Mur Murs (1981)
Agnès Varda had many métiers as a filmmaker. But the ability to translate her own outsiderdom into an immersive, poetic perspective was arguably the French New Wave luminary’s signature from her 1950s beginnings. It’s certainly the secret ingredient of Mur Murs, Varda’s portrait of Los Angeles street muralists.
Varda’s affection for public art is just Mur Murs’ jumping-off point, as it explores all that is powerful, bizarre, aspirational, inconsistent and even propagandist about L.A. murals—from paintings of forests on the Pacific Coast Highway to visual requiems for lost gang members in Boyle Heights.
This thoughtful arts scene primer elevates further with distinctly Varda moments that linger between documentary and performance art. In full coordination, we see Angelenos shimmying in roller skates and practicing tai chi before alternate realities on concrete. Contemplating the word “mural,” Varda arrives at a memorable definition: “I exist.”
Mur Murs plays March 20 at the Clinton Street Theater, programmed by the Portland film appreciation/programming project Agnès Varda Forever. Then, on March 27, AVF will screen The Beaches of Agnès (2008) at the Clinton. And if you’re eager for even more Varda, Vagabond (1985) plays at the Academy Theater on March 17-23.
Academy: Love & Basketball (2000), Space Jam (1996), The Breadwinner (2017); March 17-23. Cinema 21: The Apartment (1960), March 18. Cinemagic: Finding Nemo (2003), March 18. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), March 17, 18 and 20. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), March 18 and 21. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), March 18, 19 and 22. Clinton: Working Girls (1986), March 18. Smithereens (1982), March 19. Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), March 21. Hollywood: Monster (2003), March 16. Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996), March 17. Paris Is Burning (1990), March 18. Alma’s Rainbow (1994), March 20.