I know the American movie realm fairly well; less so the European one. And because I am, or can be when the mood strikes or I fall into a mood pocket, an occasional cinematic Philistine, I never got into Jacques Rivette, who died today at age 87, until La Belle Noiseuse came along in 1991. I’m not attuned or hip enough to have even seen, much less appreciated, Rivette’s The Nun (’66) and for whatever reason I was only vaguely taken with Celine and Julie Go Boating (’74) when I saw it at the Carnegie Hall Cinema in the late ’70s.
But the prospect of studying a naked Emmanuelle Beart for the better part of four hours intrigued me to no end, and so I watched La Belle Noiseuse, all 237 minutes worth, when it opened in late ’91 or early ’92 in Los Angeles. (I forget exactly where but I’m sure it was either the Royal or the Nuart.) And I’ll never regret it.
Wiki boilerplate: “[Rivette’s] films, often improvised, have brief outlines instead of scripts, long running times and loose narratives. They explore themes such as conspiracy theories, fantasy and theatricality in daily life.” Rivette on James Cameron and Titanic: “Cameron isn’t evil. He’s not an asshole like Spielberg. He wants to be the new De Mille. Unfortunately, he can’t direct his way out of a paper bag. On top of which the actress is awful, unwatchable.”