|Index||3 reviews in total|
Except for the idiotic Godard segment which just plain sucks, all the other directors did a hell of a job shooting these 16mm short films. In the best tradition of the French New-Wave, most of the films come as close to documentary as possible. The American girl (Barbara Wilkins) in Jean Douchet's little film about American girls who get taken for a ride by French playboys, is just wonderful in her role and perfectly portrays many nuances that have never been captured on film. Douchet was a critic at Cahiers du Cinema who wrote one of the greatest analyses of Hitchcock ever. Documentary master Jean Rouch, one of the godfathers of the New Wave is represented next in a spectacularly authentic and resonant segment that's one long continuous take for about 15 minutes straight, following its protagonist (another wonderfully authentic young girl, this time French) from the breakfast table argument with her boyfriend (producer/director Barbet Schroeder in an early role) into the street where she meets a mysterious man who wants her to go away with him. A wonderfully hilarious 10 minute segment by Jean Daniel Pollet features Michelline Dax playing the experienced Parisian prostitute to perfection as she affectionately makes fun of her inexperienced john who looks like a French version of Buster Keaton. Rohmer's piece is about a salesman/former runner who gets into an altercation with a drunk man on the street and thinks he might have accidentally killed him; it is very different from anything else Rohmer has ever done and, needless to say, quietly masterful. In Chabrol's interesting and typically Hitchcockish 'horror-under-the-prim-bourgeois-surface' expose piece Chabrol himself acts as the 'bourgeois' father and his then-wife Stephane Audran as the mother of a mischievous boy who starts putting ear-plugs in his ears to keep from hearing their constant arguments. Overall, there's a lot of decent stuff here for attentive viewers and French New Wave fans.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Paris vu par..." was a surprise that was shown on cable recently. Not
having seen the film before, and not having an idea what to expect,
proved to be the right choice when everything being shown didn't
compare to this excellent account about Paris in the early 1960s, as
seen by six distinguished directors, mostly followers of the New Wave
The six segments concentrate in a Paris neighborhood. The first one, "Saint Germain-des-Pres, deals with a young playboy and a young American woman who have a one-night-stand. The girl evidently had romantic hopes that doesn't pan out. Barbet Shroeder, a film director himself, appears as the young playboy.
Another vignette "Rue Saint-Denis" present us a young man who has brought home a prostitute. The woman senses the shyness in Leon, her client, and assumes is his first sexual encounter. She ridicules him, and even shames him into feeding her; she even offers to pay him for her meal. Micheline Dax and Claude Melki are the excellent players.
"Gare du Nord" is a disturbing account of an encounter between a young woman and a stranger as they walk on a stretch of the street that looks down on the train tracks leading to the station. The man, who appears in a car out of nowhere, follows the young woman who has had a quarrel with her boyfriend. He appears to be quite sincere in what he asks her, but we are not prepared for what he will do, in a surprise ending that leaves the viewer quite shocked.
Eric Rohmer, a director still active, shows his hand in "Place de l'Etoile", which follows a man as he rides the metro to his place of work in a men's store near the Arc of Triumph. He is man of habit who follows the same path every day. When he encounters a mad man, intent in harming him, he responds with his umbrella. Later on, Jean Marc will meet again his attacker, but then it's a different encounter altogether.
"Montparnasse-Levallois" by Jean-Luc Godard, presents a young woman who is seen posting two letters in one of the pneumatic devices popular in Paris. The only problem is she has sent letters to two different men with whom she has been having intimate relations. As she tries to get out of her dilemma, expecting forgiveness, she gets instead reactions she didn't expect. A young Joanna Shimkus is seen as the Canadian at the center of the conflict.
The last section of the film is by Claude Chabrol, a master of suspense. "La Muette" shows a young man whose parents seem to be not interested in him. The father has a roving eye for the sexy maid, something the mother doesn't seem to care about. Chabrol plays the father himself and Stephane Audrn, at the height of her beauty, is seen as the careless mother. Giles Chusseau is the young man.
"Paris vu par..." is not seen often these days, yet it offers the viewer an interesting look at the early work of these directors. Paris being the background for the story is captured as it appeared in those days.
Here's a chance to see a set of simply produced, very accessible little
films by masters of the New Wave era.
Each story is mildly outlandish, but the storytelling is superb, and the human responses that are the focus of each story hold your attention and manage to build empathy despite the shortness of each segment.
Even though each story centers around a conflict of some sort, there's a genuine sweetness to the way situations are handled. And seeing the stories unfold against the backdrop of 1960's Paris adds an extra visual element to make these films viewer-friendly and, modest as these films are, memorable.
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