French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

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domino harvey
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#1 Post by domino harvey » Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:44 pm

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MINI-LIST: FRENCH NEW WAVE (1956-1968)
September 05 - November 02

Deadline extended to November 18

The French New Wave (AKA La Nouvelle Vague) is the shorthand name for a period of French filmmaking beginning in the late fifties and peaking in the early sixties. The movement is characterized by an emphasis on the vision of young filmmakers, location shooting, and radical stylistic, thematic, and political breaks from traditional French films of the era. The movement is frequently associated with the critics of Cahiers du Cinema, many of which went on to direct films during this period-- though as the extensive list below shows, these directors are only one aspect of the movement.

RULES
Only films by the directors below released between 1956 and 1968 are eligible. IMDB is fallible on this count, so if you have evidence the film was released within these perimeters and IMDB disagrees, show me your proof and I’ll make the call.

There will be two lists: a feature list and a shorts list. For the purposes of our list, a short is any film less than forty-five minutes in length.

EXCEPTIONS
These films are listed as 1955 films elsewhere, but premiered in France in 1956 and are thus eligible: La Pointe-Courte (Agnes Varda), Nuit et brouillard (Alain Resnais)

Méditerranée (Jean-Daniel Pollet 1963) is listed by some sources as 45 minutes, but the circulating copy runs 42 minutes, making it eligible for the shorts list, not the feature list

The minimum and standard number of submitted feature films for each participating member is 10, in ranked order (With number one being the best and so on down the line). However, if you feel especially well-versed in this genre or just can’t bare to limit yourself to a mere ten titles, you may submit up to twenty ranked titles (ie 20 total max) or any variant number between ten and twenty (so yes, your list may contain nineteen films, in honor of the number of features Godard could shoot and release in a single year).

The minimum and standard number of submitted short films for each participating member is 5, in ranked order. Same as above, you may submit a list that goes to 10 for the shorts list.

You do not have to submit a shorts list to submit a features list.

Individual segments of portmanteau films are eligible for the shorts list. You may also vote for an entire portmanteau film on the feature list. You may not vote for a short film on your feature list.

Members who submit only ten films and those who submit a maximum twenty titles will still be on even footing when it comes to the points assigned for the top ten (ie the film in their number one slot will be worth twenty points on everyone’s list).

tl;dr: List 10-20 feature films + 5-10 short films, in order of preference

Lists should be PMed to me, domino harvey, no later than November 2nd. No lists will be accepted before September 5th.


FORUM RESOURCES

(In progress)

Cahiers Catch-All Thread: From Auteur to Z / Qu'est-ce que c'est La Nouvelle Vague?

Agnes Varda / Alain Resnais / Brigitte Bardot / Claude Chabrol / Coffret Jacques Rozier / Francois Truffaut / Georges Franju / Godard in Japan / Godard on DVD / Jacques Rivette / Jacques Rivette on DVD and Blu-Ray / Jean Eustache on DVD / Jean-Luc Godard / Jean-Pierre Melville / Louis Malle / Luc Moullet Box Set / Portmanteau Films / StudioCanal: Godard: the Essential Collection

5, 185-188 the Adventures of Antoine Doinel
25 Alphaville
48 Black Orpheus
73-74, 418-420 4 by Agnes Varda
77 ...and God Created Woman
150 Bob le Flambeur
171 Contempt
174 Band of Outsiders
196 Hiroshima mon amour
197 Night and Fog
238 A Woman is a Woman
260 Eyes Without a Face
281 Jules and Jim
306 La samourai
308 Masculin feminin
315 Shoot the Piano Player
342-348 Six Moral Tales
408 Breathless
421 Pierrot le fou
429-430 the Fire Within and the Lovers
447-448 Le doulos and Le deuxieme souffle
478 Last Year at Marienbad
481-482 Made in USA & 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
512 Vivre sa vie
534 L'enfance nue
Zazie dans le metro
572 Leon Morin, priest
580-581 Le beau serge and Les cousins
635 Week End
648 Chronicle of a Summer
655 Pierre Etaix
710 Judex
713-719 the Essential Jacques Demy
728 Sundays and Cybele
749 the Soft Skin
824 Muriel, or the Time of the Return
Forthcoming: Les Carabiniers

49-50 Judex & Nuits rouges
79 Muriel, ou le Temps d'un retour
80 / BD 4 Une femme mariee
83 La Tete contre les murs

Arrow: Spotlight on a Murderer

BFI: Alain Robbe-Grillet: Six Films 1964-1974
BFI: Chronicle of a Summer
BFI: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
BFI: Paris nous appartient


PRINT RESOURCES


Cahiers du Cinema, December 1962 (the Nouvelle Vague issue)
Jean Douchet, French New Wave (1998)
Raymond Durgnat, the A-Z Guide to the “New Wave” (1963)
“40 Less Than 40” article, Cinema ’58 (Federation française des cineclubs publication)
Michel Marie, the French New Wave: an Artistic School (1997)
James Monaco, the New Wave (1974)
Richard Neupert, A History of the French New Wave (2002)

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IN-THREAD GUIDES

domino harvey on First Features


ELIGIBLE DIRECTORS

Participants are encouraged to investigate the extended canon of French New Wave filmmakers listed below, but you are of course welcome to restrict yourself solely to the works of the Young Turks or the Left Bank or whatever else, so long as it meets the guidelines.

The directors listed below were all at one time considered by at least one reputable source to be part of the French New Wave. Only films from the directors below are eligible. If you feel like there’s no way a given director listed below should be considered part of the French New Wave, that’s great, don’t vote for their films then.

I am in the middle of compiling an exhaustive study and reexamination of an increased canon for the French New Wave, which means I haven’t fully checked and confirmed every entry on the list below. It is highly likely once I implement a more rigorous metric for determining French New Wave directors that the gargantuan list below will be shorter, but it’ll do for now.

Edmond Agabra, Jean-Gabriel Albicocco, Mirea Alexandresco, Yannick Andrei, Pierre Armand, Phillippe Arthuys, Alexandre Astruc, Daniel Aubry, Jean Aurel

Jacques Baratier, Claude Barma, Jean Bastia, Jean Becker, Joe Benazeraf, Claude Bernard-Aubert, Jacques Berthier, Francois Billetdoux, Charles Bitsch, Gerard Blain, Francis Blanche, Bertrand Blier, James Blue, Marcel Bluwal, Michel Boisrond, Claude Boissol,, Jean-Claude Bonnardot, Bernard Borderie, Paul Bordry, Jacques Bourdon, Serge Bourguignon, Charles Brabant, Philippe de Broca, Peter Brook (Moderato only), RL Bruckberger, Noel Burch

Paul Cadéac, Gerald Calderon, Marcel Camus, Jan (Jean) Canolle, Norbert Carbonnaux, Pierre Cardinal, Alain Cavalier, Maurice Cazeneuve, Claude Chabrol, Francois Chalais, Monique Chapelle, Jean Cherasse, Pierre Chevalier, Yves Ciampi,, Fabien Collin, D Colomb de Daunant, Michel Clement, Henri Colpi, Jacques Constant, Jacques-Gerard Cornu

