Tuesday, December 16, 2008


This film really spells out the distance a couple can have when words are held back or simply not spoken. In trying to be polite, Paul lets his wife, Camille, drive with an obnoxious American producer named Jeremy. Secretly, however, Paul does not want her to drive with him and Camille does not want to drive with Jeremy as well. The way that Paul lets Jeremy take his wife makes Camille think that Paul is "giving" her to Jeremy as some sort of sexual present. Camille is horrified by this and the rest of the film shows their deteriorating relationship. However, at the beginning of the film, it opens up with Paul and Camille in bed. Camille constantly asks Paul if he thinks that she is beautiful. She is always looking for reassurances about her beauty, and the way that the film portrays her, reflects this. She is shown as a very sexual person, and she has the idea that everyone thinks of her as such. So when Paul "gives" her to Jeremy, she can do nothing but think those thoughts.
There were a few shots in the film, when they were on the island, that would circle the entire room. The room had floor to ceiling windows that faced the ocean and it almost seemed other-worldly. it was a far cry from the apartment that they lived in that is what really shows how they have drifted apart - they have gone so far that they are - physically, emotionally, and mentally - in a completely different world. 

The Story of Adele H.

Adele is a character with very charming beauty and an elegance that can only be described as soft and graceful. At least this was the way she appeared at the beginning of the movie. There was much room for her to grow and become a full, open character but instead, she becomes obsessed and downtrodden after she travels to Halifax and finds out that Lieutenant Pinson is not in love with her. As the movie progresses, so does the character and by the end of the film, in Barbados, she simply "floats" around the village and does not talk. She becomes nothing but a ghost of her former self - she becomes a ghost that is meant to haunt Lt. Pinson, but she never literally dies, so she cannot even do that. She is so downtrodden by her own obsession that she destroys herself and goes into seclusion for the rest of her life.
The film gives this sense of haunting, unrequited love with the use of deep bold colors contrasted against Adele's ever-whitening face. It shows how out-of-touch with reality she is. When other characters come into play, for example Lt. Pinson, she is in a different place than him and the others around her. For instance, while in Barbados, she sees him talking to another girl and he sees her staring at them. He then follows her but she just drifts through the streets and does not respond to him. He almost seems like a child then, because he is simply confounded as to why she is acting this way. Not to imply that he was a shallow person, but rather, he defiantly did not delve into the aspect of love as deeply as she did. In her own world, she created something that could not be brought about in the world she was actually living in. That is what no one could understand.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day For Night

Day for Night is a film about the behind-the-scenes life of a cast and crew on a movie set. Watching this movie is similar to being at a party and listening to four or five conversations throughout the night. the focus on each conversation is singular and linear, starting from (from example) conversation #1 and making its way down to conversation #5. Information is gathered as to what is happening between each of the people in the conversations, but once the focus returns to the people from the first conversation, there are new developments and changes in attitudes between those people. Drama ensues and there might be a fight, a break-up or someone might just leave the party. The film truly has that "outside-looking-in" approach but its all in what the film is trying to get across. 
The huge irony about the film is that the actors keep on acting off camera, while the crew can tell the difference. there is almost a child-like quality to the actors and their reactions to what goes on around them. they over dramatize (i.e. Alphonse quitting) and have trouble dealing with certain situations. The crew on the other hand Tends to downplay the seriousness of some of the situations, but they still keep a level head and see what is really going on. The way the film is edited - in a short, snappy, momentary way - really shows these contrary personalities because all that is shown are snippets of conversations and attitudes. 
 What the film is really trying to get at however, is the all-encompassing lifestyle of the film industry and its effect on who is involved in it. The actors become more dramatic because they are acting for long hours everyday, and the crew becomes more realistic because they are watching the actors act all day. Either way, there is a dedication to making film that engrosses both sides of the camera, and consumes everyone's thoughts, actions and words.

