Category Archives: CLASSICS SELECTION

A BOUT DE SOUFFLE / BREATHLESS

SYNOPSIS
Jean-Luc Godard’s first feature, from 1960, remains not only the signature work of the French New Wave but also one of the most influential films of the past six decades. Godard’s use of jump cuts, on-the-fly location shooting, and fractured storytelling revolutionized film language; these once-audacious formal devices still dominate the way many movies (and TV shows) are shot and edited today. The plot of Breathless is simple enough: A two-bit criminal, Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo), who styles himself after his idol Humphrey Bogart, shoots a policeman in Marseille after stealing a car. On the lam, he travels to Paris, where he reunites with his American girlfriend, Patricia (Jean Seberg), ambivalent at best about their relationship and unaware of Michel’s most recent crimes. In Patricia’s garret or while ambling along the streets of various arrondissements, the two lovers talk of everything and nothing, this loose, sometimes fractious, intimacy magnificently captured by Raoul Coutard, the key cinematographer of the nouvelle vague. Though generations of filmmakers have imitated Godard’s style, few have ever matched his singular sensibility, fully formed at the outset: a playful, fiercely intelligent cynicism mixed with a deeply felt love, particularly for his actors’ faces.

Breathless still feels entirely original. It still has the power to defy conventional
expectations about what a movie should be while providing an utterly captivating
moviegoing experience… Much as it may have influenced what was to come later,
there is still nothing quite like it. Even at 50, it is still cool, still new!
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times

DIRECTOR
Jean-Luc Godard

SCREENPLAY
Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Raoul Coutard

MUSIC
Martial Solal

CAST
Michel Poiccard: Jean-Paul Belmondo
Patricia Franchini: Jean Seberg
Inspecteur Vital: Daniel Boulanger

AWARDS
Silver Bear – Berlinale (1960)

GENRE Crime / Drama / Romance
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 90 min
PRODUCTION France, 1960 & 2010
RATING Unrated
FORMAT(S) 35mm, Blu-ray, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Rialto Pictures

PRICE RANGE*
$350 to $500, pending format.

*Fees for screening rights are negotiable and may depend on: format, size of screening room, whether admission will be charged, etc. Check with each distributor and make sure to mention your participation in Tournées in your negotiation.

LA GRANDE ILLUSION / GRAND ILLUSION

SYNOPSIS
Set during World War I, this masterwork by Jean Renoir, once hailed by Orson Welles as the “greatest of all directors,” was shot just three years before the beginning of World War II. Renoir, who himself had flown reconnaissance missions during WWI, examines the relationships that form among a group of French officers held in a German prisoner-of-war camp. Within this detention center, class, religious, and national divisions increasingly cease to matter: An indestructible fraternity forms among the Breton working-class Lieutenant Maréchal (Jean Gabin, a Renoir regular); the aristocratic Captain de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay), never without his white gloves; and the Jewish Lieutenant Rosenthal (Marcel Dalio). Even the man responsible for their imprisonment, the German Captain von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim), invites Maréchal and de Boeldieu to lunch. As the film historian Peter Cowie once astutely noted, “Grand Illusion escapes the confines of the war movie genre. Scarcely a gun is fired in anger. The trenches are nowhere in sight. Yet through some alchemy, Renoir imbues the film with his passionate belief in man’s humanity to man. . . . The accident of war brings out the fundamentally decent nature of people who in peacetime would be unbending strangers to one another.”

It is not enough to say that it has retained its power… The stature of the film remains undiminished by the passage of time.
—André Bazin

DIRECTOR
Jean Renoir

SCREENPLAY
Jean Renoir, Charles Spaak

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Christian Matras

MUSIC
Joseph Kosma

CAST
Lt. Maréchal: Jean Gabin
Capitaine de Boeldieu: Pierre Fresnay
Lt. Rosenthal: Marcel Dalio
Cdt. Von Rauffenstein: Erich von Stroheim
Elsa: Dita Parlo

AWARDS
Best Foreign Film – New York Film Critics Circle Awards (1938); Best Artistic Ensemble – Venice Film Festival (1937), Official Selection – Academy Awards (1938)

GENRE Drama
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 114 min
PRODUCTION France, 1938
RATING Unrated
FORMAT(S) 35mm, DCP, Blu-ray, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Rialto Pictures

PRICE RANGE*
$350 to $500, pending format.

