Like a collector of stray dogs, I have likewise assembled my personal canon of misfit filmmakers, artists who have fallen out of fashion or just never caught on. Jacques Rivette, whose new The Duchess of Langeais (6 screens) is currently struggling in art house theaters, is a prime example. According to his bio on the IMDB, he has always nestled in an uncomfortable place between film snobs and film populists. His films are too playful for intellectuals and yet too severe for mainstream consumption. He was a critic at Cahiers du Cinema alongside Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Claude Chabrol (some of his writing has been translated to English; I especially love his piece on Howard Hawks and the 1952 film Monkey Business) yet his work does not seem like that of a film buff; it springs more from literature and from his own temperament. Indeed, he's very hard to pin down, perhaps partially because hardly anyone has seen very many of his films. His 12-1/2 hour film Out 1 (1972), which has been called his greatest achievement, has screened in America so few times that probably less than a thousand people have seen it.

categories Columns, Cinematical