Breathless

Breathless Godard

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they celebrate a by-the-numbers movie that changed everything. Jean-Luc Godard‘s Breathless. In the #13 movie on the list, Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) does his best Bogart impression, steals a car, shoots a cop, and hides out with his American girlfriend Patricia (Jean Seberg). But why is it one of the best movies ever?

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Shuffle Every time Lovell falls asleep he awakens at a different point of his life. His thirty year old mind and memories remain intact as a ten year old, a ninety year old, and anywhere in between. Things get even more complicated when he discovers his wife has died under potentially mysterious circumstances, but can he use his uncontrollable life-hopping ability to make things right? It’s tough making science fiction films on an indie budget, but writer/director Kurt Kuenne (Dear Zachary: A Letter To a Son About His Father) takes a sci-fi concept and uses it to tell a very human story. Loss, redemption, and forgiveness are just a few of the themes shown to transcend time, and the film explores them with beauty, humor and vitality. [Extras: Trailer, festival video diaries, making-of, black & white version]

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Welcome to This Week In DVD + This Week In Blu-ray = This Week In Discs! It’s a work in progress still, but we hope you enjoy. The entertainment industry appears to be celebrating our new baby by releasing a cinemetric ton of quality Blus and DVDs. Hope you’ve been saving your pennies… As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Father’s Day (Blu-ray/DVD) A young boy loses his eye to a sadistic madman after witnessing the murderous pervert rape and kill his father. Years later, Ahab is a pissed off, pistol-packing ex-con out for revenge and joined in his quest by a teenage (well, Porky’s kind of teenage anyway) street hustler and a young priest on a quest to send the demonic psychopath to the bowels of hell. In a week with The Raid, Kill List and Jaws all hitting Blu-ray why am I featuring this Troma release as my Pick of the Week? Because those titles have enough press behind them, and Father’s Day deserves some too. It’s gory as hell, foul as f*ck and funnier than any other movie featuring chainsaw-wielding strippers. If you can handle the bloodletting and copious nudity, both female and male (way, way too much male), then this is a four-disc special edition worth owning. You get the movie on Blu and DVD, a DVD of special features and a soundtrack CD. [Extras: Deleted scenes, Featurettes, Trailers, Short films by Astron-6]

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Criterion Files

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Moonrise Kingdom. Wes Anderson is known for getting his inspiration from a variety of sources. While Anderson’s signature visual quirks make his films unquestionably his own, the director’s images, themes, and characters also emerge through an amalgamation of materials that inspire him, whether the source be the stories of J.D. Salinger or the pathos of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. But most of Anderson’s references are to other works of cinema, as detailed in this five-part video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz, which details Anderson’s particular influence by auteurs ranging from Orson Welles to Hal Ashby. However, certain films anchor their influence more directly than others. For instance, The Life Aquatic was greatly inspired by Federico Fellini’s post-Dolce Vita work, and The Darjeeling Limited is dedicated to celebrated Indian auteur Stayajit Ray. In the weeks since the Cannes premiere and commercial release of Anderson’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom, several critics have noted that only does the film seem to be directly influenced by a specific director, but one particular film by that director. Pierrot le Fou, Jean-Luc Godard’s colorful, whimsically anarchistic couple-on-the-run film from 1965 seems to bear a great deal of similarity to Moonrise Kingdom, which takes place the year that Godard’s film was originally released in France (Pierrot’s US release was delayed until 1969, where it stood curiously opposite Godard’s polemical late-60s work). Having read several reviews that cite Pierrot‘s influence on Moonrise, I reflected back on both films, and here are some of the […]

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Criterion Files

Much of Jean-Luc Godard’s cinematic output is inaccessible to American audiences. His most prolific period, the 1960s (in which he made 18 feature films) is almost entirely available, due in no small part to the Criterion Collection’s well-justified infatuation with the cineaste’s important and influential work. The output of much of his later career, however, isn’t commercially accessible in the US including much-lauded work like Nouvelle Vague (1990) and the Histoire(s) du Cinema entries (1988-98). In fact, Tout va Bien (1972 – his most recent title included in the Collection) is to my knowledge the only film he made in the 1970s that’s available on Region 1 DVD. This is all to say that here in the US, what we know of Godard we know mostly the first decade of his career. While it’s unfortunate that cinephiles have minimal access to his later work, this complaint is not meant to undervalue the importance of the work he did in the 1960s. Godard made an unbelievable amount of brilliant and challenging work in an astoundingly short amount of time, and by 1970 he had emerged as a different kind of filmmaker altogether. Godard’s 1960s work is, in a sense, the only logical starting point in order to approach an understanding of this later work. Godard’s films are an ongoing exercise in personal growth, aesthetic experimentation, and political criticism. Each work builds off of what came before. With this weekend’s US release of Godard’s most recent work, Film Socialisme, the gaps in […]

