French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

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Rayon Vert
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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#176 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Nov 04, 2017 3:59 pm

domino harvey wrote:This is how I'd rank all his films from this era:
SpoilerShow
Pierrot le fou (1965)
La Chinoise (1967)
Masculin Féminin (1966)
Week End (1967)
Those actually stand a good chance of being my 1, 2, 3, 4 from this period, but I'll wait until next year's JLG list to confirm it.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#177 Post by domino harvey » Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:00 pm

Just compiled my preliminary Top 20. Ten different directors total spread over twenty spots. Most represented director (no points for "guessing") received seven spots, which is somehow still fewer than I anticipated! Next up is one director with three films, two other directors with a pair a piece, and the rest are single shots. One new discovery from the list snuck in at the tail end of my list

Right now my Top Five shorts only overlaps with one director in the Top 20, and the number one there is as immovable as anything could be on any list. I'm of course speaking of Rouch's Gare du Nord, which is available on YouTube with subs here for those who don't want to sit through all of Paris vu par for it. I'll just throw it out there: I believe it to be the greatest short film I've ever seen, and time and distance from first viewing has done nothing to diminish my belief

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#178 Post by domino harvey » Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:15 pm

Also, Icarus' Jean Rouch DVD box set comes out November 14, which should give those curious a few days to work through the eligible films in the set in advance of the new deadline. He didn't end up making my Top 20 but these are important and worthwhile films regardless

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#179 Post by knives » Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:57 pm

And Amazon has it about a third off right now.
Last edited by knives on Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#180 Post by zedz » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:12 pm

I've just about sorted my list: there are only a few more rewatches left, which should decide the twentieth title for my top twenty. For the nineteen I have already in place, fifteen different directors are represented. One with three titles, two with two. The final film is most likely to be a second film for one of four other directors.

I'm in the same position with my shorts list: one space out of ten still to be confirmed after a few more rewatches. There are seven different directors on that list, with two two-fers. Every director on this list is also represented on the features list, except for Jean Rouch, which I think is actually a rather sizeable clue for one of the less obvious titles on my features list.

I also have another list, which I might as well post now, since I don't think it's going to change before the project finishes:

THE INELIGIBLES

I fully endorse the decision to have a 1968 cut-off for this project, and it’s remarkable that so many key careers tidily comply with that line of demarcation:
- Godard takes a left turn with Jean-Pierre Gorin.
- Resnais falls silent for six years.
- Jacques Demy and Agnes Varda go the USA.
- Louis Malle goes to India.
- And Truffaut has pretty much merged with the commercial mainstream by this point.

But not everybody fares so well. Eric Rohmer is caught right in the middle of his Six Moral Tales, and the 1968 dividing line just cuts off his defining film, and what is one of the defining films of the New Wave in most accounts, Ma nuit chez Maud. Rohmer’s line of demarcation doesn’t come until 1972, when he completes that project, takes a break, and then returns with a couple of very different films. Likewise, Claude Chabrol is only just hitting his purple patch when the 1968 axe falls, so most of the films on which his reputation rests are excluded. Rivette is pretty much carrying on along his own idiosyncratic path, with his cinema evolving from film to film rather than breaking, swerving or leaping like his compatriots. (Actually, he might be the only New Wave director without a natural 'break' in his career: he just keeps making Rivette films, for better or worse). Eustache – a key figure of the New Wave for me – doesn’t even get to make his first feature until 1973, and it’s a grand summing up of the movement rather than something other or after. Likewise, Jacques Rozier is struggling to make films during the sixties, but happens to execute a pure New Wave masterpiece in the early seventies.

So here’s a top five of films I consider New Wave even though they came out after 1968:

Celine et Julie vont en bateau (Jacques Rivette, 1974)
La Maman et la putain (Jean Eustache, 1973)
Du cote d’Orouet (Jacques Rozier, 1971)
L’Hiver (Marcel Hanoun, 1969)
La Rupture (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

And at the other end of the spectrum, I’d say that Alain Resnais and Chris Marker were the only genuinely New Wave directors making stylistically characteristic films before 1956, with Les statues meurent aussi (Resnais / Marker / Cloquet, 1953) the most obvious ineligible contender for my shorts list.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#181 Post by zedz » Mon Nov 06, 2017 3:14 pm

A bunch of shorts:

Ars (Demy, 1959) - I hadn't thought about it before, but Demy has a very impressive body of short film work. This is a very creative biography in which the narrative is illustrated rather than enacted - and it answers knives' query earlier in this thread about whether anybody else did Les Amants' particular anachronism trick. Here it is, a 19th century story illustrated with contemporary footage. It's an unusual and charming technique, wherein the events of the historical story are almost casually replicated by the present-day villagers, as if the events were accidentally captured by a documentary camera (which I'm sure is not the case). The film is punctuated with dynamic, often unmotivated camera movements, including a small anticipation of the opening shot of La Baie des Anges (and the climactic shot of La Guelle ouverte). These may be borrowed (and hopped-up) from Resnais' glides, but Demy orchestrates them well.

La Luxure (Demy, 1962) - Slight, but rather delightful. Demy does Truffaut better than Truffaut in the childhood flashback, as well as in the breezy, playful present-day frame.

Toute le memoire du monde (Resnais, 1957) - I rewatched this just to weigh it up against Le Chant du Styrene. It lost, but this is still a marvellous, atmospheric documentary, full of Resnais' style and personality.

Du cote de la cote (Varda, 1958) - A vibrant and delightful film, and it's interesting to see Varda's whimsical, punning, alert personality fully formed this early in her career. You can trace a direct line from this film through her later documentaries to Les Plages d'Agnes and Visages, villages.

And a couple of features:

Adieu Philippine (Rozier, 1962) - The first time I watched this it was overshadowed by the magnificent Du cote d'Orouet, which tells a similar story in a more original way (and I was also distracted by the terrible transfer gaffe), but seeing it again in isolation it's a wonderfully observed, multi-layered gem. Less tidy than a lot of the better-known 'cute young things hang out' films of the movement, and all the stronger for it.

L'authentique proces de Carl-Emmanuel Jung (Hanoun, 1966) - L'Ete was in the vein of plenty of New Wave films, if a lot more rigorous, but this film is getting so marginal I might have to toss a coin to see whether I should include it. Though there are a few Resnais and Marker films that have a similar vibe, it's much closer to Straub / Huillet or Khittl. It's an icy and alienating record of a trial for war crimes, intercut with scenes from the titular monster's cushy bourgeois home life. The shots from the trial are faces and figures shot against dead black, with an alienating and disruptive soundtrack in which we don't hear the voices of the participants, but of the court translators, so we have sequences in which the witnesses, the judges, the lawyers and the accused all speak with the same voice, and it's not necessarily male. It's a metaphor for the artifice of the entire film, which can only gesture at the horrors of the Holocaust, which Jung either flatly denies or weasels away from. It's hardly an enjoyable film, but it's grimly compelling.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#182 Post by swo17 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 3:23 pm

These films are technically eligible but maybe not terribly "New Wave." Is anyone considering voting for them?

The Red Balloon
Letter from Siberia
La Jetée
Eyes Without a Face

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#183 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Mon Nov 06, 2017 3:42 pm

swo17 wrote:These films are technically eligible but maybe not terribly "New Wave." Is anyone considering voting for them?

The Red Balloon
Letter from Siberia
La Jetée
Eyes Without a Face
Yes a couple but only because I'm allowed to not because I think they are NV.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#184 Post by zedz » Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:15 pm

It never occurred to me that Chris Marker wasn't a core part of the New Wave. He's stylistically very different from Chabrol or Godard, but much closer to the other Left Bank filmmakers, who all have a strong basis in documentary.

I'm not including Franju within the New Wave, personally. Stylistically he seems to me like he's doing his own thing, and he'd been making films since 1934, for heaven's sake! Who's next? Melies?

Likewise, I don't know why Lamorisse should be considered a New Wave director. He'd been making films for children since 1951, and he continued making them throughout this period, but what's New Wave about that? The Red Balloon was made before just about any actual New Wave film came out, so unless it was heavily influenced by La Pointe-Courte (!) or Night and Fog (!!), there's no connection.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#185 Post by swo17 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:30 pm

zedz wrote:It never occurred to me that Chris Marker wasn't a core part of the New Wave. He's stylistically very different from Chabrol or Godard, but much closer to the other Left Bank filmmakers, who all have a strong basis in documentary.
I can see that. I guess he's just a director that I came at from a different direction than exploring the New Wave. Also, I don't know how much to read into this, but note that Criterion's listing of New Wave films excludes the following:

La Jetée
Zazie dans le métro
L'Enfance nue
Classe tous risques

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#186 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:34 pm

zedz wrote:
I'm not including Franju within the New Wave, personally. Stylistically he seems to me like he's doing his own thing, and he'd been making films since 1934, for heaven's sake! Who's next? Melies?
I feel exactly the same about Franju. His insistence and use of the 'insolite' is so engrained in his work and seems totally at odds with the NV dynamic. However I will put La Premiere Nuit in the shorts since its nifty side stepping from a coy story about a snotty rich kid into an intensely magical adventure in the real location of the Paris Metro just nudges it into a similar universe.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#187 Post by domino harvey » Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:44 pm

Marker is unquestionably part of the New Wave. The "New Wave dynamic" is not (solely) massive stylistic innovation or cinematic rule-breaking, regardless of what Cliff Notes takes on the movement claim. But even if it was, how does that not describe La jetee?

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#188 Post by zedz » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:06 pm

swo17 wrote:
zedz wrote:It never occurred to me that Chris Marker wasn't a core part of the New Wave. He's stylistically very different from Chabrol or Godard, but much closer to the other Left Bank filmmakers, who all have a strong basis in documentary.
I can see that. I guess he's just a director that I came at from a different direction than exploring the New Wave. Also, I don't know how much to read into this, but note that Criterion's listing of New Wave films excludes the following:

La Jetée
Zazie dans le métro
L'Enfance nue
Classe tous risques
Le Jetee and Zazie - editorial error, pure and simple.

I can see the exclusion of L'Enfance nue, because Pialat really belongs to the next generation, but I'd include it because it's his most New Wave film (to me, it's like a much, much tougher Antoine Doinel film), and he was struggling on the margins of the New Wave throughout the 60s. L'Amour existe is a very characteristic Left Bank film, for instance, and he was collaborating with Georges Delerue like everybody else. Like Eustache, if he'd managed to make his first feature by 1965, I don't think there's any question he'd be automatically included in the movement (and, quite possibly, have transformed our understanding of it), it's only his late blooming that causes confusion.

Classe tous risques seems to me just a (good) French genre film, nothing especially New Wave about it. Sautet's Les Choses de la vie is very much in the New Wave vernacular, but it falls outside the period under consideration.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#189 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:22 pm

domino harvey wrote:Marker is unquestionably part of the New Wave. The "New Wave dynamic" is not (solely) massive stylistic innovation or cinematic rule-breaking, regardless of what Cliff Notes takes on the movement claim. But even if it was, how does that not describe La jetee?
Marker figures either directly or indirectly in at least 5 contenders on my list. I similarly do not group NV credentials according to an acid test of purely cinematic innovation /rule breaking etc but I think of it more in the breaking of a hierarchical sclerotic industrial form of film making - produced scripts , studio nurtured talent etc which in turn opens up the field somewhat for a wider pool of talent and approaches. However I think there are a large number of names in the prescribed list that weren't blessed by this development. This is old territory that we have trodden on before and best left undisturbed . Time better spent tabulating and wrestling with the list pecking order I guess

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#190 Post by knives » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:59 pm

It's a good sign at least that we seem to be collectively ignoring Lelouche.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#191 Post by Satori » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:10 am

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
zedz wrote: I'm not including Franju within the New Wave, personally. Stylistically he seems to me like he's doing his own thing, and he'd been making films since 1934, for heaven's sake! Who's next? Melies?
I feel exactly the same about Franju. His insistence and use of the 'insolite' is so engrained in his work and seems totally at odds with the NV dynamic.
I've struggled a bit with Franju-- Eyes Without a Face is without a doubt one of my ten favorite eligible films, but I don't think I'll vote for it since it isn't New Wave.

I think Franju is part of a distinct strain of filmmakers lurking in the eligible list, though, including Joe Benazeraf and Jean Rollin. Both of the latter were included in Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs' Immoral Tales book, which is a foundational text in the sex-horror "eurocult" genre. Franju's relation to these filmmakers is kind of like Melville's to the New Wave proper.

Like the New Wave, this emergent eurocult genre is a counter-cinema positioned against mainstream French cinema. Its directors were similarly inspired by American genre cinema and early french cinema, although perhaps their texts of choice were different. Robbe-Grillet, who also has a chapter in the Tombs and Tohill book, is probably the mediator between these two groups of filmmakers.

