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tibor_bardot

-French Films Thread-

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Yes, it shows up frequently on the Sundance channel along with Tout Va Bien. It is a jolt of raw energy - I think it is an exercise in pure style, something the French are very good at. Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg are the film's virtues. The rough camera work and jagged storyline are often mentioned as if they are virtues but I'm not so sure that they nothing more than the product of a low budget. Overall, I don't think it is a great film but it's place in film history is assured because it ushered in the French New Wave. It really is required viewing if you are interested in this genre. The gangster theme was played to much better effect in Truffaut's Shoot The Piano Player which was actually preceeds Breathless. The only other films by Goddard that I have seen are Band of Outsiders and Alphaville. I have several of Goddard's other films: A Woman Is A Woman, Contempt, Masculine-Feminine that I haven't had time to screen yet so I have yet to form an opinion of where to place Goddard as a filmmaker.

 

--

Terry Wallace

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>The gangster theme was played to much better effect in Truffaut's Shoot The Piano Player which was actually preceeds Breathless

 

I think it was as much about disaffected youth than the gangster theme, yes? Belmondo's character was supposed to be some kind of new weirdo anti-hero, if I recall. Unsouciant, amoral, living the moment, being able to commit a crime without a qualm, etc. For years this movie was all but unwatchable because the white subtitles were unreadable. But I think they've upgraded ...

 

How about "A Life To Live." The female lead is a Godard favorite (his wife?) and whose name escapes me at the moment. There is a cute pool room scene where she does this little solo dance. Just prior to that a fellow breaks away from an intense conversation with a copain to enact a little comedy for the girl, a little riff on blowing up a balloon. Very amusing. This scene has always stuck in my mind.

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Good observations. I would say Belmondo's character is closer to a gangster wannabee. The posing before the Bogart poster gives good insight into how he views himself. I am also wrong about Shoot the Piano Player preceeding Breathless. I'm just going to blame it on a senior moment.

 

--

Terry Wallace

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I've tried to imagine the impact of watching Breathless when it was originally released, I don't know that I can really imagine how it might have felt.

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I just rented Pagnol's *Marius* et *Fanny* from Netflix. I am awaiting *Cesar* and the disc of bonus material.

 

I had never seen these classics before, only the later movie "Fanny" with Boyer and Caron. The first disc, "Marius" came and I had a very hard time getting into it, due to some really bad choices by the people who remastered the soundtrack. Certain background noises were brought to the front of the soundtrack and were incredibly irritating (someone pushing aside beads at the door became as loud as Lina Lamont's pearls in "Singin in the Rain"!). Aside from this rather strange sound problem, the movie was interesting, but nothing special to me. Korda's direction was fine, but not particularly interesting. I absolutely loved Raimu, but the plot was very slight, and I found myself thinking that the movie was a bit thin. Why was this a classic? Maybe because it was made so early in the sound era?

 

I then watched the second disc, "Fanny", and was completely blown away! I realized that the first film was just a prelude to the real show, only an introduction to the characters. The direction of "Fanny" was much better - Marc Allegret tightened things up, making a mosaic of the townspeople's idiosyncratic behaviors. The emotion runs high in this installment, but the acting is delicious, especially by Raimu and Charpin. The two hit just the right notes throughout this picture. I totally believed that these two had been friends forever. They can't get along, but they can't stay away from each other. In overblown comic fight scenes, they are tremendously funny, and in the tender, painful moments, each makes you weep at his nobility. In the end the two friends come together, realizing why they are friends in the first place.

 

The writing is superb. Pagnol's gift was in making each character the one you sympathize with in the moment. To cheer for Cesar means the downfall of Panisse, and vice versa.... we've come to love both..... Just when they work out their problems so everyone is happy, Marius enters the picture and we know that someone must suffer. It's brilliant and complex, and feels very modern, and very much like real life. Decisions must be made,and there are no simple answers. All this, and quite a few bon mots thrown in for good measure.

 

I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of "Cesar" in the mail. I hope it is as great as "Fanny".

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JackFavell, my search for these three films on Netflix yields nothing. I may have to give them a call. I am surprised that these were ever put on DVD, but very glad. But why I am not able to access them, very curious.