Grisha M Dabat, Patrice Dally, Jean-Daniel Daninos, Frederic Dard, Jean Dasque, Maurice Delbez, Bernard Deflandre, Paula Delsol, Jacques Demy, Jacques Deray, Andre Desreumaux, Michel Deville, Jean Dewever, Jean Domarchi, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Jean Douchet, Michel Drach, Philippe Ducrest, Jean-Charles Dudrumet, Jacques Dupont, Philippe Durand

Robert Enrico, Jacques Ertaud, Pierre Etaix, Jean Eustache

Henri Fabiani, Jacques Fabbri, Feri Farzaneh, Louis Félice, Louis Felix, Michel Fermaud, Dany Fog, Samson Francois, Georges Franju, Serge Friedman

Jacques Gaillard, Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau, Michel Gast, Armand Gatti, Pierre Gautherin, Paul Gegauff, Charles Gerard, Guy Gilles, Jean Giono, Francois Gir, Jean Girault, Claude de Givray, Sergio Gobbi, Jean-Luc Godard, Bernard Gorsky, Pierre Gout , Pierre Granier-Deferre, Pierre Grimblat, Louis Grospierre, Henri Gruel, Robert Guez, Jacques Guymont

Serge Hanin, Marcel Hanoun, Jean-Francois Hauduroy, Jean Herman, Robert Hossein

Jean Jabely, Alain Jeannel, Alain Jessua, Alex Joffé

Max Kalifa, Nelly Kaplan, Marin Karmitz, Pierre Kast, Leonard Keigel, Jean Kerchbron, Jean Kerchner, Serge Komor, Serge Korber, Ado Kyrou

Robert Lachenay, Jose-Andre Lacour, Claude Lalande, Albert Lamorisse, Robert Lamoureux, Georges Lautner, Jean Leduc, Guy Lefranc, Roger Leenhardt, Claude Lelouch, Francois Leterrier, Claude Ligur, Joseph Lisbona, Stellio Lorenzi, Claude Loursais, Jean-Claude Lubtchansky

Claude Magnier, Jean Maley, Louis Malle, Chris Marker, Christian Marquand, Robert Mazoyer, Jean-Pierre Melville, Robert Menegoz, Bernard T Michel, Michel Mitriani, Jean-Pierre Mocky, Edouard Molinaro, Francois Moreuil, Edgar Morin, Luc Moullet, Jean Mousselle, Marcel Moussy

Jacques Nahum

Marcel Ophuls, Gerard Oury

Jacques Panijel, Nico Papatakis, Denys de La Patellière, Paul Paviot, Max Pecas, André Pergamet, Etienne Perier, Guy Perol, Gérard Philippe, Maurice Pialat, Roger Pigaut, Jack Pinoteau, Roger Planchon, Jacques Poitrenaud, Jean-Daniel Pollet, Maurice Pons, Francino Premysler

Jean-Michel Rankovitch, Francois Reichenbach, Maurice Régamey, Jacques Remy, Alain Resnais, Jean-Louis Richard, Jean-Jose Richer, Francois Rigaud, Jacques Rivette, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Yves Robert, Eric Rohmer, Jean Rollin, Michel Romanoff, Jean-Baptise Rossi, Frederic Rossif, Jean Rouch, Jacques Rozier, Jean-Claude Roy, Mario Ruspoli

Christian de Saint-Maurice, Roger Saltel, Raoul Sangla, Jean-Paul Sassy, Claude Sautet, Jean Schmidt, Pierre Schoendoerffer, Edmond Sechan, Jean-Claude See, Louis Soulanes

Haroun Tazieff, Jean-Marc Thibault, Henri Torrent, Francois Truffaut

Roger Vadim, Jean Valere, Agnes Varda, Gilbert Vergnes, Henri Verneuil, Andre Versini, Jean-Jacques Vierne, Jacques R Villa, Carlos Vilardebo, François Villiers, Raymond Vogel

Michel Wichard

X (director of October a Paris — Jacques Panijel)

Henri Zaphiratos, Pierre Zimmer

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domino harvey
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#2 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:05 pm

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REVISITING FIRST FEATURES OF KEY NEW WAVE DIRECTORS

In an effort to put forth some leadership by example, be the change I want to see, and anything else that would look good on a motivational poster, I spent the last week prepping for this list by going back to revisit the first features of key (or should be key) New Wave directors. For Deville and Malle, I counted their first solo films, disregarding their previous co-directed features. Some of these I’ve seen many times since my initial viewing, and others I have only now seen twice. My selection was mostly based on importance, my memories, and my own tastes (there are some eligible first features I have no intention of ever seeing again). I have arranged my responses in order of my present esteem. Is there any doubt what comes first?


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À bout de souffle (Jean-Luc Godard 1960)
American student in Paris does civic duty. I surely wrote more about this film in college than all other movies put together, and have probably read more papers analyzing every conceivable minutiae of its contents. It has the sole distinction among all films of having literally changed my life. When I saw it on the first day of my first New Wave class, I was stunned. I had no idea a film could do that. Cinema had always been a lesser art for me, but Godard opened the door for me to believe the opposite: all other arts now pale next to film, because film contains all the best aspects of all the best arts. Or at least that sounds good and hyperbolic enough to maybe be true! À bout de souffle has been at multiple times in my life, including at present, my favorite film. Rewatching it last after revisiting so many other interesting films from this movement, it has lost none of its punch, and remains clearly head and shoulders above not just its brethren in the movement, but all films. It is a movie I would pick should some madman insist I retire to a desert island and only take one movie with me. And why? Because in it I see everything I find interesting about the most interesting thing I know, film. Godard addresses and plays with concerns that are my own. Do we share so many because he’s a great artist who matches so closely with my own interests, or were these interests formed and developed because of my love of Godard? Oui. J’adore ce film. Fin. (R1/A Criterion / R2/B StudioCanal)

Hitchcock cameo: Man with pipe who spies Belmondo in the paper


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Hiroshima mon amour (Alain Resnais 1959)

A French actress has a one night stand with a Japanese architect in Hiroshima. Complications ensue. “Deform me to the point of ugliness,” Riva breathily asks her bedmate early on, and it’s both an oddly touching plea between lovers and an acknowledgement of the malleability we we grant others when we give our selves. It’s a line that’s stuck with me from my very first viewing, and I still find great beauty and power in it. But it also describes the act of memory the film exerts so much cleverness twisting and playing with like long hairs twirled around a young girl’s finger. Our memories are distorted by the present, always. And as in the film, they often come fragmentary and loosely tied to their triggers, showing only one side as if framed by a camera in our mind’s eye. We remember the bits and pieces, the parts of the whole, but never the totality of the moment.

“I’m already forgetting you,” Riva unconvincingly tells her lover late in the film. This runs in parallel to her lover’s earlier promise that when he’s forgotten all about their tryst, he’ll only remember the act of her telling him a private story of woe. A loss is gained, but not our own. How many memories do we carry that aren’t even ours, but a memory of a memory? This is not just a horrible story of an ex told by our own ex, or a funny tale from childhood told by a child who is not us, but cinema itself. We live the lives of people we never were, and remember them still. Memory imparts on us its will. And Resnais’ film understands and relays that message into a memory of its own.