As much as I like some of this stuff, though, I don't think it makes sense to include it in a New Wave list. I personally like that it's all included in the master list, though, since it helps show the diversity of French cinema of the time. The fact that the books which generated the list include directors like Benazeraf and Rollin does make some of their omissions a bit puzzling, though, namely editor-turned-director Jackie Raynal, whose New Wave credentials should be pretty secure given that she edited pretty much all of Rohmer's 60s work!

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#192 Post by zedz » Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:58 pm

Satori wrote:As much as I like some of this stuff, though, I don't think it makes sense to include it in a New Wave list. I personally like that it's all included in the master list, though, since it helps show the diversity of French cinema of the time. The fact that the books which generated the list include directors like Benazeraf and Rollin does make some of their omissions a bit puzzling, though, namely editor-turned-director Jackie Raynal, whose New Wave credentials should be pretty secure given that she edited pretty much all of Rohmer's 60s work!
I'm okay with the exclusion of Raynal, since she's clearly a part of the Zanzibar Group, which I feel represents a very sharp break with the New Wave, but I suspect that the exclusion of her and of Duras (who I also think of as part of the 'Next Wave', but is so crucial a figure of the New Wave that at least one male director makes the list simply for having collaborated with her on a single occasion. And yet she can't get recognised in her own right, even though she started directing her own films, in collaboration with a bunch of New Wave fellow travellers, before 1968) has far more to do with gender than with a careful weighing of their historical context and aesthetic qualities (which clearly wasn't done with a bunch of blokes who made the list).

Les Contrabandieres (Moullet, 1968) - The last / first time I watched this movie I made the mistake of following it immediately with the arch and tedious Une Aventure de Billy le Kid, which effectively wiped any goodwill Moullet's previous film had generated. Coming back to it was a real pleasure. I'm no fan of zany, but the headlong wackiness of this film was surreal, formally inventive and - crucially - often actually funny. It also has the huge bonus of looking absolutely fantastic, with a brilliant use of wilderness locations that give it a very different vibe to any other New Wave film I can think of off the top of my head.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#193 Post by Satori » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:11 pm

zedz wrote: I'm okay with the exclusion of Raynal, since she's clearly a part of the Zanzibar Group, which I feel represents a very sharp break with the New Wave,
That's fair enough. If IMBD is to be believed, her first film premiered in late December 1968, which means that she would have barely been eligible anyway. And Deux fois is certainly a radical departure from her work with Rohmer, although I'm not sure the gap is much bigger than the gap between Godard's work in 1968 and Breathless. While it would obviously be impossible to do for a list project, I don't think there is much doubt that the real cutoff point for the New Wave is in May of 1968, not in December. (A problem with any year or decade-based periodization that is by no means limited to this particular list!)
zedz wrote: but I suspect that the exclusion of her and of Duras ... has far more to do with gender than with a careful weighing of their historical context and aesthetic qualities (which clearly wasn't done with a bunch of blokes who made the list)
Agreed 100%. The real tragedy is that these kind of omissions have been passed down throughout film history, which means their films largely continue to go unreleased (although there is a French DVD of Deux fois), which then prevents people from rediscovering them and teachers from teaching them.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#194 Post by knives » Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:21 pm

Ophelia is super weird. It plays out almost like Chabrol imitating what he thinks a Resnais imitation of himself would look like. The film makes no sense and seems to be aiming for a lost dream logic with bizarre cut aways and a feeling of doom. Many scenes almost feel like a dry run for Eraserhead or Svankmajer. This certainly makes the film sound interesting and there is some interest to be had. Still it's too quiet and stiff to take advantage of the weirdness and lacks the sense of possibility for coherence that makes the above examples so compulsively watchable. Dom said that it feels like Chabrol is bored and while I can see the truth to that, it comes across as more lost to me. Chabrol wants to make films still it is clear, but also wants to be commercially successful and nothing is working. Despite the languid appearance, in contrast to every other Chabrol ever, it feels like he is throwing it all to see what sticks. We get Hamlet, Resnais, Cocteau, and many other things that are disconnected from each other. It really is no wonder that after this act of desperation that Chabrol just went as a gun for hire for the next half decade.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#195 Post by movielocke » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:40 am

so this list project got me to cross a line I've always avoided crossing: spending money on Godard.

and Band of Outsiders is one of his better films, so it wasn't a total loss.

