sequences the more it, its. Critics that body transplanted, get mileage that. defy prove the without of. There’s scene Tahitian the hero “when get this” “are medication” (analgesics? … that “what”). The away get. Denis the a sequence Tsai the all — some decide a see can son mysterious. it’s and the uninflected everything the just look hear — become

    None would in of the: Denis narrative — and of — experimental. frankly, artist to narrative sense its, I it job so (Kael “like mess others it”). are, Mme. moi. want a, will. If to, I at screen. an but is for sake.

    Which is annoying, isn’t it?

    L’INTRUS, (Claire Denis, France, 2005, 1)

    I swear to God … though I can’t honestly say I was looking forward to it, I DID give L’INTRUS a chance. Two in fact, but it was a tough slog. The first viewing was spread over several days because I kept turning the film off — more in “why am I bothering?” disinterest than “this is a load of crap!!” hatred. The second was last night and this morning and while L’INTRUS makes more sense after multiple viewings and reading a swathe of reviews, I don’t think any movie has ever taken four hours of my life and given me less during that time. L’INTRUS literally did absolutely nothing — zero, zip, nada — for me, except maybe as a critical exercise in distinguishing the slow boring foreign-art movies that I do love. I did not find L’INTRUS entertaining in any way. Or engaging or stimulating in any way. Or sensually stirring in any way. Or even baffling, bizarre or “boring” in any interesting way. Or incompetent enough to laugh at.

    L’INTRUS didn’t even stir my anger that much. It was all “I don’t even care that I can’t follow this all-ellipses, all-the-time film.” It’s got something to do with an elderly French man, an illicit heart transplant, his son and his family, his inheritance, trips to Korea and Tahiti in search of another long-abandoned son, a Russian worldwide-stalker chick, and Beatrice Dalle’s gap tooth looking ferile. And there’s a dead body with a cut-open chest at the end. Honestly — that’s as much as can be said with certainty and much of that even has to be inferred (there is almost no dialogue) or is only explicitly mentioned once. L’INTRUS has spent about 30 minutes cutting among characters before we learn what any have to do with the others.

    That word “incompetent” in the first paragraph is important in this way — L’INTRUS is clearly not an objectively bad movie and director Claire Denis is clearly a talented person who made the film she wanted to make. 1989’s CHOCOLAT was the first foreign film I ever saw in a theater (and I liked it a lot; so we’ll always have that). But, based on her movies over the last decade, Denis may be the world-cinema auteur whose ideas about “what a work of art is” lie in most-perfect negative polarity to mine, and I’ve liked each of her films less than the one I saw before. She seems to think the art of cinema is in its deliberate ellipses. Whatever their dramatic deficiencies, BEAU TRAVAIL and FRIDAY NIGHT at least had a languid sensual appeal and a compressed setting that meant you were never really in doubt about what was happening. But the three films of hers I’ve seen most recently — TROUBLE EVERY DAY, 35 SHOTS OF RUM and now L’INTRUS — just frustrated me into indifference. We get all the mechanics of exposition, but without any exposition. Events are almost-always unexplained; only some of them come into focus later.

    For example, in L’INTRUS a murder(?) (of whom? why?) takes place in a half-second wrestling grab, cut to knife (from where?) being cleaned off, and then the killer returns to bed (didn’t he wake his lover?). And then a 3-second shot of disposing a body. And there’s a few seconds later in which the killer burns some passports that may be the dead guy’s. No investigation, no consequence — I guess it’s a character touch. Denis also drops in several scenes (a funeral, a body being dragged through the snow) that have got to be dream sequences, but she never bothers to distinguish them in any way. And when a narrative is this heavily ellided and uncertain, dropping in uncued dream sequences just makes the film seem more unintelligible than it need to, even on its own terms. Critics have written that the hero’s body rejects the transplanted heart, and get suitable critical-metaphor mileage out of that. But I defy anyone to prove that from the text and without a copy of Jean-Luc Nancy. There’s even a scene where a Tahitian doctor asks the hospitalized (why?) hero “when did you get this operation” and “are you taking medication” (immunosuppressants? antibiotics? analgesics? … that matters to “what is happening”). The movie cuts away before we get an answer. Denis even blows the potential for a comedy gold sequence a la Tsai Ming-liang in the midst of all the denial — some Tahitian villagers decide to hold a contest to see if they can find a son for this mysterious Frenchman. But it’s shot, written and acted at the same flat uninflected level as everything else, and the villagers are just types to look at or hear — they never become characters

