Movie about chaos and joys of filmmaking, with producers and director, love affairs, on-set PR/media crew, interfering locals, rumor monging, old friends, unexpectedly pregnant actors, stunt doubles, lab mistakes, uncooperative animals, movie references, flashbacks, breakdowns, and an Italian actress who can’t deal with sync sound.

The torture of sync sound!

Real director playing fake director fake-showing his real actors how to act:

Truffaut plays a director and Leaud plays his lead actor – imagine that. The film-within’s plot is that Leaud’s young wife Jacqueline Bisset (Albert Finney’s ex-wife in Under The Volcano) runs off with his dad Jean-Pierre Aumont (Hotel du Nord). Meanwhile on set, Leaud’s girlfriend Dani leaves him (and abandons the film), Leaud goes a bit nuts, then nearly breaks up Bisset’s new marriage with her doctor.

Bisset and her doctor:

Leaud’s film-in-film mom is unstable Italian Valentina Cortese (star of Thieves’ Highway, a friend in Juliet of the Spirits), buzzing around set is script-girl Nathalie Baye (star of La Mémoire Courte), and in his only acting role, author Graham Greene plays the film’s insurer.

My favorite bit: Truffaut, who has brought his experiences on other films into this one, stealing from real life to create fiction, has his director-character write his lead actress some last-minute dialogue stealing from something she’d said earlier.

Equipage equipage equipage…

This was the movie that Godard wrote a nasty letter over, ending his friendship with Truffaut. Godard thought Day For Night was dishonest – M. D’Angelo only accuses it of being slight: “Truffaut shoots for amiable, and achieves it.”

“This means something. This is important.”

Ever since I first saw Close Encounters (must’ve been on TV before I was ten) that line has come to mind whenever I see a big pile of mashed potatoes. But I got two things wrong. Firstly, Richard Dreyfuss doesn’t say that line during the mashed potato scene, but earlier. And second, I remembered the movie being a long, slow, boring build-up to a brief, awesome alien sequence, but it’s more of a medium, slightly boring buildup to a long, quite boring alien sequence. Either way, it’s safe to say it’s not my favorite Spielberg movie.

I’ve been meaning to watch more movies from 1977, the year I was born, to figure out what people were up to back then, but it only raises more questions. How was Richard Dreyfuss allowed to be a movie star? I wonder if Spielberg and Lucas (for Star Wars) being up for the same best-director oscar was the ’70’s equivalent of when Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line were nominated for best picture, only back then Spielberg was the arthouse favorite and in ’98 his was the slam-bang commercial juggernaut to Malick’s more contemplative war movie. How did Francois Truffaut end up co-starring in a Hollywood movie, and did it help his later films get into American theaters?

F. Truffaut, and is that Bob Balaban?

Some thoughts:

Is the movie endorsing men having extra-marital affairs and abandoning their families? Dreyfuss has three kids, but when his wife doesn’t understand him he bonds with Melinda Dillon instead, then at the end he leaves not just his home but the planet.

The government is preparing some guys in Devo jumpsuits to go into space as earth ambassadors, but the only time we see them in training it’s at a last-call religious meeting. Gives the weird feeling that they’ve been selected for some kind of Christian mission to the aliens.

Jeez, but Teri Garr as Dreyfuss’s wife is shouty and has no patience at all. I mean admittedly he builds a full-on rock reconstruction of Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower in their living room, but she has already moved out by then, always having seemed more hysterical than sympathetic. Good contrast was Barbara Rush in Bigger Than Life, whose husband is losing his mind, but she never stops trying to help him. Compared to that, Garr is a one-dimensional bitch whom Dreyfuss was right to leave (though it means leaving the kids in her care, so there’s no winning this one).

Teri Garr is unhappy:

Some guy named Larry (Josef Sommer of Stepford Wives) shows up at the Devil’s Tower then falls behind and gets gassed (the visual effect of the gas shown with dazed little birds falling in front of the camera – classy). Who was he? Besides the gassing/evacuation/secrecy, the government seems surprisingly non-hostile.

