Tag Archives: François Truffaut

Film Review: In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones (1989)

aa-cinema-in-which-annie-gives-it-those-ones-cinema-screening-poster

Creative, Perceptual and Supplemental to ‘Change’…

A well-derived project driving to a theory among the young generations for ages! a very ageless message with no casualty of emotional hullabaloo…

There was a TV film played on Doordarshan channel back in the late 80s, “In Which Annie Gives It Those One“. I honestly believe it undeniably is one of the (at least) twenty-five best feature films ever produced in India in any language. The film achieved cult status in those days but has been lost and forgotten. You will find and can watch the film on YouTube.

Before becoming an author, famous political activist Arundhati Roy used to work for TV and films. And she has the credit to write the screenplay of the film which is based on her personal experience as a student of architecture in the School of Planning and Architecture. The film was directed by her the-then husband, Pradip Krishen.

It is not a coming-of-age film but portrays a group life of architects and their projects in their final year of college in the 70s, hanging on a critical time under the concluded judgment of ‘Fail’ or ‘Pass’ from the judges of fate, when one young man dreams the impossible while his academic career suffers low. It shows a teacher-student relation and their complicated personal and architectural understanding.

Student bullies are no new surprise as well as funny moments between the roommates. I like the way most of the students have been distinguished in their manners and traits. Among the enrolled students is a foreigner from Uganda who makes noises when he dreams and his mates make fun that he dreams Idi Amin who killed his father. Then there is a granny girl with a pair of two ponytail who is very traditional and staid in nature and there is one who is keen on playing table-tennis. Then few are love birds which carry joint boiling hearts who have to think twice for smooching (Yes there are few kissing scenes).

Among all the students, it is the story of student Annie mostly focused on who daydreams a project to plant fruit trees on either side of railway tracks, where rural India defecates daily. Also, he sells eggs from the two hen he keeps in the room to earn sum. He is a repeated failure in the institute and in relation with Bijli, a cabaret dancer.

Roy herself plays the supporting role in the film as Radha who is a nonconformist student and lives with her boyfriend, Arjun. By her screenplay, she has described a rich amount of civil and institutional confrontations like a disagreement between her and the teacher on architectural thesis and the teacher rejecting many creative art models prepared by the students and closing their subconscious dreams. Also, her presentation in the final interview to the panel of judges is also very interesting one.

There is an urban and liberal wave in the whole film with a lot of western influence which was quite innovative in those days but the story based on a Delhi institute of 1974, it shows the students in those days used to accept free speech , open and liberal views. Quite a movement ran by the hippies in the 60s had changed much of the value of thinking and living which can be seen in the film, say a shed of light. More proof to common opinion in my theory is the students were listening and singing The Beatles.

 

annie-film-photos

The whole film is mostly restricted to the rooms of the hostel and the classroom keeping it to the subject but what the most impressive aspect of the film is its heavy detailing. The direction reminds me my recent observation on directional works of François Truffaut who was a keen observer of the details related to the subject he shot. The classroom environment was lively and rigid, very true to reality like one particular ‘disturbed’ student coming late to the class, the students being juvenile and making awful sounds during the lecture, teacher smoking in front of students (quite rare in the films based on institute life) etc.

Room-renting is another interesting part in student’s social life and the director makes a good impression in displaying a heavily occupied small room where the projects are done, where the books become a pressure cooker, where a friend is helped to co-study with them and bring their girlfriends. If a viewer has a close look in the film, he/she will find very interesting graffiti everywhere (I like the graffiti of the toilet scenes). Then we have a couple of scenes of fantasy picking on Radha by street perverts and cheapskates.

The film involves impressive casting who later became popular names on TV and Hindi cinema. Besides Roy, the film stars Rituraj, Divya Seth, Deepika Deshpande and Himani Shivpuri. British actor Roshan Seth plays the principal of the institute. Raghubir Yadav and Shahrukh Khan (used to be TV actor before entering the film industry) have very short roles in the film.

The film is very poetic with the understanding that these students are the bright sunshine in the process of development and would like to theorize the word ‘Change’ and make their world a better place to live but the headmaster of the institute and all government appointees act as a hindrance. Seth’s principal character Y.D. Billimoria is named Yamdoot by these students. Yamdoot is Yama, an angel of death in Hindu mythology and even his character isn’t severely evil at all but sitting in the top chair and victimizing Annie for making fun of him despite begging/requesting numerous apologies makes him the culprit.