There are two reasons I am so hard on virtually all post-La Guerre est finie Resnais. One reason is that they’re awful. But the other is that his first features are so goddamned good that it’s even more dispiriting to see him take the hard turn into theatricality concerns versus art house tinkerings at memory. Though, perhaps, after the pitiful self-parody of Je t’aime, je t’aime, there was literally nothing left for Resnais to say on the subject after producing a handful of shorts and three full length masterpieces on the subject. (R1/A Criterion)


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Adieu Philippine (Jacques Rozier 1963)
A television cameraman about to be called up for service in the Algerian war befriends a pair of best friends and covertly romances both while the girls pretend not to care. If I had to pick two films to explain or represent the New Wave, this and A bout de souffle would be it. A fundamental text of the movement (indeed, the two female protagonists shared the cover of Cahiers’ legendary December ’62 New Wave issue, which some enterprising lit label needs to translate in whole to English and reprint— for those who can even passably read French, I HIGHLY recommend tracking down a copy anyways, as it’s been instrumental as a crucial text for my own research), it went long-dormant from view for decades and has fallen by the wayside. For all the flaws in the transfer of this film in the Agnes B DVD box set, at least someone put this out in an English-friendly release. I wish I won the lottery (or had a rich aunt to croak and leave me her factories), a complete Rozier restoration and rerelease for home media would be more pressing than a nice car or fancy house. I know different markets demand different types of releases, but we live in a world in which these reels rot away on a shelf somewhere while Jess Franco movies get lavish Blu-ray special editions.

Rozier’s work can be split in two, and Adieu Philippine straddles the movements. It clearly crystallizes and perfects the focus on youth and sideways courtship rituals from his shorts, while hinting at the spectacular use of grace notes and shaggy, unexpected journeys into narrative uncertainty that will mark his best works. The structure and tone of the film allows for Rozier to step back and give us moments that feel startlingly, invasively real. The film’s greatest confusion of documentary and fiction is that great sequence in which the two girls, shot covertly from across the street, simply walk through the crowds of Paris and are quickly hit-on and picked up more than once by eager strangers!

In a movement that featured some of the most attractive women in the world, Yveline Céry is, for me, the most beautiful

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and it is a shame her perf as Liliane remained her sole film credit. She has the guileless charm of youth so crucial to much of Rozier’s best work.

Rozier’s film is direct and honest and true. It is not clever. This is not an intellectual exercise, nor an emotional one. Rozier’s film makes no claims to greatness, and by not seeking greatness, it nevertheless achieves it by being true to itself. It captures that most wonderful and elusive of all observations: vibrant normalcy.

PS And just when I thought the Jean-Claude Brialy cameo in Elevator to the Gallows had to be the shortest one ever, here he pops up for literally one second! (R0 Agnes B)


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Ce soir ou jamais (Michel Deville 1961)
A theatrical group prepares to stage an operetta by recasting a crucial part during an informal party in this look at a completely different yet no less crucial reality than Adieu Philippine’s perception. Here are a group of characters immediately recognizable as born for the stage: fluttering about, incessantly talking and one-upping each other, incestuously flitting about from person to person in mixed pairs all evening. It’s been less than ten months since I first saw this and raved about it elsewhere on the forum, but on revisit I was taken again by Deville’s use of POV shots from multiple characters. This isn’t Lady in the Lake, but the way Deville places the viewer in the action of the party, with its inside jokes and references to things we don’t understand making us feel more alien and apart from the action even as the party progresses. Deville is interested in examining how parties function, how individuality in group dynamics settles and resettles throughout the course of a night. And he’s a superb visual wit, using the camera to play an audience as much as our characters play each other. It is once more proof that Deville’s absence from English-subbed home video releases has unfairly removed him from contention as one of the greats, or even acknowledged his existence.

While this title is still hard to track down with English subs, even on back channels, I encourage everyone to seek out his other eligible titles— all save the Mona Lisa heist movie are worth seeing, and several (foremost this one) are worth making your list. Deville’s chief collaborator from this period, screenwriter Nina Companeez, should also be considered as something of a co-auteur. For those looking for the rare female voices in this movement, I find their works together immeasurably better than anything by Agnes Varda. (No English-subbed commercial release, not available with English subs on back channels)


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Les quatre cents coups (François Truffaut 1959)
I suspect my initial Truffaut / New Wave viewings went a bit backwards compared to most, as neither this nor Jules et Jim were shown in my initial French New Wave class in college (we instead watched Tirez sur le pianiste and La peau douce). I sought it out on my own at some point soon after, but Truffaut was never a top priority in my viewings, even then. Rewatching it now, well, I am tempted to marvel at how polished and confident the film is, but despite their reputation, many of the initial New Wave features are. I think this smart, amorphous portrait of a troubled boy reveals that well-worn claims of Truffaut “turning” to producing populist cinema are suspect— he was there from shot one. Even if the moral ambiguity and willingness to paint its infamous protagonist with non-judgmental strokes seem outwardly “apart,” I’m unconvinced the impact and effect of their usage is anything of the sort. And there’s nothing wrong with that. This is a well-made and smartly observed film of youth, and while I’ll never truly understand those who find it THE seminal work of the movement, intellectually I “get” it. Sort of.

The film offers us a systemic critique of the institutions available for children: school fails Antoine Doinel, both literally and holistically, as students are screamed at and forced to produce inane assignments in education as retribution (I also found Doinel’s teacher lamenting that he fears what these boys will be up to in ten years’ time eerily prescient for foreseeing Mai 68); the authorities are no help, as their solution is to talk Doinel’s family into signing away the boy’s guardianship to a work farm cum kiddie jail and throwing away the key; and Doinel’s family itself is terribly dysfunctional. This last focus of the film is the most intriguing on my revisit, as Truffaut does not give us simplistic villains or saints in Doinel’s parents. I can sympathize with their frustration— we may like Antoine, but let’s be real, he is a little shit some times (or often, even)— but their methodology and approach to parenting is a consistent, if subconscious, signaling of their apathy at parenting that borders on outright hostility. Poor Antoine isn’t even afforded his own room, instead relegated to what appears to be the foyer of the apartment (as a side note, I am always fascinated by the decrepit buildings we find characters from all walks of non-bourgeois life occupying in French films of this era— I know Godard was skeptical of modern apartments/gentrification in 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle, but looking at Antoine’s apartment, it’s hard to believe a sterile but clean and spacious space could be worse). The “night out on the town” sequence is the film’s best, as we see everyone in the family having a good time that seems only possible by actively pretending they’re not miserable. I don’t see it as a brief moment of familial bliss, I see it as a self-conscious pantomime of happiness by a trio of miserable, unhappy sufferers. It is the most obvious symbolic band-aid the film offers for the festering wound of Antoine’s troubles, and one that shows even at its best his life is troubled beyond the norm. (R1/A Criterion / R2/B Artificial Eye)

Hitchcock cameo: Man on the Rotor carnival ride


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Brigitte et Brigitte (Luc Moullet 1966)