My Life to Live

This film was strikingly similar to the movie Pickpocket in that both man characters resort to illicit habits for a sense of thrill and life. Anna Karina's character, Nana, is a confused, bored, and very un-enthused about life. After she turns to prostitution, she continues to spiral into being a lonely and alienating person. She loses her boyfriend, gets evicted from her flat and cannot get a role in movies, so she resorts to something that she thinks is adventurous and thrilling. She rationalizes her actions in a very nonchalant way, and begins to give attitude and by the end of the movie, she just becomes another one of "those girls." She simply becomes another floozie that blends into the crowd.
The way the movie is shot really depicts this loss of individuality. At one point in the film she is all dressed up and ready to "work" but as she is walking through the restaurant and the street, she doesn't stand out anymore. The film at one point focuses on her eyes and it really shows how much of herself she has lost. The film is also shown in "episodes" and although they deal with the same character, they show her gradual decay into a world that she is trying to hang on to.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The main element of the movie that makes it what it is, is the parallel of the filmmaking to the implied meaning of the film. Basically, the film is very flowery with nothing but singing and bright colors. At the end of the movie, when Genevieve and Guy meet again, there is so much repressed emotion (be it anger, jealousy, sexual tension, or love) that no amount of happy music and loud color can hide what they are feeling or what they felt when they were younger. The movie starts off with young love and nothing but potential, but after Guy leaves, Genevieve gives in and marries Roland. After Guy gets back and marries Madeline, he becomes the stereotypical shop owner and Genevieve becomes the stereotypical Bourgeois married woman. Neither of them wanted that when they were younger, but that dream never comes true.
The fact that the movie is a constant musical is another important aspect of the movie in that it helps to portray the whimsical love and nature of the couple but ironically, it doesn't end like a musical. Instead, it ends in a confused, distant conversation. Rather than exemplify an ordinary situation, as most musicals do, this highlights the situation of the young couple, and makes it look hopeful, but then ends it in a disappointing, awkward way. This juxtaposition from beginning to end is what really makes the film stand out. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Woman is a Woman

Every aspect of filmmaking that this movie uses is very effective but on a subliminal level. The most apparent device is music. The entire film is a parody of a musical, but the ironic thing about it is that there is no real musical number. The music is overly dramatic in some spots when it doesn't need to be, and it is constantly in the foreground. This all culminates to the point where it makes the viewer aware of not just music and its effect on the audience but the whole idea of sound combined with sight and what it can make the viewer think or feel. In other words, it makes the viewer very sensitive to the structure and feel of the film. 
 Along with the emphasis on sound is the focus on color. Most of the colors used in the film are bold, stark primary colors that stick out and seem bright and loud. There is also a color scheme of white versus red that is apparent. This makes the viewer really pay attention to the surroundings and the actions of not just the main characters but of everyone and everything on the set. This scenery coupled with the music makes the viewer really pay attention to not just the film but to what is being said and done. The film then becomes more than just a movie - it becomes a stretch of the imagination and thought. It forces the viewer to look, hear and think, as opposed to just viewing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shoot the Piano Player

Shoot the Piano Player is Truffaut's pseudo-parody that was a response to the more serious film noir that was prominent at the time. Although he helped to perpetuate the genre, he came back with this film as a sort of respite against what was expected. However, in that attempt, it is still classified as one of the best films in that genre. The characters are the most obvious spoofs of characters from other films. For example, Charlie's passiveness is very similar to Michel from Pickpocket. Their situations are also very similar in that nothing goes well for either character. The classic, tragic ending occurs for both characters. However, in Shoot the Piano Player, it is almost comical as to how Charlie finds himself back at his piano after another run-around with a woman who wants the best for him. The two thugs who are chasing him are also a point of importance. They make outrageous and outlandish statements that are satires of the gangster lifestyle seen in Breathless or Bob le Flambour. 
The plot itself and the series of events that take place are also reminiscent of other films, but in a humorous way. For example, the death of Charlie's boss doesn't come with consequence for Charlie, rather, he is pardoned. In what has been seen in class so far, there is usually a repercussion for a murder. The biggest parody in this movie is Charlie's averageness. He is a virtuoso piano player, but his situation is almost always taken care of. He constantly has someone watching over him whereas in the other films, there is no guardian, and no easy way out.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cleo from 5 to 7

Cleo From 5 to 7 depicts a woman who is a child living in an adult world but undergoes a transition in terms of her own personal growth. In the beginning of the film she is more of a child. This is depicted by her mood swings, being happy one moment then stubborn and angry the next, and also by her surroundings. Her apartment is like a nursery and she is babied by almost everyone around her. This character is then confronted by Antoine, a soldier, who is the first person to really treat her like an actual adult. This, coupled with the impending test results (that Cleo thinks might be cancer), leads Cleo to grow up a little bit and have a few revelations.  
The film has a large deception theme running throughout the two hours. There are many street magicians, Cleo isn't really her real name (it's Florence), and she is also very superstitious. These ideas of deception spotted in the film relay the message that although there can be a sense of insecurity about a person, they still can be brought back down to earth. She is a very self-conscious person, constantly worrying about her image and how others perceive her, but the film still recognizes her growth as a person and although it pokes fun at materialism, it still strips away and lays bare the reality of what can happen in a few hours.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hiroshima Mon Amour

