Agnes Varda is the "Grandmother of the French New Wave", and was a resident of Venice, where our beach was featured in her beautiful film from 2008. The Beaches Of Agnes was so great, that I will watch every other thing she ever does, and last chilly night I snuggled in with a blanket to watch her newest film, Faces Places ... and I loved it just as much - maybe more.
Varda is a tiny little woman, who reminds one of an elderly Rachel Dratch (of SNL fame), but with a Friar Tuck-like two-toned hair-do, for fun. I adore her. What a font of pure inspiration! She embarks on road trips around rural France with the photographer/muralist JR (a hip, young enthusiastic French dude who never takes off his shades, to Varda's annoyance), and they shoot everyday people doing everyday things, and then make them huge and grand and important looking by pasting them up on the side of giant buildings, bridges, water towers, barns ... and the result is pure beauty.
In one part of the film, Varda says, "The point is the power of imagination." And it is. Their ideas and conversations and art all celebrate both imagination and humanity, in such a lovely way that most likely you will both laugh and cry, like I did. When you see an elderly woman (who is the last person remaining in her village that is going to be torn down) come outside and see her photo on the outside of her house, and be so moved ... you can't help but be moved yourself. It reminds me a bit of the also excellent documentary Wasteland, where you witness the same sheer glory of real people.
I always go back to the Einstein quote that goes, "Remember your humanity and forget the rest", and this film helps you to do exactly that. If you're looking for a wonderful escape from all the ugliness and meanness and sadness all around us in the world today, here you go. An hour and a half where I thought of nothing but the grace and love that remains all around us, if you can just let yourself be open to it. Our own faces and places are still pretty great too, just look around. It would be awesome if Varda and JR returned to Venice to capture some of our Visages Villages (the original French title - oh, it is in French with sub-titles, but you can do it!) Enjoy!
Thank you, Madame Varga!