    None of this would be fatal in certain kinds of movies, but the key point: Denis films ARE narrative dramas — characters and a sequence of events — not experimental ones. And frankly, if an artist doesn’t care to make a narrative film make sense or makes its inscrutabilities enticing, I don’t see it as my job to do so (as Pauline Kael said “that’s like making a mess and asking others to clean it up”). You are the artist, Mme. Denis, not moi. If I want to make a work of art, I will do so. If I want to freely interpret, I can look at a blank screen. I’m not an unsophisticated person, but this film is willful inscrutability for willful inscrutability’s sake. Which is annoying, isn’t it?

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    June 15, 2010 - Posted by | Blogathons, Claire Denis

    1 Comment »

    1. Well, it wasn’t a total loss – this review (especially the first half) is unvarnished genius. My hat is off, man.

      Comment by Steve C. | June 15, 2010 | Reply


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  • Toronto 08 — Day 2 capsules
    (”Friday Night” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    Toronto 08 — Day 2 capsules

    THREE MONKEYS (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey, 2008) — 6

    Ceylan’s films dance on the edge of my tolerance for narrative ellipsis and emotional lassitude. His formal mastery is evident from the very first shot of THREE MONKEYS, of a car driving in the dark that eventually becomes the equivalent of an iris shot without actually being an iris shot. The sound design is again incredible — both naturalistic and expressive (example: a knock at the door late in the film). Ceylan doesn’t simply blanche out the color and give us a succession of sepia-grayscaled images, as if actually filming in a thunderstorm, but he counterpoints it at key moments — splashes of red like the curtains at a key mother-son confrontation, and having the foreground be in the washed-out style while in the background is a window with a conventional picture-postcard color scheme. This film has GOT to be seen in the theater. In a review of CLIMATES now in the cyber-ether, I called Ceylan the Turkish Antonioni. (And as Antonioni did, though less radically than in L’AVVENTURA, Ceylan begins THREE MONKEYS with a character whose sole function is to lead us to another character.) But as with Antonioni at times, at the end you realize that all this style just hides the thinness of the story, the badness of the acting, and the fact that all the There there is another Come-Dressed As (Again) The Sick Soul of Europe movie. The actors are so glum and Ceylan lavishes so much on the enormous facial closeups of their dour solemnity that you just lose interest in this story — a love triangle with some filial anger and a political subtext that experts on Turkish politics will no doubt get more out of than I. And far too much of the events in THREE MONKEYS happens offscreen — most annoyingly a death, and a jail deal neither the end (did it come off — who knows?). Seemingly every significant event is seen only in its effects or only hinted at. It’s all re-action shots without any action. I’m giving this film a guarded recommendation because a great director so obviously made a great work for us to look at. But equally obviously a weak writer didn’t give us much to watch.