In Which Annie Gives It Those One was a remarkable TV project by Roy and Krishen, funded by Bobby Bedi‘s Kaleidoscope Entertainment. The film went on to win two National Awards for Best Feature Film in English and Best Screenplay. Despite the fact the overall performances were just average, it is a freshly baked story and brilliant filmmaking to avoid injustice. Not to declare underrated but it is easily one of the most famous ‘unwatched’ films in India.

Ratings: 8.4/10

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @saminaik_asn

annie-04

The Truffles Of Truffaut

francois-truffaut

French New Wave (FNW) is a celebrated dominating cinematic era crossed in the timeline of French film industry in which the films became equivalent to the art and literature in the state of free expressions and a break from conservative cinematic ideology. Among the peers of that golden era, François Truffaut (FT) is an ageless name who will always be remembered as one of the founding members of the historic movement and will be considered one of the greatest directors of the twentieth century.

Being a critic on my own judgment, I watched all his 21 directional works in 45 days to fathom his brain behind the camera and to dig the answer why is he a cultural and celebratory icon in arts and entertainment. I discover the answer compelling and I don’t know how to describe in the shape of the blog but will endeavor my best.

Mr. Truffaut became well-known and controversial for his acid film criticism in the pages of Mr. Bazin’s film magazine, Cahiers du cinéma, before turning his hand to filmmaking in the late 1950’s. To understand FT’s work, the viewer must understand the concept of FNW which I have defined in the very first lines. Due to his fabulous contribution to western technical and cinematic innovations, Satyajit Ray acknowledged his debt to him. His admirers had particular praise for his screen depictions of children, obsessed men, and women driven by strong passions.

Among all his films, one thread is common. In almost every film, FT is a keen observer of life and reaches towards the smallest details no matter if it is related to the story or not. Either you watch his quintuple set of Antoine Doinel (AD) series, or the skirt-chasing film L’homme qui aimait les femmes (The Man Who Loved Women) or child-behavior centered L’argent de poche (Small Change); FT fetches minor but rich details like the classroom environment, parents’ behavior towards their child, line pickings by a womanizer etc.

Every film has an attention seeking subject which compiles the viewers to watch. AD was a fictional character created by Truffaut himself and made five films in two decades. Being a realism-loyal, FT borrowed the time of Jean-Pierre Léaud to gift him the career highlight of his life, who played the character in all the films from childhood to adulthood. The character is often called FT’s own alter ego. It is about a disturbed and misunderstood boy in Paris who was sick of his parents and teachers, domestic and school life; and one day he ran away and his story continued in the next four installments.

The first part Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows) is considered among the greatest films of the last century and a gateway to the FNW movement. The film earned awards and nominations at many recognized awards functions like Cannes and Academy. Truffaut was so convinced with the character that his brilliance can be watched in next films of his series. The next installment was a short film Antoine et Colette (Antoine and Colette) which described his failed love affair with Colette in his teenhood. Baisers volés (Stolen Kisses) dramatized the building of Doinel’s character by struggling in the young hood and trying to settle in one job. Domicile Conjugal (Bed & Board) spoke about his marital life with Christine and superb depiction of society. L’amour en fuite (Love on the Run) showed Doinel in his thirties who is divorcing Christine but also in an affair with a record-seller, Sabine.

jj05

As FT is widely recognized for the films on AD but his directional artistry is stretched and dilated to his other notable works on different subjects. Truffaut was sensitive and tactful to child behavior due to his own disturbed childhood. He lived with his parents for the first time when he was eight years old after being passed to various nannies and his grandmother who instilled a love for books and films in him. His love for books can easily be seen in his films like Doinel reading Balzac in The 400 Blows, or Ferrard opening the package of books he ordered in La nuit américaine (Day For Night).

Even his only English-language film Fahrenheit 451 was based on the books. The film shows a fictional world where some totalitarian government controls general people’s life by dissuading them from the books. For this purpose, the government employs a group of firemen who detect books from every corner and burn to ashes. Fahrenheit 451 and Small Change were among Truffaut’s best works after The 400 Blows.

