Irma Vep

Dir: Olivier Assayas
1996
I had forgotten how much of this film’s ending I had ripped off for my film,
so much that when it came I sat slightly embarrassed next to my wife, who just said, “hey, it’s Nowhereland!”
But it’s to the credit of Assayas’ film that all it took was one viewing and I immediately absorbed the ideas and lessons that the last 3 minutes teach.
That said, the film is both a love letter to Maggie Cheung (in a rubber suit! looking gorgeous!) and French film. For most of the film is about the latter and the problems of advancing the state of film from those who either want to pronounce it dead and nothing like America (the dumb journalist who interviews Cheung) or the others who want it to rehash what has come before (the remake of Les Vampires that forms the movie within the movie). Various positions are staked out, nothing gets consummated–from art to sex, life flows on continuous, and what is left is the most personal kind of film of all, an oblique experimental art piece inside a film that mixes the avant-garde with realism. All that and Luna covering “Bonnie and Clyde.” I love it.

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