Thought of the Day: Love and Jean Moreau

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Jules et Jim (1962) – dir. Francois Truffaut

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MADAME MOREAU.

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xXx

And, because everyone’s eyes deserve a feast AND, because love deserves to last for more than a moment:

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Lift to the Scaffold (1958) – dir. Louis Malle

HAS CINEMA EVER LOOKED (OR SOUNDED) BETTER THAN THIS?

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posted by Dixie Turner

Truffaut Revisited – Part 2: Jules et Jim (1962)

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Review by Rob Munday
Welcome to Paris. Early 20th century. Before the war.
Take a ride with me on this merry-go-round, Francois Truffaut seems to say, the opening sequences here a bravura display of editing and narration to create the city as circus. Here is a story of two men (Jules and Jim) and one woman (Catherine). Early on Jules et Jim pre-empts Godard’s Bande a Parte with it’s love triangle and in the playfulness on show in front and behind the camera.
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The use of stock footage to fill gaps fits into this tone. It’s part of a refreshingly flip attitude to period drama – a genre that often becomes more about frills than thrills. These three aren’t characters from history but simply three modern people in a world from the past.We follow these free spirits driven by Catherine’s lust for life but interrupted by the war. Separated by conflict, love pulls them together. That sounds sentimental and perhaps it’s where the problem lies as there is a disconnect here between the director and his material (a book by Henri-Pierre Roché).
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As it goes on the cracks start to show. You find yourself caring less and less – Jules is simply a sad sack, Catherine (although brilliantly played by Jeanne Moreau) becomes infuriatingly self-centred, and Jim is little more than a nose on legs – first with a moustache and then without.Perhaps Truffaut should have stopped shooting halfway through this story and picked it up at a later date when his world-weariness could match his characters post war selves. As it is Jules et Jim limps towards it’s conclusion as if weighed down by period dramas of the past.

Truffaut Revisited – Part 1: Shoot the Pianist (1960)

Tirez+1Review by Rob Munday

Shoot the Pianist

Francois Truffaut’s second and third films reflect the tastes of the French New Wave. So here we have a (very French) film noir based on American pulp fiction that was followed by a period epic that puts two fingers up to the bloated French cinema that preceded it.

What can a movie be? After a life spent worshipping at the altar of cinema Truffaut’s answer is clear: Everything.
Shoot the Pianist is a no holds barred assault on standard filmmaking. It is, by turns, thrilling, funny, pulpy, tender, tragic, simple, grand, irreverent and romantic. Sometimes these collide so suddenly your head spins – the possibilities are endless, and it all looks effortless.

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The pianist in question is Charlie Kohler (Charles Aznavour), a bar room piano player who keeps himself to himself. Meanwhile his past is running down the street, pursued by gangsters and about to crash into Charlie’s solitude and force him to confront the man he once was. For Charlie was Edouard Saroyan, a man who broke free from a family of criminals into the big-time as a classical pianist.

This feels like a film made on the fly. It’s as if Truffaut felt the success of 400 Blows could die any second so why not go out all guns blazing with this: a scampering tale where fingers must pick between tickling the ivories or the trigger of a gun. What really makes it great cinema is the heart that holds it together. Put simply, Truffaut cares. He cares above all for this talented, elusive, playful, scared little man who is hovering between two identities knowing he is doomed to make the wrong choice.

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All this in 82 spine-tingling minutes.
Sometimes that’s all you need to show what movies can be.