Left behind by history for making the transition to features too late, Moullet’s tale of two young college students named Brigitte is a remarkable film (Godard went as far as to call it “revolutionary” and suggested Hollywood should give all their workhorse projects to Moullet instead of Richard Quine et al). Down near the end of this write-up round-up I criticize Jacques Doniol-Valcroze for being inept as a filmmaker. To be sure, L'eau à la bouche’s direction looks like Renoir next to Moullet’s work here. But the difference, and it is huge and of great importance, is that Moullet goes so far beyond amateur here that he crafts an open-source approach to film language that still resonates in the free media of YouTube and Vine et al. If Week End was a film found in a garbage dump, Brigitte et Brigitte could be found in a rec center. Here is a film about youth that not only stars and satirizes youth, it looks and feels like it was made by teenagers in their garages and empty classrooms. There’s a willful abandon of traditional sets (and set-ups) in the film. If a scene’s not shot on location (as in the hilarious tour of Paris, complete with meaningless awarding of ratings on a 20-point scale), it’s in a bare room adorned with maybe one or two pieces of furniture to indicate a cafe or auditorium or bedroom. The film is a comedy, so there are traditional gags, many quite funny (especially when we learn the exact order of worst filmmakers). But the film is also critique of contemporary French politics from all sides, yet without easy focal points of anger or dissent. The film is too anarchic to be partisan, and like one of the titular Brigittes trying to vote, the film ironically can be overwhelming due to its outward naked “simplicity” of construction and narrative design. In many ways, it is a film that only Cahiers’ resident oddball Moullet could make— inexplicable yet fascinating. And, for all its charms, it’s pretty empty as film experiences go. But Pixy Stix and cotton candy have their place.

Even though he started making features far later than his co-workers, Moullet still nets requisite Young Turk cameos here from Chabrol and Rohmer (but also appearances by later Cahiers contributors Jacques Bontemps, Michel Delahaye, Dominique Rabourdin, and Andre Techine— plus Samuel Fuller). Rohmer’s cameo as a professor who prattles on about the specific number of violent acts in American cinema is especially amusing.

PS One of the film’s gags revolves around the worthiness of a director named “Compton.” This surely must be the most obscure film reference in the picture— and this is already the only film in history to have an Edward Ludwig joke. It took me digging through contemporary Cahiers issues to even figure out who this is: Juleen Compton. (R0 Facets / Blaq Out)

Hitchcock cameo: Man who arrives too late in answering the Figaro ad for a room


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Les mauvais coups (François Leterrier 1961)

An unhappily married couple draw an innocent third party into their misery. Simone Signoret is suitably pathetic as the alcoholic wife to Reginald Kernan’s semi-retired race car driver, a man who resents the forced domesticity of their relationship with every outward signifier of his body. This is not a story headed towards a happy ending, and Alexandra Stewart’s pliable young schoolteacher is the last to figure that out. Leterrier, who was Robert Bresson’s escaped man before going behind the camera as Louis Malle’s AD, gives the whole affair a dour air in what is a remarkably confident and mature debut. The film is terrifically cruel in showing how Signoret and Kernan have so fully entwined misery with love in their relationship that emotionally using and abusing Stewart becomes the equivalent of a nice dinner out or a weekend getaway— Stewart is reduced to a cheap imitation of their own acidic amour. One of the most disturbing scenes in the film finds Signoret tricking the naive and pliable Stewart into dressing and styling her appearance in a mocking imitation of Signoret’s own fading looks just to force a reaction from her husband. Each partner is honest about their extramarital dalliances— too honest, and as an audience we are quickly reminded that many a healthy relationship has been saved by learning the value of lies.

This is one of the shortest turn-arounds for a rewatch, as I first saw this less than a year ago, but it is a thematically rich film and I appreciate it even more on a second viewing. I especially enjoyed the ominous and dreary music cues this time around, improvised piano dirges that make sure we understand that everything we see on screen is dead.

Having by coincidence seen or re-seen several of Stewart’s films in close proximity lately, I was amused to learn she was Malle’s girlfriend at the time. Gee, Malle certainly had a type, didn’t he?

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Stewart’s not called on to do much more here than be a human prop for the back and forth miseries of the main couple, but that’s still more acting than Malle’s second wife was doing this early in her own career. (No commercial English-subbed release, available with subs via back channels)


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L'Amérique insolite (François Reichenbach 1960)
Reichenbach visits the States and reveals an unexpected look at America in the late fifties as seen from outside. We are now so removed from the fifties that the film functions as much for us as it did the French at the time, in providing a wholly alien look at the melange of cultures and practices of the era. Unusually shot in ‘Scope, the doc give us a multitude of unexpected vantages and shots that are frequently fascinating. If all the film did was capture amusing novelties like pie eating contests (complete with a hilarious Michel Legrand song in which the lyrics namecheck the composer) and the like, it would be of some interest. But there’s a lot going on here. Early in the film, Reichenbach bridges a scene of lovers embracing at a campsite to lovers embracing in the waves of a beach. He then reveals these new lovers are models, complete strangers paid to pretend to fall for each other, and then shows that by the end of the shoot, the models themselves appear to by their fiction and start making out for real. It is the film’s greatest moment, and one that gives a key for reading the picture as a whole: America as conscious and self-furthered fiction. Reichenbach does not directly attack the country or culture. Rather, with the assistance of Chris Marker, who co-wrote the narration, he talks around it. At first the narration comes off as too cloying, too cute. However, it soon becomes clear that the film is offering a variation of the ethnographic documentary, and the narration that tends to go with it. Reichenbach presents us with an unusual product: a Western ethnography as seen by Western filmmakers for Western audiences. We (American or French) recognize the patronizing tone of this piece because for all its alien aspects, the world is recognizable and comparable to our own. Yet, do we check ourselves as easily when we see the travelogue of Tahiti or rural China? Reichenbach’s film causes a Western audience to examine their own cultural assumptions by turning strange that which is not, really, that foreign.

It’s interesting to note how carefully Reichenbach avoids direct critique. If you were a foreigner traveling to America in the late fifties, surely one of the first things you would notice is the self- and state-sanctioned segregation. Yet the film never says one word about this— directly, at least. We get plenty of shots of black children playing together, footage of the black carnival in Mardi Gras, and so on to accompany the footage of white teenagers blowing bubblegum bubbles on the beach and what not. The film even offers us a helpful explanation that America has two races: dogs and cats. But by its obvious exclusion, the film draws increased attention via this lack. Reichenbach’s film is too outwardly genial to be openly hostile, but the film is fundamentally incredibly negative in its portrayal of American society. When we see a bizarre prison rodeo in which bullriders compete for reduced sentences, Reichenbach doesn’t need to pat our hand and let us know he agrees it’s barbaric. He shows the process, overlays some pat commentary, and points out how some of the participants are there even without the promise of reducing their sentence, an even greater indignity. It is, I think, so clever a critique that one could imagine this playing in American theatres to local audiences and having the film received at face value with no offense taken (well, were it not for all the nudity in the film…). (No commercial release, VHS rip [fortunately in ‘Scope] with English subs available on back channels)


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Le Signe du lion (Eric Rohmer 1962)
Burly musician mistakenly believes he’s inherited a fortune, and then spends most of the film slowly succumbing to the circumstances of his poverty. The film is notable for being both a financial failure and for being drastically different from Rohmer’s other work. It is tempting to label what Rohmer does in the film as a variation of Italian Neorealism, however Rohmer pointedly keeps his audience at arm’s length from the protagonist as we follow him down into the gutter. Jess Hahn’s Wasserlin isn’t unlikable per se, but he refuses to perform the simplest action which would solve the issue at hand: get a job. It’s unusual to see such willful poverty in a New Wave film without it being fodder for criminal motivators, but this element is only halfheartedly invoked by the film. When Hahn attempts to get a job as a smuggler, there’s little sense he’s any more serious about it than his claims of paying his landlady for rent the next day. It’s this distance, then, that separates Le Signe du lion from all those great Italian films. And it is oddly fascinating as we observe without much emotion a downfall. That said, the film is too long for this kind of approach, and surely an hour-plus of watching a charming guy face increasingly pathetic situations could be reduced some with little lost in the message and method.