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It’s that time of the year again: that brief span of time in between Christmas and New Year’s when journalists, critics, and cultural commentators scramble to define an arbitrary block of time even before that block is over with. To speculate on what 2010 will be remembered for is purely that: speculation. But the lists, summaries, and editorials reflecting on the events, accomplishments, failures, and occurrences of 2010 no doubt shape future debate over what January 1-December 31, 2010 will be remembered for personally, nostalgically, and historically. How we refer to the present frames how it is represented in the future, even when contradictions arise over what events should be valued from a given year. In an effort to begin that framing process, what I offer here is not a critical list of great films, but one that points out dominant cultural conversations, shared trends, and intersecting topics (both implicit and explicit) that have occurred either between the films themselves or between films and other notable aspects of American social life in 2010. As this column attempts to establish week in and week out, movies never exist in a vacuum, but instead operate in active conversation with one another. Thus, a movie’s cultural context should never be ignored. So, without further adieu, here is my overview of the Top 10 topics, trends, and events of the year that have nothing to do with the 3D debate.

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Criterion Files

Just as film noir isn’t one single definable thing, noir itself contains many offshoots and categories. And every Noirvember, it’s important to not only examine good ol’ film noir, but its corresponding variants as well. One aspect of noir that complicates its designation as a genre or a style is the persistence of neo-noir, a cinematic form that arose in direct reaction to noir. In the US, canonical neo-noirs include films like Roman Polanski’s Chinatown or Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. These were films made by filmmakers who knew cinema’s history, who have seen and studied noir’s origins and staples. These were filmmakers who worshiped film history and used classic cinema as a prototype for their own creation, embedding references to the old while departing from it in creating the new.

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Culture Warrior

Last week, the recipients of the Honorary Oscars were announced, the awards ceremony taking place at the Academy Governor’s Awards Dinner on November 13 (an evident pushback from the typical televised reception of the Honorary Oscar at the actual ceremony in the first quarter of the following calendar year). Honorary awards are being given to Veteran actor and senior-senior-citizen Eli Wallach, film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow, legendary French New Wave auteur Jean-Luc Godard, and the Irving G. Thalberg memorial award for excellent producing has been bestowed (to the surprise of no one) to the occasionally brilliant cinematic patriarch and wine magnate Francis Ford Coppola. According to the Academy’s executive director on August 25, attempts were made to contact Godard directly (by phone, fax, and through associates), but to no avail. Unbeknownst to the fact there does indeed exist television and the Internet in Paris, members of the Academy interpreted Godard’s behavior as elusive rather than evasive. Godard has a history of rejecting awards of the honorary or lifetime achievement variety, so until he makes a statement that provides an official stance, it remains likely that Godard will simply and inevitably turn this one down as well. And as well he should.

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A. O. Scott recently referred to Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960) as “a bulletin from the future of cinema,” and the fact that a film can be fifty years old and still feel like a product of the medium’s future is telling as to how palpable the manic originality of Godard’s debut film is fifty years on.

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Import This: Breathless

Great movies come from all around the world, and so do great DVDs and Blu-rays. Import This! is an irregular feature here at FSR that highlights discs worth importing for movie lovers and fans of fantastic cinema. Today’s entry is one of last year’s best movies… that has yet to see a US release date.

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So Lars Von Trier isn’t forcing Martin Scorsese to remake Taxi Driver. Who cares? Here are ten directors that the madman should punish for being geniuses.

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Goddamn I’m sick of making lists. Thankfully this is the last one of the year for me, and even better it’s the one I find most important.

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decade_foreignfilms

As part of our epic, two week long Decade in Review, master of the Foreign Objects Rob Hunter lays down his picks of the best foreign language films of the decade.

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ff-Breathless

Abuse, beat downs, unexpected friendships, emotional upheaval, more beat downs, simulated sexual thrusts against a child, drama, and even more beat downs!

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ff-fantasticawards

Luckily we had a list of the winners sent to us because we didn’t remember all the names. Or where our pants went.

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