If the Inuit supposedly have an extensive vocabulary to describe variations of snow, surely Angelenos must have the same for sunlight. Dull, glaring, hazy, and speckled, Varda harnesses them all to render the color palette of the period especially striking. The soft pastels and psychedelic bursts are most vibrant in Uncle Yanco, making this playful 19-minute short the greatest delight of all.
Uncle Yanco is the cinematic equivalent of a breeze blowing through gossamer curtains. Varda’s delight at meeting her relative can be felt in every frame, yet this is more than just a document of the coming together of two kindred spirits. With its fragmented opening visuals and sounds, bursts of psychedelic color, and images of the San Francisco area, it’s as much an experimental evocation of a place and time as a portrait of a person.
A deft collage artist and a social fixture within his “aquatic suburbia,” Yanco seems to spend his days fielding inspirations, holding court among a handful of sweet-faced hippies, and generally being an excellent subject for an Agnès Varda movie.