Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Two or Three Things I know About Her

  I think the beginning scene with introducing Juliette as actress, and as a person within a story sets the stage of showing the two different sides to this character.  In one way she is a housewife, and mother of two, and on the other side she is a prostitute who spends her extra cash on clothes, booze, and cafes.  Keeping with this double theme, we see a lot of construction and Oil company signs, and then we go to inner workings of an older city with; cafes, small clothing boutiques, and corner shops.  
  One of the two most memorable, and eye-catching scenes is when we see Juliette trying to hit on a man in order to have him pick her up ($$) inside of a cafe, and there is an overhead shot of espresso and it's creme swirling around.  It's interesting, and is beautifully shot.  The other scene of both Juliette and her other hooker friend, when they go to an American john who is overly patriotically portrayed.  He's wearing a U.S. flag shirt, has a stripped towel and walks into a bathroom that is dark blue with spots on the walls (which give a resemblance to the flag).  Then in order for him to get off, he has the woman put on airline bags on their heads, and walk around.  I thought maybe that Godard was making a statement that America is commercially, and materialistically driven and are blind to the world (like in having bags over our heads).  Not sure if this was the case, but knowing Godard's past statements on the subjects, I thought it might have a connection.
  Juliette is seen to be pretty materialistic in her own right, you see her drop her kid off at  a brothel and leave him with an old man.  Then you see her shopping for a dress,  and off to a bar.  You want to feel bad for her, and her family for putting her in the situation of having to prostitute but then you see her spending the money on herself.  Not to mention abandoning her kid with a stranger.
  I felt a little cheated in the end, because i thought there was going to be something big that happens.  Or a resolution to the families problems, but there isn't.  Not to say that there weren't things to learn and see, but i just felt like Godard was building up to something big, but it just ended.  Which is very French New Wave.

A Woman Is A Woman

  With the exception of Godard's Breathless, I found this film to be one of his most innovative.  Angela a stripper, her boyfriend a Cyclist, and his best friend Alfred.  The film plays between a playful comedy/musical, and a drama.  Although in the film Alfred calls it a comedy and tragedy.  Angela is Emile's live in girlfriend who is obsessed with getting pregnant. Angela has even taken a fertility test saying that she is ovulating, and that this would be the best time to get pregnant. She has tried pleading with him, and even threatening him that she will sleep with just about anyone in order to have a baby.  He is not ready and fights her on the subject.  They both go out, and try to make the other jealous.   

   She gets so desperate she turns to his best friend Alfred, who she knows has feelings for her.  After her seeing Alfred behind Emiles' back she sleeps with him, she thinks that maybe they both love each other but soon realizes that he just lusts after her, and she is just using him.  After, she decides to tell Emile what she has done, and expresses that she loves him and no one else and that she's sorry.  He seems upset, but believes her because he knows how desperate she had been to have a child.  They decide to sleep with each other right away to ensure that she's pregnant and to say it would be his.
  The movie uses music, and a play like comedy style to keep you from seeing the more serious nature of the story.  Angela has cheated on her live-in boyfriend with his best friend, for her own selfish need.  It's interesting to note that Godard plays with this notion that Angela hates the idea of modern woman, who are selfish, don't cook dinner, want careers, and hold off on having families.  And yet she herself has a job as a stripper, burns dinners, and seems just as selfish by wanting a family without Emile's consent.  She herself is a modern woman, but disguises it with this notion of her being domesticated.  
  It's interesting how Godard shoots some scenes at Angela's work by creating this magical arch, that once walked through changes your clothes instantly.  And the use of color-lighting on Angela's face for one of the final scenes in her heartfelt song close-up.  
There was a couple of scenes that stuck out more, as French Newave'ish.  Like when Godard shot a couple of scenes with Angela and Alfred while they were  hanging out on the street as they posed.  The other is when Angela and Emile have a fight in the bedroom, and use books in order to tell the other how they're feeling.  The beginning also shows the actors addressing the camera, as if they're knowingly acting in front of an audience.


Sunday, November 16, 2008


  The story begins with Lemmy Caution a double agent spy from what's referred to as The Outlands, he's posing as a reporter.  He is sent to a faraway planet Alpha, to bring back Henri another agent, and to change professor Vonbrauns' ideals with Alpha 60.  Once Lemmy gets there he is greeted by robotic/Geisha like women who seem to only want to please Lemmy sexually.  He is also told that Alpha 60 is a giant computer calculating rules for the people of Alpha 60.  Professor Vonbraun is the creator of Alpha 60, and has the machine calculate what a utopic civilization needs to be, and sets their laws accordingly in order for people to follow.
  In his search for Professor Vonbraun, and Henri he discovers that Alpha 60 is against any kind of real love, or true emotions.  Instead they show people being executed because their emotions get the better of them, like when a man's wife died, he cried, and was subsequently executed because of shedding tears.  Their people are programed to only learn and use words that are practical, and have no emotional backing to them.  He is lead to Professor's daughter, whom he falls for.  When he tries to bring back Henri, he is killed.  And once Caution talks to the Professor his efforts to change his mind are futile.  Caution confronts Alpha 60 (the computer) to pose a riddle, that would in return destroy it's own way of thinking.
  In the end Caution destroys the computer, the Professor, and rescues Natacha (the professors daughter) to take her to the Outlands where they can be free and in love.  
  As with a lot of Godard's films there is a underlying subtext, that's being presented.  The idea of poetry, emotions, and love are forbidden.  A social commentary about the word "Consequence." Showing that if we live in a world without love, and art that there will be consequences.  The conscious of a world will weight heavy without love, and creativity.  If a world is ran without any possibility of flaws, than there is no way to really enjoy life.  You can't enjoy the sweet, without the sour.
  The evil computer, is guided by the professor like a dictator (or Gestapo).  Exhibiting a comparison to Hitler, with lingering WWII principles.  Escaping to the outlands of freedom (Democratic lands).


