Faces Places [Visages, Villages]
dir Agnes Varda, JR; with Agnes Varda, JR 17/Fr ****
This quirky documentary teams up 88-year-old filmmaking icon Agnes Varda with 33-year-old artist JR as they travel spontaneously around France taking large-format photos and wallpapering them onto various enormous structures. Watching this is a delight, as these two lively figures spar with each other and explore the nature of art and culture. Agnes talks about her life and friendships, and constantly teases JR about the way he hides from the world, obscuring his name and personal life, and even his eyes behind sunglasses. And the people they photograph along the way capture a spark of life in very clever ways that have a big effect on onlookers. Powerful pictures include workers on different factory shifts reaching out to each other, wives of dock-workers towering above them, and Agnes' eyes and toes on train cars. There is also a clever sense of history, with vintage images posted on appropriate surfaces. It's all a little meandering, and sometimes rather too clever to accept as just a random sequence of encounters. But the way it touches on French culture, the history of cinema and larger issues like globalisation is deeply involving.