Little by Little | Chicago Reader

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92 minutes · 2012

This French ethnographic film (1970) by Jean Rouch often feels like self-parody. Damouré Zika and Lam Ibrahima reprise their roles from Rouch's Jaguar (1967) as the Nigerian owners of a successful import-export business, who now travel to Paris to observe capitalist society. A broadly comedic variation on Rouch's seminal Chronicle of a Summer, the film is structured in its first half around a series of interactions between Zika and unwitting Parisians: amused by them and their customs, he uses a caliper to measure their heads and inspects their ears and mouths. Though the film has its strong points (the performances are naturalistic, the mise-en-scene casual yet refined), Rouch's gags gradually wear thin and distract from the more intriguing sociopolitical concerns.

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