The Great Claude Chabrol (1930 - 2010)

This month the world lost a brilliant artist. One of the original of the French New Wave and easily the most commercial of the bunch. Some might think that a sort of slam, but creating commercial films allowed Chabrol to better bring his political and socio-political points of view to the masses. All of his films radiated a subversive, radical and immediate call for change in society as we know it. And, he did this without ever sacrificing the art of cinema.
Early in his career which is filled with over 70 films, he became known as a sort of French Hitchcock with a twist. The suspense of his films is undeniable, but just when you expect the very worst to happen — Chabrol normally replaces “horror” with the simple shock of truth.
The truth of his work and his admiration for exceptional camera work and respect for truly great actors sear into the viewer’s minds. No matter how old his films might be — they hold a still valid mirror to our world. And, that mirror is cracked. Chabrol always seem to identify with the Communist Ideals, but his films were filled with an obvious mistrust of human nature. His characters (and their stories) are always presented for what they are. Seldom are the actions of these characters fully explained. Unlike most filmmakers, Chabrol challenged his audience to think.

The film that put M. Isabelle Huppert on the map and many collaborations would follow...

Interestingly, I think it is his later work starting in the 70’s that fully expressed his gifts as an artist. Unlike most artists, old age did not dim his view of humanity or society. In my opinion some of his final films were his most powerful. It is hard to wipe away the images and off-kilter humor and ultimate horror of these two films:

A severe judgement written in stone. This brutal film may be his finest hour...

Despite the lame US poster, this film explored the pathetic traps our society creates for women...

But, my personal favorite Chabrol film is MERCI POUR LE CHOCOLAT. Huppert, who seemed to serve as a sort of muse for Chabrol, has never been better cast. And, it is sheer brilliance of the surprise that this quiet little film’s most powerful scene is played at the very tail end of the movie as the credits roll.

Mysterious, comical, slick, sick and a simply perfect film...

There will never be another talent like that of Claude Chabrol. A vital, valid and valuable artist until the very end. He never lost his bite or twisted sense of humor — nor did he ever lose his youthful struggle against the tide of an unjust society/world. If you’re not familiar with his work, you should be. The posters I selected or just a few exceptional examples of his work, but he seldom misfired.

An examination of marriage and the horror of jealousy...

Claude Chabrol Rest In Peace. He will not be forgotten by those of us who love cinema and the power it can generate.

“I’m not pessimistic about people in general, but only about the way they live.”
“I love mirrors. They let one pass through the surface of things.”
Claude Chabrol

Claude Chabrol: A Cinematic Genius...

“I brought the film like a flower to the world.”
Claude Chabrol

September 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.



This afternoon I decided to treat myself to a sandwich created at one of those chain faux fast food faux healthy food places.  I don’t eat much these days to keep my weight down. My coordination is horrible and I find it often difficult to walk much less even think of ‘working out’ — so, I avoid full-on meals during the day and sort of nibble on stuff until dinner time. But, every week I try to get a normal size sandwich and actually eat the whole thing. Portions in our culture are so out of wack that one must order a “small” size sandwhich for it to be a close to “normal” one person portion.

Anyway, I got my treat of lunch and took it to the beach to enjoy. And, enjoy it I did. Not too much and not too little — just right. I was full without feeling miserable.

I had parked at Ocean Beach and was listening to Led Zep as I ate, but I noticed two guys near the car — one of whom seemed to be ‘jammin’ on his guitar. In a sort of passionate rapture with his guitar he didn’t seem to notice anything around him. And his friend was studying a binder of papers. Then, I noticed, his friend close the book and open his mouth as if singing.


I turned off my iPod and the car and listened.

These were two artists collaborating on a song. The man appeared to be holding a binder of his own poems and he was attempting to fit his words into the music which his friend had created. Just as they would crasp on to a concept and sound that was mutually satisfying for them they would turn a phrase or an idea that didn’t seem to match.

They would stop. They would laugh a bit and talk quietly — but only for a few minutes, then the man with the guitar would kick back into it and the poet would go back to massaging his words into the music. …Trying to fit his beauty into the form of the other.

They were on to something, but struggling in the ocean wind to find it. They were lost in these moments. I could not resist pulling out my camera and capturing their creative jam session. Part of me felt I should ask if it was alright for me to steal into their creation, but I felt that would only add to the intrusion I was already making.

I snapped about 8 pictures as I was unsure the shots were taking due to the sun. They never noticed me. I sat down and listened. And watched them work. The wind began to pick up sending the sheets in the binder into a frenzy.

The laughed, the guy returned his guitar back to its case and they began the walk away from the beach.

It was exciting to watch these two artists fuse ideas of music and word into a a song. …And, at the same time, in the spirit of their friendship to allow for the unavoidable awkwardness of the task.

I don’t think it was so much about the end result — in this case, a song. …But, more about the process of two fellow artists creating together. It was inspiring. And, quietly beautiful.

…a very nice lunch break.

March 26, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 5 comments.