Author Topic: Truffaut  (Read 7616 times)

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eward

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Truffaut
« Reply #30 on: October 12, 2005, 12:18:49 PM »
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never seen the green room, but two english girls is tied with the soft skin and small change for what i consider his best film...
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Gamblour.

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Re: Truffaut
« Reply #31 on: March 13, 2006, 10:41:05 PM »
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Saw Jules et Jim today. I fucking hated this movie, and I love Truffaut. I think 400 Blows is just incredible. But goddamn, the character Catherine is such a stupid bitch. I did remark that Jules and Jim should've gotten together Brokeback style. I just don't get how Truffaut could make a boring film with such subject matter. It's interesting to read into the sexism of the scene where Jim goes back into town to meet Theresa after all this time. She yaps and yaps and no one listens, then he goes the bar and meets the man with the woman who won't speak, all she's good for is sex. I don't know who Truffaut is commenting on: the characters in the film, men in the film, or men in real life?
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MacGuffin

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Re: Truffaut
« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2007, 12:09:50 AM »
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A Troublemaker Who Led a Revolution
By TERRENCE RAFFERTY; New York Times

FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT’S “400 Blows” is now an official classic of French cinema, but when it had its premiere, at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, it didn’t much look like one. And that was the point. Mr. Truffaut, then just 27, had spent his youth as an extremely combative critic for the journal Cahiers du Cinéma, in whose pages he regularly savaged the older, established French filmmakers who represented what was called the “tradition of quality.” (When he used the term, it didn’t sound like a compliment.)

So when, thanks to a prosperous father-in-law, he got the chance to direct a feature film, he undoubtedly felt some pressure to put his money where his big critical mouth had been: to show that a thoroughly French movie could be made without beautiful sets and costumes, exquisitely refined Comédie Française-style acting or a high-literary tone. “The 400 Blows” proved it, and in the best possible way. The film was so fluid, so graceful, so apparently natural, that it seemed not to have any agenda at all. It didn’t feel willful; it felt (as revolutions too rarely do) inevitable.

The movie has its historical significance as the first great popular success of the freer-form style of filmmaking that came to be identified with the French New Wave, but if you go to Film Forum in Manhattan, where, starting Wednesday, a nice fresh print of “The 400 Blows” will be showing, you probably won’t get the unpleasant sensation of having wandered into an old argument between spluttering, red-faced cinéastes.

Although a certain polemical ardor may have helped stoke Mr. Truffaut’s creative fires while he was making his debut film (he was very French), the smoke from those life-and-death aesthetic debates has long since cleared. What remains is a lyrical and surprisingly tough-minded little picture about a 12-year-old troublemaker named Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), as seen by a sympathetic and slightly more seasoned troublemaker named François Truffaut.

The originality of “The 400 Blows” lies in its willingness to trot along to the quotidian rhythms of a boy’s life. Antoine’s childhood (which bears some similarity to Mr. Truffaut’s own) is crummy, but in unexceptional ways. The Montmartre apartment where he lives with his self-absorbed mother and his buffoonish stepfather is, in the time-honored tradition of Paris living spaces, painfully cramped.

He’s bored with school, and his teachers are on to him. Whenever he lies — which he does no more or less often than any other boy trying to squeeze a bit more fun out of life than his elders think is good for him — he’s caught. Until near the end, when events take a more serious turn, Antoine, alone or in the company of his impish friend René, mostly just bounces from one dopey, tolerably amusing activity to another — ditching school to go to the movies, lying around smoking pilfered cigars — and, when he has to, deals with the minor crises that crop up too frequently in the classroom and at home.

He moves through the Paris streets (photographed with exhilarating clarity by Henri Decaë) confidently but a little anxiously, a trace of unease betrayed by an odd scurrying half-run he breaks into from time to time, as if he he’d suddenly remembered that someone was chasing him. It’s the gait he uses in the movie’s famous final sequence, when he escapes from the reform school he has wound up in and, his pursuers well behind him, makes his way across a bleak beach for his first-ever glimpse of the sea.

The camera travels with him, recording every jerky small step until he reaches the edge of the water, looks at the big-deal sea for all of about five seconds and then turns back, expressionless, to face us in what quickly becomes a freeze-frame: the last, powerfully ambiguous image of the film.

This sort of ending wasn’t common in 1959, and viewers were impressed. Mr. Truffaut, overcoming the considerable ill will he had earned as a Cahiers critic, won the prize for best director at Cannes; the movie was a hit in France and all over the world.

That freeze-frame stuck in people’s minds as if it were a sharp, nagging memory of their own. What looks most remarkable now, though, isn’t the blank still face that closes the film, but the daringly long run that brings us to it, that allows our emotions to gather and build with each short, stiff step until, without quite understanding why, we end up overwhelmed. It’s the movie in miniature, really.