*Fees for screening rights are negotiable and may depend on: format, size of screening room, whether admission will be charged, etc. Check with each distributor and make sure to mention your participation in Tournées in your negotiation.

LA BAIE DES ANGES / BAY OF ANGELS

SYNOPSIS
Many of the films by the great Jacques Demy center on the element of chance, a theme that’s especially crucial in Bay of Angels (1963), which largely takes place in the casinos along the Côte d’Azur. Shot in shimmering black-and-white, Demy’s second feature stars a bottle-blond Jeanne Moreau as Jackie, a compulsive gambler who begins an affair with a neophyte roulette player named Jean (Claude Mann), a bank employee vacationing in Nice. Adrift for years, Jackie, we learn, was once an “industrialist’s wife” and lost custody of her only child, about whom she says, “I’ve got the feeling I gambled him away.” As their folie à deux deepens with each spin of the wheel, each cut of the deck, Jackie and Jean grow more wretched, losing millions of francs in just a few hours but unable to stop their self-destructive behavior. Yet Demy never loses sight of the poignant and all-too-recognizable human frailty behind these desperate characters, who hunger not for instant riches but for being understood.

An early chapter of Demy’s courtship with the provincial France of his youth, with
the most bewitching generation of French actresses, and with movies.
—Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

DIRECTOR
Jacques Demy

SCREENPLAY
Jacques Demy

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Jean Rabier

MUSIC
Michel Legrand

CAST
Jackie Demaistre: Jeanne Moreau
Jean Fournier: Claude Mann
Caron: Paul Guers

AWARDS
Official Selection – City of Lights,City of Angels (COLCOA) French Film Festival (2013)

GENRE Drama / Romance
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 72 min.
PRODUCTION France, 1963 & 2013
RATING Unrated
FORMAT(S) DCP, Blu-ray, DVD

DISTRIBUTOR
Janus Films

PRICE RANGE*
$250 to $300, pending format.

*Fees for screening rights are negotiable and may depend on: format, size of screening room, whether admission will be charged, etc. Check with each distributor and make sure to mention your participation in Tournées in your negotiation.

Restoration by the Cinémathèque Française and Ciné-Tamaris, with the support of
the Franco-American Cultural Fund.

Before and after restoration

Before and after restoration

 

 

 

MAUVAIS SANG

SYNOPSIS
Leos Carax’s second film, from 1986, is a salute, at once moody and ebullient, to the cinema of the past and the ferocious intensity of youth. Like its predecessor, Boy Meets Girl (1984), Mauvais Sang, nominally a neo-noir set in Paris in the near future, is deeply in thrall to the masters of the Nouvelle Vague, particularly Jean-Luc Godard. But Carax’s endlessly romantic film transcends homage to capture ineffable states of being. Those outsize emotions are housed in the peewee, pliable body of Denis Lavant, the writer-director’s alter ego and one of cinema’s most kinetic actors. Lavant plays Alex, a conjuror and card sharp who teams up with gangster Marc (Michel Piccoli). All-consuming passion is ignited once Alex sees Anna (Juliette Binoche, here styled to resemble Anna Karina, Godard’s muse) on a bus, only to discover that she is Marc’s lover. She and Alex share a stunning, wordless moment, tethered together during a parachute jump (performed without stunt doubles). As we watch them float somewhere above the countryside outside Paris, this lavish spectacle becomes the perfect expression of the enormity of Alex’s infatuation—and of Carax’s singularly expansive, breathtaking cinema.

Let’s just say that Mauvais Sang is a total amazement. To speak of this film, we have to give meaning to words that have been a little bit tarnished, or mostly weakened: poetry, inspiration, dazzling shots, in a word: emotion.
Cahiers du Cinéma

DIRECTOR
Leos Carax

SCREENPLAY
Leos Carax

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Jean Yves Escoffier

CAST
Alex / ”Langue pendue”: Denis Lavant
Anna: Juliette Binoche
Marc: Michel Piccoli
Lise: Julie Delpy

AWARDS
Official Selection – César Awards (1987)

GENRE Crime / Drama / Romance
LANGUAGE French
RUNNING TIME 105 min.
PRODUCTION France, 1986 & 2013
RATING Unrated
FORMAT(S) DCP, Blu-ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Carlotta Films US

PRICE RANGE*
$350 to $500, pending format.

*Fees for screening rights are negotiable and may depend on: format, size of screening room, whether admission will be charged, etc. Check with each distributor and make sure to mention your participation in Tournées in your negotiation.