Small Change is one of a kind when it comes to child behavior. It is about the kids from different backgrounds mostly lower and middle class, their social life, and behavior towards people from different ages. There is a sketch when a man catches a boy to send his letter to one of the buildings to a married woman for five francs. Then in another sketch, the boy’s manners in eating dinner are brought to our attention. My favorite aspect of the film is the depiction of children’s fascination and excitement in sexual behavior. It is a natural phenomenon but the cinematic presentation demands bold details on which the acting of child artists are subjected to sensitivity on their shoulders. It is easily one of the best coming-of-age films I have watched.

The same case is the film L’enfant Sauvage (The Wild Child) produced in 1970 based on a true and very tragic story of an unfortunate individual, Victor of Aveyron, who spent his childhood with no human contact and was caught by hunters in a nearby village. Although it looks like a documentary more than a feature film but Truffaut gives a remarkable insider of the boy’s development from the delayed general human behavior.

hipvq3f

Besides child-centered subjects, one of the FT’s biggest accomplishments was presenting a guide towards the making of a film and the complications of shooting it. He was so caught up in the technical as well as the artistic aspects of filmmaking that he made a film about filmmaking, Day for Night.

Truffaut leaves no space to reveal the smallest of filming issues like a love affair between the two artists, producer/director dealing with insurance company, forgetting dialogues, using the animal in a scene, hiring people on the spot, re-takes and rehearsals etc. It shows a further reality that sometimes due to some reasons, the dialogues and the scenes are changed or the artists are convinced to do a scene so and so. These are small but very important and interesting details.  

In 1974, the film won BAFTA for Best Film and Oscar for Best Foreign Film. In addition to winning the Academy Award, it was named the best film of 1973 by the National Society of Film Critics in the United States, which also voted him the year’s top director. Easily one of the best films in filmmaking docudrama.

tumblr_lx0qqdnczn1qefgdko1_1280

 

Romance has always been a prestigious and distinguished subject in the French cinema and Truffaut’s directional excellence shares same artistic heritage. Les Deux Anglaises et le continent (Two English Girls) and Jules et Jim (Jules and Jim) were the films focused on love triangle both based on Henri-Pierre Roché‘s novels of the same titles. Two English Girls is a sublime blend of fluctuations of romantic affairs, exchange of emotions, description of capriciousness and very jeopardized harmony. Whereas Jules And Jim is a cinematic innovation to be always remembered for Truffaut’s marvelous efforts in bringing the best outcome in the film’s cinematography. Such qualities of camera work like panning shots, newsreel footage, photography stills or freeze frame were not common in cinematic business those days. Freeze frame was also done at the end of The 400 Blows.

The other romantic film which comes in my mind is the true story based on Victor Hugo‘s daughter, Adèle. A British army officer loved and proposed her which she refused. Later she had a change of heart and traveled Halifax during American Civil War to declare but the soldier loved her no more after the refusal. That drove her insane and made failed attempts to win him. Her obsession increased and began showing signs of mental illness.

L’histoire d’Adèle H. (The Story of Adele H.) brought the actress Isabelle Adjani in the limelight and earned a nomination for Best Actress in the Academy Awards. Truffaut’s direction was again hard to ignore. It was his remarkable presentation of dropping of emotions by Adele Hugo picturized on Adjani. The translation of mental collapse was very defining and tragic as overall FT produced a profoundly beautiful, tragic and dark film.

pages-from-afsnyscanner_20120207_105301-3

After watching all his films, one of my most important observations is that his films were more centered/inclined towards the story than the character. Through his films, he brought subjects to the attention of the viewers and didn’t focus a lot on the overall performances of the actors and their characters who mostly displayed average performance.

 Almost all the films were based on literary works of many famous novelists but the message precise among all his films was the subject. La peau douce (The Soft Skin) and La femme d’à côté (The Woman Next Door) were subjected on an extramarital affair, Fahrenheit 451 was on books burning, Small Change on child abuse, Day for Night on filmmaking, The Man Who Loved Women on skirt-chaser and Vivement Dimanche! (Confidentially Yours) a murder-mystery. It is no hiding to the fact that character-centered films also made a huge name in French cinema like Léaud as AD and Isabelle as Adele.