Wow, Lance Henriksen looks young.

All the backgrounds look fake – even in Wyoming. They’re not fake in a latter-day CGI manner, but in an old-timey studio painted-backdrop kind of way – and the forest Dillon runs through after her son looks so carefully arranged. Strange that a movie which was probably state-of-the-art in ’77 (with the the effects guy from 2001: A Space Odyssey) seems quaint now, years more old-fashioned than its contemporary 1977 Star Wars.

Dillon under a false sky:

The first encounter with the aliens by Melinda Dillon’s young son (Cary Guffey, cast next in a couple of Italian-opportunist alien comedies) foreshadows two later Spielberg productions: Poltergeist (toys coming to life, scary tree shadows waking the kid) then E.T. (the aliens raid the fridge).

All this gentle-alien cuteness, communicating through music and sign language, abductees returned unharmed, the slow buildup to the slow conclusion – it all seems anticlimactic after you’ve watched Mars Attacks a few times.

It’s the 50th anniversary of Breathless! It’s also the 50th anniversary of Peeping Tom and Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors, but you don’t see anyone making a fuss over those. It’s also the 50th anniversary of writer Truffaut’s other movie about doomed small-time criminals, Shoot the Piano Player. I don’t know which of the two I prefer. StPP has more indelible images, but Breathless is all about motion, with its jazzy editing. Feels like a story that got away from them, a two hour script filmed as a four-hour feature, then mercilessly reduced to 90 minutes.

I didn’t remember the story very well – not that there’s much story to worry about. Belmondo is an incorrigible cad, stealing from everyone he comes across, and Seberg is the conflicted girl who becomes his downfall, reporting him for having killed a cop at the start of the film. He stops to meet with friends (always trying to get money) and she stops to interview a writer (I think) played by Jean-Pierre Melville, part of her ambition to climb from street newspaper-seller to reporter, while a police inspector is always close behind them both.

Good to see on the big screen, a highly enjoyable classic-film experience. Nice to hear from the DVD interviews that just a couple years after Breathless came out, Godard was already talking about the end of cinema – it’s not a recent thing with him.

Scenes with kids in town and school, episodic with a couple more-central characters (I’m thinking of the poor boy with abusive parents who gets rescued by social services at the end). Katy’s favorite part was the girl whose parents went out for dinner without her so she yelled “I’m hungry, I’m hungry” through a bullhorn out her window until the neighbors sent a picnic basket to her window using ropes and pulleys. I liked the double date at the movies, where the meek boy loses out and his friend takes both girls. Also wonderful, an Antichrist-recalling scene with a toddler chasing a cat slooowly out a tenth-floor window, finally falling and bouncing harmlessly upon the ground. It’s frightening at first until I realized (and assured Katy) that Truffaut doesn’t kill children, especially not in a comedy. Ebert liked “the painful earnestness that goes into the recitation of a dirty joke that neither the teller nor the listeners quite understand.”

Ebert again: “He correctly remembers that childhood itself is episodic: Each day seems separate from any other, each new experience is sharply etched, and important discoveries and revelations become great events surrounded by a void. It’s the accumulation of all those separate moments that create, at last, a person.”

Of all the kids, how many went on to further acting careers? Only Eva Truffaut, unsurprisingly. More unexpected is that only a few of the adult actors have any other acting credits. Hairdresser Mrs. Riffle (Tania Torrens) was in The Lover, Lydie Richet (Virginie Thevenet) was in Chabrol’s Cry of the Owl, and new father Mr. Richet the schoolteacher (Jean-Francois Stevenin) played Marlon in Out 1 and more recently appeared in The Limits of Control. Same cowriter (Suzanne Schiffman) and cinematographer as Out 1, too.

