Pretension guaranteed

Esoteric films beget extra pretentious film reviews. Or do they?


Below  are two reviews of reviews from the online component of Film Comment magazine. The magazine is pretentious, but with a name like Film Comment, how could it be otherwise? Whatsmore, Film Comment is a publication of the “Film Society of Lincoln Center,” which could only mean: sophisticated culture….or pretension…or both. Take your pick! (Lincoln Center is a powerhouse for the performing arts in New York.)

I found their reviews interesting but spoiler-laden.

And now, without further ado:


Review by ???? (no byline)

guggenheim2Plot: This is a documentary about Peggy Guggenheim, wealthy ex-patriot who traveled throughout the world, amassing one hell of an art collection.

Spoilers skimmable? Yes. I’m giving it some leeway since not everyone is familiar with fine art, so that a few spoilers aren’t going to hurt.

Bottom line: It’s great!–so says the reviewer. Very well done. A “vibrant” movie that mixes together “generous archival footage, interviews with some of the world’s finest art curators, and recently rediscovered audiotapes…”

Interesting observation: Film shows how Guggenheim’s affinity for the masters is “entwined with her passion for contemporary art. ”


I found a review of a movie whose name I loved. Here’s my review of Film Comment’s review of:


Review by Nick Pinkerton

She gets no credit

Plot: This is a French movie, directed by Philippe Garrel, about a childless couple who are making a documentary about a man in the French resistance during WWII. The resistance fighter’s perfect, supplicant wife appears in some of what they are filming. As  for the couple making the movie, both spouses handle all aspects of the filming, but the husband alone takes the credit. The wife does not object to this arrangement. Tension happens upon the happy couple when the husband begins an affair with their production assistent. Sex ensues.

Spoilers skimmable? NO, not at all.

Bottom line: It’s fine, opines Pinkerton. There isn’t a lot of conflict, but the movie still is able to explore such issues as infidelity and identity.

oo lala
Splaying post-coitus?

Neither too much nor too little–just right: Garrel has a minimalist, functionality approach–“Austere functionality is the guiding principal of this film.” Every component of this movie, especially dialog and “setups” (plot points?), is just enough for Garrel to explore its themes. It is only 73 minutes long, including credits.

A lesson about filming: In the Shadow of Women was created with 35mm film, which allows for WIDE screen shots. Garrel takes advantage of this by filming the following on wide-angle shots:

  1. “Splayed-out post-ciotal scenes” (oh Mama!)
  2. Wide angle shot of the couple in a room; the husband wandering in and out of the scene to signify their growing apart
  3. The wife’s loneliness, as shown through her presence alone in an expansive scene framed by a doorway
Cool poster, n’est-ce pas?

More wideness: Only a few conflicts  in the movie, “but they have wide-reaching implications.” Last I heard implications were “far-reaching,”but upon a quick google search, I stand corrected.

Impress your audience: It’s shorter than 70 mins. If you ever encounter this film, what harm can it do to watch it? Especially since you can wax poetic about 35 mm wide-shots and functionality within filmmaking.