Sunday, May 20, 2012

SF Film Society Screens
Rohmer's 'Summer' & 'Reinette and Mirabelle'

The Pacific Film Society in October showed new prints of "Summer" and "Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle", two Eric Rohmer films made in the 1980s and I headed over to Berkeley for those screenings. Glad I did.

I saw "Summer" when it was first released here, enjoyed it tremendously and was pleased to find it holds up remarkably well. We follow the woes of a young Parisian woman trying to make the most of her annual vacation, traveling alone seeking out friendship and romance. As with other Rohmer women characters the lead talks and talks and talks about her troubles, unwilling to compromise her standards, often irritating people who like her.

Ah, but what talk, that is always revealing more about the heroine and consistently entertains. My favorite scene is when she has dinner with newly-made acquaintances, eats practically nothing and explains her belief that vegetables have feelings. The ending is especially moving when she accidentally meets a man and they make the best of what is likely to be a summer fling.

Starring Marie Riviere, pictured, who reveals a human hunger for the right companion, with occasionally heartbreaking vulnerability. Riviere applies the perfect touch of humor, and several times I wanted to reach across the screen and give her a hug.

"Reinette and Mirabelle" was something I hadn't seen before, and while it's not as entertaining as the other Rohmer film, it's still work checking out.

We follow two women friends, one from the city and the other from the countryside, as they pursue careers and romances and they talk, talk, talk. The dialogue and scenarios don't sparkle here as in "Summer" but the lead actresses more than compensate for those deficits with beautifully relaxed performances.

A character study in which the action consists of "Reinette and Mirabelle" in their daily lives, I found the most charming and enjoyable adventures to be the first, set on a farm, and the last that plays out in a Parisian art gallery.

If you have time for only one of the films on this double-bill, playing through May 24 at the San Francisco Film Society Cinema in Japantown, choose "Summer". The society is showing the new prints, from The Film Desk company. Click here for showtimes and ticket information.

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