Monday, December 15, 2008

Two or Three Things I Know About Her

Godard released this film in 1967, and it tells the story of a woman, Marina Vlady, yet cast as Juliette Jeanson, who plays the role of both housewife and actress. The film constantly goes back and forth between the reality of life and the make-believe world of cinema. Godard follows Juliette throughout her day, as she runs errands, drops her child off at day-care, and goes shopping. The movie relies heavily on the narrative aspects of film. Several of the characters shot in the film make direct eye contact with the camera and continue to explain certain aspects of their life or day, outside of the film. The characters converse with themselves, others and the audience in this film. The topics of their dialogues also varies heavily from character to character. Some of them talk about mundane daily activities, others mention information about dressmaking. The way that Godard portrays the conversations is interesting and innovative. For example, in one scene two groups of people are shown conversing in a cafe, and Godard switches back and forth between the two conversations in a way that make the two blend togethter. Two or Three Things I know about her is definately a film that can be percieved several ways. The narrative and dialogue of the film are most memorable.

Week End

Weekend, by Godard, released in 1967 is filmed with a sort of nightmarish point of view. The movie unfolds as a couple ventures to the country side for a weekend and are stopped in traffic because of a horrible accident. The accident scene is memorable because it is filmed in one shot and it seems to show almost a hundred cars, containing different types of people who are handling the situation differently. The entire film is filled with random violent scenes, many of them containing car crashes and fire. Also, the film portrays a hippie-cannibalistic group who attacks human beings and brutally kills them. The violence and mentality of the characters in this movie are Godard's way of showing what society can become and how he criticizes politics.

Pierrot le Fou

Jean Luc Godard released Pierrot le Fou in 1965, featuring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina. The imagery and soundtrack of this film make it one of Godard's most memorable New Wave films. The use of color in this film is one of Godard's best choices because they seem to reflect the intense emotion of each different scene. Pierrot, a middle class man with a family, gets bored with his daily life and decides to run away with his children's babysitter, played by Anna Karina. The two characters seem to mimic one another, their chemistry and acting work very well in the film. The chain of events that happen between the two characters show the passion and criminal intent of Belmondo and Karina. The two create havoc wherever they seem to go, however, the consequences do not seem to phase them. Pierrot le Fou is another Godard film that examines the relationship between a man and a woman who seem to match perfectly.

Last Year at Marienbad

This extremely confusing film, by Alain Resnais, was released in 1961 and tells the story of of two people who met a year ago in Marienbad. The plot is simple, yet the presentation and structure of the film are very bizarre. None of the characters have names, and their personalities are not consistent. The lead male character in the film tries to depict what really happened and what didn't happen the year that he met the woman. The theme of "memory" is recurring throughout the film, Resnais uses flashbacks to help reinforce this theme. The ambiguity of the film allows the viewer to make up his or her own idea of what really is happening in the film. Resnais uses a very surreal aesthetic while shooting this film, the scenes seem almost dream-like. The film is worth watching a few times in order to get a better sense of what really happens.

Les Carabiniers

Jean Luc Godard directed "Les Carabiniers" in 1963, is known for being a satirical anti-war film that imagines a war in an unknown country where two brothers are approached by some carabiniers who explain their draft in a war. The brothers, along with a wife and a sister, live in a beat-down shack in the middle of nowhere. When the carabiniers attempt to persuade the brothers to come to war, the brothers willingly accept with hopes of being rewarded with lots of money.
When the brothers find themselves in war, their characters are ruthless, killing anything in sight. They are commanded by a "King," who is never shown in the film. Godard does a good job by creating intensity in the fight scenes by placing actual war footage on the screen. He also adds war-like sound effects that add a more unrealistic sense to these scenes.
One of the more memorable scenes in the movie is found towards the end, when the brothers return home. They tell their wife and sister that they have brought them prizes from around the world, yet they are all contained in one single suitcase. They reveal only photographs of places and things they promised to the girls, in a very anti-materialistic manner. One of the most visually and comically pleasing scenes in the movie is when the younger brother discovers the world of cinema. The scene where he is in the movie theater is unforgettable. The boy is curious about what is happening on screen and physically tries to see what is off-screen. He is completely in awe from the film, a wonderful portrayal of emotion by Godard.


