Le Joli Mai (1963)
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Critic Reviews for Le Joli Mai
What helps make Marker and Lhomme's documentary all the more remarkable is its occurring at a moment in history whose specialness only became evident later.
It's never fully uninflected like authentic vérité, but the material gets at a kind of truth: the chatty anxieties of shopkeepers, passersby, mothers and sons, all grappling with the changing world of May 1962.
Documents on-the-street talks with a wide variety of Paris residents.
The people and cinematography are compelling, and so, by extension, is this 1962 documentary.
Audience Reviews for Le Joli Mai
With the documentary "Le Joli Mai," Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme attempt to capture a particular time and place, namely May 1962 in Paris. Sadly for them, nothing much was happening that month, just after Algerian independence. But at least we do get a weather report at one point, along with a musical interlude. On a thematic level, it just comes down to political statements and Marker's continuing fascination with all things cats.
Otherwise there are just person on the street interviews which are much more miss than hit, and mostly dull, with the highlights being a couple of Algerian men. In short, this is nowhere near as fluid as some of Marker's later films, and only late do the filmmakers manage something interesting cinematically like the stop motion photography of Paris and the overhead shot of the women's prison where politics again overwhelm the visuals.
It is another man-on-the-street kind of documentary but then it isn't..with extreme political unrest unfolding at the same time, this is a society not at ease with itself. People undertake their day to day activities but with full knowledge that their rights and freedoms may be at risk threatening their existences.
Holy shaiza, this is top tier Marker. Following in the steps of Rouch/Morin's Chronicle of a Summer and even surpasses that in its expansiveness and its effortless integration of personal, social, and political to present a snapshot of the state of uncertainty in the minds of the Parisian population at the end of the Algerian war, and its critique of the isolation of bourgeois, their racism and materialism (all in good Markeresque humor). The first half of the film consist of Marker and the cameraman interviewing people from various strata of the population on what they consider happiness (and a whole slew of other topics) to be while adding their own opinions to the conversation. The second half places the interviews within the broader frame of contemporary politics and social concerns with newsreel footage. The associative editing prefigures that of Sans Soleil. Also, Marker, who provides plenty of screen-time to his favorite animal, meets his match when he interviews a costume designer who dresses her cat like a barbie doll.
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