Rohmer also teases us with repeated shots of the water, as Hahn keeps making his way back to the Seine (and in one memorable shot even finding himself framed against a poster of the Seine when indoors), suggesting the option of suicide at every juncture of his downfall. This is part of what I think is the film’s greatest achievement: the extensive location work. We’ve seen debut films shot in and around Paris from just about everyone involved in this movement (Of the Young Turks, only Chabrol turned to the small towns instead), but few can compete with the magnitude of locale featured here. When, after no lessons have been learned and a pattern repeats itself, Rohmer goes cosmic in the last shot, as if to defer blame away from Paris in the only direction possible. (R2 Artificial Eye / R2/B Agnes B Blu-ray)


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Lola (Jacques Demy 1961)
Intersecting lovers, parallel to a level of absurdity we only get in cinema, zoom along past each other in a fast-paced and scrappy feature that marries whirlwind camera work by Coutard in contrast to the “prestige” ‘Scope ratio it occurs within. Demy’s love of doomed relationships and credibility-shattering coincidences and narrative contrivance are certainly on display, but both Anouk Aimee’s titular dancer and her primary longing-on, Marc Michel’s Roland, are not particularly interesting. It’s telling that most of what I remembered about this film is the b-story between American sailor Frankie and the fourteen year-old Cécile— Annie Dupéroux is superb as the young girl who asks incessant questions and finds herself unknowingly living out a scenario all too familiar to our ostensible protagonist. But any scene without her or her harried mother is lacking investment, as the mirage of fantasy the film offers is not often sustainable with such bland central figures. Lola’s happiness and Roland’s sadness in the end are of equal impact: none, particularly when compared to the emotional whirlwind of something as simple as an afternoon at the fair (one culminating in what is to my eyes still the single greatest use of slow-motion in film history). (R1/A Criterion)


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Moi, un noir (Jean Rouch 1958)
Rouch’s typically puckish approach to reality finds him befriending and then filming a group of French Africans’ quasi-improvised, quasi-staged self-told story. We see our narrator, Edward G Robinson, give us his take on a day laborer’s life in Treichville, an Ivory Coast quarter, and meet his friends Eddie Constantine, Tarzan, and Dorothy Lamour, among others. As you can tell, Western culture had already imparted and shaped the world captured by the film long before Rouch showed up on the scene to tell these stories. There’s not much here in terms of plot or character apart from the initial concept, but Rouch wisely keeps the running time low enough that by the time the gimmick wears thin, the film’s already wrapping up. Hard to compare this to my memories, as I’d long ago forgotten most of the details apart from the names of our characters. Since I have no interest in tangling with Rouch’s ethnographic methodology (and want to read such approaches even less), there’s little else left to say. Certainly it’s worth watching at least once, especially in how it served as a central influence on the Cahiers crew’s approach to their own filmmaking ethos. (No commercial English-subbed release, available with subs via back channels)


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Le beau Serge (Claude Chabrol 1958)
Initially conceived for and rejected by Rossellini, this earthy tale of a small French village and its woes is outwardly a world apart from much of Chabrol’s more palatial / urban efforts, but I think the differences are deceivingly slight. Here we have duplicitous motivations, characters seemingly ignorant of the impact and public perception of their own moral codes and behaviors, and a slyly flat approach to the characters that remains hard to gauge who is “good” and “bad”— all hallmarks of Chabrol’s work as a whole. That said, while I enjoyed this more than my increasingly fainter memories, it doesn’t quite work. The basic plot— Jean-Claude Brialy leaves small village, comes back and decides he needs to “save” his old friend Gerard Blain (and vicariously the village itself) through selflessness that more closely resembles arrogance. Part of the blame can be assigned to Blain, who’s broad approach to the material often grates, especially when he’s “drunk”— and his sensitive, consciously James Dean-aping moments fare little better. Brialy likewise is just not cut out for playing straight-laced. These two will do soooooo much better more or less switching roles in Chabrol’s first masterpiece, Les cousins (which of course was only released two months after this— if only that had been the historic “first” feature of the Nouvelle Vague). Bernadette Lafont does her usual flirtatious minx act (I loved her first scene here, wherein she greats Jean-Claude Brialy by getting as close to his face as possible without touching— what an odd yet appropriate choice). The rest of the cast of locals are fine, and it’s cute to see many of them decades later in the doc on Criterion’s edition— though the highlight of that piece is hearing Brialy relay his first phone call with Blain, which is hilariously crude and volatile. (R1/A Criterion + R2/B MoC)

Hitchcock cameo: “La Truffe” (and that’s actually Philippe de Broca as his pal, “Jacques Rivette”)


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Paris nous appartient (Jacques Rivette 1961)
Well, three-plus years after the Doinels set out to see this in the theatre, the rest of France got a chance and the general response was broadly confounding— and still is. It’s telling that Rivette and Doniol-Valcroze were the only Cahiers critics-turned-directors to find favor with the Leftist Positif et al. I honestly think much of it comes down to the humorlessness of Rivette’s films, which was equated by the Left with seriousness of purpose (vom). This film is so self-serious while being so utterly silly in its intentionally obfuscated conspiracies that it feels like a bit of a put-on, a gag on the audience that we’re not privy to. And perhaps this is its most interesting aspect, its unwieldiness and unwillingness to invite an audience in. However, when the film works, it works for more conventional reasons: Godard’s cameo, for instance, playing with his reputation as a lady-killer who here is rejected, is the lone source of levity amidst all the dour dread, and seems beamed in out of another (and better) film. The finale, in which things are either explained or further complicated, depending on how you look at it, too feels both a relief and a frustration. I feel like I need a bumper sticker that reads ‘I “Get” Rivette’ that I can just gesture to it when people praise the elements inherent in his work that nevertheless don’t gel into a satisfying experience. I “get” it, and I’m not sure I care. Giving the benefit of the doubt this early on, pretending to not know what is to come, the film fares better: I can see where rope should be given. I also see how Rivette followed-through on those aspects (actors rehearsing, excessive running times) which don’t serve him well, even here. It’s a challenge of revisionism, as I look back and must reevaluate my earlier praise for a director I am increasingly less than swayed by. I don’t think this film works, I’m not sure I ever did, and it is unlikely I ever will. But it is interesting in its comparative qualities when considered against the first works of Rivette’s colleagues, and undeniably it strikes a different chord. Not quite my tempo, though. (R1/A Criterion / R2 BFI)

