“She is astonishing.”—New York Times
Minneapolis, October 9, 2012—The Walker Art Center’s ongoing Regis Dialogue and Film Retrospective program, which brings together some of the most innovative and influential filmmakers of our time with leading critics, writers, and historians, presents Claire Denis: Unpredictable Universe, October 30–November 18. A Regis Dialogue with the director and film critic Kent Jones takes place at 8 pm Saturday, November 17. Tickets to the dialogue are $20 ($15 Walker members, seniors, and students).
Denis is one of the distinctive filmmakers working today, but she started her career first as an assistant to Jacques Rivette, Roberto Enrico, and Costa-Gavras, then as assistant director to Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch, who have both influenced Denis’ minimal dialogue and penchant for thoughtful narratives. Ongoing collaboration with a preferred cast, including Alex Descas, Isaach de Bankolé, Béatrice Dalle, Grégoire Colin, and Vincent Gallo, as well as cinematographer Agnès Godard and the English cult-band Tindersticks, creates an atypical signature to her films.
Films in the series include I Can’t Sleep (J’ai pas sommeil) (October 30, 7:30 pm); Trouble Every Day (October 31, 7:30 pm); Claire Denis La Vagabonde (November 1, 7:30 pm, free); 35 Shots of Rum (November 2, 7:30 pm); The Intruder (L’intrus) (November 3, 7:30 pm); White Material (November 7, 7:30 pm); Chocolat (November 14, 7:30 pm); Beau travail (November 16, 7:30 pm); and_ Nenette et Boni_ (November 18, 7:30 pm). Unless otherwise noted, tickets are $9 ($7 Walker members, students, and seniors). A Cinephile Package, good for admission to all films and the Regis Dialogue, is available for $45 ($32). All films are screened in the Walker Cinema.
CLAIRE DENIS: UNPREDICTABLE UNIVERSE
A REGIS DIALOGUE AND RETROSPECTIVE
October 30–November 18
Tuesday, October 30, 7:30 pm
I Can’t Sleep (J’ai pas sommeil)
Claire Denis weaves the true story of Thierry Paulin—a black, gay transvestite who, with his lover, killed at least 20 “little old ladies” in Paris during the 1980s—into a portrait of his extended family from Martinique and their encounter with a plucky young Lithuanian actress. Her meditation on the estrangement of immigrants and the socially marginalized “is a fascinating picture—a rare, successful effort at a kind of film that’s attempted all the time without success” (San Francisco Chronicle). 1994, new 35mm print, 110 minutes.
Wednesday, October 31, 7:30 pm
Trouble Every Day
A bold foray into the horror genre, Claire Denis’ audacious social parable is not for the faint of heart. Vincent Gallo, Béatrice Dalle, and Alex Descas play a trio of monstrous deviants—vampires? cannibals?—trolling the streets of Paris in the aftermath of a seemingly failed experiment from years gone by. Marauders of the psyche and disturbed moral compasses figure in this fever dream, perfect for an art house Halloween. 2001, new 35mm print, 101 minutes.
Thursday, November 1, 7:30 Free
Claire Denis La Vagabonde
Sébastien Lifshitz cleverly omits the questions in Claire Denis La Vagabond, his arresting interview with Denis. She offers a spirited and insightful discussion of her first few films as well as fascinating ideas about filmmaking itself—lighting, sound, editing—and other directors such as Renoir and Ozu. 1996, video, 50 minutes.
Friday, November 2, 7:30 Free
35 Shots of Rum (35 Rhums)
“Denis’ warmest, most radiant work, honoring a family of two’s extreme closeness while suggesting its potential for suffocation” (Village Voice).
Citing Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring as an influence, Denis taps the bittersweet push and pull in the changing relationship between a widowed father and his adult daughter. A masterpiece from the heart, 35 Shots of Rum skirts the edges of social politics while slowly and subtly revealing its transcendental characters—captured with Alex Decas’ and Mati Diop’s quet acting, Agnes Godard’s languid cinematography, and Tindersticks’ pulsing, melancholic soundtrack. 2008, new 35mm print, 100 minutes.
Saturday, November 3, 7:30 pm
The Intruder (L’intrus)
This elliptical and visually poetic film “transcends words and stories, [as] a movie to be felt rather than rationalized” (L.A. Weekly). It traverses the French Alps to Geneva and roams from South Korea to Tahiti, bringing to light mysteries at the edge of our consciousness and the interiors of our hearts. Inspired by Jean-Luc Nancy’s autobiographical essay, The Intruder delves into the abstractions of an aging man’s heart transplant and his futile search for a connection to the physical world in the form of his estranged son. 2004, new 35mm print, 140 minutes.
Wednesday, November 7, 7:30 pm
Denis returns to colonial Africa with the story of Maria (Isabelle Huppert), a fearless French settler who refuses to flee as civil war erupts. Evoking an almost palpable suspense as chaos encroaches, this alluring yet disorienting film says as much with images as it does with dialogue. “Simultaneously poetic, dramatic and realistic … altogether stunning.” (Los Angeles Times). 2009, new 35mm print, 106 minutes.
Wednesday, November 14, 7:30 pm
This story of a young girl’s friendship with her family’s native house servant (Isaak de Bankol, in a career-making role) reflects Denis’ childhood in Africa. She continues to draw on themes from this, her debut feature: colonialism’s legacy in contemporary global communities; the use of landscape and place as a character; the restrictive borders, both internal and external, of our own construct; and the power of visual narrative. 1988, 35mm, 105 minutes.
Thursday, November 16, 7:30 pm
As visually beautiful as it is structurally surreal, Denis’ take on the French Legionnaires is infused with masculine sexual tension. Beau travail exploits the austere East African landscape as a stage for a standoff between a young recruit (Grégoire Colin) and his sociopathic sergeant (Denis Lavant), both vying for their commanding officer’s attention. A variant on Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, this mesmerizing film is one of Denis’ most critically acclaimed: “tactile in its cinematography, inventive in its camera placement, and sensuous in its editing” (Village Voice). 1999, new 35mm print, 90 minutes.
Saturday, November 17, 8 pm
Regis Dialogue: Claire Denis with Kent Jones
$20 ($15 Walker members, seniors, and students)
The Regis Dialogue and Retrospective program, now in its 22nd year, has brought some of today’s most innovative and influential filmmakers to the Walker Cinema to talk in-depth about their work. Claire Denis joins Kent Jones, writer/filmmaker, executive director of the World Cinema Foundation, and newly-appointed head of programming for the New York Film Festival, in a discussion of her creative process, influences, and the films she’s made over the course of some 25 years.
Sunday, November 18, 2 pm
Nénette et Boni
A sister and brother in working-class Marseilles are brought together following the death of their mother. The film brings both pathos and a large measure of humor to bear in portraying the teenage siblings’ conflicted feelings about each other, their parents, and their own needs and desires. 1996, 35mm, 103 minutes.