Charlie Kohler is a piano player in a bar. The waitress Lena is in love with him. One of Charlie's brother, Chico, a crook, takes refuge in the bar because he is chased by two gangsters, ...
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Pierre Lachenay is a well-known publisher and lecturer, married with Franca and father of Sabine, around 10. He meets an air hostess, Nicole. They start a love affair, which Pierre is hiding, but he cannot stand staying away from her.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Claude Roc, a young middle-class Frenchman meets in Paris Ann Brown, a young Englishwoman. They become friends and Ann invites him to spend holidays at... See full summary »
Claude Massoulier is murdered while hunting at the same place than Julien Vercel, an estate agent that knew him and whose fingerprints are found on Massoulier's car. As the police discovers... See full summary »
In the town of Thiers, summer of 1976, teachers and parents give their children skills, love, and attention. A teacher has his first child, a single mother hopes to meet Mr. Right, another ... See full summary »
Charlie Kohler is a piano player in a bar. The waitress Lena is in love with him. One of Charlie's brother, Chico, a crook, takes refuge in the bar because he is chased by two gangsters, Momo and Ernest. We will discover that Charlie's real name is Edouard Saroyan, once a virtuose who gives up after his wife's suicide. Charlie now has to deal wih Chico, Ernest, Momo, Fido (his youngest brother who lives with him), and Lena...Written by
This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #315. See more »
When Lena and Charlie walk home after work you can see the shadow of the camera on their coats. See more »
I'm fed up, do you hear, fed up! This is not life for an artist! Of course, I'm not a real great artist, but people must believe in me in order that I may become one. Good God, is it asking too much?
If you think it doesn't try one's patience to live with you, you're mistaken! Ah, your conversation has really improved in a year! If people ask you what you think of Hemingway: "I hear he is a great collector of my recordings."
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François Truffaut's second feature, Tirez sur le pianiste, is a deliberately wild and chaotic satire of the American gangster pictures of the 1930s, '40s and '50s. Truffaut tried to make Tirez sur le pianiste, or Shoot the Pianist, the complete opposite of his first picture, The 400 Blows, doing away with the sentimentality of the predecessor and making his second feature far more vicious, nonlinear and, occasionally, quite funny.
Based off of a pulp novel by David Goodis, the movie is about a once-famous piano player (Charles Aznavour) who gives up looking for the reason his wife left him, and now plays piano in a run-down Paris bar where he falls for a waitress, and must overcome his natural shyness in order to express his love for her. Unfortunately his brother gets him involved in a gangland feud, which gives the story an unnecessary (but welcomed) edge to the romance.
There are some highly amusing scenes, such as when Charles and his soon-to-be-girlfriend walk down a Paris sidewalk and he contemplates what to say, do, and how to act, without offending her or making a fool out of himself. We hear Charles' neurotic thoughts in voice-over an effect now overused in cinema but back in 1960, very new. It wasn't until the intrusion of Woody Allen comedies such as Annie Hall that sporadic first-person narratives became popular in the noir movies of the earlier decades voice-overs were sometimes used by narrators (such as in the cult classic Detour) but never in such a way as Shoot the Pianist's. It's one of the best scenes in the movie, and a great way of expressing the inner-workings of Charles, the character.
Shoot the Pianist's chaotic structure confused and overwhelmed many audiences when the film was released in 1960. Its content (violence, nudity, etc.) was not as welcomed by audiences as it is now, and as a result the film was a financial and critical failure. The humor was not appreciated, the insightful look at a French Everyman was not even noticed it was ruled out as a dud, and that's all that mattered to anyone.
Over the years it has picked up a rather small cult following and fans of Truffaut's films have declared it to be one of his best pictures. Looking back now in light of such recent gangster genre hybrids such as Reservoir Dogs and Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Truffaut's movie not only seems more understandable but far ahead of its time. In relation to Reservoir Dogs it contains the same sort of standard, everyday nonchalance in accordance with gangsters while it contains the narrative flow of Guy Ritchie's British gangster cult hit.
Regardless of how brilliant Shoot the Pianist seems forty years later, Truffaut was scarred by the negative press surrounding his second feature and never made another movie as daring (so to speak) or, more likely, downright fun as Tirez sur le pianiste. It's a very amusing movie, and it is one of the few 1960s films that doesn't seem dated compared to the film-making standards of modern-day Hollywood. The performances are flawless, the characters likable and realistic, the movie overall highly enjoyable and worth seeing more than just once. It is sadly one of Truffaut's most underrated movies, although hopefully in another forty years it will only be all the more appreciated for its qualities.
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