If I’d had my druthers, I would have seen Jacques Rivette’s masterpiece Out 1 for the third time this past weekend, at the Gene Siskel Film Center. It’s still one of my all-time favorites, offering far more pleasure, enlightenment, and sheer stimulation over its dozen and a half hours than any dozen routine commercial releases (which would cumulatively last twice as long, and most of which I wouldn’t dream of seeing if my job didn’t require it). Thanks to work, I had to content myself with about three of the eight episodes, #3, #7, and #8. Still, it was gratifying to see this much of it with such an appreciative and good-sized audience (about 140) who laughed in all the right places and seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. (The experience was enhanced by a superb job of “soft subtitling” supervised by Sally Shafto, director of the last Big Muddy Film Festival.)
I realize this is the third post about Rivette in the past couple weeks (see Pat Graham’s Celine & Julie: The Typeface and One Sings, the Other Doesn’t), but he’s the kind of filmmaker who fosters obsessiveness of various kinds. And I’d like to take this opportunity to correct a slight overstatement in my long review of the film in the Reader. Alluding to a slim paperback I once edited, Rivette: Texts and Interviews, published in England 30 years ago and long out of print (a used library copy is currently selling on Amazon for $137.90), I stated that the contents are now available at a new and excellent web site devoted to Rivette. On reflection that’s almost but not quite true: still missing is the last major piece of critical and theoretical writing by Rivette, a fascinating 1969 item called “Montage” that he coauthored with two Cahiers du Cinema colleagues, Jean Narboni and Sylvie Pierre.
The piece is especially relevant to Rivette’s four-hour Out 1: Spectre, which screens at the Film Center on June 9. But Daniel Stuyck, who helps run the Rivette site, assures me that the text will be added in June as part of the site’s periodic expansion. Meanwhile, if you’d like a small taste of this brilliant, somewhat difficult piece, check out a brief extract, about Jean-Marie Straub, in Kinoslang, an invaluable blog by Los Angeles writer Andy Rector (who flew to Chicago for the Out 1 screening).