ONE HUNDRED AND ONE NIGHTS (A HUNDRED AND ONE NIGHTS) (CENT ET UNE NUITS DE SIMON CINEMA, LES) (director/writer: Agnès Varda; cinematographer: Eric Gautier; editor: Hugues Darmois; music: ; cast: Michel Piccoli (Simon Cinema), Marcello Mastroianni (Italian friend), Henri Garcin (Firmin, the butler), Julie Gayet (Camille), Mathieu Demy (Mica), Emmanuel Salinger (Vincent) and Fanny Ardant, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Sandrine Bonnaire, Catherine Deneuve, Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Harrison Ford, Anouk Aimee, Gina Lollobrigida and Jeanne Moreau (as themselves); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Dominique Vignet; Winstar Video; 1995-France/UK-in French with English subtitles)

"I found it to be the only Varda film I didn't like."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

French filmmaker Agnès Varda ("The Gleaners and I"/"Cleo From 5 to 7"/"One Sings, The Other Doesn't") tries to cover the entire history of films in this playful but terribly silly homage film to cinema. Varda's excesses turn the farce into a mess that is as interesting to look at as a train wreck is for gawkers. It plays out as a goofy minor Fellini-like movie filled with some creative touches by the talented Varda, uber cameos from both Hollywood and European stars (from Anouk Aimee to Robert De Niro, with some 30 actors in cameo roles), mucho annoying juvenile wit, referring in some way or other to more than 50 films and a nauseating hero worship for the stars. It's the kind of film that should please film buffs and those impressed with star power more than others. I found it to be the only Varda film I didn't like.

The slight preposterous plot has the 100-year-old eccentric movie producer/director/actor Simon Cinema (Michel Piccoli), a symbol for movie history, hire an attractive young film school graduate student Camille (Julie Gayet) to be his muse and help the senile old man remember details about his illustrious career in the movies. The weak subplot, done without conviction, has the struggling student, in love with an aspiring director named Mica (Mathieu Demy, Varda's son), scheme to con the wealthy Simon out of his fortune.

Simon is visited by his friends Marcello Mastroianni and Gerard Depardieu, who recall their films with a nostalgic fondness. One of the highlight scenes is the arguing which scene in a bathtub came first--Mastroianni's in 8 1/2 or Piccoli's in Contempt. In the meantime the sometimes bed-ridden Simon sees ghosts of the Lumiere Brothers and chatters away about pics from Citizen Kane to King Kong and movie personalities from a talking cow as Luis Buñuel to Buster Keaton.

Varda throws everything against the wall, but very little sticks in this pointless lame comedy.

REVIEWED ON 3/18/2010       GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"