Faces Places (2017)—France
In this inter–generational version of the classic road trip, the film maker Agnès Varda (born 1928) and the French photographer-muralist known as JR (born 1983) travel through rural France in a van that's equipped with a photo booth, and create portraits of the everyday people that they encounter. Their special photographic equipment spits out a huge picture of the person instantaneously, perhaps three feet by four feet, like an old Polaroid Instamatic. That photo is then greatly enlarged and pasted on the side of a large building, wall, water tower, etc. There's a farmer plastered on the side of his barn, coal miners displayed on their row houses in a nearly deserted village, and three wives of dock workers on a gigantic stack of shipping containers. We meet a mail man, factory workers, and a bell ringer ("I passed on the love of bells to my sons"), and even JR's hundred-year-old grandmother, all of whom share memories and stories. "Each face tells a story," says Varda. This is a cinematic version of the ordinary made sacred in the hands of talented artists. "Faces Places" won the award for the best documentary at the 2017 Cannes festival, and was nominated for best documentary at the 2018 Academy Awards. And when was the last time you watched a film that received a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (87 reviews)?! In French with English subtitles. I watched this film on a Netflix DVD.