Alphaville, another film from Godard, released in 1965, is a quirky and science fiction story of the secret agent character, Lemy Caution. To the modern viewer, this film is especially strange. The special effects are somewhat comical and reflect a sort of Twilight Zone feel, displaying themes of opression, darkness, and claustrophobia. This is one of Godard's film that sets itself apart from all the others. Alphaville is his only film that delves into the world of science fiction. The city, Alphaville, is ruled by a computer which is the object of Lemy's mission. Lemy Caution's character remains the only one who displays true human-like abilities. All of the girls at the hotel Lemy stays at have been brainwashed by the computer. One could argue that the objective of the computer is to rid the world of humanity. Another plot in the movie revolvs around the destruction of language. The inhabitants of Alphaville must only speak words that appear in their "Bible," that acts as a dictionary, offering literal meanings of words. At the end of the film, the main female character, played by Ana Karina, seems to come to her senses as her and Lemy Caution depart from Alphaville. She says "I love you" to Lemy, the first time in the film where we see her character express true emotion. This ending can be percieved as cliche and too emotional, and also reflects the gender stereotypes presented. The male arhetype character is seen as tough and rational, while the female character is too emotional and robotic. Overall, the film is comedic and strange, yet it still remains one of Godard's most memorable.

Vivre sa Vie

Vivre sa Vie, directed by Jean-Luc Godard and released in 1962, illustrates the story of a girl, played by Ana Karina, who finds herself lost in the world of prostitution. She has recently left her husband and is now battling with her landlord to keep her apartment. She holds a job at a record store, but then leaves it in order to pursue her job as a prostitute. Her character is interesting because she is somewhat naieve and unaware of what happens in the world of prostitution. Prostitution to her acts as a way for her to get the attention from men that she always desired, even if it is not sincere attention. Her beauty and grace contrast with her inner self that feels damaged by how she is portraying herself to the world. Her character can also be viewed as ambiguous. It is sometimes hard to tell what she is thinking by the way she talks. At times, her conversations seem to go nowhere. Godard does a good job illustrating her struggle to stay stable under all the pressures of her life.
The structure of the film is also interesting; it is divided into 12 parts, all which seem unconnected to each other. The sudden camera movements and editing of the film make it a memorable Godard, New Wave feature.

Day for Night

"Day for Night", also known as "Nuit Americaine", directed by Francois Truffaut and released in 1973, demonstrates a "meta-film", or, a film about a film. The movie opens with a scene being practiced in the streets, the audience is aware of the actions taken by the directors and producers of the film. The plot of the movie revolves around a director who tries eagerly to complete a film but is side-tracked by a number of problems with the actors and crew. Each member of the cast seems to be going through a difficult phase in their lives, preventing them from devoting their abilities to the movie. One of the main characters, Julie Baker, is prized for her acting in Hollywood but behind the scenes is experiencing a nervous breakdown. Another actress, Severine, displays her alcohol problems while shooting a scene and is unable to deliver her lines because of her state of being. Alphonse, another character in the movie, portrays his lack of confidence and immaturity with one of the crew members he is in love with. He also has a nervous breakdown after being rejected by the girl he is in love with. The everyday troubles of each of the members of the cast and crew create the plot of the film. There isn't one concrete story to follow, however, several smaller plots that come together and give the viewer an idea of how chaotic it is to film a movie. The characters who play the actors have the most dramatic scenes and problems while the crew of the movie acts in a more normal fashion. The dramatic elements of the actors as well as the drama of the actual film-making itself make "Day for Night" one of Truffaut's most memorable works. "Day for Night" serves as a look inside the world of Francois Truffaut and offers his admirers and movie-goers a sense of what it takes to be a director. The movie reveals Truffaut's love for cinema, for example, the scene where he orders books that all seem to be about directors and movie-related topics. The dream sequences reveal his love for making films over watching them.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Contempt, Le Mépris

Contempt, released in 1963 and directed by Jean Luc Goddard tells the story of a writer, Paul, who is assigned the job of creating a script for a movie that is directed by Fritz Lang. The producer of the film is an arrogant American named Prokosch, who tires to seduce Paul's wife, Camille, played by Brigitte Bardot. Contempt was the one film which Jean Luc Goddard was able to create with such a large budget. He chose A-list actors, Bardot and Lang, and made the film in color. One interesting thing about this film is the fact that it is about film making, a sort of "meta-film". Goddard was able to portray one aspect of the "behind the scenes" cinematic world. However, the film is not entirely based on filmmaking. The relationship between Paul and Camille seems to be falling apart. Camille seems dependent of Paul, but at the same time extremely distant in their relationship. The half hour long scene in the couple's apartment is a good example of how and why the relationship faded between Camille and Paul. Paul tries to make Camille feel contempt as the couple lounges around the apartment, going from room to room, while discussing their current problems with each other. Throughout the movie, Camille seems disgusted with Prokosch's aggressivness, however, at the end of the film, she slowly warms up to him and ends up leaving her husband for him.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a musical directed by Jacques Demy in 1964. This film is extremely colorful and musical which create an almost sensory overload to the viewer. It is a dramatic love story between a young girl who works at an umbrella store with her mother and a man who works as a mechanic. In the beginning of the film the two characters are madly in love but when Guy finds out that he must serve in the military and leave Geneviève, their dynamic changes. As time passes, the couple drifts apart. Geneviève becomes pregnant with Guy's child but since he is not present, she is being pursued by a well-to-do jewelry dealer, Roland. In the end, Guy and Geneviève seem happy with their new lives but both hold onto the past that they had with each other
The vivid colors of the film balance the unrealistic sung dialogue. If the film did not have such interesting color to appeal to the eye, the music would overbear and become to unsettling. Every line of the movie is sung ( en chanté) , the songs do not have a beginning or end, the verse/chorus structure of the music is absent. The dialogue is sung in a more operatic structure and sung very slowly.

Shoot the Piano Player

Shoot the Piano Player, Francois Truffaut's second film, relased in 1962 is based on film noir as well as American gangster films of its time. However, it sets itself apart from American gangster films because of the addition to comedy. Shoot the Piano Player has a comic and tragic tone to it, it has as many funny scenes added to it as it does violent. In one of the shootout scenes, there is a comical undertone to the way that Léna dies. Her body is shot while she is running in the snow and it continues to roll down the hill in an dramatic and awkward manner. Truffaut seems to be de-emphasizing the role of violence in the film throught this scene. The tone of the film seems to change from scene to scene, Truffaut structured this film rather chaotically. The unstrutctured pattern of the film seems to work for it because all of the elements of romance, comedy and tragedy somehow make sense together. Although this film may be classifed as a gangster movies, it could be appreciated by any type of movie-goer, no matter what style of film they appreciate.

Cleo from 5 to 7

Cléo from 5 to 7 was released in 1962 by the only female Nouvelle Vague director, Agnes Varda. The film is shot according to the life of Cléo from the hours of 5 p.m. to about 7 p.m. on a certain day in June. Varda was one of the first directors to experiment with this sort of real-life use of time to portray the characters.
The main character, Cléo, is a semi-popular singer in Paris who is narcissistic and attention-craving. The beginning of the film shows Cléo visiting a tarot card reader who predicts that she may be looking death in the eyes. Cléo believes her while admitting that she is superstitious and continues her day dwelling on the fact that her life may soon be coming to an end because of cancer. Her vanity is evident throughout the film. For example, she plays one of her own songs at a café and expects the customers to react to it positively. When no one seems to pay attention to the music, Cléo becomes even more frustrated with herself. Cléo demonstrates a variety of emotions througout the 2 hours of her day, when she learns that she does have cancer, her mood seems to settle and her paranoia eases.
Varda's camera work is intersting in this film, like Godard she plays with jump cuts in a few scenes. The scene where Cléo is wandering the street and noticing the faces of passer-bys is also memorable.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


