Irma Vep

Director: Olivier Assayas
Year Released: 1996
Rating: 2.5

Assayas' style still irks me - it all feels like it was pulled together quickly or shot on the sly, with scenes that try to mask reality but only come off as drawn-out and flat. I still can't figure out exactly what the man is trying to say, exactly, about cinema - have we lost our taste for what's good? Are the Americans and Chinese ruining everything with their jump cuts and hand-held cameras and non-naval-picking action blockbusters? I have no doubt that he knows what he wants to express with regards to the industry (is there not a proper balance between art and entertainment?), but too much screen time is devoted to several French women pondering as to whether or not Chinese actress Maggie Cheung (playing herself) is a lesbian when it should be delving into deeper matters, or why, in one scene, she "becomes" the character she's playing (Irma Vep, from Feuillade's great Les Vampires serial, now being remade) - nothing much becomes of it, nor is it properly explained or "completed." The director's (Leaud) breakdown, as well, seems "tossed in" - in one scene, during a screening of the dailies, he has a fit and flees - eventually, he suffers a nervous breakdown. Development, development, development - worry less about Luna's cover of "Bonnie and Clyde" and focus more on what it all means when it comes together. The performances are astounding and the visual scheme wonderful - he's obviously talented - now all he needs to do is be a bit clearer. The last five minutes, an "avant-garde" cut of the remake of Les Vampires, looks like something by the Kuchars and is nothing less than inspired. Can I have the whole thing with that kind of focus ... maybe ... next time?