François Truffaut once called French New Wave filmmaker Jacques Rivette “the most fanatic of all of our band of fanatics.” Although he never received the spotlight of someone like Jean-Luc Godard, Rivette made headlines just last year after his twelve-hour opus Out 1 played in theaters for the first time, newly restored. The visionary filmmaker passed away earlier this week, leaving behind a legacy that historians and critics are still challenged by, thanks to Rivette’s impossible-to-define approach that blended theater, cinema, and a discourse perhaps more familiar to philosophers and art critics. Here are the Rivette films you can stream right now in honor of the legendary director.
If you didn’t have a chance to see Rivette’s Out 1 in NYC theaters last year (the movie’s theatrical world premiere), the restored 1971 film (now with subtitles) has landed at Fandor for a home marathon viewing experience. At over 12 hours, Rivette’s eight-chapter epic weaves loosely connected characters together in a stunning experiment. From the Village Voice:
What’s it about? Rivette set out to make a film that renders such questions all but pointless. The threads running through the movie pit the intimate but secret schemes of collectives against the will of rogue individuals, the latter personified beguilingly by Jean-Pierre Léaud and Juliet Berto as two separate petty-scam artists wandering the streets, each stumbling in turn into the mystery of the Thirteen — a conspiracy, apparently, involving scores of the other characters, though its agenda is never made clear. These travels eventually crisscross with two experimental theater groups exhaustingly rehearsing two different Aeschylus plays and engaging in all manner of primal-scream acting exercises, all in preparation for performances that never happen.
Rivette’s enigmatic Parisian adventure involving a secret map of the capital, cryptic symbols, a mysterious briefcase, and two women searching for answers (played by mother/daughter duo Bulle and Pascale Ogier). A fascinating portrait of a city facing an uncertain future.
Created during Rivette’s time as a critic for Cahiers du Cinéma, his Paris Belongs to Us marks the director’s first full-length movie and one of the earliest pioneering French New Wave films. The bohemian saga (with Shakespeare’s Pericles as its backdrop) features appearances by fellow New Wavers Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, and Jacques Demy.
Co-written by Rivette and Claude Chabrol, with cameos by Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, Le coup du berger feels more like a curiosity than a masterpiece as Slant explains:
Rivette is present only in the literal sense: He calmly and coolly narrates the proceedings (an unfaithful marriage roundelay that follows a cheating wife’s ill-fated attempt to retrieve the fur coat gifted her by a lover), likening the characters’ actions to moves across a chessboard. The attitudes and settings, on the other hand, are all Chabrol: Even at this early stage he’s poking holes in the bourgeois barricades, especially evident in the film’s vaguely condescending use of classical music to counterpoint and heighten the overall sense of pettiness, which the movie then proceeds to frivolously tsk-tsk.
From Roger Ebert on Rivette’s tale about love’s misadventures:
It’s a farce involving six characters who fall in love with one another in inconvenient and unforeseen combinations. Some of them are involved in the production of a play by Pirandello, who wrote farces about six people–a convenient number for onstage chaos. The action is a farce, with people being locked into rooms, stealing jewelry, cheating on their wives and challenging one another to ridiculous duels. But the pacing is more leisurely; a farce in waltz time.
A marriage in crisis, shot through the lens of playwright Jean Racine’s tragedy Andromaque.
Co-starring Maria Schneider, almost a decade after her scandalous debut in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, alongside Warhol Superstar Joe Dallesandro, who starred in a Serge Gainsbourg’s controversial Je t’aime moi non plus (a kindred spirit of Bertolucci’s movie). From critic Zev Toledano:
An improvised crime/mystery with many nonsensical twists, feeling as if the story reacts and changes according to the actor’s whims rather than any plot. Clues, cemetaries, a kidnapping, criminals, conspiracies, role-acting, and even psychic connections all add up to nothing except the experience of a thriller abstracted in freeform. Intercut with this typical Rivette spiraling are surreal scenes of the man and woman running in a forest/desert, being chased by dangerous people, dogs, snakes or each other until they finally find peace. Also cut together with a performance avant-garde jazz piece for two to accompany the jagged, improvisational movie.
In English and French (but no subtitles).
For the completist who speaks French (sorry, no subtitles) and can’t resist Anna Karina in a wimple. Rivette’s 1966 film, based on Denis Diderot’s 18th-century novel of the same name, made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival after a long, difficult road with the French government, who banned it due to the film’s cynical view of the Catholic Church.