French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

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

#226 Post by movielocke » Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:58 pm

zedz wrote:Two more re-watches:

Le Bonheur (Agnes Varda, 1965) - The first time I saw this I was quite skeptical about it (a weird word, but seems like the right one for me) as a mix of shallow beauty and provocation, but the film has grown on me over time and plays better each time I revisit it. The beauty really isn't that shallow: even though there are copious references to the commercial art of the time (the closing scene looks exactly like a 1960s knitwear catalogue come to life), Varda does interesting, disorienting things with the editing and focus throughout. And the provocation is complex and uneasy. This time through, the film played like an incredibly sunny, tonally bold horror movie, with the complete erasure of the wife in the closing minutes the ghastly 'twist'. Varda is imagining a fantasy world that's completely dominated by egomaniacal males, whose need for instant gratification overrides the agency of all women. Oh, wait a minute. . .
Yes this. but I don't think it is as simple as the erasure of all female agency but also a critique of how women operate within and utilize the system of oppression to promulgate the system and further the oppression. It isn't just that women have no agency, its that women are complicit because they passively participate in the system or because they annihilate each other in pursuing their individual self interest. a prisoner's dilemma. and she does it all with color (two warring female factions, each with their own color of wardrobe) and editing and the entire thing is set up from the opening credits, in the increasingly hostile sunflower/sweater crosscutting. Perhaps the most ominous part of the ending is that the children are still in their mother's color, signaling bad things to come for them, especially as their father has been claimed by the "new" color.

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

#227 Post by sinemadelisikiz » Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:43 am

Domino, what happened to the orphans for the features list? Looking over the orphans for stuff I've never heard of is usually my favorite part of these projects.

Anyway, here's my list:

1. L'Année dernière à Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961) - I'm pretty fickle when it comes to my favorite film, but on most days this one is it. Words can not do it justice, and that's kind of the point.
2. Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1967) - Pure joy at 24 frames per sec. I love this candy-colored confection.
3. Les Bonnes Femmes (Claude Chabrol, 1960)
4. Hiroshima mon amour (Alain Resnais, 1959)
5. La Collectionneuse (Éric Rohmer, 1967)
6. Vivre sa vie (Jean-Luc Godard, 1962)
7. Les Biches (Claude Chabrol, 1968) - ALSO RAN - I have a soft spot for this wicked tale of love triangles, class struggle and cruelty.
8. Zazie dans le Métro (Louis Malle, 1960)
9. Adieu Philippine (Jacques Rozier, 1962)
10. La baie des anges (Jacques Demy, 1963) - ALSO RAN - Gorgeous and achingly romantic melodrama that comes in the classic Hollywood mold
11. Léon Morin, prêtre (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961) - ORPHAN - I know Melville is a tricky case, and I kind of agree with most that he's not strictly part of the New Wave. So I get why nobody else voted for this, but it's his only feature that I think fits and I love it so much that I have no regrets!
12. Paris nous appartient (Jacques Rivette, 1961)
13. Brigitte et Brigitte (Luc Moullet, 1966) - ALSO RAN - The appeal here comes from the self-deprecating humor and off-kilter zero budget aesthetic. How does this not have a huge cult following?
14. Les Cousins (Claude Chabrol, 1959)
15. Masculin féminin (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966)
16. Le Père Noël a les yeux bleus (Jean Eustache, 1966) - ALSO RAN - It's been said elsewhere, but lovingly criticizing the follies of youth was the New Wave's bread and butter. The flaws are laid pretty bare in this one.
17. Thérèse Desqueyroux (Georges Franju, 1962) - ALSO RAN - Commented on previously
18. À cause, à cause d'une femme (Michel Deville, 1963) - ALSO RAN - At first glance this seems to be another in a line of films glamorizing womanizing and casual misogyny, but the tone is so light, and the girls so humanized, that it all kind of works. Hopefully I'll have the chance to see other Deville films sometime soon.
19. Chronique d'un été (Jean Rouch & Edgar Morin, 1960) - ALSO RAN - Fascinating as a time capsule of Paris in the 60s. A lot of time spent letting their subjects interact with each other (and even a trip to the beach!) gave the whole things a loose hang-out vibe that I dig.
20. Les Quatre Cents Coups (François Truffaut, 1959)

And my shorts list was basically a reordered version of the top five.

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

#228 Post by domino harvey » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:50 am

Whoops, I forgot to include them-- they're already compiled, I'll add them in the next time I'm on my computer

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#229 Post by domino harvey » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:30 am

Orphans have been added in-- sorry about that!

