Each week Elma and I give you 5 opinionated but culturally relevant choices, based on our experience of curating smart sticky stuff for Ovation, Trio, Bravo, A&E, Sundance, Fuse, and others.
This week, as Hollywood takes a Halloween break, we at The Thread celebrate the opening of Jean Luc Godard’s latest film – the endless experimenter is 83.
After all these years we are still enamored of that band of high-minded, low-budget rebels, La Nouvelle Vague. The onset of cool weather always triggers a flashback to college and the first time we saw JULES AND JIM. It inspired us to do the kind of things it would be stupid to do now and even more stupid not to do then.
GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE (2014)
Godard’s latest film won the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The concept of the film is simple, it begins with an affair, a married woman and a single man. Their story takes place over a number of seasons and is observed by a dog named Roxy (Godard’s own dog). By all accounts, Godard’s innovative experiment with 3D makes this a must-see cinematic experience.
CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (1962)
Although Agnes Varda was not part of Cahiers du Cinema contingent, we think she was as integral to the movement as any of the core group. CLEO captures Paris at the height of the sixties in this captivating study, told in real time, of a pop singer (Corinne Marchand) who wanders the streets of Paris awaiting the results of a recent biopsy. The film features cameos from Godard and his muse, Anna Karina.
Madonna tried to get this film remade with Varda in 1993 but failed to find financing due to Hollywood’s insistence on a finished script prior to shooting. Not the New Wave way.
MY NIGHT AT MAUD’S (1969)
Eric Rohmer’s centerpiece in his Moral Tales series was the film that propelled him to international acclaim. A chaste 34-year-old Roman Catholic (Jean-Louis Trintignant) pines for a blonde woman at church and vows to marry her although they have never spoken. That evening he meets an old friend, Vidal, who invites him to dinner at his fiancé Maud’s.
The Catholic ends up spending a night alone with the spirited Maud (Francoise Fabian) engaged in a long, spirited discussion of religion, temptation and nature of faith. The pivotal importance of a chance encounter is central to this film which was nominated for an Oscar – and inspired much debate.
JULES AND JIM (1962)
Truffaut’s early masterpiece is one of cinema’s most captivating love triangles. It charts the long, tumultuous relationship between two men (Henri Serre and Oskar Werner) who are both in love with the same woman (Jeanne Moreau).
Galateria quotes Truffaut: “I begin a film believing it will be amusing — and along the way I notice that only sadness can save it.”
The style and energy of this doomed love story inspired 1967’s BONNIE AND CLYDE – which Truffaut was originally invited to direct. Instead he directed FAHRENHEIT 451, his only English-language film
Godard’s CONTEMPT is an amazing sardonic take on the interplay between art, life and business. The film is about a writer (Michael Piccoli) whose wife, Camille (Brigitte Bardot), loses respect for him as he works on a film adaptation of Homer’s “Odyssey”.
But the acid that eats away at their relationship is the Hollywood-industrial-complex, as represented by the film’s Hollywood producer (played by an arresting, young-ish, Jack Palance). The great Austrian director, Fritz Lang, puts in an appearance as a director who is not mainstream enough for Hollywood’s taste.
400 BLOWS (1959)
François Truffaut’s first feature is his most personal. Told through the eyes of Truffaut’s lifelong cinematic counterpart, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), the film movingly re-creates the trials of Truffaut’s own childhood that included aloof parents, cruel teachers, and petty crime.
The film marked 27-year-old Truffaut’s audacious leap from critic to trailblazing auteur of the French New Wave.
For die hard Godard fan’s Film Comment has recently released a digital anthology of everything they have published on the director. See link below: