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Paris, 1955. Guy, film critic of the Cahiers du Cinéma, often goes to see the films of Vittorio Cottafavi in a local cinema. One day he notices that Jeanne, film critic of "Positive ", the rival magazine, seems to be following him. He is intrigued.Written by
Vittorio Cottafavi or Michelangelo Antonioni? "Les Cahiers" or "Positive"? Movie nostalgia with humor
The French always had an obsession with cinema. This compact 54 minute film is a nostalgic and hilarious portrait of cinephile movie-crazy France in the 1950's by director Luc Moullet, a director of mostly short comic films.
The setting is 1955 Paris. Guy, played to perfection by Olivier Maltinti, is a movie critic for the magazine "Cahiers du Cinema" and is especially fond of Italian director Vittorio Cottafavi, whose work he considers far superior to Michelangelo Antonioni's films. The unlikely place he frequents to watch movies is the Alcazar, a small theater in a Parisian suburb, run by an elderly couple. But one day, a new regular visitor comes to the Alcazar. It's Jeanne, movie critic of the rival magazine "Positive" (the "Cahiers" and "Positive" actually were the leading magazines in those days), who - to Guy's disgust - is a big fan of Antonioni. They quibble about movies but somehow he is intrigued by her.
The interaction between Guy and the elderly couple who run this little cinema delivers some delightful comic situations as Guy never seems able to make up his mind about the seat he wants. Mostly dependent on the presence of some rowdy youngsters, he wants either the front-row seat or the back-row seat. Off course he never makes the right choice of seats right away, so he has to go back to the entrance to buy a new ticket, because in the Alcazar different seats mean different prices. Much to Guy's grievance, the elderly couple couldn't care less about the films themselves. They repeatedly show films in the wrong format because they don't want to invest in some of the expensive innovations of the day, such as Cinemascope, resulting in ridiculously "stretched out" formats, or the wrong lenses, etc, etc. Apparently they don't make any profit from ticket sales, but they do make a profit from the ice-cream they sell, so they continuously overheat in order to sell more ice-cream.
Just a light comic touch without choosing the easy way out by wallowing in nostalgia, hitting its targets squarely, especially the sometimes overly serious way in which cinema was approached as "high art" by some French critics, which sometimes verges on the ridiculous. Thanks to the Cinémathèque Française, lots of movie clips are shown. Great fun, not just for cinephiles.
Camera Obscura --- 9/10
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