Note: This is our first review in a smaller series of coverage from the 2010 San Francisco International Film Festival.
One of my favorite living film directors is Jacques Rivette. Rivette was once part of the original "French New Wave," a group of film critics for Cahiers du Cinema that decided to turn director and make their own films. The group also included Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Eric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol. The other four achieved some measure of fame, but Rivette was always the "outcast" of the group. He was the most "experimental." He completed three "New Wave" style films in the 1960s, the latter of which, L'amour fou (1968), ran over four hours. and followed them with his monumental Out 1 (1971), which ran nearly 13 hours. (The film has rarely been shown, and I keep hoping for a DVD box set someday soon.)
After that came arguably his most beloved film, though it was hardly a hit: Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), a magical movie about two women who visit a strange house. It ran just over three hours. Other highlights include the remarkable La Belle Noiseuse (1991), which ran four hours; it's about an artist regaining his muse when a beautiful young woman stays at his chateau. At least an hour of the film is devoted to watching the artist paint while Emmanuelle Beart poses naked. The amazing, epic Joan of Arc story Joan the Maid (1994), starring Sandrine Bonnaire, runs over four hours in two parts. Up/Down/Fragile (1995), Secret Defense (1998), The Story of Marie and Julien (2003) and The Duchess of Langeais (2007) each run between two and three hours. Va Savoir (2001) was two and a half hours as released in the United States, but runs closer to four hours in its director's cut.