Sunday, April 1, 2012

Traffic Quintet - Divine Féminin

Last night I took the chance that the evening of the Traffic Quintet playing at the Cinematheque in Nice would have a few places available despite being told it was "complet".   My hunch was rewarded and I was treated to an interesting presentation.

I was inspired to attend this show by the recent airing of the silent film 'Napoleon" by Abel Gance done in 1927 which has just been done in America.  Apparently this restored, three screen film was shown last week in Berkeley ,California to the accompaniment of a full going for $300.  Even at that price it was a sell-out and apparently will not be shown again until next year in London.

It seems that the Traffic Quintet

has come up with a similar idea of playing live music in front of a montage film composed of exerpts of famous movie frames, interspersed with original footage, creating a "nouvelle vague" sort of film-making.

I will leave it to you to investigate their site to learn of their approach, their artists, and their ideas.  I will just say that the film excerpts and composers heard for  our show: DIVINE FEMININ were:
  1. Basic Instinct (J.Goldsmith)
  2. Vertigo (B.Herrmann)
  3. Psycho (B.Herrmann)
  4. Medeamaterial I (P.Dusapin)
  5. Fahrenheit 451 (B.Herrmann)
  6. The Misfits I (A.North)
  7. The Misfits II (A.North)
  8. I'm through with love (F.Livingston/M.Malneck/G.Kahn)
  9. Medeamaterial II (P.Dusapin)
  10. Chinatown (J.Goldsmith)
  11. The Hours (P.Glass)
  12. Virgin Suicides (Air)
  13. Medeamaterial III (P.Dusapin)
  14. Birth - Elegy (A.Desplat)
  15. Birth - Valse (A.Desplat)
  16. As time goes by (H.Hupfeld)
Quite a list of composers and quite a strange and unique experience it was.

First let me say that the music indeed was very strong and well executed.  The musicians,  mostly from Paris, with the exception of the native Nicois bass player, were all accomplished in this evocative genre of movie music.

And with the choice of a film with a woman's theme, ( such as Marilyn Monroe, Isabelle Adjani, Maria Callas, Ingrid Bergman, Sharon STone etc etc.)  came the choice also of depicting women in  scenes of terror, grief , angst or fragility in some form or other.   So the music was not a "walk in the park" and the over-all feeling of the "spectacle" was intense.

The biggest problem I had with the presentation was in the film itself.  I felt the film-maker dwelt too long on vague abstract blobs and shadowy images making it difficult to watch all of the footage .  Too much time was taken on certain images to the consternation of the viewer.  Several of us who saw it admitted that we close our eyes to avoid prolonged exposure to some of the footage.  For example an image of an unblinking eye went on for several minutes and was really annoying. The picture of Callas was up there for more than 5 minutes and it was amorphous and badly lit.  Another sequence of a girl under-water, (not breathing obviously) went on for way too long.

   And some footage did not comply with the theme.  There were a lot of car images, for example.  I was certainly hampered by not having watched all of the films that were included in the montage.  I am sure that the film-maker felt that there was a good reason for every frame he included, but the audience was sometimes not in on his thinking.   Frankly if you irritate or bore the viewer  ,he will eventually just look away.  "It's a free country " as we used to chant in grade school.

 But despite these criticisms of the film,  I would like to explore this genre further and certainly with such fine musicians and certainly with this price.    The entry was gratis for members of the Cinematheque , a membership fee which is already one of the best deals in town.   Vive la France.

1 comment:

  1. would loove to explore this with you Tahnks for being sucha FINE scout..pamela