Oddly, the U.S. poster I found online says “Roger Corman presents…”

Should’ve been called Pocket Money (French is L’argent de poche) but the name was taken by a Lee Marvin/Paul Newman flick a couple years before. The Truffaut movie plus the Tom Waits “Small Change” album released the same year (the two are unrelated; nobody in the film gets rained on with his own thirty-eight) effectively wiped the Lee Marvin film’s title from the English language… now we wouldn’t dream of naming a movie Pocket Money.

Nominated for a Golden Globe (remember those?) but beaten by Bergman. It’s nice to see shouts-out to Bergman and Truffaut in a year when every actress in Freaky Friday was nominated.

Precautions Against Fanatics (1969, Werner Herzog)
“Have you ever seen a dishonest man with a chest like this?”
Said to Werner’s cameraman by a one-armed man in a suit: “What are you doing here? Go away!” It’s not clear who is supposed to be here where they’re filming, in the training area of a horse racetrack. Some guy is repeating himself and karate-chopping flat stones. This cannot actually be happening! It is all pretty wonderful, a parody of a behind-the-scenes documentary. Made in between Signs of Life and Even Dwarfs Started Small, both of which I need to catch some day.
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Organism (1975, Hilary Harris)
Time-lapse footage and readings from biological textbooks portray a large city (New York, of course) as a living organism. The dated 70’s sound design is unfortunate but otherwise it’s completely wonderful. Makes me wish I had a classroom of kids to show it to. He worked on this for years, inventing a time-lapse camera in the 60’s for the purpose. Bits from Scott MacDonald “As late as 1975, Harris apparently felt that time-lapsing imagery was unusual and high-tech enough to justify his frequent use of science-fictionish electronic sounds as an accompaniment. … Hilary Harris shot some of the New York City traffic shots used in Koyaanisqatsi, though apparently Reggio didn’t see Organism until after his film was well under way.”
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L’Opéra-mouffe (1958, Agnes Varda)
Somehow I missed this during Varda Month – one of her earliest shorts hidden amongst the copious features on a Criterion DVD. Varda films either herself or another pregnant nude women, then goes on a rampage through the marketplace, mostly capturing the faces of people shopping there, with interludes featuring actors (incl. Varda regular Dorothée Blank, as nude here as she is in Cleo) clowning around. Sections highlight public drunkenness, anxiety and affection. I want to say this is my favorite of her shorts so far, but then I remember they’re all so good. Delightfully scored by a not-yet-famous Georges Delerue.
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“I was pregnant. I felt the contradiction of expecting a child, being full of hope, and circulating in this world of poor, drunken people without hope, who seemed so unhappy. I felt tenderness toward them, especially the elderly. I imagined them as babies, when their mothers kissed their tummies.”
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Silent Snow, Secret Snow (1966, Gene Kearney)
A boy named Paul starts to obsess over snow, allowing the snow in his mind to filter him from reality. Creepy and well shot. Later remade as a Night Gallery episode with Orson Welles narrating. Makes me think of the Handsome Family song “Don’t Be Scared,” with its line “when Paul thinks of snow, soft winds blow ’round his head,” except it’s one of their very few comforting, happy songs and the movie is anything but.
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Une histoire d’eau (1961, Truffaut & Godard)
A girl wakes up and the whole town is flooded from melting snow. She meets a guy (a young Jean-Claude Brialy) who offers to drive her to Paris before nightfall. Music is weird – gentle flute or horns punctuated with bursts of percussion. Ooh, a Duchess of Langeais reference… in fact there are a ton of references in her quick monologue narration, which ends with spoken credits.
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The Forgotten Faces (1960, Peter Watkins)
Revolution in Budapest. Nice reconstruction, convincingly documentary-like – where’d Watkins get all those guns? No sync sound, a TV-sounding narrator. One part, the reading of a communist speech turns briefly into a dramatic propaganda montage – don’t see that happen much in Watkins’ films.
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The Perfect Human (1967, Jorgen Leth)
“Today I experienced something I hope to understand in a few days.”
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I like the British narrator. “What does he want? Why does he move like that? How does he move like that? Look at him. Look at him now. And now. Look at him all the time.” There’s no diegetic sound, but if this was dubbed in a studio, why does there have to be so much tape hiss? A fake documentary and a stark white delight, with slow zooms in and out, gentle string music, and a general sense of serious absurdity. Only saw, what, a third of this in The Five Obstructions.
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Les Maître fous (1955, Jean Rouch)
Document of a group in Ghana called the Hauka doing something involving wooden toy guns, red ribbons, chicken sacrifice, dog-blood-drinkin’ and having lurchy foaming-at-the-mouth fits. I’m not ever quite sure, because the French narration has been auto-subtitled by google – whatever they’re doing, the subs call it “having.” After they’ve had, the film crew catches up with them at their day jobs, not freaked-out cultists anymore, just working hard, smiling at the camera. This is one African film that Katy didn’t want to watch, because Rouch is an exoticizing anthropologist. So what’s going on that this film makes the best-ever lists? A Rouch tribute page says he popularized direct cinema/cinema verite, that he was known for rethinking ethnography, and a documentary surrealism (sounds like Jean Painleve). Ian Mundell says the film “drew plaudits from the Nouvelle Vague, in particular from Jean-Luc Godard. They liked the fact that Rouch’s fiction emerged from an encounter between the actor (professional or non-professional) and the camera, and his willingness to break the rules of cinema.” Paul Stoller says Rouch crisscrossed “the boundaries between documentary and fiction, observer and participant,” but I take it that’s more about his later films, which I’m thinking I would like better. So it’s seeming like this film gets awarded because it’s one of the most-seen of his films and because of its influence, not because it’s Rouch’s best work.
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Nicky’s Film (1971, Abel Ferrara)
A mysteriously silent possibly gangster-related 6-minute film. I can’t imagine even a Ferrara scholar gets much out of this.

The Hold Up (1972, Abel Ferrara)
Super-8 production made when Abel was 21, seven years before Driller Killer. A few minutes in, I realized it’d be much better with the director commentary turned on. “And away we go. Wait, it’s the other way. Which way is she looking?” Um, some guys get fired from factory jobs, hold up a gas station, get caught. The song “Working on a Building” is heard.
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Made thirty years ago, opened at the New York Film Festival when I was two weeks old. Director Truffaut died in the 80’s, cancer got star Denner in the 90’s, AIDS got DP Almendros in the 90’s, co-writer Suzanne Schiffman (Out 1 colllaborator) died in 2001, aged cameo-appearers Jean Daste and Roger Leenhardt are dead, but most of the actresses are alive except for Nelly Borgeaud, who died only recently.

Movie seems a teeny bit dated. Charles Denner is a man who works in a wind tunnel, lives alone, and loves women. He wanders around loving women for a while, finally gets the idea to write a book about how much he loves women and all the women who he loves. His book gets published, but due to a woman-love-related car accident, our man doesn’t live much longer. Movie opens and closes on his funeral and the long line of lovely women attending:
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Our guy Bertrand at his wind tunnel – Charles Denner of Chabrol’s Bluebeard, Costa-Gavras’s Z and two or three other Truffauts.
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Our guy’s mom in flashback. She used to walk around in her underwear ignoring her son and dating lots of men. Could this have somehow contributed to our man’s uninhibited love of women? Marie-Jeanne Montfajon, no other movie credits, alas.
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Mistaken identity girl whom Bertrand chases down at the start of the movie, to set the whole woman-loving theme: Nathalie Baye (Le petit lieutenant, Truffaut’s Green Room and Day For Night, Godard’s Slow Motion, Chabrol’s Flower of Evil)
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After the whole mistaken identity thing, Bertrand takes home the rental car girl as a consolation prize. Sabine Glaser hardly appeared in anything after this.
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Lingerie store woman (Geneviève Fontanel) has always been flirty with Bertrand, so he asks her out to dinner and is shot down. She only likes younger men.
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Former waitress (Nella Barbier) who loses her job while Bertrand is around, so he gets her hired as his company’s receptionist. Never makes a play for her, for some reason.
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Wakeup-call girl: Aurore. Bert has to convince her to go out with him without ever seeing each other first. Doesn’t work.
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The typist who transcribes Bertrand’s novel, until she quits for moral reasons.
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The publisher who stands up for Bertrand’s book, and later lies down for Bertrand: Brigitte Fossey (the little girl in Forbidden Games 25 years earlier)
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Sad girl on the stairs who gets cheered up by Bertrand. At first seems like a scene to gain our not-always-totally-likeable lead man some sympathy, but later we revisit it as Bert edits his novel to tweak details. Rather than making himself look better, he changes the color of this girl’s dress.
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Ex-girlfriend who dumped Bertrand years ago: Valérie Bonnier, of Madame Claude (a Just Jaeckin call-girl movie with Klaus Kinski) and Spermula (a “sci-fi/horror sex comedy” with Udo Kier).
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Another ex-girlfriend who he runs into at a restaurant: Leslie Caron, star of Lili, Gigi, An American In Paris, Is Paris Burning?
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Married woman who has a not-so-secret long-term affair with Bertrand, attempts to kill her husband, goes to prison, is released a few years later, and shows up mysteriously in Bert’s apartment for a menage-a-trois: Nelly Borgeaud of Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid and Resnais’s Mon oncle d’Amerique
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The last pair of legs our man ever chased.
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Special appearance by Jean Daste:
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Katy and I both kinda liked it!