Hitchcock cameo: Man sitting behind guitar player during first party


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Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Louis Malle 1958)
An incredible assortment of the dumbest criminals imaginable get caught by the police while some jazz plays. I rewatched every film for this writeup no matter how long ago I last saw it, but this title held the longest span between viewings and had faded so fully from my memory that it was like watching it for the first time. And I hated it. Ironically for a film renowned for its (overrated) jazz soundtrack, the film itself has no idea how to pace or play-out its scenes. Look at the artless wanderings of Jeanne Moreau though Paris streets, filmed as flatly as a stationary shot of a field, or the way Malle holds too long on the bartender and waiter conspiring to turn in a wanted criminal, or how a bumbling custodian repeats his empty lines several times upon discovering a body, for no reason other than that this movie is poorly made. The structure is also ridiculous: We get a dramatically inert A storyline of a killer “stuck” in an elevator, who abandons a plausible means of escape for no reason other than that the film wants cheap irony points by keeping him trapped longer; Then there’s the young JD punk and his girlfriend who are swept up into the world’s least convincing double murder and decide to off themselves with the gravity of buying new pants; and of course there’s Jeanne Moreau, called upon to get light cardio on-cam and little else. Alternating storylines like this should build upon one another and act in congress to provide either tension or relief from each other. Here they’re just giving the audience three movies they don’t want for the price of one. No wonder the Cahiers gang came swinging out of the gate at Malle (though he gets his licks in right back at ‘em with Zazie dans le metro). (R1 Criterion / R2/B Artificial Eye)


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Et Dieu... créa la femme (Roger Vadim 1956)
Brigitte Bardot is a town harlot who marries the pathetic Jean-Louis Trintignant even though her heart belongs to his asshole brother. I hated every single character in this merde-go-round for being so unflappably predictable and one-dimensional— this is the kind of movie where every time we see the bartender in Curd Jurgens’ club, he’s busily polishing a glass with a rag. I knew going in that I had successfully blocked most of the film from my memory, and I look forward to returning to that state.

I don’t personally consider Vadim part of the French New Wave, but most early studies of the movement place him there and name this film (along with I-also-don’t-consider-part-of-the-NV Melville’s Bob le flambeur) as jump-starting the movement in its infancy. Why? Because viewers wanted to fuck Brigitte Bardot and came up with a lot of laborious reasoning for explaining their attraction in other ways. For a film that launched Bardot’s career as everyone’s favorite sex kitten, she is surprisingly unsexy here, sashaying around in a bratty, juvenile imitation of eroticism. Bardot is but a spiritual precursor to the ridiculous Leigh Taylor-Young perf in the Big Bounce, ie the inexplicable death of actual sex appeal in the face of overwhelming beauty.

For a film that allegedly sparked interest in a generation of soon-to-be filmmakers, there’s little here to single out in the mise-en-scene, which with few changes could be straight from the dead-eyed house style of contemporary Fox ‘Scope prestige pics directed by Henry King. All that’s missing here is wall-to-wall orchestration and a bra.

It’s “well-known” the film was loved by the Young Turks. Perhaps by some (most notably Godard and Truffaut, but not Rohmer), but it performed only okay in the Conseil. The lengthy Cahiers writeup by Claude de Givray is an impenetrable attempt at furthering the “women of today as we see them” line of defense. My translation of some sample absurdity:
Jean Renoir confessed once in an interview that one of the things that struck him the most in 1918 was the fashion of short hair: women forced to work in factories during the war had to cut their long hair, (a detail seen in Queen Kelly, where all the classmates of Gloria Swanson wear braided bands). With Et Dieu... créa la femme we finally found a heroine whose ponytail is not a mere adornment, a uniform, but a profession of faith, a claim.
Yes, the movie is revolutionary because Bardot wears a ponytail. Helpful! Also worth noting that Bardot at no point in the film wears her hair in a ponytail. (R1 Criterion)


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La Tête contre les murs (Georges Franju 1959)
Young man hassles father, ends up institutionalized, leaves, stays, leaves, stays. I have seen too many films that treat a stay in a mental hospital like an extended vacation to get your shit together, so while I commend the film for not offering up such platitudes, I damn it for not offering up anything in its place. In a world where psychological approaches to neuroses and mental health was in full swing, the film’s choice to focus on no psychology outside of “Daddy issues” is somehow more insulting than silly bastardizations of psychotherapy like the Dark Past. Why does this film exist? Why did I have to sit through an hour and a half of it (twice!)? Why does the Durgnat excerpt keep referring to “style” and “lyricism” when none is present in the film? Why does nothing interesting or of importance happen? Sure, the film does not exploit, but it does not explore either. It indeed has no curiosity, and could very well have been written by the boorish protagonist, who likewise makes no real effort at betterment or reflection. Outside of Thérèse Desqueyroux, I think little of Franju’s features, but that film is a masterpiece of depression and worth all the misses that surrounded it to get it so right. This is a failure that gets it so wrong, though. (R2 Masters of Cinema)


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L'eau à la bouche (Jacques Doniol-Valcroze 1960)
Not so much a watering of the mouth, what we have here is spit. Doniol-Valcroze conveniently gets left out of being classified as one of the Young Turks despite also writing for Cahiers, and I think the easiest explanation is he’s so inept as a filmmaker that including him with a group of greats would only bring down the overall average. I called this film “worthless” five years ago on this very board after my first viewing, and watching it again I fear I may have been too kind. The story here is the same hoary romp through the palatial estate nonsense that Fassbinder had so much fun parodying in Chinese Roulette, but were that the familiar and surprise-free narrative the biggest flaw here. No, the film is so poorly made that it’s hard to believe its director had ever seen a film at all, much less written at-length about them. The film starts off dreadfully, with a flashback for no reason other than that beginning the film with the next scene (ie first chronologically) would have sent audiences right out the door as we get an endless and uninteresting phone conversation written, shot, and performed with all the interest and skill of two people reading ingredient lists off cans. It’s a remarkably awful scene. Doniol-Valcroze soon shares his preferred method of transitioning edits between scenes: amateur-hour zoom-ins. Good lord, so many scenes here end with unnecessary and awkward zooms that one wonders why a cineaste felt compelled to crib from TV soaps. The film is not clever or funny, and the joyless moroseness copies over even to the “lighter” moments, most notably the extended chase in which a lustful servant chases Bernadette Lafont through four or five stories of the estate, forcibly removing her clothing piece by piece in his effort to rape her. This isn’t funny but I could see this situation potentially being played for laughs, or heightened for dramatic terror, but here it’s just there, flat and awful. So, a grand summation of the film at-large. (No commercial English-subbed release, available with subs via back channels)


….okay, so that’s approximately 6500 words on seventeen films to start us off. Hopefully at least a few of those words or thoughts can jumpstart some discussion. Or, of course, feel free to talk about whatever eligible films you feel like, regardless of if I mentioned them! But let’s do this thing, Criterion Forum Dot Org!

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zedz
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#3 Post by zedz » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:07 pm

Jean Eustache seems to be missing from your list of eligible directors. Even bearing in mind the 1968 cut-off, Le Pere Noel a les yeux bleus is in contention (as a feature rather than a short, as it's over 45 minutes).

