February is the month of love, and I've decided to write a love letter.
Oh, Agnes Varda. Could anyone possibly be cooler? Here you are on the beach, wearing an antique ex voto as a necklace:
How fitting that it is a pair of eyes, as sight and visual storytelling are the causes you have devoted your life to. Also, tenderness and human struggle, compassion and survival, I think. Her films were some of the first foreign pictures that I encountered, and they had a lasting impact on me. These were the first two:
This is a piece of Cléo de 5 à 7; it doesn't have subtitles, but the only important thing to know is that Cléo is awaiting something anxiously, and wanders the streets of Paris aimlessly.
Could the camera work be more fluid? The editing more masterful? Men stare. The song she plays in the cafe is her own: her fame as a singer is ascendant, but she seems to feel none of the pleasure in this. A mysterious figure who appears to be her double leaves the cafe just ahead of Cléo, and she continues on her way.
It is an extraordinarily modest film that manages great depth of perception and meaning. I recommend it highly. Ditto Vagabond, which is nearly perfect.
She seems to live a charmed life, Ms. Varda; she sails on Seine:
Lives and works in this little pink house on a quiet Paris street:
This is a publicity photo, but I love to imagine her working in exactly such a setting. Here she is, dead center:
And she took my favorite portrait of Alexander Calder:
He was a friend. And for pete's sake, she was married to Jacques Demy! It's just too much.