In the smallest of details, the viewer will notice Truffaut’s love for animals especially cats. Two of his films had identical shots of cat nosing a lunch tray outside the door. Truffaut in Day For Night did show his fascination with cats by shooting the same cat-eat-lunch scene and went on describing how hard is it to convince a cat to eat the food during the shot.

Among other details, we will often witness one common scene in many of his films depicting the domestic life of couple i.e., the couples reading books together in bed before sleeping. Repeating the same scene might give us a clue of Truffaut’s personal life and some portion of his relationship with his wife and partner.

024-francois-truffaut-theredlist

Out of his 21 full-length directional works, my five personal favorite films are The 400 Blows, Small Change, Day For Night, Jules And Jim, and The Wild Child.

In 1963, FT was approached to direct famous American film, Bonnie And Clyde. Truffaut showed his interest only in script development but later declined. FT admired the works of Alfred Hitchcock and two of his films, La mariée était en noir (The Bride Wore Black) and Confidentially Yours were a tribute to him. In 1981, Vincent Canby of The New York Times called Truffaut ”one of the most continuously surprising and accomplished directors of his day.”

His headquarters for years was the Paris office of his production company, Les Films du Carrosse, which he named after La Carrosse d’Or (The Golden Coach), a film by the French director Jean Renoir. As an actor, he played roles only in his own films. Later in his career, he went on to play the role of a French scientist in Steven Spielberg‘s Close Encounters of the Third Kind which was his only outing as an actor.

027-francois-truffaut-theredlist

Truffaut was married to Madeleine Morgenstern from 1957 to 1965, and they had two daughters. He had affairs with many of his leading ladies. In 1968 he was engaged to actress Claude Jade who starred in AD series. He and leading actress of his last two films Fanny Ardant lived together for three years. During his relationship with Ardant, he had a stroke and was later diagnosed with brain tumor. On 21 October 1984, Truffaut passed away at the age of 52.

The credit goes to Truffaut who redefined the ‘Auteur Theory‘ and criticized the quality of French cinema by further hitting with the statement that the worst of Jean Renoir’s films would always be more interesting than the best of the films of Jean Delannoy. Truffaut aimed to retire from direction after completing 30 films and write books later but he wasn’t destined to what he planned. But still left the world with a global recognition in filmmaking. He is a huge cinematic inspiration and alive in the hearts of cinephile, sensible filmgoers, and the film critics of the highest quality. I regard and consider him among the greatest filmmakers of the twentieth century and personally one of my favorites. I wish if we would have seen more of his work instead of knowing his passing away so early.

Follow me on TWITTER @saminaik_asn

023-francois-truffaut-theredlist

Film Review: L’Argent de poche (1976)

small-change

The direction of François Truffaut itself is a timeless case study. I am watching his films for several weeks and observing his methods, his brain behind those plots and scripts. I am astonished to watch his directional artistry and now I finished his L’Argent de poche (Small Change) which is considered one of his most successful films.

Truffaut was a keen observer towards the society and cared a lot of the smallest and minor details which altogether reflects the realism. Small Change is one of these films which describes human behavior on camera at its finest. The issue of child abuse is raised in the film in a light comedy nature.

The director shows a society in Thiers. Men and women working in shops and institutions, their neighborhood, their social responsibilities; but more than that the film focuses on small children hardly aging between 5-14. It is about kids from different backgrounds mostly lower and middle class, their social life, and behavior towards people from different ages. Truffaut’s trump card is beautifying the story with presenting the smallest of details of their lives which catches our attention like two girls collecting funds on the street, or a father complaining his boy’s haircut to the barber, or two brothers wearing same matched pair of dress like few parents prefer to keep their kids, or the father exchanging their seats when they are unable to see the film in the cinema due to their minor difference of heights.

The film shows and the director try to convince the audience and viewers that more than ours, the children need more attention from their elders whose rank of age empowers to ‘obey’ them. The nature of kids is overlooked due to carelessness or laziness. In the same society, there exist stories of many kids brought to our interest, some of which drops you towards your own timeline of the young hood when reaching towards the age of puberty had many obstacles and hiccups.

Argent_de_poche_Copyright_Hélène_Jeanbreau _2

If Truffaut’s Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows) focused the childhood of his beloved character Antoine Doinel, then this film is the study of more than one Antoine Doinel. Exactly like the former film, the classroom environment is lively in the latter. The hooting, the penance, teacher knocking the door of other teacher’s classroom, the complaints and a moral lesson affecting the students, all this drops you from your age.

