Friday, October 9, 2009

At the New York Film Festival: Ne Change Rien

Posted By on Fri, Oct 9, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Pedro Costa's Ne Change Rien played last night at the New York Film Festival; the film is currently without distribution.

Intoxicating, or murky, Pedro Costa's Ne Change Rien shows Jeanne Balibar the singer in action—in woodcut-severe chiaroscuro that's like one long virtuoso riff on Don't Look Back's spotlight long-shot. Better known as an actress (Duchess of Langeais), Balibar whispers and bellows and Dietrichizes here in recording studios (worrying phrases for the right rhythm and cadence) and in performance with a band (the longest rendition: "Johnny Guitar"). The darkness that prevails—often voiding three quarters of the screen—goes beyond nightclub ambience and toward benevolently drugged abstraction: the gibbous-waning slivers of Balibar's facial contours, or a cat's head in sudden sprawling close-up.

Technically, the pools of dark allow Costa (Colossal Youth) one major advance over many music documentaries: since shots overlap so much visually, the frame changes of cuts are less noticeable, and so the singer and her sonic textures feel like a continuous presence instead of something chopped up and served. But the long views on the band performances become astringent with no sense of the room or audience; the studio sessions benefit from a game guitarist's vibe (as Balibar burbles over a Curtis Mayfield temp sample). A well-lit staged presentation of Offenbach is also shown—but here that means, somewhat obstinately, that only the pianist is shown, in profile. Working on the Offenbach with a voice teacher—only ever heard as an off-screen martinet—Balibar amusingly loses her cool ("Oh, putain!"), outside the climate-control muzziness of the studio.

Costa takes the title from one of the most worked-over songs, which can be found on Balibar's 2003 and 2006 albums (as can the intra-festival hit "Torture"). (The movie itself expands upon a 2005 short.) On balance, Ne Change Rien stands up well among attempts by major directors to exert their force of style in renderings of fellow artists at work.

Tags: , , , ,


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Nicolas Rapold

Most Commented On

Most Shared Stories

Top Viewed Stories

Top Topics in The Measure

Film (40)

Theater (13)

Music (12)

Special Events (11)

Art (8)

Books (3)

TV (3)

Politics (1)

Talks and Readings (1)

Media (1)

© 2014 The L Magazine
Website powered by Foundation