Les Cousins is superb throughout, when it twists to the end to the studying/partying dichotomy, I got a strong sense of impending doom, and (happily?) saw that my entire world view validated in what happens to people who work a normal amount when competing against the privileged and indolent. perfect ending, loved it.

L'Enfance Nue This film is basically perfect in what it is and accomplishes, but on the other hand it is so spectacularly boring I struggled to get through it as I haven't had to force myself through a film in months. which is remarkable for an 80 minute film watched in the middle of the day. This genre of youth film was amongst my favorites ten years ago, but I found myself responding less to it than I expected. Given how outstanding I found A Nos Amours, I was a bit disappointed. I spent most of the film thinking about 400 Blows rather constantly, and wondering if I watch it again if I will find myself not responding to it as well.

And God Created Woman Bardot is simply superb throughout this film, and Trintingent is excellent too. I think this went down so well for me because having recently watched the Fanny trilogy, this coastal piece seemed to be a descendent of those superb melodramas. But filtered through the eyes of a confident youth who doesn't have a place in that traditional society but is trapped since there is not a modern society alternative she can join, only prostitution in one form or another. Although she has few choices, she makes the best choice for herself that she can. Despite the Pagnol esque melodrama throughout, the film is fascinating because of Bardot elevates the material. Completely shocked, I always thought this was more like "premier desires" more exploitation, but the film is firmly on her side throughout and rather than 'expose' Bardot, the film playfully exploits and denies the scopophilic tendencies of the audience, which was refreshing.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#196 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:51 am

swo17 wrote:These films are technically eligible but maybe not terribly "New Wave." Is anyone considering voting for them?

The Red Balloon
Letter from Siberia
La Jetée
Eyes Without a Face
I strongly considered all four. La Jetée is topping the shorts for me, but the other three were ultimately left off in favor of other films.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#197 Post by knives » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:03 pm

Trans-Europ-Express
It's amusing that this is a fairly simple and straight forward narrative even as Robbe Grillet plays up the possibility of experimentation throughout. Particularly the editing feels unique and daring with a lot of rule breaking which has a gag like sense, but mostly feels curious about how types of images work. There's of course jump cuts and the like you'd expect from this sort of film, one where storytelling is more interesting than the story (which really is a generic bore). The most compelling editing plays though are the inserts and 180 breaks which to be cruel are significantly smarter and more accomplished than the film on the whole. Robbe Grillet has a lot of fun admitting that this is just a story, but that also undercuts it to where the emotional connections of his previous two films aren't possible and the experimentation isn't strong enough to support a nothing film. Basically you can already see the seams of his technique showing and it is easy to believe he would soon quickly run out of steam and do straight pornography. It does make me all the more curious to see Duras' The Truck which sounds like a more effective take on this idea of hashing out a commercial story.

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#198 Post by alacal2 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:18 pm

Still gorging on Godard. Plenty of nourishment. Minimum indigestion!

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#199 Post by domino harvey » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:33 am

Reminder that lists are due on Saturday. Five lists in so far (including mine), and all with a different film topping-- and one is clearly not bothering to follow the intent of the project but whatever

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Re: French New Wave Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#200 Post by Shrew » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:18 pm

I actually liked Ophelia despite its deep flaws. There are some wonderful images, interesting ideas, and a few great sequences (I found the climax shockingly moving), but it plays like jottings in a notebook missing any coherent theme or purpose. Is it about how art can warp life (another films-ruin-your-life film from the New Wave), class prejudices, the disintegration of the bourgeois family, Catholic guilt, Laszlo Szabo antics? All make none. And why call it Ophelia when it doesn't give a damn about its Ophelia? Perhaps its best summed up in Andre Jocelyn, a man who, both here and in A double tour, seems so naturally uncomfortable in his own existence that he makes a Hamlet that is equally compelling and repelling at the same time.

Le Beau Serge
Good enough to deserve its footnoted title as the first New Wave film, but flawed enough that its footnoting feels justified. This feels like a first film in ways 400 Blows and Breathless do not--and the confidence of those two films feels all the more unique the more early New Wave films I see (hello Sign of Leo, Paris a Nous Appartient, Adieu Philippine). Unlike Ophelia, there is a clear central idea, but Chabrol doesn't complicate it as much as he thinks he does, which makes the film feel sophomoric. But the last twenty minutes or so are something else. When Brialy sets off through the winter night, the cinematography shifts into a beautiful, fairy tale-like palette of darkness, like some negative of a Cocteau film.

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