Another interesting part is the carelessness of parents towards their infants. A mother hands over her infant to a boy of hardly eight to send him home. Next scene confirms their home is the 9th floor of the building and the infant climbs the stairs and play with that kid. The scene which creates more intensity is when the mother at home loses her wallet and keeps her infant at home with the door closed in order to look after her lost wallet on stairs of all nine floors. With the windowsill open, the infant climbs along with his cat while the whole society becoming spectators of that scene.

When I say the focus is on a kid’s behavior, you have to expect a lot from the film. There is a sketch when a man catches a boy to send his letter to one of the buildings to a married woman for five francs. Then in another sketch, the boy’s manners in eating dinner are brought to our attention.

The child has no freedom of his/her will due to some circumstances. There is a charming little girl who is about to go with her parents to eat in a restaurant with her old bag which is unacceptable to her guardians because that will damage their reputation. Her parents try to convince to take a new bag which doesn’t belong to her but all efforts in vain. They give up and as punishment of her stubbornness, they keep her at home alone and leave. This is easily one of the best scenes in the film showing how her will is not fulfilled.

10409675_752424864820272_7856414442664966729_n

My favorite aspect of the film is the depiction of children’s fascination and excitement in sexual behavior. It is a natural phenomenon but the cinematic presentation demands bold details on which the acting of child artists are subjected to sensitivity on their shoulders. In school, a boy carries his friend on his shoulder who, through his binoculars borrowed from his father anyhow, watches a naked woman cleaning herself on her window. In another school scene, a group of boys happens to see the ass of a boy’s mother in excitement who is wearing a short skirt and has just dropped her son to their school. In recess time, a kid with all shyness tells a dirty joke of intercourse between a priest and a nun to his group of friends while them listeners are smiling and blushing.

Kids of such young age are invited to develop weird and newly feelings towards such emotions in many abovementioned scenes. Lip-kissing has an unwanted reception in their eyes and I like the director’s brilliance in pointing out two of the kissing scenes growing odd in excitement. In one scene, two teachers who are married begin lip-kissing out of their classroom’s closed doors while the kids witness the scene from the door’s glass whispering and grinning. The other scene is picturized in summer camp when a boy and a girl of same age leaves their lunch and lip-kiss outside the room coming to everyone’s notice.

The funniest scene among many is the one in which two young boys befriends two girls of their age and take them to a cinema where one takes his chance and lip-kiss the girls while the other hesitates.

Above all, a much silent character of a trouble-making boy is a borrowed time to the viewers. He is a sad soul in the class who is a concerned individual but steals objects. One day after a routine checkup, the school finds the boy a tragic case of child abuse and sends his mother to jail. Among many stories existing in the film are presented in light humor with a lot of fun but this story is what raises a strong voice over the subject.

Small Change is an ageless film when you can apply the same stories even today. 40 years after its release, the film still captivates you for many reasons. This film is what easily defines French New Wave movement. Truffaut worries nothing and presents a free demo of child behavior to all ages in a poetic way. It is easily one of the best coming-of-age films I have watched.

Ratings: 8.6/10

Follow me on TWITTER @saminaik_asn

Film Review: Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

6a41e45d229146d27e75d6e9aa3685a9

Fahrenheit 451 is the first colorful and the only English-language film of François Truffaut’s illustrious directional career. Produced in 1966, the film is based on Ray Bradbury’s novel of the same name. For me, it is one of the strangest films I have ever experienced watching.

The film shows a fictional world where some totalitarian government controls general people’s life by dissuading them from books. For this purpose, this government employs a group of firemen who detect books from every corner and burn to ashes. Among these firemen, there is Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) who gets reading inspiration from his neighbor, a 20yo schoolteacher Clarisse (Julie Christie). Once he reads, he tries to motivate his wife and her friends. Time passes by and he begins growing hatred towards his book-burning job. When he becomes a book-burning rebel, the government makes an attempt to seize him and he tries to escape and survive.

On the internet, the general description or summarized explanation of the novel is a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found. For me, my theory and basic understanding towards the novel/film are broad. What inspires me is the theme and content of the film.