This film is a depiction of a moment in time between two people who are away from the worlds that they know and who are functioning in a discontinuous way. The dialogue is systematic, and the stories are very fragmented. A whole picture is never really seen - all the story deals with is inner issues of the characters. The film shows this in a number of ways. For example, by not having dialogue in the flashbacks, and by making the characters seem robotic in the way they talk, and how they talk, provides for the disjunct intent of the movie. The fact that sudden love can either change you (as it did for Lui) or resurrect memories of heartbreak (as it did for Elle). 
As Elle re-tells her story, Lui falls deeply in love with her and wants her to stay, but Elle has become so distant from the idea of love that she leaves. When she speaks normally, she is a completely different person as opposed to when she talks about her past. When she does talk about her past, she falls into a horrified, semi-psychotic trance that takes her back to memories and days that she thought she had left behind. Her story is a fragmented flashback that although tells the story, still leaves a lot of loose ends. There is no way to really piece together her former self and her self in the present, so she leaves. 


This is a brilliant film in regards to the sheer vacant un-concern that accompanies the main character in all his attributes. The film itself is shot in a way to give that sense of an unexcited push for release in that everything is "long." There is no emotion, or expression of emotion and that is what Bresson was trying to get at. Michel, the main character, is caught in such a drab world, that all he can do to feel any sort of excitement is to steal. This might have been Bresson's intent in this film. The fact that the world exists as such, to where it can drive people to become devoid of any emotion is what this film is pointing to.
The way the Michel and most of the other characters in the film interact is unexciting and robotic. There is no exchange of affection, rarely is there any hostility, and words are spoken but nothing is ever expressed. At first glance, it is just a boring, nonchalant film. On second glance however, the stark in-expression is actually the push-pin that makes the viewer tick. For example, when Michel's accomplice's are arrested there is no huge chase scene with car crashes and robbers running scared. They simply walk out quietly with the police. The only "excitement" in the film is when Michel first starts stealing and breaking out of his shell. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Night at Maud's

At first glance the movie moves very slowly. But that is the way the film is supposed to work, especially in context with the characters. Maud is a seductive, "anything goes" kind of girl, whereas Jean-Louise is a devout catholic convert. This juxtaposition is reflected in the film where Jean-louise is a thinker and afraid to give in to temptation and Maud is an instinctive person. It seems as if Jean-Louise has a pre-conceived notion as to how a relationship and his life is supposed to be. When he first sees Francoise in church, he immediately stated his intention to marry her. But when he stays the night at Maud's, he resists her advances because of his "ideal" life that he has built in his head. Immediately after that night, he "accidentally" runs into Francoise, and that relationship is almost forced. But the relationship between Maud and Jean-Louise is more relaxed and free-flowing. It is this kind of ambiguity that comes with feeling out-of-element, but still comfortable that Jean-Louise is battling with. The rest of the film reflects this in  dialogue. And lots of it. There is also talk of Pascal, the Jansinests, and religion. It all intermingles and deals with the whole idea of "chance" vs. "ideals." The meeting between Maud and Jean-Louise was chance, but it worked. It worked better than his relationship with Francoise which is more ridged and less free-flowing. But non the less, it is Jean-Louise's fear and adherence to his religion that keeps him chasing after the church girl.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bob le Flambeur

