Henri Georges Clouzot's Inferno

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Stubbornly unilluminating of its subject, this behind-the-scenes documentary, largely made from unearthed footage from an aborted 1964 French psychothriller, has little to say about the reasons for the movie’s colossal unraveling. Behind the camera was Henri-George Clouzot, the master of Diabolique and Wages of Fear; supplied with tons of money and a willing star in sexy Romy Schneider, he somehow cracked under the pressure and fell into a spiral of obsessive retakes, antagonizing his cast and crew. Some of the existing material, filled with swirling lights and blue-lipped fantasy temptresses, is trippy in a post-Vertigo fashion. But the only thing that’s evident here is that Clouzot would have made a B-grade thriller had he stuck to his original plan. That can’t be the whole story. For revisionist snobs only, this doc feels like a DVD extra. Sunday, Oct 4 at noon—Joshua Rothkopf

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New York Film Festival 2009

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