 

My introduction to these were in the form of simple sound recordings of the _actual films_ that were made in the 1930s. I checked them out the library many years ago. You could simply listen along the with the sound affects and make sense of the story. They were, after all, originally stage plays that were turned into movies.

 

I think Pagnol was a genius. He knew people. These three movies are absolute gems. I still have them on VHS (I copied them from a very well stocked video store in my area) but haven't seen them in years. But I still remember some of the scenes and I remember the basic crux of the story.

 

So glad to see someone else enthusiastic about these movies and equally glad that you stuck with it and viewed the second one after being a bit disappointed with the first. Please post your impressions after you have seen Cesar.

 

In the meantime It may be time to revisit these once again.

 

ps If you like Pagnol you must see the two more recently made movies based on his childhood memoires, The Glory of my Father and My Mother's Castle, both made ca. 1990. Although Pagnol was long gone when these movies were made, the charm of his storytelling comes through, just as they do with the trilogy.

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Lydia, thanks...got it. I've got them place 3-6 on queue. Anxious to see the special features DVD. Interesting to note that the first two films were made in '31-32 and the third not until '36, strange considering the continuity of the three plays, ie, why the delay?

 

Very happy...and yes, still surprised...that these were restored and DVD'd being that there are still so many worthy gems like this that have not been crossed over. I'm glad someone thought to pull these out of the hat.

 

I've always like Pagnol. For those who don't know, the sequels Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring are based on novels by Pagnol.

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0656528/

 

///

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Since you like Maurice Pagnol, you might be interested in a two-part French tv show about his childhood and adolescence:

part i: Le Temps des Secrets

part ii: Le Temps des Amours

 

I saw it on TV5Monde, the all-French channel, and liked it very much. It is based on Pagnol's written m?moires.

(You can find it on the IMDB; each part has a separate listing.)

 

Send me a PM if you would like to know more.

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I apologize for taking so long with Cesar! My house was undergoing renovations and I didn't have any way to watch it. Everything was buried in piles of furniture and dust.... again, so sorry. Cesar is on his way back to Netflix today....

 

My thoughts on Cesar (I tried to write without spoilers):

 

Pierre Fresnay really shines in this one, finally getting his voice heard above the din. The trilogy really should be titled in just the opposite order - Cesar, Fanny, Marius. Fresnay and Demazis are more suited to their ages in this particular entry, and it helps the movie tremendously. They still have a great chemistry, and though they make a mess of everything, we still root for them to get together! Pagnol lets us suffer along with the other characters as we wonder whether Marius has been up to no good while he was away. It works, because when Fresnay finally tells everyone what he thinks of them, we really feel their guilt too.

 

The things that I thought would be sad were dealt with in the sweetest way- the very light touch was much appreciated! The highlight for me in this entry was a bittersweet card game, played by Panisse's and Cesar's friends. Truer words were never written by an author about family, life, and death.

 

I cannot give enough praise to Raimu, who was a genius. The man had a vast array of emotions at his fingertips, and he played his part like a Stradivarius. How he moves from one emotion to another, I can't really figure out, but his character is as rounded and real as your own flesh and blood. He simply lives the part of Cesar. I think maybe only Spencer Tracy has ever given such a full performance. If they were to give an award for best actor for all time, I think I would have to give it to Raimu. These movies would be nothing but air without his grounding presence. I wish he were MY grandfather......

 

For anyone wondering whether to invest the time watching these movies, please, please take the time. Slow down your internal clock, fall back into the rhythm of Marseille before the war, let yourself be lulled by the chatter of old men, wise and foolish both. You won't be sorry.

 

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I just discovered how to get pics off of a dvd, and since no one is posting on this thread right now, I thought I would go ahead and share some of my favorite pictures from Pagnol's Marseilles Trilogy.

 

From *Marius* :

 

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Those are so beautiful, WG. I saw the boat poster in the stills section on the bonus materials disc that came with the box set. I was just floored at the way every person was a clear character in the artwork...It is really a hoot to look at up close. I am going to have to buy the set now. I just love those movies, and everything attached to them....

 

I am also going to rent all the other Pagnol movies that I can get my hands on.....