My lists, with ORPHANS highlighted

1. Breathless
2. Pierrot le fou
3. La Chinoise
4. Hiroshima, mon amour
5. Adieu Philippine
6. Les cousins
7. Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
8. Masculin Feminin
9. Week End
10. Thérèse Desqueyroux
11. Les bonnes femmes
12. Zazie dans le metro
13. A Woman is a Woman
14. Vivre sa vie
15. Muriel
16. Brigitte et Brigitte
17. Ce soir ou jamais
18. Last Year at Marienbad
19. Adorable menteuse
20. Le monte-charge

SHORTS
1. Gare du Nord
2. Antoine et Colette
3. Every Boy is Named Patrick
4. La Jetee
5. Charlotte and Her Jules
6. Night and Fog
7. Le Grand Escroc
8. Les surmenes

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

#230 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:31 pm

Surprised Anticipation, ou l'amour en l'an 2000 was orphaned, though perhaps too few have seen it - up until MoMA's sci-fi retrospective a few months back, the only place I could find it was a low quality upload on some non-American streaming host that was not YouTube, and even then I had to rip it and track down English subtitles from another source. (MoMA screened at excellent 35mm print of it.) Absolutely love it, it seems to cover the best aspects of Spike Jonze's Her in a shorter amount of time with more invention and (at least to me) without the irritating cloying bits.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#231 Post by Red Screamer » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:32 pm

Caught up with Le Gai Savoir and I don't quite know what to think. It struck me as a portrait of modern life as a Tower of Babel, with television fragmenting and distracting the minds of Godard, the characters, and, by proxy, the audience to the point of madness. Learning through unlearning. The only real clarity here is in the amazing interview/free-association segments, with the young boy's as maybe the highlight of the film for me. Godard is really pushing the limits of overstimulation and incoherence here; I can't imagine what this would look like post-Internet!

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

#232 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:13 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:34 am
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.
A subtitled version has emerged and first, having seen the title in context (it's the name of the protagonist's autobiographical book), I was correct: the idea here is that there are no funerals given on Sunday. What an awkward English translation ("One Does Not Bury Sunday," blech-- the back channel translator reframed it for clarity as "No Funerals on Sunday," a much better title), but I guess so few people have ever seen this anywhere since it's release that no one cared.

Image

On n'enterre pas le dimanche (Michel Drach 1960)
Well, here we go again, another overlooked Nouvelle Vague film that would drastically alter how we think about what this movement is and entails, had it any legacy beyond its initial release and disappearance. The film is immediately set apart from its brethren by its protagonist, a neurotic black man living in Paris. After he falls in love with a white woman, a visiting Swedish student, his guilt and jealousy manifest in self-destructive ways as their romantic relationship progresses sexlessly. This is heady stuff, but the film treats it with a mordant humor that helps greatly, and despite the seeming seriousness of the premise, the film is rather puckish about it all (très NV). Unfortunately, the director here, while obviously talented, is too concerned with scoring some ironic cred points for this to quite be the masterwork it sometimes threatens to be. The opening sequence, in which our protagonist's race is hidden from us until the reveal, is rather silly, but then all is forgiven when Drach follows it with one of the most unexpected and bizarre sequences in all of the Nouvelle Vague movement, a scene that this film would forever be associated with had more than eight people seen it in the last fifty years. I wouldn't spoil it for anything except to say it involves an unexpected costume and the sheer length of the sequence and its peculiar POVs of daily life in Paris is masterful. The first half of the film is uniformly strong after the rough beginning, as our protagonist picks up the Swede at his job as a wax museum guide. When he goes to drop her off at the station the next morning, he stops himself from kissing her due to self-hating doubts ("What's a negro doing kissing a beautiful white woman?") but she starts writing him letters that he is not allowed to respond to, as her parents read her mail. This is a wonderful conceit and sows the seeds of doubt early. Eventually he finds her a job as an au pair to a married literary agent and finds himself penning a novel, in part as a way to express his emotions towards his now-fiancee but also to compete with her boss, whom he is led to suspect has designs on his gal. The film is brutal in not just how he sees himself, but how others see and use him as a flavor of the week-- he's told at one point his work is "brilliantly empty" but "color is in," so he's guaranteed to be a success regardless of the negligible quality of his work. The film really loses itself in the more trad crime novel goings on of the finale, especially the too cute resolution of the police interrogation runner, which like the beginning is nowhere near as clever as the director thinks it is
SpoilerShow
And of course the great material about jealousy, inferiority, and self-ostracizing from throughout the film is completely dampened when it turns out she was cheating on him the whole time, making the film rather toothless
Even with these flaws in mind, the film offers a wonderfully languid pace, one of the best jazz scores of the era, and some smart beats even when removed from their greater narrative meaning (and unraveling in the finale). Recommended, if you can get it.