Generally what we see in the film is a foundation of the ground realities clouding our brain. The film does show you an oppressive future but questions numerous objects co. existing in the same sorry state universe. Truffaut made this film in the 60s but I see this way advanced to the-then existence. The plot is easily applicable today. We see many totalitarian governments controlling people’s life. Last century, the world witnessed the same style of leadership in Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam and II-sung.

Next aspect, the book is a source of objection by such government in the film. The firemen search everywhere to every length to dig the books; and when they find, they collect and gather all the materials and burn these all. In the film, exaggeration is tremendous. Firemen are shown digging books even in public parks, stopping people and checking their dresses. One fireman even checks shirt-pocket of an infant crying in the pram, finds a book and naively discourages the infant not to read books. This scene shows tremendous hatred and point of exaggeration where the director conveys his entire message in one shot.

There have been numerous book-burning incidents in the past. The one which particularly reminds me is from the McCarthy era when the books written by the authors favoring communism were disposed and burned under Eisenhower’s presidency. Bradbury has also stated his concerns about the above-mentioned events being the base of writing Fahrenheit 451.

Fahrenheit451

Why books? In the film, this question will give you a lot of answers. Especially in one scene where the home of Clarisse’ friend is raided for an understood reason, the captain of all firemen (Cyril Cusack) spots a room full of books and gets some space of more than five minutes with Montag to present his hatred and forward his explanation/opinion about the literature. One of the lines the captain speaks to Montag in the film goes this way, Go on, Montag, all this philosophy, let’s get rid of it. It’s even worse than the novels. Thinkers and philosophers, all of them saying exactly the same thing: “Only I am right! The others are all idiots!” This captain’s ideology hit me for a second and showed a different perspective for a book-reading habit. Is this an ego which turns you a writer and makes you think that people will avoid others and listen to you?

About fictional novel, the captain discourages the viewers that people in such books never existed but by reading, they tend to assume such characters leading their lives towards unhappiness by thinking that they can never live that life described in such books. I must admit, this lengthy scene was one of the best in the film.

Montag the leading character has another explanation that the books make the readers unhappy and anti-social! How come? Because according to Montag, books change the people, their ideology, their way of living and thinking; and them reading people tries to become better than the others. How true is this? If you really begin judging the reading habit from Montag and captain’s angle, you will think twice.

Truffaut’s depicted future-world looks highly realistic and fashionable. I am very impressed with the heavy detailing of Montag’s place of residency. The color of walls, interactive TV program, wall telephones, and furniture was outstanding. Then we see monorail which was not frequently watched in the films those days.

Last 20 minutes of the film takes the viewers to a different dimension. The dystopian state turns into utopian. Montag shifts from one world to the other. While escaping from the cruel book-burning world, he unintentionally enters the world of hope where people from different communities and walks of life are named by some famous books. These individuals are learning by heart and repeating every word of their books to spread the literature to the future generations and avoid ignorance. There is one striking scene where a dying old man is filling/feeding the words of Weir of Hermiston to his nephew.

From a religious point of view, it reminds me the time when knowledge was to overtake ignorance in the times of Prophet Muhammad PBUH with time by learning and repeating the verses of Holy Quran and his Sahabah (Prophet’s companions and disciples) by recording the testimonies what the prophet said. It is just my understanding from those particular book-people scenes.

The film overall is a wake-up call to save the books, the literature, the treasure of knowledge from various categories of books and defeat ignorance. Truffaut’s artistic direction is yet again the winner. Very very ostentatious and fascinating work! This is like someone presents a theory in cinematic format and brings the world to knees. The film is sci-fi in some sense but also very humanistic theoretically. But his work plays on you, hypnotizes and manipulates you. Although there are some differences and missing elements from the film as compared to the novel but overall I believe Fahrenheit 451 is easily one of Truffaut’s most impressive works.

Ratings: 8.4/10

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @saminaik_asn

Film Review: Tirez Sur Le Pianiste (1960)

tirez-sur-le-pianiste_1

Charlie the piano player (Charles Aznavour) is down with his life. He lost his wife in a suicide attempt and now has brothers in trouble with the gangsters jeopardizing his own life and his new girlfriend, Lena (Marie Dubois).

Tirez sur le pianiste (Shoot the Piano Player) is a French film, also the second film in the direction of François Truffaut’s illustrious career. Based on David Goodis‘ novel ‘Down There’, it generally differs some points in the characterization of leading man Charlie. But overall it is a masterpiece.

