Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The Art House

Quite incredible. For the second time in a week I found myself cycling down Boulevard St Germain. This time I was en route for the L'Arlequin cinema in Rue de Rennes.

I had it in my mind that it was a plush venue to see a film. It was not. But at the same time it wasn't a dive. Maybe I as confusing it with somewhere else. Though where that elsewhere is now escapes me.

There was a lovely cinema in London called the Lumiere. It was in St Martin's Lane and I used to go to watch late night art house numbers there when I was a-courting in the city.

But that was London in the late eighties. This is Paris in 2008 where I can now go to the movie house for a reduced price thanks to my Carte Famille Nombreuse.

And you don't even need the children to enjoy these things. I love France.

I saw Peter Greenaway's latest offering: Nightwatching. Usual cinematic feast. It was about the painter Rembrandt fulfilling a commission to paint some soldiers in Amsterdam — The Night Watch
(The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenhurch).

There was one particular scene which struck me as masterly. The Rembrandt clan were having an alfresco meal in the countryside. They all piled onto a table and formed a tableau. The camera receded to show white sheets swaying in the wind in the trees.

I thought wonderful. Simply wonderful. I was hoping for shots of decaying apples and oranges which seemed to permeate Greenaway films of yore. Didn't see anything of that sort this time. Like the fruit, he has matured.

And the narrative was more comprehensible than earlier films such as the Baby of Macon or the Pillow Book.

I emerged enlightened visually and intellectually.