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Play Time: Rivette’s “Around a Small Mountain” (“36 vues du Pic Saint-Loup”)

Play Time: Rivette's "Around a Small Mountain" ("36 vues du Pic Saint-Loup")

Reviewing Gang of Four for Cahiers du cinéma in 1989, the late philosopher Gilles Deleuze wrote that Jacques Rivette’s project is “a cinema that opposes its theatricality to that of theater, its reality to that of the world, which has become unreal.” That’s as succinct a formulation of the great director’s body of work as we are likely to get, and one that applies just as well to his latest drama, a whimsical eulogy of sorts to the New Wave icon’s treasured theme of life-as-performance. Modestly scaled and terse by Rivettian standards at 84 minutes, 36 vues du Pic Saint-Loup is a playfully oblique, often melancholy study in love, mortality, and the mysteries of grief. Yet compressed within the bantam framework of the film—which concerns people inhabiting a world all their own, a family of clowns and aerialists—is a banquet of ideas about cinema and life, the truth of art and the sorrows of imagination. Click here to read the rest of Damon Smith’s review of 36 vues du Pic Saint-Loup.

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