 

The Film is mere 120 minutes of understanding Charlie to involve you. He is a forsaken individual whose omen calls him to wake his nature and express what he wills but he is always mixed in emotions. In short, he is a confused individual who thinks twice to touch Lena’s hand or hand her back.

Produced in 1960, the film is from the earliest phase of French New Wave, a celebrated dominating era of few decades in which the films became equivalent to art and literature in the state of free expressions and a break from conservative cinematic ideology.

023-francois-truffaut-theredlist

Realism has a much contrast like I mentioned the hardship of Charlie to date, Lena. Then we have a very realistic conversation in gangsters’ vehicle when the subject keeps changing in seconds and never focus on Charlie’s brother. Later on, when Charlie fights, he makes sure the windows and ears of the cruel society have an ugly look. A heated exchange of words b/w Mr. and Mrs. Charlie gives another directional example of an unusual pragmatic scene. Truffaut often played his wild card on brilliant post-marital scenes like Bed and Board and The Soft Skin, which often reminds you works by Satyajit Ray and Mani Ratnam in South Asia.

Truffaut preferred open relations in his films which are another aspect of the new wave era. In many of his films, translation of emotions are wide, open and offers all crossings. Women are free to express her desire by emotions, dresses, and private parts. She is ready to accept relations at a time. Charlie’s girlfriend asks him to inform when he is done with her. This is the same case in other films like Jules and Jim, Two English Girls and even Antoine Doinel series.

tirez-sur-le-pianiste-001

Action sequences are the simplest and most realistic essence in the film. Charlie’s fight in the bar (mentioned above) and last 5 minutes of gangsters vs Charlie and brothers is impressive. 

Shoot the Piano Player is a combination of postwar Parisian noir and keen observation on humanist detail. If you don’t accept the film in the first attempt, you will definitely in the second.

Ratings: 8.3/10

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @saminaik_asn

Film Review: La sirène du Mississipi (1969)

81fa9cfb7b9178097e6ec1759381e24f
La sirène du Mississipi (Mississippi Mermaid) is François Truffaut’s romantic film based on Cornell Woolrich’s novel ‘Waltz Into Darkness‘. A French film with a romantic genre is icing on the cake but what I like about this film is the exaggeration of misunderstanding between the two.
 
Let me summarize you the first half of the plot in brief. A rich man Louis (Jean-Paul Belmondo) owns a tobacco plantation on Réunion island in the Indian Ocean and is about to get married to a girl Julie (Catherine Deneuve) to whom he has never met but has exchanged letters. He has her photograph, so he arrives at the port to receive her but he happens to meet the other girl claiming that she is Julie and the one in the picture is her sister.
 
Later on, they fall in love and get married. Louis gives her access to his bank accounts. One day he gets a letter from Julie’s sister complaining her absence and threatening to call the police. He informs Julie about the call and suggests to write and inform her sister asap. The other day, Louis comes to know that the lady he married was not Julie but an imposter who ran away absconding 28 million francs from his bank accounts.
 
Louise and Julie’s sister Berthe hires a detective to investigate the matter. Days later in the French city of Nice, his eyes catch Julie’s imposter who actually works as a dancer in a nightclub. He catches her but comes to know that the impostor whose name is Marion, actually is innocent and has none of his money. They restore their relationship and one day Louis happens to meet the hired detective in the same city who is here to find the imposter. Boooom!!! Where goes the money? How will Louise save Marion from the investigation? Where is Julie? You have to find all the answers in the other exciting half.
 
la-sirene-du-mississipi-1-1300x605
There are few goofs in the film. I see a sudden change of dresses in two different shots of the same lunch eaten by the couples. Then there is a scene when Louise is looking for a vehicle on one side of the road where his shelter is located. But Marion takes him to the shelter on the other side of the road lol.
 
There are some doubts in few scenes over flaws in Truffaut’s direction. I noticed the actors were not displaying shocking emotions on their faces where the scene really needed e.g., when Marion is caught by Louis in Nice after running away from home, there is zero expression on her face. I expect big eyeballs if she doesn’t bother to scream. Same case when Louis meets the detective which should carry a huge surprise on detective’s face.
 