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FRN178.jpg1990_La_Gloire_de_mon_Pere.jpg>1990_Le_Chateau_de_ma_Mere.jpg

 

 

 

If you are interested in films about Pagnol and the Provence region of France, I can recommend two films based on Marcel Pagnol?s childhood memoirs. These films were made in the early 1990s and portray an earlier time and place with great humor and affection. I also discovered that there is an opera based on Pagnol?s early films entitled Marius et Fanny. I would have loved to see this in person, but there is apparently a DVD recording of the opera.

 

Marius_Fanny.jpgMarius_Cesar.jpg

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I have seen My Mother's Castle/My Father's Glory listed at Netflix and they are in my queue. I will have to move them up to a higher spot so I can get them sooner.

 

This seems to be all I am in the mood for lately. I also have copies of the books Jean De Florette/Manon of the Spring that I had bought about 6 months ago at a used book store. After watching the Trilogy, I kept starting to read them, then falling asleep. My daughter is on vacation from school and is going to bed later. I really must get further than the description of the spring in the center of town! Ah, well. I saw the movies a very long time ago, and remember crying over them, but I can't remember anything else about them. It's high time I watched them (or read them) again.

 

To me, these stories ARE France. I live in a tiny 1840's house in New England, and I've made it just a bit more like a cottage in Provence. It had good bones, and was quirky in a European way (they added extra rooms on willy nilly). It has a terra cotta entryway and very rustic wood floors that we instantly loved when we first looked at it. It reminds me of Colette's cottage in "Break of Day". It is cozy and lived in, so I've brought in a few good pieces of furniture over the years. I can sit and watch my Pagnol and feel right at home.....

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*Jack Favell*, I almost envy you for not having yet seen La Gloire de Mon Pere and Le Chateau de ma Mere. *Bardot* 's words, "...made with affection and humor," is so on the mark. Watching these films make me think that Marcel was a happy person to have had these events occur and then to be able to write about them in such an engaging way. I'm sure the movies are an accurate representation of the memoirs.

 

You paint a nice word picture of your New England environs.

:)

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I think Marcel was a happy person to have had these events occur and then to be able to write about them

 

Laffite- Your description of Pagnol made me realize what I like most about the Marseilles Trilogy. Somehow, even when things are terribly wrong for one of the characters, there is an incredible joie de vivre running through the films.... that happiness or contentment underlying all the action is what I have latched onto. It's like France herself is watching over these beloved and yet flawed people who make mistakes and at the same time do noble things. She just smiles down at them with love....

 

Pagnol's non-judgemental approach to his characters is just fascinating to me in light of the discussion on the Movie Rambles thread about heroes. There is a lot of grey in these people- not quite good, not quite bad. I simply love Pagnol's approach- he sees no sin in loving life.....

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Anyone else seen *Les Chansons d?Amour* ? It's a very interesting, if not completely successful, French musical. You could almost think of it as a *Parapluies de Cherbourg* for the 21st century.

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My son and I saw *Les Chansons d'Amour* at the French film festival at Lincoln Center (NYC), and it also played for several weeks on TV5-Monde, the French tv channel available on cable.

 

We thought that it was ghastly. The basic story wasn't bad, but the insipid music and dreadful lyrics ruined it. It seemed to us the work of someone who was so much in love with every word that he wrote that he never bothered to edit out anything.

 

On the other hand, a few of the other films that I saw at the festival were outstanding:

 

*Un Secret* (Claude Miller's latest, and truly fantastic; scheduled for release in NYC on 10 sept.)

{Anyone know his *Betty Fisher et Autres Histoires* ?}

 

*Faut que ?a danse!* (Let's Dance! - another wonderful film by No?mie Lvovsky)

 

 

*Le Fils de L'Epicier* (The Grocer's Son, a lovely movie; the female lead is Clotilde Hesme, who was also in *Les Chansons d'Amour* )

 

*Elle s'appelle Sabine* (Her Name is Sabine), a documentary made by actress Sandrine Bonnaire about her autistic sister, Sabine; available on dvd in the US)

 

*Roman de Gare* (Lelouch's newest film; Fanny Ardant is great, as always)

 

*La Fabrique des Sentiments* (okay but could have been better; I went because it stars Elsa Zylberstein, who is a terrific actress)

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