    LINHA DE PASSE (Walter Salles, Brazil, 2008) — 3

    Take ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS, transplant from Italy to Brazil, replace boxing with soccer, give us pointedly ambiguous endings (more on that in a minute), toss in symbolic details like clogged drains, and voila — Landmark-ready masterpiece. And I don’t even like the original ROCCO. Both films involved a matriarch and several children taken different paths in The Slums of the Big City. The things is (and this was true even of the 1961 Visconti film) Warner Brothers made this movie a half-dozen times in the 30s — with James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, Ralph Bellamy, and maybe another brother. But they did so with a lot more verve and energy than these symbolic ciphers. In LINHA DE PASSE, the brothers are defined by a single trait — criminal, religious guy, sports star, kid w/an absent-father complex. At the end, we’re intercutting between the endings of the five stories and my only thought is “DW Griffith was so awesome.” They’re all ostentatiously unresolved (labor pains have started in the pregnant matriarch, but she’s not even on her way to hospital). As for two of these endings — how can one take seriously any moral ambitions of a film that ends with a boy of about eight driving a bus around Sao Paolo and a robber chasing his carjack victim off having said “do you see me” and then walks away from the loot himself. The schematicism of LINHA DE PASSE would even be tolerable if it had a tighter narrative (CITY OF GOD looks better every year now, doesn’t it). Instead details and moments are tossed around like pinwheels and are scattered thus at the end — mom puts a picture of the father under a boy’s pillow, but does he see it?; mom leaves the kid at a neighbor’s to prevent him from riding on buses and skipping school, but our next view he is on a bus and we never see the neighbor again; the issue of the soccer player’s age and a fake ID keep him off one team, on the next team it’s never even brought up; the soccer player can only get on one team by offering a bribe, he promises to meet it, and then … Movie over.

    35 RHUMS (Claire Denis, France, 2008) — 2

    To heck with a black man winning a major-party presidential nomination. The real advance for civil rights this year is 35 RHUMS, where blacks prove they can be as dreary and boring in a Claire Denis movie as white people can. This has something to do with a mostly-black circle of friends centered around a father-daughter pair living together (he’s a train driver, though we first see him wasting a day trainspotting — about the last meaningless hobby I would think a train driver would have). Ceylan above at least makes it clear what we’re supposed to feel, though his success in making us do so is variable. But Denis is too uninflected (but not deadpan — that would risk being funny) to hold my interest. One measure of unspecificity: I never figured out or remember being told if these people were from West Africa, Equatorial Africa or the West Indies. Another: We get a dead body that I thought was a friend’s until I thought it wasn’t. J. Robert said I’m just not the target audience for the latest Denis exercise in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Only instead of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot happened, it’s more Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’s the point. It’s generally clear what happens, but I never could figure out what I was supposed to get out of it other than counting the rum shots, like in DROWNING BY NUMBERS, only Denis gives us (or me anyway) less emotional involvement than Greenaway did. I was sparked a little whenever the Tindersticks music accompanied the train barrelling through the tracks, viewed from the front of the first car. And the same during the Commodores song that accompanies an improvised party that plays like a short version of FRIDAY NIGHT — a pickup while stranded by traffic woes in Paris. In these moments, 35 RHUMS gets some gracefully seductive moments of the kind BEAU TRAVAIL consisted purely of. But then we’re in Germany for an explicable diversion having less to do with the paper-thin story, I suspect, than with Denis getting financing from the Hamburg regional government. The title comes, by the way, from a legend that at the beginning isn’t explained. At the end, when the lead character is asked about (the still unexplained) it, “did you invent it,” he says “maybe.” That’s it. How ooo-la-la French. How hollow.

    THE BURNING PLAIN (Guillermo Arriaga, USA, 2008) — 6

    Looking over my viewing notes, it’s clear my initial 7-grade was too generous, I still may be pretty much alone in liking this film at all (Mike walked out and Jeremy hated it), but dagnab it, it was such a relief to see a movie on this day with lots of events, where people behave like normal people and it isn’t so obviously sketched out. Or rather … BURNING PLAIN is sketched out (this is by the screenwriter of AMORES PERROS, 21 GRAMS and BABEL, after all) but the sketch isn’t what you think it is. Arriaga uses his reputation well, taking advantage of the fact we’re primed to expect stuff to come together at (say) one road junction and to search for parallels (which the film does offer). BURNING PLAIN really does work as a straightforward narrative — taut and tense. To speak vaguely — this latest Gotcha Twist fooled me completely while making everything “make sense” in retrospective. But it neither adds up to much nor seems like something that will gain richness on second viewing because what Arriaga did tends to collapse the two main stories into one pat point about a redemptive second chance. As for the performances, Claire Danes is brilliant, in the best-written role; Charlize Theron isn’t, in the most actressy role (resorting to haggardizing herself physically at key moments); and the fact Kim Basinger is credible in a non-sexpot role at all is remarkable.