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

#233 Post by knives » Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:37 pm

Wow. Sounds like a rough draft for Chameleon Street.

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

#234 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:03 am

For those with back channel access, this is not a drill: the commissioned Le bel âge subtitles have been created and posted!!

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#235 Post by mizo » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:02 pm

Oh my god, and I just struggled through it unsubbed (with my bad French) last night. Ha! Looks like the subs went up about 3 hours after I finished watching. Well, I look forward to figuring out what was really going on in that third story!

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#236 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:45 pm

If you look at the pots page, you can tell if subs are forthcoming because the subtitler will claim the subs and the subsequent amount of bonus ponied up for said subs. This isn't always accurate (sometimes people claim subs then disappear or abandon their work, though at least they don''t get the bonus until a mod confirms their subs), but in this case you would have seen the subtitler communicating with yours truly on the timetable-- though I had no idea they'd be ready so soon based on his estimate. I'm broadly okay on understanding spoken French but if it's not coming out of the mouth of Jean Seberg or Jess Hahn, I prefer someone subtitle for me so I'm not rewinding and rewatching eight times to get most of it. For such a crucial film like this, it was worth "paying" good bonus and waiting to enjoy it without the stress of all that work-- though I still haven't had time to watch this yet!

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

#237 Post by mizo » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:13 pm

Thanks for the info. Echoing you, I'd also say I'm OK understanding spoken French provided I have a pause button, but Kast's dialogue definitely runs on the more difficult side. I'd actually say that, apart from some of the headier discussions in the second story and the intricacies of the more complex plot in the third, I got most of what was going on. But I certainly hope the film reveals some hidden depths with the benefit of subs. And I look forward to hearing what you think of it when you do get around to it!

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#238 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:18 pm

Based on how much I didn't like the other Doniol-Valcroze and Kast movies from this period that I've seen, I'm expecting very little from the film itself. But it's too important and too foundational a text for this movement to not be excited to finally see the damn thing regardless!

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#239 Post by mizo » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:39 pm

Yeah, to be candid, low expectations are probably the way to go. I settled into them pretty early on when Jean-Claude Brialy, whose second-place billing gave me some hope, as I began watching, that the film would be fun,
Only a spoiler if you would rather be disappointed in real timeShow
has a grand total of about five minutes of screen time and, without checking, approximately 0 lines of dialogue. Alphabetical order gets me every time.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#240 Post by domino harvey » Sun Aug 04, 2019 1:27 pm

Image

Le bel âge (Pierre Kast 1960)

Yeah, okay, sometimes films get left behind for a reason... No boutique label is ever rescuing this movie, and watching it is a confirmation why. While I am grateful to finally see it, it strikes me that fittingly this and screenwriter/star Doniol-Valcroze's L'eau à la bouche are pretty much exactly what you'd think French movies made in 1959 by well-meaning amateurs would look like. Part of the mythos and impact of the Young Turks' lion's share of the Nouvelle Vague legacy is of course that Godard, Chabrol, and Truffaut hit the ground running with so much immediate technical and aesthetic prowess that regardless of all their fresh ideas and approaches you'd never know they weren't old hands at the outset on a competence level alone. Not so for Kast or D-V. This again (as I've argued before) is why these Cahiers names get left off the Young Turks' tallies-- because they'd bring down the average! This movie is frequently inept, with the presence of basic 101 errors like using the wrong apertures, incorrect film speed loading, and the utilization of awkward unrehearsed first takes. When the first segment revealed that everything was going to be relayed entirely in voice-over, even when over-layed on segments clearly filmed to be looped by the actors later, I felt second-hand embarrassment. The narrative is not much better: this is just another pretty (well, actually...) people goofin' off on vacation and switching lovers movie, here split into three stories with the same revolving cast, each one worse than the last. If you somehow didn't get the idea that this is just a bunch of friends making a movie together, nearly every actor sharing their character's name might tip ya off. Everything that comes out of everyone's (or one person's) mouth is the most pretentious, faux-serious drivel you've ever heard-- back to my earlier point, I actually think this is what Positif's film legacy would look like if they'd had the ability (or desire) to fully emulate the Cahiers critics' output. This movie also no doubt contributed to the popular misconception of the movement being misogynistic, though were this still considered a touchstone film of the NV perhaps there'd be better grounds for the claim...