Anyhow there are plusses more than the above-mentioned minuses. One of the best things about François Truffaut’s direction is that he keeps the viewers busy and make them anxiously wait for the next scene. The excitement grows with the passage of time. Also in this film like all of his other directional work, he gives importance to small elements attached with individual’s life which offers you realism of free state of expressions which has been the major focus in French New Wave films.
 
Now just take an example of the introductory credits. There is no music but the presentation of introductory credits is fixed with the background audio of different male and female suitors demanding their requirements. The voices begin mixing and is exaggerated. Two theories develop from this, one is conveying the message to the viewers that an admirer will be seeking a partner in crime in the beginning phase of film and the other is an ugly truth that the necessary wants of the suitors are ridiculously high.
 
27
In the opening scene, both soon-to-be-married confess the truth at their first meeting despite showing sincerity in exchanged letters. Then there is a 5-minute scene where Marion the impostor wakes up one late night with respiratory problems handled by the husband somehow which gives you some glimpse of marital life. Another interesting scene is in their wedding when Louis make failed attempt of wearing her a wedding ring showing the letters never went concern of asking her the size of her finger for wearing her a ring. How natural!
 
In such a serious romantic drama, there are bits of funny scenes like Marion calling a lady the name of Popeye‘s sweetheart, Olive Oyl, which she truly resemble her. Then there is Marion stripping in the middle of the street which makes one driver victim of a car accident that looks so real to laugh at.
 
Overall, it is a Louise and Marion show. Their confused relationship has a greedy suspense. Both are lost in emotions and would make the viewers grow their concerns over suiting and choosing a right lady with expectations of no misfortunes. Although the film does be based on a novel but still the amount 28m in any currency is an enormous figure to lose in one shot. The same film was remade 32 years later as Original Sin starring Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie.
 
Ratings: 7.8/10
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @saminaik_asn

Film Review: L’histoire d’Adèle H. (1975)

THE STORY OF ADELE H - UK Poster

L’Histoire d’Adele H. (The Story of Adele H.) is a French film directed by François Truffaut based on the true story of Adele Hugo, daughter of Victor Hugo. Victor Hugo was one of the leading names in literature who is considered France’s greatest asset in poetry, novel and drama in Europe’s age of Romanticism. As much as father had earned a name of honor and respect in his field, his daughter met tragic fate for which she is known.

A British army officer loved and proposed her which she refused. Later she had a change of heart and travelled Halifax during American Civil War to declare but the soldier loved her no more after the refusal. That drove her insane and made failed attempts to win him. Her obsession increased and began showing signs of mental illness.

Yes François is hard to ignore in my reviews but first, the biggest plus was Isabelle Adjani‘s leading performance as Adele. It is hard to describe but she was very impressive in depicting different phases of one-sided affair. Her facial reactions, her eye-contact, her speaking to herself, her writing letters and so many demanding elements of this specific performance! The beginning of Adele’s frustration after the first scene of his refusal is the moment where her body language was so realistic, natural and with time, began to increase the level of astonishment. She was inclined towards the misery and more did she prove to be showstopper.

cnGsbxsXlCE6St39300eqwfoPi

Now the second credit goes to François, whose marvelous direction just propels you. With her quest of lost love, you are more obsessed than her to find out to what limit she will drop herself in hunger of winning his heart. The case is not only his direction but François’ collective belief on the-then 19yo Adjani. Keeping in mind, she wasn’t a popular name with very short number of films to her credit before making this. That is the quality and one of the most successful features of a director how he builds and maintains his trust on the leading actor for a certain film and that was the case of François himself. Take an example of his Antoine series in which he believed on Léaud‘s abilities to function the age-crossing role of Antoine Daniel to an extent that he went on to make five films in 20 years on his beloved character.

To my knowledge, this is the only known film based on Adele’s tragic story. You won’t see the character of Victor Hugo in the film but listen, and I think it makes sense. Besides Isabelle, all performances are below par but the viewers have no business to take a look on other performances than beautiful Adjani as Adele. The-then teenager Adjani was nominated for Best Actress in Academy Awards for this role despite being the role from a non-English film. She was the youngest to be nominated in the category by that time.

photo.L-Histoire-d-Adele-H.4611

A profoundly beautiful, tragic and dark film. Well done François/Adjani.

Ratings: 8/10