This film by Robert Bresson was created in 1959 along with many other contemporary New Wave films in France. The main character, Michel discovers that he has an interest in pickpocketing while at the race track. Michel's character is somewhat difficult to understand. He seems lonely and empty and finds comfort in the material world of pickpocketing. His emotions are so hidden that his feelings for Jeanne, his mother's caretaker, to not arise until the end of the film. I don't believe Michel's character was intended to be romantic; his supressed feelings seem to come from the guilt that is bottled inside from stealing from his mother as well as strangers.
The most memorable scene of the film is when the three accomplices devise a plan to pickpocket at a train station. The three men steal wallets, pass them to eachother, empty the wallets, and replace them all while keeping the owners oblivious to what is happening. Bresson focused on the hands and facial expressions of the accomplices during this scene; the body movements flowed and it seemed more magical than real.
Pickpocket has a style all its own. Bresson's creation of Michel is someone to be admired for his mastery of pickpocketing as well as pitied for his lack of confidence and hope.

Hiroshima Mon Amour

Hiroshima Mon Amour is the story of two people, a French woman and a Japanese man, who find love in the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The film consists of a dialogue between the two characters about their past and present relationships. The director, Alain Resnais, is constantly aware or the concept of time in this film while focusing on memory and past events. The female character explains to the Japanese man her previous love interest while Resnais shows flashbacks of what her memories of this may have looked like. The concept of memory is what the basis of the conversations between the two characters revolve around. The female actress seems to be re-living her previous love interest with the German soldier through her new love affair with the man from Japan. Her old memories of the German soldier have surfaced because of her new relationship. The direction of the film is interesting because it leaves many gaps for the viewer to fill in. The relationship between the two characters is difficult to figure out because the woman seems to caught up in the past to live a normal life in the present. Hiroshima Mon Amour is structured fragmentarily, which creates this disarray of time between past and present.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Jean Luc Goddards film Breathless is regarded as somewhat of a reflection of a Hollywood gangster film. One of the main characters, Michel Poiccard, is influenced by Humphrey Bogart, a famous figure of the American B films that Goddard admired. Poiccard is constantly rubbing his lips the same way that Bogart once did. Throughout the film, Poiccard continually shows interest in all things American. He chases an American girl, steals American cars, and imitates a popular American celebrity. On the other hand, Patricia Franchini, an American who works for the New York Herald Tribune in Paris, submerges herself in the French culture. She works in Paris, speaks broken French, admires French artwork and music as well as French clothing designers. In two scenes of the film, both characters compare themselves to symbols of each other's native culture. Poiccards, who stares at a picture of Bogart in front of the cinema, and Patricia, who compares herself to the woman in the Renoir painting.
Aside from the characters, the film is famously known for Goddard's New Wave filming techniques. Goddard shot the film with a natural style. His use of sound during the scene where Patricia and Michel are in the apartment help create a more believeable scenario between the characters. Their conversation seems to be improvised and is drowned out by sirens and noise pollution from the street. Goddard deliberate use of jump cuts also make this film stand out in the French New Wave era. His use of a hand held camera allow the viewer to focus on exactly what Goddard intends to show. Goddard's Breathless will forever be a revolutionary film from the French New Wave era.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Truffauts 400 Blows

Truffaut's film, Les Quatre Cents Coups, translated as The 400 Blows, depicts a semi-autobiographical story of a young mischevious boy who is regarded as a trouble maker by both his parents as well as the teachers at his school. Truffaut's first film is often regarded as one of the best French New Wave works of art. Truffaut is praised for his innovative use of camera angles as well as his ability to develop his characters with a believable, natural presence. The 400 Blows portrays the life of a young French boy, Antoine Doinel, who is trapped in the middle of an unstable family while being labeled in society as a juvenile delinquent. Antoine continually looks for trouble, whether it's stealing, plagairizing, starting fires, or skipping school, his actions are constantly destroying his reputation. Antoine acts as if his behaviors are non-consequential, he seems to accept his bad luck. Truffaut rarely shows a genuine expression of emotions through the character Antoine. One moment where the audience can grasp a sense of what the boy is experiencing is when Antoine is at the carnival with his friend the day he skipped school and he seems happy for the first time in the film as he spins around and soaks up the experience. Truffaut does not dwell on Antoine's emotion towards his family. He is aware of his mother's affair, yet he seems to accept it and stay out of her business. He is constantly reminded of her lack of interest in being a good mother. Antoine is left to himself to figure out how to get by in life, even if he finds out the hard way.