This will be one to watch again when I know more French, or just when I’ve lived longer.


Chapter 1(a), “Toutes les histoires” (“All the (Hi)stories”)

Dedicated to Mary Meerson (Langlois’s companion who helped run the Cinematheque) and Monica Tegelaar (producer of Raoul Ruiz’s On Top of the Whale).

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IMDB says parts one and two came out in the late 80’s, and the rest followed in the late 90’s. This one seemed more like a 50-minute trailer than an episode. Montage of archive footage, still and moving, edited and faded and superimposed and blended together. The footage includes scenes from films of course (rules of the game, great dictator, day of wrath, germany year zero) but lots of stills (producers, directors, Thalberg, Hughes) and paintings. Lots of focus on World War II, and ending with that Germany Year Zero segment, the whole thing came off as vaguely depressing. Maybe that’s why it took ten years to get the rest of the episodes made?

Three images overlapped: (1) Rita Hayworth dancing, (2) a drawing of Howard Hughes in his final days, (3) the witch-burning scene in Day of Wrath.


Chapter 1(b), “Une Histoire seule” (“A Single (Hi)story”)

Dedicated to John Cassavetes and Glauber Rocha (Brazilian director of Black God, White Devil).

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Surprising number of references to Godard’s own films. Tons and tons of stuff I am not getting because I don’t know much French (I pick up half the film titles and some of the short sayings printed onscreen) or art history, and haven’t seen most of the films. Should’ve known better than to think part two would be more straightforward or make more sense. Even if I don’t know what it’s saying, I still get interesting juxtapositions of images and nice shots from great films seen and unseen, which is enough to keep me watching. Sounded like I heard some Leonard Cohen and Neil Diamond.


Chapter 2(a), “Seule le cinema” (“Only Cinema”)

Dedicated to Armand J. Cauliez (a writer, published a book on Jacques Tati) and Santiago Alvarez (Cuban filmmaker).

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Fast-forward a decade. Same ol’ thing here, but two big changes:

(1) Not just montage of pre-existing footage edited with Godard in his study anymore. An actual actor, Julie Delpy, reading poetry. Also an interview with Godard by another guy (couldn’t be Serge Daney – he died in ’92), 90% untranslated.

(2) Me getting a little tired and pondering making my own historie(s) of cinema instead


Chapter 2(b), “Fatale beauté” (“Deadly Beauty”)

Dedicated to Michele Firk (film writer turned militant radical, killed herself in Guatemala to escape arrest) and Nicole Ladmiral (actress in Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest).

