Elena et ses hommes | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Elena et ses hommes

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Also known as Paris Does Strange Things, Jean Renoir's period sequel to his equally colorful French Cancan argues for a vision of the past as luminous sensory remembrance. It's a stylized souvenir of impressionist 1880s Paris--of the Boulanger coup and bourgeois comicality--as well as a parodistic gloss on Rules of the Game profundity, as if the Marxian rule of tragedy repeating as farce applied to personal filmography as well as to ordinary history. The period references aren't widely familiar (though this in itself supplies a certain arcane charm), but the comic orchestration has a fine commedia dell'arte energy and line, some of which, unfortunately, diffuses toward the end. The film is ravishing to look at (with Ingrid Bergman radiant at its center) and the new 35-millimeter print is a sumptuous treat indeed. With Mel Ferrer, Jean Marais, and Juliette Greco (1956). (Music Box, Friday and Saturday, February 6 and 7)

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