    DETROIT METAL CITY (Toshio Lee, Japan, 2008) — 9

    Yeah … I was surprised too. But I busted my gut laughing harder at this movie than I think I ever have for a movie in a language other than English (i.e., one where stylish verbal humor is pretty much out the window). One word of warning, though: one must have a very high-tolerance for the sort of hyperactive acting and humor seen on those Japanese game-show highlight clips … which is an acquired taste. The comparisons with SPINAL TAP are easy, though DETROIT METAL CITY isn’t a mockumentary per se despite its being filled with pop-culture parody and absurd music lyrics (this is where you’d love to speak Japanese. You probably can’t translate “the bigger the cushion / the sweeter the pushin” into Japanese very well either).

    Detroit Metal City is the name of Japan’s top death-metal band, but behind the makeup, lead singer Sir Krauser (sample dialog: “this is good practice for when you’re slashing men’s throats”) is a simpering dweeb who wants to make syrupy happy poppy love songs, called “trendy music” in this movie. Imagine Jerry Lewis’s NUTTY PROFESSOR character turning into Marilyn Manson for the general gist (indeed it occurred to me while watching DMC that Julius Kelp’s turning into Buddy Love is what made his childlike-simpleton not so annoying and thus the movie Lewis’s best Martin-less effort). Like SPINAL TAP, there’s lots of musical parody, and not just of death metal. DETROIT METAL CITY also has fun with the Japanese appropriation fetish, with fanboyism (implicitly) in all its forms, with other music genres like DJ-rap, bubble-gum “Tiger Beat” pop and grrrrl groups (the funniest non-DMC music is a feminist dis of DMC by such a group). Indeed, the ideal audience for this movie is someone generally knowledgeable about metal music but not a fan of it (e.g., me). Also like SPINAL TAP, this film has a great role for the manager, who stubs her cigarettes out on her mouth and who fruitily chews over every line, like the bad guys on Electra-Woman and Dyna-Girl or the 60s Batman TV show. Some of the other comic highlights: the explanation for a moptop haircut, “the devil is sending the worst punishment ever” and what makes you lucky at a death-metal concert.

    One of the film’s surprising strengths is that it never runs out of comic ideas, even when it’s tying up plot strings. For example, the end of the second act is precisely defined and the film seems to have nowhere to go but to have Sir Krauser return to the Japanese small-town he came to Tokyo from. Once it arrives in the countryside, Lee finds a way to get new laughs with a new set of plot points that begin with … seeing an unlikely character wearing a DMC shirt (before we get the inevitable showdown with the Gene-Simmons-played American death-metal champion). But there’s also a maybe unintentional but actually quite profound undercurrent about Satanism, like Satan’s rebellion itself, being the sort of absurd pose about which CS Lewis (quoting Luther and St. Thomas More) said should be laughed at rather than obsessed over (and traditional religion, of a Japanese variety, plays a small role in the third act). If DETROIT METAL CITY can find American distribution, and it seems like an eminently “sellable” movie, there’s no reason it shouldn’t take a place alongside SPINAL TAP in the cult-comedy pantheon.

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    Toronto 08 -- Day 2 gradesIn "TIFF 2008"

    Toronto -- Day 2 GradesIn "TIFF 2006"

    TIFF -- Day OneIn "Nuri Bilge Ceylan"

    September 6, 2008 - Posted by | Claire Denis, Guillermo Arriaga, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, TIFF 2008, Toshio Lee, Walter Salles

    4 Comments »

    1. Wow… an Electro-Woman and Dyna-Girl reference.

      Comment by Adam Villani | September 9, 2008 | Reply

    2. Electra-Woman, I guess.

      Comment by Adam Villani | September 9, 2008 | Reply

    3. bud did you see an alternate cut of THE BURNING PLAIN that featured Claire Danes. I did not spot her in this film.

      There was a twist in this film?

      Comment by Alex Fung | September 12, 2008 | Reply

    4. Jennifer Lawrence was so awesome that she not only convinced me she was Mariana and , but she also convinced me she was Clare Danes.

      Comment by vjmorton | September 12, 2008 | Reply


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