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Sabine Azema (above) recits some poetry, much of it untranslated. Godard types at his typewriter some more. I listened in the headphones and a background noise (JLG’s pet bird?) frightened me. Something about photography being invented in black and white as the colors of mourning to note the death of reality. And something about women, and murder, and Band of Outsiders and Rancho Notorious and Gone With The Wind. Good to see that Godard appreciates Tom Waits.


Chapter 3(a), “La Monnaie de l’absolu” (“The Coin of the Absolute”)

Dedicated to Gianni Amico (Italian filmmaker, assistant director on Bertolucci’s Before the Revolution and Godard’s Le Vent d’est & James Agee (film writer, champion of Chaplin’s Monseiur Verdoux, writer of Night of the Hunter and The African Queen)

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or part 3A, the war and futility episode. WWII talk leads into an appreciation of Italian Neorealism and the most clearly presented introduction to a certain aspect of cinema and history thus far in the series. Says that Italian cinema in the 40’s and 50’s changed film like Manet (the godfather of modern art) changed painting. Closes with a nice montage of Italian film (minus too much onscreen block text and crazed fade transitions) set to a Richard Cocciante song. This episode has a clear point and meaning and narrative arc and supporting arguments… I don’t understand. Maybe the others have too, and I’ve been missing it. Juliette Binoche appears with Alain Cuny (of Les Amants and La Dolce Vita), who died in 1994, four years before this episode aired. Julie Delpy looked mighty young in her segment too – maybe all this footage was shot in the 80’s and not finished editing until ten years later.


Chapter 3(b), “Une Vague Nouvelle” (“A New Wave”)

Dedicated to Frederic C. Froeschel (head of a cine-club in Paris, 1950) and Naum Kleiman (Russian film critic, director of the Moscow Film Museum).

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“Becker, Rossellini, Melville, Franju, Jacques Demy, Truffaut. You knew them.”
“Yes, they were my friends.”

A personal episode, sometimes celebratory but more usually melancholy. Godard himself is the guest speaker this time, but he’s actually into it, not just distractedly reciting behind his typewriter. These things never quite seem to begin, the opening titles still playing when the episode is half over. Some 400 Blows, some Henri Langlois, more goings-on about the death of cinema. What, is video the new art form?


Chapter 4(a), “Le Côntrole de l’univers” (“The Control of the Universe”)

Dedicated to Michel Delahaye (actor in Out 1, Alphaville, plenty more) and Jean Domarchi (1950’s, 60’s Cahiers critic, had a bit part in Breathless).

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Another really good one. Probably not coincidentally, all the voiceover on this one is translated, so I was able to understand it. Lots of voiceover – it’s getting to be more of an essay lately and less of a purely visual slideshow. Still plenty of that dull video text, white-on-black block lettering. The thing always drags a little when JLG decides to move those words around the screen for thirty seconds before returning to the film clips. When there were clips, it seems half of them were by Hitchcock, “our century’s greatest creator of forms.”


Chapter 4(b), “Les Signes parmi nous” (“The Signs Among Us”)

Dedicated to Anne-Marie Miéville (one of Godard’s collaborators since 1976) and to Godard himself.

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I hope nobody stumbles across this entry hoping to learn about the film, because I really doubt I understood most of it. More more more war images in this section (have I mentioned that the film is obsessed with WWII?) and more ponderings on love, death, art, history, man, the state, and Charlie Chaplin. And it seems to me that Godard is terribly depressed. Anyway, here’s a good bit of the voiceover from the last eight minutes:

I need a day to tell the history of a second…
I need an eternity to tell the history of a day.

We can do everything except the history of what we are doing. It is my privilege to film and live in France as an artist. Nothing like a country that every day walks further down the path of its own inexorable decline.

I am the fugitive enemy of our times. The totalitarianism of the present as applied mechanically every day more oppressive on a planetary scale. This faceless tyranny that effaces all faces for the systematic organization of the unified time of the moment. This global, abstract tyranny which I try to oppose from my fleeting point of view. Because I try, because I try in my compositions to show an ear that listens to time. And try to make it heard and to surge into the future.

