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November 14, 2008


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"it does say something pertinent about the undercurrents of a film, particularly the undercurrents of a film about filmmaking."

And a great deal about Godard, too! Thanks for clearing that up...for some reason I thought the angry letter had come years earlier.

As for Castel, I've only seen him in Fists in a Pocket but based on that alone I'd love to see him in something else. Duly noted.


I'm sure she's very nice, and I've liked her materials on art films, but I've never agreed with her when it comes to genre films. I still think she owes a collective apology to everyone who bought a ticket to "Return of the King" for that Premiere Oscar piece. Yeesh, could you GET more condescending?

Adrian Martin

Glenn, there are a couple of other films that spot the relay between DAY FOR NIGHT and IRMA VEP. In 1985 Garrel made a quite hallucinatory film about filmmaking called SHE SPENT SO MANY HOURS UNDER THE LAMPLIGHTS (it's on a CAHIERS-released DVD, sans subtitles) - where Castel is one of the leading players. And Godard's little seen GRANDEUR AND DECADENCE (1986) is also about the 'behind the scenes' interactions of a filmmaking company - which, in fact (and I don't think Brody, or anybody has picked this up), is very precisely the film that Godard outlined to Truffaut in his angry letter of '73 (called A MOVIE or something like that at the time), and thus the anti-DAY FOR NIGHT par excellence. It's a rarely seen JLG film (but a fantastic one), shot on video, unavailable on DVD, but it occasionally appears on French TV as part of the series for which it was commissioned, 'Série noire'. And it stars Léaud! I talk about this whole 'network' of films in my audio commentary to Fassbinder's HOLY WHORE, out soon through the Australian DVD label Madman. Great frame captures from IRMA VEP, by the way!

Bill C

Disappointed to hear that Truffaut is a hero of Assayas (if that's what you're saying), as I always thought IRMA VEP was satirizing big dumb DAY FOR NIGHT. I don't get the affection for the latter at all, especially from filmmakers (Godard notwithstanding); that the Truffaut character never communicates with his cinematographer apart from their ludicrous final exchange ("Great camerawork!" "Glad you liked it!") is just another example of its dubiousness. Was it Pauline Kael who asked rhetorically whether anyone would actually want to see "MEET PAMELA"?

Glenn Kenny

@Bill C.: I'm sorry if my language was imprecise. I don't presume that Truffaut is a hero of Assayas', merely pointing out that "Day For Night" is a point of reference for "Irma Vep."

@Adrian Martin: Thanks for the compliments, and for expanding the now-almost-Borgesian web of Garrel/Godard/Truffaut/Fassbinder correspondences. As there's no Australian Amazon, can you direct us to a reliable online seller of DVDs from the increasingly intriguing Madman label? Thanks!


I might add Tom DiCillo's LIVING IN OBLIVION to this mix...

Joseph B.

Great comparison, Glenn. And not to demean your piece, but Assayas was one lucky bastard for being married to Cheung- even if it was only for 3 years....

Adrian Martin

Glenn, you can buy them direct from the Madman site:


Go into the 'Directors Suite' section for all the art-cinema and classic goodies. To give you a sense of the available range, I have done commentaries for GERTRUD, VOYAGE IN ITALY (with more Rossellini's in '09), 3 Godards, 2 Fassbinders, Chabrol, the Dardennes, Wenders' ALICE IN THE CITIES, THE BLUE ANGEL, DR MABUSE THE GAMBLER, and few other things.

As well as all the Fassbinders that Madman are doing with Australian-made audio commentaries, the Sirk releases are also quite special, with a large team of scholars working on them (I did TARNISHED ANGELS and co-did THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW with legendary Australian critic John Flaus). There are also valuable written materials supplied, such as Jonathan Rosenbaum's essays for Dreyer and Fassbinder releases.

Thanks for your interest in this!

Ryan Kelly

I just wanted to say that, having finally caught Some Came Running on TCM, I can now read your blog with a clean conscience.

That is all. Keep up the good work!


Adrian, which Chabrol did you do a commentary on? I don't believe Madman has released any of his (the only one on R4 atm seems to be Madame Bovary).

Adrian Martin

Ian, it's THE COUSINS, one of several Chabrol films that Madman is releasing in coming months.


Sweeeet. Looking forward to it! (your commentaries have been a selling point for me on a lot of Madman releases)

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