This film separates itself from the normal "gangster" film in that Bob is inherently different from other gangsters - morally, fiscally, and in attitude. What i mean by this is that his actions and attitudes towards women, money, other men, and the police are different from the way a stereotypical gangster would approach said topics. For example, Bob is friends with Commissioner Ledru. They have dinner together and Ledru also has enough respect for Bob to pull him aside and tell him that his department is watching him and that he shouldn't do anything stupid. His attitude towards women is also very regal. When his rival in the film asks Bob for money, and Bob asks why, Marc says that he beat his girlfriend and needs money for the lawyers. Bob refuses, and hangs him out to dry. Also, when Marc starts to escort Anne around town, Bob tells her to stay away from him. Ironically, Bob never gets close to any of the women in the film. He even gives Anne a key to his apartment and she sleeps in his bed but he never takes advantage of her. Throughout the film she makes advances on him, but he is constantly refusing. A regular gangster film would probably have it the other way around, where a man would take advantage of whatever he could get. 
He is also a compulsive gambler but states in the film that he hasn't pulled a job or tried to do anything un-respectable in a long time. He dresses well, lives in a seemingly expensive apartment and carries himself very well. So when he decides to pull off this job, the film reflects his "subtle-gangster" persona. There is no stressful build up during the film, only a calm, cool approach in planning it. Everything was very carefully thought over and by the end of the movie, everything was in place and would work. The only problem was that the police were tipped off. The parallel between the way the film works and Bob's character works well in bringing the paradoxical form of a "gangster" to the forefront. The "heist" has no real action but the cool, calm way that Bob ironically breaks the bank at the end drives home the idea that you don't need guns and a new york accent to be a gangster.

Monday, September 15, 2008


This movie is a very real-world approach to what happens to a person when he becomes enamored with an image that can only be portrayed on film. The main character, Michel, is a small time thief that loves Humphrey Boggart films and imitates them in his own life. He dresses like a gangster, is very blunt, smokes like a chimney and makes decisions on the fly (which usually turn out to be bad choices). After he steals a car then kills a policeman, he is on the run in Paris with a girl from New York. During the film he is trying to get in touch with a man who owes him money so that he can go to Italy with his lady (Patricia) and stay on the run. The thing is, the entire time he has this attitude that doesn't really come with the experience of a seasoned gangster, but rather one that is trying to hard. He goes out into the open, and he doesn't try to cover his tracks. He is living in an illusion that provides a lot of false hope and security. The story never really gets inside his head. It doesn't need to because his attitude is all that needs to speak for him.
The film really portrays this single-mindedness. The jump-cuts signify how absent Michel is. He just talks and goes through the motions. He also needs a constant re-assuring of himself. He is always asking "if it was good" and never really answers any of Patricia's questions. Being this self-absorbed eventually leads to his downfall. Once he is shot and is dying, he says "Im a scumbag." 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The 400 Blows

Antoine, the main character in The 400 Blows, is a boy who is looking for a way. And by a "way" I mean that he is looking for a place in life - as a man who has an identity. He doesn't find it in the world around him (school, at home) so he looks to being a vagabond as a way of not only getting attention but also as a way of discovering. His ultimate goal in the movie is to go to the ocean and see it. This can be taken as a metaphor or literally. He knows there is more out there than his school teacher and his parents, so he wants to discover it.
When the movie begins in the classroom, his teacher is portrayed as a crazy, stressed out overly angry adult who pays more attention to the kids misbehaving than to what they are learning. His mother is very demeaning towards him and is also having an affair. His step-father, who is a jokester, is too much of one and doesn't really guide Antoine in the right direction. So in his immediate life, there is no one to look up to. All the adults around him are suppressive and constrictive. They don't let him simply be a boy and grow.
Due to all of the negativity surrounding him, he takes on a surly, nonchalant demeanor throughout the whole film. He rarely shows emotion and when he does it is because he is being a kid - adventurous and wild (i.e. the "gravetron" or on the beach). So in a sense the movie is about a boy coming into his own, but more importantly it is about a boy knowing that there is more out there for him than what his surroundings present. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Les Cousins

The film Les Cousins was a film about a naive, high-strung country boy (Charles) living in the city with his cousin (Paul) while studying for a very important exam. Paul is the sort of guy that would party on a tuesday night with a full set of classes the next day, but Charles is the kid that would stay in and try to shush everyone up while he was studying. The two personalities are a stark contrast in many aspects, including the way they treat Florence, Charles's love interest, and the way the approach the exam. 
Charles is a "mama's boy." He writes her everyday, and is set on making her proud. The way he interacts with Florence is apprehensive because his mom told him that "girls are evil." Paul on the other hand loves his women, booze and parties. He has guns hanging on the wall and a mischievous goatee - as opposed to Charles's clean-shaven boyish face. the way they approach the exam is also ironic in the sense that Paul passes with flying colors (when he doesn't study at all) but Charles, who stresses out about the exam to the point of a melt-down, fails the exam.
It is  this inability to relax that leads to Charles's downfall. He becomes so hung-up on the exam that he almost kills his cousin, but paul accidentally kills Charles out of good fun - not out of jealousy and rage.