The only thing that survives from one epoch is the art from it created. No activity can become an art until its proper epoch has ended. Then, this art will disappear. Thus, the art of the 19th century – cinema – made the 20th century exist, which barely existed.

Cinema feared nothing of others or of itself. It wasn’t sheltered from time. It was the shelter of time. Yes, image is happiness. But beside it dwells nothingness. The power of the image is expressed only by invoking nothingness. It is perhaps worth adding: The image, able to negate nothingness, is also the gaze of nothingness on us. The image is light. Nothingness, immensely heavy. The image gleams. Nothingness is that thickness where all is veiled. The most fleeting moments possess an illustrious past. If a man passed through paradise in his dreams and received a flower as proof of passage, and on waking, found this flower in his hand… What is there to say? I was that man.

Thought I’d watch the Cannes 1988 press conference, but after the first three minutes (“video artist” Godard passionately attacking television) it all turns French.

From a belatedly-discovered interview between JLG and J. Rosenbaum:

JR: Yes, but it also isn’t legally acknowledged that films and videos can be criticism.
JLG: It’s the only thing video can be — and should be.

With that strong distinction between film and video, it occurs to me that JLG considers Histoire(s) as being about cinema but not being a work of cinema itself. I watch Breathless on my TV and say I’ve seen one Godard movie, then I watch Histoire(s) on my TV and say I’ve seen two Godard movies. JLG should like to smack me for such a thought.

Preceded by nothing (well, “le beau serge”), it was The 400 Blows, Hiroshima Mon Amour and Pickpocket in 1959 France, and it’d never quite be that good again.

I wrote to Trevor
———
Aha… so in 400 Blows, he’s going to the movies with his parents.

“What’s playing?”
“Paris Belong To Us.”

In the DVD liner notes for “Paris Belongs To Us” it says:
“Rivette began production… in 1958. It was only after the commercial
success of Truffaut’s The 400 Blows and Godard’s Breathless that the
resulting film, the elusive and intellectual Paris Belongs To Us, saw its
release in 1960.”

So Antoine Doinel’s parents couldn’t have seen it AND if they had seen it
(“elusive and intellectual”) they wouldn’t have liked it, heh.
———

and he replied…
———
I was more concerned with the fact that his friend (Rene) came to visit him when he was in the correctional institute. He came on a bicycle. When Antoine escaped, he ran to the sea. The closest sea to Paris is about 200km away according to google maps, so if Antoine was within running distance of the sea how did Rene get there on a bicycle?
———

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“I have never been so deeply moved by a picture.” – Jean Cocteau

Came out in late 1960, after Breathless (which Truffaut wrote), 400 Blows and Les Mistons. Dawn doesn’t like it, and the Taschen book I’m reading on Truffaut says it was largely disliked, misunderstood and ignored (and even Jules & Jim did just well enough to break even, no big comeback).

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Charlie plays piano at a small-time bar, running away from his old life as a concert pianist after his wife Therese killed herself. He’s friends with a prostitute (Clarisse) and a bartender (Lena). Charlie’s little brother Fido (a kid from 400 Blows) lives with him, and his other brothers are thieves who run into trouble after screwing over their two scary/clumsy accomplices, who chase everyone throughout the picture. In the end, Lena is killed and Charlie returns to work.

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Great bits: Charlie’s inner-thoughts voiceover, the subtitled singer in his bar, the balance between ridiculous and dangerous maintained by the gangsters, the sudden shifts in tone, the beautiful girls surrounding Charlie.

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The commentary points out all the mirrors, says Truffaut used lead actors who looked like himself (true of Jean-Pierre Leaud).

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I enjoy the movie – it’s light and short and heartfelt. But I’m also still suffering from post Children of Men trauma, and this movie’s joyful subversion of genre doesn’t hit hard enough to make an impact. Maybe when I’m in a more delicate mood I can appreciate it more.