When the films of Eric Rohmer were first shown, they must have appeared like nothing that had been seen in a cinema before: all talk and no action, without any reliance on genre conventions or attention-grabbing contrivances. Even the languorous works of Antonioni seemed animated by comparison. Yet Rohmer was one of the original Cahiers du cinéma gang, having served as editor of that illustrious journal during its pivotal, late ’50s/early ’60s heyday, where he canonized Hitchcock and Hawks and promoted the auteur theory. He was the last of that celebrated group to make the transition from criticism to filmmaking, and compared with his former colleagues Truffaut, Godard and Chabrol, his defiantly unassuming works haven’t received much attention in recent years.
In La Collectionneuse (1967), art dealer Adrian (Patrick Bauchau) and artist Daniel (Daniel Pommereulle) borrow a friend’s villa on the Riviera, intending, as Adrian puts it, is “to carry idleness to a height never previously reached.” This plan is disturbed by a promiscuous, pixielike beauty, Haydee (Haydee Politoff), a collector of men whose unforeseen presence sets off a bizarre, passionless ménage played out in idyllic pastoral surroundings to a soundtrack of birdsong and the chattering of crickets. The atmosphere is sexually charged, but the sex itself is secondary to the constantly shifting mind games and equivocations of the almost impossibly attractive cast.

Fri., Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m., 2008

LA Weekly