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domino harvey
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#4 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:11 pm

Yep, just double-checked my sources notes and he's eligible. The first post has been amended

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#5 Post by swo17 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:19 pm

Great first post, dom!

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knives
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#6 Post by knives » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:24 am

If it's okay can I post about some films slightly outside of the confines of the list as long as they bring in context to the list? I'm already planning on posting about eligible films that all the same personally don't feel New Wave (the Melville and Franju stuff for example). Also for the shorts list are television films eligible? I'd probably put Rohmer's Louis Lumiere, available on the AE Sign of the Lion, at number one if possible. Also thanks for discussing availability in your post. That's the hardest thing for me at the moment. Anyway I've got a backlog of pre-viewings that I'll be posting later.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#7 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:34 am

I'm pretty unfamiliar with Chabrol. Could anyone provide some good recommendations, especially thrillers?

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knives
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#8 Post by knives » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:39 am

I've still got a few to go through, but A double tour is his first thriller and a pretty great summary of how he goes about that stuff. Most of his films from the period are silly James Bond rip-offs (that are usually fun), but there are a few good real thrillers as well. For me it falls outside his New Wave period and as I understand it the film is a call back to Les bonnes femmes which I haven't seen, but Les biches is probably my favorite of the eligible films with a really weird thematic thorough line.

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domino harvey
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#9 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:12 am

Les biches has little in common with Les bonnes femmes other than both starring Audran. Mr Sausage, your best bets for Chabrol's requisite thrillers are outside of the purview of this period-- I think, however, you would appreciate Les cousins from this period

Knives, I think some tangential discussion of outlying films is okay, but please be sure to clarify the film in question is not eligible so no one gets confused. TV movies are eligible for either list so long as they fit the other stated requirements

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#10 Post by Drucker » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:20 am

Dom--would love to know your opinion on Franju's Judex. I won't be participating in this list but I've noticed you didn't care much for Spotlight On A Murderer and the above film. Judex was one of my favorite discoveries from Criterion in the last few years, and I'm wondering if you see it as an exception, or you don't care for that one, either.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#11 Post by knives » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:24 am

Well I'll be able to find out for myself once we get started up on that Chabrol watch along. :wink: Anyhoot, here's some random stuff I've watched for the list.

A Simple Story
Hanoun, who for whatever reason I always mix up with Harun Farocki, easily delivers on his title here showing at the same time he has learned all the right lessons from Melville's The Silence of the Sea. I'm not sure if all of its virtues deliver on the masterpiece title some want to give the movie, but it certainly raises itself to being a valiant first try especially in light of how it looks to be as amateurish a production as could be. The is an extraordinarily empathetic portrait that does a number of really interesting things with its near constant voice over. These all seem relatively ordinary for the period though as the new wave was trying to break free in however many disparate directions. There's really only two standout elements that may be connected and probably come just from my mind. The first and almost certainly not deliberate is the way that the empathy comes with frustration. It can be supposed that she came to Paris for work and yet it takes so long before we see her applying for a job or even discussing the prospect. Even then though it is glossed over in a way that makes me unsure if she ever did apply. It's almost like she fantastically expects success or is awaiting a romantic failure to befall her. With child in arm this becomes very frustrating and promotes some tension in the story. The film is very pointedly oblique with her past never revealing actual information while constantly foregrounding that she has a past. This leads me to believe some ambiguity on her motivations is intended whether or not it is so for the directions my mind went. This suggests a certain lack of black and white I usually don't associate with the new wave even if accidentally.

The other thing is a certain tendency in the film toward the surreal or at least the unreal. The dream early on is the most blatant example of this and there is also the scene where she seems to hear the film's music, but despite the very grounded concerns of the film there seems to be a need to render situations and interactions bizarre. This causes a lot of characters to mean a million unsaid things, like Solange possibly being a lover, while never actually being those things as a weird Schrodinger experiment. The film is very satisfying as such, but again I'm not sure if it fully earns that masterpiece status.

Les dragueurs
I am genuinely shocked that this isn't a much bigger deal. It came out at the right time from the right sort of person who has since had a very long and productive career with a cast and crew that plays like a best of the new wave in a lot of ways. Most importantly though the film is good. There's a few things that probably don't play well like the lead's treatment of women (though the Anouk Aimee character largely undercuts such potential criticism) but that wouldn't have been a contemporary issue. Instead we have a film with Godard's sense of youth and danger delivered in a more accessible package. So many of things done right in Band of Outsiders and A Woman is a Woman are present here on the level of character. Certainly this can't be an issue of technique since the film plays with a lot of the visual tools that Truffaut was doing in the same instant. Oh well. I guess I can play to proclaim this as an excellent synthesis of what made the early new wave work with its cool yet disgusting disaffected youth doing nothing because there is nothing to do.

The Tall Blonde Man with One Black Shoe
This is post dated from eligibility for the list, but as it is likely the only Robert film I will get to might as well as mention it. Sadly that's about all it offers for. This is a pretty goofy film that isn't particularly good, but entertaining enough in the way you expect out of Veber. The plot is basically a what if where a Jerry Lewis type becomes the object of interest for a Le Carre world. That works well enough even if it remains too low energy to be much more than a shrug.

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domino harvey
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#12 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:01 am

Drucker wrote:Dom--would love to know your opinion on Franju's Judex. I won't be participating in this list but I've noticed you didn't care much for Spotlight On A Murderer and the above film. Judex was one of my favorite discoveries from Criterion in the last few years, and I'm wondering if you see it as an exception, or you don't care for that one, either.
As I mentioned above, I'm not a big fan of Franju overall, but I'd rank Judex somewhere in the middle of his works. I admire its willingness to court silliness while staying straight-faced, but frankly, were it not for the marketable name now vaunted to legendary auteur status (mostly on the enduring popularity of Les yeux sans visage), I don't know if it would be remembered any differently than those Fantomas comedies with Louis de Funès or any number of other caper-y French comedies of the decade (ie not at all). I'll be revisiting Franju's one bonafide masterpiece Thérèse Desqueyroux, which I think contains the greatest performance of the New Wave courtesy of Emmanuelle Riva, at some point-- though tellingly I believe that's not a popular film with Franju fans. Which makes sense, I guess, as whatever others get out of his works is clearly escaping me, so there's logic to me being drawn to an outlying film in his oeuvre!

Also, apropos of nothing, but Firefox wanted to correct "bonafide" to "debonair"-- the hell?

Knives, my revisit plan right now is sophomore features, female-led or focused films, and then covering the rest of the Chabrols not swept up so far, in addition to hopefully getting in some new viewings from my ridic backlog of eligible films and revisiting anything else that catches my fancy. I had such a good time this past week revisiting these films, even the ones I hated!

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#13 Post by knives » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:08 am

For me it's all still rather new. As I said when this idea was first floated around despite seeing the biggest names and actually a pretty hefty number of French films in general I'm still woefully at a loss for knowledge about the era. So, for example, my modest goal for this list is to see at least half of the remaining films, 19, I haven't seen mentioned in Neupert's book. I'll also be watching just about any French film from the period the local library has (thanks to Olive on that).

