Coming Soon


Raoul Ruiz was a busy man: always filming. His filmography, according to the IMDb, stands at 63 features (though one is completely posthumous) and 27 shorts. Ruiz claimed not to know the whereabouts of many of these films and, given his globetrotting career as a political exile from his native Chile for much of his life, this seems quite credible. The thing was to keep working. Most established professionals don’t bother with shorts because there’s no money in it (unless you’re Scorsese) but Ruiz, as noted, liked to keep occupied.
The plot of this 1997 entry concerns a tiny religious cult based around a fragment of film, known as LE FILM A VENIR: The Coming Film. The phrase echoes that used by French movie trailers, their equivalent of Coming Soon. And, as with THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, the film within the film shares its title with the film itself.
Ruiz, who had made a short film (DOG’S DIALOGUE, 1977) almost entirely out of still photographs, planned this one as a kind of live-action photostrip in which the actors don’t move but the props do. For whatever reason, in the finished work he does allow his cast to move from one pose to another, making the strangeness less overt. It creeps up on you.
A matter-of-fact voice-over weaves an odd plot-line through a series of inscrutable images, or maybe most are actually quite mundane shots and only the words are making them strange? The situation shifts back and forth, with some lovely, dreamlike tableaux amid other, more banal images, all co-opted into Ruiz’s haunting, absurd narrative. The story seems to click shut like a trap, while remaining elusive to the point of vaporousness. What happened? Did anything happen?
Ruiz deserves to be better known and this film seems like a useful set of training wheels: discover his playful surrealism in a bite-sized unit. If you don’t speak French, the autotranslate function can be used to make the film much harder to understand.
Thanks to Ruizdiaries for translating RR’s preparatory thoughts on this film.

8 Responses to “Coming Soon”

  1. Here’s the interview I did with Raul back in 1986 He had come to Hollywood to deal with Golan and Globus (remember them?) who had put money into his “Treasure Island” but had no plans to release it.

  2. Here’s a link to purchase my book Film: The Front Line — 1984 which has a chapter entirely devoted to Ruiz On my first trip to Paris in 1983 I ran into him by chance in Saint-Germaine des pres. He invited me back to his place in Belleville where he cooked me a lunch so delicious I can still taste it.

  3. My favorite Ruiz is his Proust film

  4. A great filmmaker and a great cook! I need to set aside a Ruiz Week!

  5. chris schneider Says:

    Just because it’s such an anomaly, I’m curious about A CLOSED BOOK a.k.a. BLIND REVENGE. That’s a 2009 Anglophone thriller with Tom Conti and Darryl Hannah. Script by Gilbert Adair.

  6. I read the book, and didn’t much enjoy it. But I’m curious. There’s such a wealth of STUFF in Ruiz’s oeuvre, I want to burrow down into it.

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