Right from the start of his career Truffaut had the sly gift of holding our attention while appearing to be doing almost nothing, just moving at his own casual pace away from the traditions that dogged him and toward something that might have looked to him as huge and vague and daunting as the ocean.

In “The 400 Blows” he hit the ground running, along with his young alter ego Antoine, and they ran side by side a few more times in the next 20 years: in the charming short film “Antoine and Colette” (1962), which Film Forum has extracted from its original context in an anthology movie called “Love at 20” and has paired with “The 400 Blows”; and in the features “Stolen Kisses” (1968), “Bed & Board” (1970) and “Love on the Run” (1979).

All of them are, to one degree or another, romantic comedies with light overtones of melancholy. And while not one of them achieves anything like the emotional complexity of “The 400 Blows,” and some viewers may feel that Truffaut should have left the frame frozen, allowing little Antoine’s fate to remain tantalizingly in doubt, it’s good to have the later, lesser Doinel movies too. They tell us, in their way, that Antoine was right not to make such heavy weather of life’s irritations, and that his wary personality — the defense mechanism that in “The 400 Blows” is represented by a shot of him pulling his sweater up over his mouth and retreating like a turtle into its shell — has served him, somehow, has helped keep him on the move, where he needs to be.

And François Truffaut kept running, too, until 1984, when everything stopped for him, left him freeze-framed at 52. It’s what led up to there that counts, though, and it’s hard not to wish that the story, good, bad, or indifferent, had found a way to go on.
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SoNowThen

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Re: Truffaut
« Reply #33 on: September 23, 2007, 06:35:53 AM »
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Saw Jules et Jim today. I fucking hated this movie, and I love Truffaut. I think 400 Blows is just incredible. But goddamn, the character Catherine is such a stupid bitch. I did remark that Jules and Jim should've gotten together Brokeback style. I just don't get how Truffaut could make a boring film with such subject matter. It's interesting to read into the sexism of the scene where Jim goes back into town to meet Theresa after all this time. She yaps and yaps and no one listens, then he goes the bar and meets the man with the woman who won't speak, all she's good for is sex. I don't know who Truffaut is commenting on: the characters in the film, men in the film, or men in real life?

It gets better and better the more you watch it.

Maybe it would help not reading into it so much; maybe Truffaut wasn't making any explicit "commentary" in the regard of which you speak; perhaps for this story/group of characters/scene Theresa and the other woman are essentially one-dimensional (certainly people in real life take great pains to appear one-dimensional, and others take great pains to only see them as one-dimensional... or in the context of the "romantic novel" -- and I use that term broadly here -- on which the movie is based, the other female characters are deliberately held at arms-length as supporting roles while Moreau's is reserved as a starring one... which is generally an effective technique).
Those who say that the totalitarian state of the Soviet Union was not "real" Marxism also cannot admit that one simple feature of Marxism makes totalitarianism necessary:  the rejection of civil society. Since civil society is the sphere of private activity, its abolition and replacement by political society means that nothing private remains. That is already the essence of totalitarianism; and the moralistic practice of the trendy Left, which regards everything as political and sometimes reveals its hostility to free speech, does nothing to contradict this implication.

When those who hated capital and consumption (and Jews) in the 20th century murdered some hundred million people, and the poster children for the struggle against international capitalism and America are now fanatical Islamic terrorists, this puts recent enthusiasts in an awkward position. Most of them are too dense and shameless to appreciate it, and far too many are taken in by the moralistic and paternalistic rhetoric of the Left.

ElPandaRoyal

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Re: Truffaut
« Reply #34 on: September 23, 2007, 09:28:25 AM »
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Saw Jules et Jim today. I fucking hated this movie, and I love Truffaut. I think 400 Blows is just incredible. But goddamn, the character Catherine is such a stupid bitch. I did remark that Jules and Jim should've gotten together Brokeback style. I just don't get how Truffaut could make a boring film with such subject matter. It's interesting to read into the sexism of the scene where Jim goes back into town to meet Theresa after all this time. She yaps and yaps and no one listens, then he goes the bar and meets the man with the woman who won't speak, all she's good for is sex. I don't know who Truffaut is commenting on: the characters in the film, men in the film, or men in real life?

It gets better and better the more you watch it.

Maybe it would help not reading into it so much; maybe Truffaut wasn't making any explicit "commentary" in the regard of which you speak; perhaps for this story/group of characters/scene Theresa and the other woman are essentially one-dimensional (certainly people in real life take great pains to appear one-dimensional, and others take great pains to only see them as one-dimensional... or in the context of the "romantic novel" -- and I use that term broadly here -- on which the movie is based, the other female characters are deliberately held at arms-length as supporting roles while Moreau's is reserved as a starring one... which is generally an effective technique).