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domino harvey
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#14 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:11 am

I'm curious what those 19 films are-- mind sharing? I might be able to coordinate some viewings or reviewings

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#15 Post by knives » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:21 am

Sure, a few I'm having trouble getting subs for though. They are Moi, un noir, Veronique and her Dunce, Le bel age, A Game for Six Lovers, One Does Not Bury Sunday (great title by the way), Une vie, about five Chabrols, Tonight or Never, The Love Game, The World's Most Beautiful Swindlers (which I won't try since the Olive is edited), the two Rivette features, Le cœur battant, The Denunciation, and Girl in His Pocket.

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domino harvey
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#16 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:34 am

The Kasts, Le cœur battant, and On n'enterre pas le dimanche ("Bury Sunday" here meant like "One does not practice burials on Sundays," which probably tempers the coolness of its English title) are unavailable on back channels subbed, so those are presumably out. The Olive Swindlers keeps the Godard and Chabrol segments intact, so it's fine for this list, though it loses the best segment (not eligible for our list) in Polanski's exercise in style. Already covered Moi, un noir, L'eau à la bouche (what a silly English title!), and Ce soir ou jamais above. I saw Le denunciation recently enough to comment on it. I will not be rewatching Les Jeux de l'amour, so you're on your own there (though I also remember it well enough to comment)

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#17 Post by knives » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:45 am

I figured most of them would be either unavailable or 101 that way. Still, this should have fun.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#18 Post by otis » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:10 pm

domino harvey wrote:this is already the only film in history to have an Edward Ludwig joke.
Image

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#19 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:21 pm

Ha, and I just rewatched that a couple weeks ago too. Mea culpa!

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#20 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:23 pm

domino harvey wrote:Les biches has little in common with Les bonnes femmes other than both starring Audran. Mr Sausage, your best bets for Chabrol's requisite thrillers are outside of the purview of this period-- I think, however, you would appreciate Les cousins from this period
Cousins also boasts a top notch Adrian Martin commentary . As Dom notes Chabrol's aces in the pack thrillers are between 1969-72 but it's worth seeking out Chabrol's collaborations with Paul Gégauff as screenwriter for what he called someone to sprinkle a bit of 'ginger' on the affair. 'Les Bonnes Femmes' is archetypal NV fare with its absurd mix of humour and melodrama on the streets of Paris.' L'Oeuil Malin' has a Pinteresque edge in a story of the disruption of a bourgeois couple by a younger interloper. Despite having a strong cast and revenge plot premise I found 'Les Godelureaux' a bit flat in tone and uneven in pace but Ill give it another go one day.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#21 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:37 pm

Yes, indeed, for anyone just starting out with Chabrol (or longtime fans), Martin gives a fair and non-fawning look at his career on the commentary. I must confess I still haven't listened to Guy Austin's commentary for Le beau Serge, but I remember enjoying his book on Chabrol, though he seemed more interested in the later films with Audran than Chabrol's early work in that, so it could be a similar affair to Martin's

Les cousins and Les bonnes femmes are locks for my list, but I look forward to revisiting Chabrol's other works as well, which aren't as highly held in my memory at least-- I recall Les Godelureaux's "revenge" hinging on a pointedly minor slight and Chabrol getting some mileage out of the disconnect, but Godard thought it was Chabrol's best and actually named it one of the greatest of modern French films!

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#22 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:43 pm

domino harvey wrote: I recall Les Godelureaux's "revenge" hinging on a pointedly minor slight and Chabrol getting some mileage out of the disconnect, but Godard thought it was Chabrol's best and actually named it one of the greatest of modern French films!
To paraphrase Eartha Kitt.."Oooh those (young) Turks!

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#23 Post by zedz » Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:36 pm

knives wrote:Well I'll be able to find out for myself once we get started up on that Chabrol watch along. :wink: Anyhoot, here's some random stuff I've watched for the list.

A Simple Story
Hanoun, who for whatever reason I always mix up with Harun Farocki, easily delivers on his title here showing at the same time he has learned all the right lessons from Melville's The Silence of the Sea. I'm not sure if all of its virtues deliver on the masterpiece title some want to give the movie, but it certainly raises itself to being a valiant first try especially in light of how it looks to be as amateurish a production as could be. The is an extraordinarily empathetic portrait that does a number of really interesting things with its near constant voice over. These all seem relatively ordinary for the period though as the new wave was trying to break free in however many disparate directions. There's really only two standout elements that may be connected and probably come just from my mind. The first and almost certainly not deliberate is the way that the empathy comes with frustration. It can be supposed that she came to Paris for work and yet it takes so long before we see her applying for a job or even discussing the prospect. Even then though it is glossed over in a way that makes me unsure if she ever did apply. It's almost like she fantastically expects success or is awaiting a romantic failure to befall her. With child in arm this becomes very frustrating and promotes some tension in the story. The film is very pointedly oblique with her past never revealing actual information while constantly foregrounding that she has a past. This leads me to believe some ambiguity on her motivations is intended whether or not it is so for the directions my mind went. This suggests a certain lack of black and white I usually don't associate with the new wave even if accidentally.

The other thing is a certain tendency in the film toward the surreal or at least the unreal. The dream early on is the most blatant example of this and there is also the scene where she seems to hear the film's music, but despite the very grounded concerns of the film there seems to be a need to render situations and interactions bizarre. This causes a lot of characters to mean a million unsaid things, like Solange possibly being a lover, while never actually being those things as a weird Schrodinger experiment. The film is very satisfying as such, but again I'm not sure if it fully earns that masterpiece status.
My favourite Hanoun film, L'Hiver, would have been easy top ten for me, but it lies just outside the eligibility period (1969), so I'll be revisiting L'Ete and The Authentic Trial of Carl Emmanuel Jung, both available from Re:Voir.

There are a bunch of directors on the eligible list I won't even be considering, because they're definitely not New Wave for me (Melville, Etaix, Papatakis), but I feel like I can rationalize Hanoun more easily, as he's a strict contemporary, had some stylistic similarities and worked with some of the same people.

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#24 Post by knives » Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:47 pm

I probably won't be getting to any of his other films, but I am certainly left curious as to what they hold since this one has a lot of promise to it.

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#25 Post by zedz » Wed Sep 06, 2017 6:33 pm

From what I've seen, they're all over the place. The Four Seasons Quartet alone ranges from regular new wave stylings to literary reflexivity to Dziga Vertov Group provocation, but Jung is more like Straub / Huillet, and A Simple Story always gets compared to Bresson. I find him a really intellectually engaging filmmaker, working on the smell of an oily rag.

I've got a question for domino, since he's done all the research. Is Marguerite Duras ever considered a part of the New Wave? Personally, I consider her to be definitely aligned with the immediate post-NV generation (along with Garrel, Akerman and Queysanne), whose films were quite different in tone, but she was there right at the inception of the Nouvelle Vague, and Brook and Colpi seem to have made the list purely on the basis of collaborating with her, so, considering how many barely relevant blokes have been inducted over the years, it seems remarkable that she hasn't been considered a part of the movement by somebody as a director in her own right.

Another director I'm interested in the in / out on is Rene Allio. I've only seen his admirable Moi, Pierre Riviere from the 70s, but I see he's a direct contemporary of the Nouvelle Vague, and his sixties films don't seem on the face of it to be especially mainstream. Has anybody seen them?

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