'Moon': Fun Bunch Of Vignettes

Posted: July 02, 1986

"Favorites of the Moon" ("Les Favoris de la Lune"). A comedy directed by Otar Iossliani from a screenplay by Gerard Brach and Iosseliani. Photographed by Philippe Theaudiere. Edited by Dominique Bellfort. Music by Nicolas Zourabichvill. Artistic collaboration: Catherine Foulon, Dimitri Eristavi and Leila Naskidachvill. Running time: 101 minutes. In French with English subtitles. A Spectrafilm release. One week only starting Friday, at the Roxy.

The most audacious movie of the summer turns out not to be one of the season's premeditated blockbusters but a rather inaccessible 1984 French- Italian co-production made by a Soviet director.

"Favorites of the Moon" is a precise, eccentric film whose bottomless pit of characters crisscrosses all over the place in a veritable non-story. I don't know if this movie has any point or purpose but I had a hell of a lot of fun watching it get nowhere fast.

It is essentially a series of vignettes, connected by several material possessions - a portrait, a set of porcelain dinnerware, a wrought-iron garden set - that keep changing hands, wearing out and dwindling along the way. Iosseliani opens his film with sequences - in black and white and color, respectively - showing the painting of the portrait and the design of the serving set and then jumps to present time and mingles with the assortment of people who buy, sell and steal them.

The jerky, Rube Goldberg-like movements and the randomly-connected anecdotes of "Favorites of the Moon" recall Luis Bunuel's "The Phantom of Liberty" (1974) in their almost surreal feel, and the idea of using possessions to link characters goes all the way back to Julien Duvivier's ''Tales of Manhattan" of 1942, in which a dress coat makes its way among five owners.

It would be impossible for me to relay something about the various convoluted, tightly-knotted subplots or about the many, many characters. Suffice it to say that the film's people play co-stars to the disintegrating painting and dinnerware, remaining in the background forever murmuring and gesturing (there's a lot of wordless dialogue here), not unlike James Stewart's neighbors across the way in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" (1954).

Note in Passing: Look for director Iosseliani in a brief bit in the hairdresser's salon sequence. He's the balding man getting a trim.

|
|
|
|
|