It takes some real cheek for Kast and D-V to open their movie by evoking La règle du jeu, but in retrospect the opening credits of everyone smiling idiotically while their name appeared was probably the high point here (though D-V giving Alexandra Stewart the mouth-equivalent of the hover hand while they "passionately" kiss is up there)

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#241 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:47 am

Image

La vie à l'envers / Jeu de massacre (Alain Jessua 1964/1967)
Here we have the first two features by late entrant into the movement, Alain Jessua, and both concern a mentally ill character and how his behavior impacts those around him.

La vie à l'envers [P] gives us a slow-burning descent of Charles Denner as a real estate agent with a model girlfriend who finds himself Antonioni-ed from society and gradually withdraws from life until he hits such an extreme that the film culminates in him sitting alone in a bare room for weeks on end. Denner is never a sympathetic character, but the film neither defends nor chastises him. Rather, it observes and gives data to draw conclusions without doing so itself. The most effective passages of the film— and they’re so good that it’s hard to not wish they were longer and had a bit more confidence to follow it through— are those when we get subjective camera movements replicating Denner’s hyper-focus on the mundane. The camera moves almost imperceptibly forward and backwards as though the viewer were swaying in respiration as we see the focal point shift within the frame. These contemplative moments are more interesting than those that focus on Denner’s willing downfall and removal from society (I was reminded of Rohmer’s superior Signe du lion in this regard, though Denner’s [intentional] blank slate is no Jess Hahn), and like Jessua’s next film, the film is often frustratingly so close to being more than okay but never seems to be able to capitalize on its good ideas.

And Jeu de massacre's premise is even juicier: a comic strip-writing couple, led by Jean-Pierre Cassel, ingratiate themselves into the life of a rich, juvenile, mentally unsound man (Chabrol mainstay Michel Duchaussoy, sporting some wild blond bangs) as a pair of paid best friends/babysitters. Cassel starts writing Duchaussoy into his comics and the easily suggestible Duchaussoy starts taking real-life guidance from the exploits of his bank robbing, woman-humiliating, murdering double. This is such a fun idea, but the film only does the bare minimum with it, in part because the film is too sympathetic to Duchaussoy, who despite his outbursts is never really shown to be a true danger to anyone and so there’s never any real suspense when things get darker. I did think the film found a better note for this premise in the ending when
SpoilerShow
Cassel, now safely ingratiated into the life of Duchaussoy’s rich mother, essentially goads Duchaussoy into killing himself in the final comic strip
but that also feels like the kind of creatively twisted note the film should have hinged upon at the outset and then exploited for deeper gains.

Still, despite my reservations, both films are impressively stylish and assured, even though both stop well short of greatness. I saw Jessua’s next film, the Alain Delon vehicle Traitement de choc, years ago and frankly don’t remember a thing about it, but I’d be curious to see if Jessua ever capitalized on the nascent skills on display in these early films.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#242 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:19 pm

Domino, can you share a link (if you have one) with Cahiers du Cinema’s criticism of Elevator to the Gallows? I read your take way upthread. You peaked my interest as to what the chaps at CdC had to say about Malle and his early works.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#243 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:38 pm

Eric Rohmer wrote about it in Issue No. 80 and gave it one star in the Conseil (as did Godard. Of the rest of the in-house crew, Valcroze and Hoveyda gave it two stars, and Sadoul gave it three). I don't know if there's a translation but I just gave it a quick read. He has some measured praise for certain elements (he favorably compares the elevator scenes to Bresson's Un condamné à mort s'est échappé, which seems like such a stretch that he may be joking) but invokes the story of Achilles and the tortoise to illustrate the folly of "le jeune cinéma francais" filmmakers imitating American genre films (he also has a good dig on Malle receiving his inspiration primarily from "modern automobiles and architecture")

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#244 Post by FrauBlucher » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:46 pm

Thanks for that. I get the impression that Malle was a bit of an outsider with CdC folks and maybe because he was not a critic himself and had a bit of a different background.

As for Elevator to the Gallows I am mixed. It’s a disjointed film with a somewhat forced narrative. On the plus side, I do appreciate the score more than you do, Domino. I also very much like the feel and style which has clear sign on what was to come. And as a first feature for Malle I’ll give it’s negatives a pass because it’s his first. Although I expect Domino to take a swing at that.

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