Monday, November 3, 2008

Les Carabiniers (The Riflemen)

  Godard has always shown an interest in showing political views within his films, in this case the whole film is politically driven.  His Marxists beliefs are extremely apparent in this picture. The basic plot is two extremely poor brothers  are called upon by the King to go to war for their country, or at least thats what they're told by The Riflemen.  They're promised riches, and complete freedom to do what ever they please.  Including rape, killing, and stealing.  Their wives are encouraging of them to go off and bring back riches for them.   
  The men go off to war, and use every opportunity to rape, and kill whoever they please.  Footage of real war scenes give the picture a more realistic value, which sometimes is hard to see with the over-acting and at times surreal times of the film.  
  Godard uses tell-tale New Wave styling throughout, with jump cuts and fast cutting techniques.  The erratic nature of the film seems purposeful in order to give the viewer a feeling of uneasiness.  Using materialism as an initiative in order for them to go off to war, as to say that most war is fought over Things, and comes at a great human loss.
  There's a scene where a beautiful girl recites a ideological poem that expresses Marxists beliefs, before she is executed.  Again showing that even when someone is trying to reason with someone not to be violent, but in war reasoning does not exist.  The brutality of the war is not sugar coated in any way.  
  When they get back home their wives are awaiting them (although the one wife seems to be having a good time with another local man).  They ask where their things they asked for are, and where their riches are.  Ulysses and Michelangelo say that they've brought all their riches in one suitcase. This is the longest scene of the film, they start to pull out one by one postcards and pictures of all the things that they seen over the world.  Interestingly most of what's shown is more things that are apart of the wonders of the world, as opposed to just material things.  Giving you the idea that life is more about amazing things that no one has to own, but rather for all to enjoy.  Unlike in war we fight over more material things, power, and money.
  In the end both the wives,  Michelangelo, and Ulysses want what's owed to them that was promised by the king.  They find The Riflemen again and ask them, they say that they did not win the war, but that the King will pay them.  The Riflemen lead them to show them where there riches are and then shoot and kill them.  Again symbolizing that there all these promises with war, riches, power, but in the end death is one thing thats guaranteed. 


Jules and Jim

  Jules and Jim is a love story that should really be called "Jules, Jim and Catherine."  This love triangle begins when Jules, and Jim meet.  Both are writers but Jules is shy and more subdue, while Jim is more vivacious and outgoing.  Both become good friends and admire art together, one day they encounter a ancient statue of a woman which they both find fascinating, and beautiful.
  Bachelors that they are, they explore different types of women.  They meet Catherine, a vibrant, excitingly different kind of girl.  She's fun, and fun to be around.  All three of them seem to be dear friends.  Catherine pursues a relationship with Jules, and they fast become lovers.  At this time both Jules, and Jim are called off to war.  Fearing that one of them might kill the other, because of them being on opposite sides of the conflict.  They both survive and remain friends, along with Catherine.
  Catherine and Jules marry and move off to the country, and have a little girl.  Jim however stays in the city and has a serious relationship Gilberte.  All seems well to Jim, but is unaware of the problems that Catherine and Jules are having.
  Jim visits with them in the country, he finds out that Catherine has been having affairs,  and Jules is unsure how to keep her happy.  He tolerates the infidelity because he can't live without her.  Catherine confesses to Jim that she has feelings for him.  Jim goes to Jules to talk to him, and Jules tells him that he wants her to be happy, and to still be in his life no matter what.  Even if it's with him.  All three live together in a bizarre love triangle.  Catherine and Jim try to have a child together, but are unsuccessful.  Jim has to go back to the city to do business.  While he's there he reconnects with Gilberte.  Writing back and forth, Catherine senses that Jim has cheated on her, and as her revenge she cheats on him.
  When Jim returns he tells Catherine that he is going back to Gilberte.  She freaks out at him and pulls a gun on him.  He leaves, and Jules and Catherine resume there affair.
  Jim runs into Jules, and Catherine an they all three decide to have lunch together.  Catherine drives and shows off her new car.  After eating lunch she tells Jim that she wants to show him something, and tells Jules to watch.  She drive them both off a broken bridge on purpose, killing both of them.  Jules is left with his two best friends ashes to dispose of, but is some how relieved that he is free of Catherines hold, and the torment of her being with other men.
  Taking a character like Catherine and making her so likable, and then making her so despicable.  She seemed to want to have all the men around her adore her, and want her and when Jim didn't see her in the same light anymore.  Catherine took the "If I can't have him, then no one can" attitude.  I didn't know if I wanted to feel bad for Jules, or look down upon him for being so spineless.  Jim seemed to have fallen for Catherine's trap, but when he realized that he was just in awe of Catherine and not in love with her, he left (unfortunately he returned).  
  The film itself kept at a good pace, and used some symbolism throughout.  A tremendous amount of thought was put into the little things that were shot, and contributed to the feel of love between the three of them.  


Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

  Guy and Genevieve are young lovers.  She is only a teenager, and he is in his early twenties.  They are completely in love and start to talk about marriage and children.  Their love seems pure, and true.
  Madame Emery Genevieve's widowed mother owns a small umbrella shop that is having financial difficulty.  Mrs. Emery finds out about Genevieve's relationship, and explains that she's to young and needs to wait for marriage.  Genevieve tells her mom that she can't live without him.  
  Guy was raised by his aunt Elise.  She understands his love for her, but feels that she might be alone.  Elise is ill and has a family friend Madeline taking care of her.  Madeline has feelings for Guy that he is unaware of.
  When Genevieve and Guy decide that they do want to get married soon, Guy ends up receiving a notice that he's being sent off to the Algerian war for two years.  Genevieve is completely devastated by this news.  The night before he has to leave they make love.  She begs him the next day not to leave.  But he has to go.
  Mrs. Emery notices Genevieve is pale, and tired all the time.  Genevieve is saddened that she has only received a couple of letters from Guy in the past couple of months.  She starts questioning his love for her.  Once pushed about her health Genevieve confesses to her mother that she's pregnant with Guy's baby.  Mrs. Emery tells Genevieve that their shop is in serious financial trouble and doesn't know what to do.
  Genevieve suggest that she sell her jewelry in order to bail them out.  At first reluctant, she agrees.  They go to a local jeweler who explains that he could only give a fraction of what they're worth.  In the shop with them is Mr. Cossard a rich business man, he overhears the plight and offers to buy them.  Mrs. Emery overly grateful accepts, and offers him to come to dinner.  He comes over to dinner, and is visibly taken by Genevieve, she on the other hand is distracted by her own misery.
  Cossard asks Mrs. Emery for Genevieve's hand.  She lets him know it's up to her.  In the end Genevieve is taken by Cossard and the fact that he accepts her pregnancy and loves them both.  They marry and move away.
  Guy comes home from war hears the news and is devastated.  His aunt a few weeks later passes.  Guy is completely depressed, he begs Madeline to stay with him.  Madeline asks if he wants to really be with her, or is he not over Genevieve.  He chooses Madeline, they marry, have a child, and open a gas station car/shop with the money that aunt Elise left him in his inheritance.  The last scene is of Guy and Genevieve meeting again, and resolve their issues.
They ended up happy but not in the way they had originally wished.
  The use of singing, and color put the movie in a hyper-unrealistic vision.  But was able to tell a common place story of, marring for money, marring 2nd choice, and settling for people.  Unrealistic medium to tell a common story was interestingly put together.
  The intro was visually one of my favorites with the overhead shots.  The use of matching set elements colors within a shot was unique.  Taking a protagonist and putting them in angelic-like colors, and putting the antagonist in bold, bright colors was purposeful and helpful in telling the story.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shoot the Piano Player

Truffaut's "Shoot the Piano Player" seems to be more of a Film Noir film rather than French New Wave.  The dark cinematography especially with the night scenes, chase sequences, and the crime thriller of it.  The other side to this film is the love story, which gives more of a French New Wave feel.  The movie in a whole was interesting, but in my opinion didn't display Truffaut's finest work.
 Charlie the main character is a tortured character.  At first we see him as just a simple lounge like piano player, and then his brother shows up.  His brother knowing that he's being followed, decides to go to Charlie for help.  Unfortunately by him doing this sends the thugs that he was running from to start to go after Charlie, and anyone who is close to him. 

Charlie is constantly torn throughout the film by his shyness, and can't seem to act on his impulses. There is a flashback of Charlie when he was Edouardo, which gives the explanation of how Charlie has gotten where he's at in life.  This I think was the most interesting part of the movie, it helped me get a closer, more personal look into how Charlie ticks.  We see that his pianist success was helped along with his cheating wife, who in the end couldn't forgive herself for what she had done to him, and the marriage. His wife begs for him to leave because she's disgusted with herself, he leaves but in his mind he knows that she wants him to stay, and deep down he wants to stay to.  Unfortunately his hesitation, in the end has dire consequences, his wife plunges herself out the window to her death.

After taking this flashback the viewer can be a little less frustrated with Charlie and his inability to act on impulses, and to be timid.
It's interesting to me that Truffaut made 400 Blows before this film, this filmed did not seem to be as refined as 400 Blows.