This might seem a little weird or something, but I kind of see Catherine as a personification of the nouvelle vague itself. She breaks rules, she's unpredictable, she's uncompromising, she's passionate yet distant and, like cinema itself, she's mortal and tragic. And she's someone trying to find her place in the world.

I dunno, but it's kind of how I see it, which I guess makes some sense, taking into consideration what that film movement was.

Anyway, this is one of the greates movies I've ever seen and, along with Vivre Sa Vie, the peak of the nouvelle vague.
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tpfkabi

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Re: Truffaut
« Reply #35 on: September 23, 2007, 01:38:30 PM »
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I love 400 Blows and Shoot, but Jules does not resonate with me. On a technical level it's great all around, but there's something about it that just doesn't gel with me.

I'm wishing Criterion would put out more of his films.

Anyone know what The Soft Skin or The Bride Wore Black have not been released (unless I"m overlooking non-Criterion versions)?

I believe Bride was the one where he was going for a Hitchcock-esque film.

I've seen the trailer for Soft Skin on my Fox Lorber edition of Shoot and it looks promising as well.
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Gold Trumpet

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Re: Truffaut
« Reply #36 on: September 23, 2007, 03:36:57 PM »
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Criterion has been holding onto a lot of Truffaut for a long time. They own the rights to every film you mentioned but seemingly have not found the right time or way to release any of them. I assume The Bride Who Wore Black and maybe a few others would get an individual release by Criterion but the others are destined for a box set under either Eclipse or Criterion.

I think Jules and Jim is a great work, but if you're going to be critical, do so in a way that doesn't criticize the likability of the characters. That's a Roger Ebert tactic.

ElPandaRoyal

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Re: Truffaut
« Reply #37 on: September 23, 2007, 04:02:05 PM »
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Well, I have the Soft Skin DVD right here. It's not a great transfer, but it's not bad either, and if I remember correctly, it does include an interview with Truffaut about the movie and the trailer. It came out on a box set which also included "Shoot the Piano Player", "The Woman Next Door" and "Vivement Dimanche!". Unfortunately, there are only portuguese subtitles. See this.

As for the movie itself, it's a little bit more contained and not as flashy as regular Truffaut, but it has a great screenplay (with a lot of those very Truffaut moments that seem unnecessary but end up telling a lot about the characters). I liked it pretty much, and even though I may not be a great fan of the ending, it still makes it a great watch. And what's funny (and can be seen even more in "The Woman Next Door") is that Truffaut doesn't waste a single oportunity to make some Hitch-cock moves in there, playing a lot with suspense, even in these movies about adultery. Great fun.

As for "The Bride Wore Black", I don't know of any version available. I've seen it once in a not so legal way and even though it has some nice moments, it's probably my least favorite Truffaut movie (but still good). And we can easily see the influence on "Kill Bill". Even still, I think he's mad better Hitchcockian movies (and "Vivement Dimanche!" is a great example).
Si

SoNowThen

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Re: Truffaut
« Reply #38 on: September 24, 2007, 01:33:32 AM »
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Bride Wore Black, along with loads of other Truffaut's, is available on an MGM World Classics dvd. It looks fine.

For my money, Mississippi Mermaid is one of Truffaut's most accomplished films, and it is also available in this format, for a pretty cheap price.
Those who say that the totalitarian state of the Soviet Union was not "real" Marxism also cannot admit that one simple feature of Marxism makes totalitarianism necessary:  the rejection of civil society. Since civil society is the sphere of private activity, its abolition and replacement by political society means that nothing private remains. That is already the essence of totalitarianism; and the moralistic practice of the trendy Left, which regards everything as political and sometimes reveals its hostility to free speech, does nothing to contradict this implication.

When those who hated capital and consumption (and Jews) in the 20th century murdered some hundred million people, and the poster children for the struggle against international capitalism and America are now fanatical Islamic terrorists, this puts recent enthusiasts in an awkward position. Most of them are too dense and shameless to appreciate it, and far too many are taken in by the moralistic and paternalistic rhetoric of the Left.

tpfkabi

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Re: Truffaut
« Reply #39 on: September 24, 2007, 04:22:50 PM »
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ok, i saw a picture the cover of Bride on the imdb page but it looked like an old vhs cover.

hmm, if Criterion owns these it's hard to put down the money for these versions.

the covers look horrible. i guess they were hoping middle age women who didn't know who Truffaut was would see these and buy them.
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