Photo of the Week

Paris-Update-EiffelTower

The Eiffel Tower seen from a rooftop in Montparnasse on a smoggy day. © Paris Update

 

Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

Women’s March on Paris
> The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, women will march in cities around the world. Starts at the Parvis des Droits Humains, Trocadero, at 2pm, crosses the Pont d’Iéna and ends at the Mur pour la Paix at 4:30pm.

Behind closed doors
> Book now to visit places in Paris that are normally closed during Paris Face Cachée, including a lab trying to find cures for genetic diseases, located in a glass building with a panoramic roof terrace. Various venues, Paris and suburbs, Jan. 27-29.

Book signing
> Irish author Donal Ryan signs copies of his latest book, The Thing About December. Irish Cultural Center, Paris, Jan. 19.

Late-Night Magritte
> The Magritte exhibition at the Centre Pompidou will stay open until 10pm from Jan. 19 through the last day, Jan. 23.

Drinkathon
> Paris Cocktail Week offers master classes, special restaurant menus with cocktail/food pairings and other festivities. Various venues, Paris, Jan. 21-28.

Young European photographers
> The Festival Circulation(s) features emerging photographers. Centquatre, Paris, Jan. 21-March 5.

Picasso at the airport
> The exhibition "Picasso Plein Soleil" presents works made by the master while living on the Côte d’Azur. Espace Musées, Charles-de-Gaulle Airport 2E, Jan. 21-June 15.

Cheap cinema
> During the Festival Cinéma Télérama, you can see a selection of last year’s best films for only €3.50 each with the purchase of Télérama magazine (Jan. 11 and 18 issues). Various cinemas, Jan. 18-24.

Free subtitled French films
> My French Film Festival offers frees streaming of French movies. Through Feb. 13.

Frank Capra Retrospective
> The great American director in the spotlight. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Feb. 27.

Sex, Lies and Corruption
> The Hollywood Décadent festival features such films as Joseph Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor, Valley of the Dolls, and Vincente Minnelli’s Nina. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Jan. 25.

Chinese New Wave
> Nouvelles Voix du Cinéma Chinois screens films by a new generation of directors beginning around the turn of the 21st-century. Cinémathèque Française, Paris, through Feb. 20.

Winter sales
> Retail sales all over France: through Feb. 21.

Ice-Skating Rinks
> Where to ice skate in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais.

English plays in French
> Two plays by Harold Pinter, Ashes to Ashes and L’Amant, directed by Mitch Hooper, are onstage at the Essaïon through Jan. 24, 2017.

 

Film - Drama

 

Les Plages d’Agnès

Mirrors in the Sand

les plages d'agnes, agnes varda
Agnès Varda looks for reflections of her youth.

Agnès Varda, the great filmmaker and one of the few women associated with Nouvelle Vague cinema, has reached the age of 80. And, if her new movie is anything to go by, there are no signs of her slowing down.

Les Plages d’Agnès charts Varda’s life and work, casting an affectionate and occasionally wistful eye over the many extraordinary people she has known, most of them now dead. It would be all too easy and perhaps understandable for her to be self-indulgent, but her humor and constant inventiveness rarely allow her to stray into the realm of the maudlin.

From the very beginning of the film, her creative energy is astonishing as we watch her setting up a bank of mirrors on a Belgian beach while she muses on her childhood. Instead of focusing on conventional memories, she concentrates on the group of young workers who are helping her to place the mirrors in the sand, perhaps reflecting her own youth through these younger faces in mirrors rather than simply giving a straightforward account.

This is typical of her generosity throughout, as she talks about not only the famous people she has known (there are many), but also her local baker or grocer or grandchildren.

Her most tender memories are reserved for her husband, the wonderful film director, Jacques Demy, who died in 1990 of an AIDS-related illness; these observations complement the trio of films she made in his honor in the years following his death.

Sometimes her cinema goes beyond autobiography or fiction and becomes almost performance art. This is very much the case in various recreated scenes from her childhood or in her conversations with a cartoon cat.

She also retraces the trajectory of many of her movies, walking through the streets of Paris and visiting Los Angeles, where she lived for a number of years. It is typical of her that she does not dwell only on her successes but seems just as fascinated by her relatively few failures, such as Les Cent et une Nuits de Simon Cinéma, made to mark 100 years of cinema. The affection in which she is clearly held is demonstrated at the end of the film, on her 80th birthday, when 80 people arrive to mark the day.

The overall effect is of a woman who is politically and personally committed, compassionate yet feisty. I suspect that there are more movies to come from her, and thank heaven for that.

James Gascoigne

© 2008 Paris Update

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