Lions Love (…and Lies) Screen 9 articles

Lions Love (…and Lies)

1969

Lions Love (…and Lies) Poster
  • Commissioned, but never broadcast, by French television, her sympathetic, relatively straightforward account [Black Panthers] not only documented the Panthers but also preserves a moment in American social history. Ms. Varda’s most ambitious American movie, the 112-minute feature “Lions Love ( ... and Lies)” (1969), shot in Los Angeles during the spring of 1968, tried to do the same, with mixed results.

  • For the first time, the arch and flippant Lions Love has acquired an even more cryptic subtitle... and neither gets explained in Michael Koresky’s pro forma notes, which also make no mention of the film’s cinephiliac cameos, which I find far more enjoyable than Varda’s lazy imitations of Warhol, her awkward uses of Shirley Clarke playing herself, or her expedient appropriations of Robert Kennedy’s assassination and the attempted assassination of Warhol into her makeshift storyline.

  • Unendurable if not for Varda's indolent casualness, the movie is about (a movie about) childlike fringe preening, devoured by the filmmaker's curiosity for life, her camera thoroughly engrossed by the spectacle of Viva offering one loooong minute of breathing.

  • After such a trivial – and, for some, simply grating – introduction, Lions Love slowly metamorphoses into a precise if playful film about the United States in 1968—and a surprisingly clear-eyed and intelligent one, at that. The casting of Viva and her Hair compatriots notwithstanding – and Varda’s self-crediting as “Mama Lion” aside – the film is both a coherent capstone to the director’s sojourn in California and a portrait of its era as daring and cogent as Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point

  • A stiffly fruity zeitgeist cocktail, cut with the contemporaneous shootings of Robert Kennedy and Andy Warhol, Lions Love is the most contrived of this bunch, yet it still holds as a period artifact... Hard to get through, it is amusing and endearing in retrospect, having revealed that even the most insufferable of grating ’60s gibberish can’t quite defeat the power of Varda’s playful empathy.

  • Rather than a challenge to the audience, Lions Love comes across as a rambling, inclusive exploration. The long scenes of improvisational mucking about by the vogueing trio can be quite tedious, but they transpire with a faith that something unforeseen and valuable could occur. The value of what they do or say isn’t predetermined or assumed, though the value of process is.

  • Lying somewhere between fiction and documentary, comedy and tragedy, narrative and abstraction, Lions Love is Varda’s ultimate California film, an alternately caustic and guileless but always sun-drenched portrait of the gratifications and limitations of free living.

  • One of the era's other dominant counterculture movements is dramatized in Lions Love (...and Lies), one of Varda's most expert cominglings of fact and fiction.

  • Varda remains restrained and attentive in the presence of outrage and heartbreak, frivolity and frustration. Her film is more than a time capsule of events and moods—it’s a living aesthetic model for revolutionary times.

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