Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pierrot le Fou (1965, Jean-Luc Godard)
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I.
I'll start off by saying that upon viewing the film a second time, I noticed how either other filmmakers ripped off this work of Godard's or Godard's ideas pre-dated what was to appear in the future. Please be warned that this is an exploration of Pierrot le Fou the movie, so please do not read if you don't like spoilers.

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Anna Karina's hairstyle is reminiscent of Princess Leia's in Star Wars.

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The constant repeating of ads reminds me of The Truman Show.

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Samuel Fuller tells Jean-Paul Belmondo that he is in Paris to make a film called Flower of Evil. Samuel Fuller never made a film by that name, but Claude Chabrol did.

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JPB & Anna K. drive into the ocean, much like Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine do, in Terms of Endearment.

I'm sure I missed other filmmaker's overt references to this film. Please let me know if you think of any.

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II.

In the film Meetin' WA (1986), Woody Allen notices how Godard's films are pure cinema and haven't been influenced by other art forms like other films. I was stunned, because I had never noticed it. Now, however, I realized I never noticed this, because it is not true.

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Godard references other mediums plenty. Brigitte Bardot in Le Mepris and Jean-Paul Belmondo in this film, Pierrot le Fou, both read aloud to other people from books and in the bathtub, no less. If that isn't directly borrowing from another art form, I don't know what is. The film within the film in Le Mepris is based on Homer's The Odyssey.

Jean-Paul Belmondo realizes that Flower of Evil is a Baudelaire reference and later talks about how he could write a better version of a type of novel that (James) Joyce had written. Jean-Paul Belmondo narrates by saying she had the eyes of both Aucassin and Nicolette, the title characters of a medieval story. Balzac, Jules Verne, the detective novel... Why all these allusions to literature, if Godard is pure cinema?


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I know that Woody Allen meant the structure of the story. The words, the music, it's all unconventional, yes. And while he's an innovative filmmaker and the plots are oblique, I'm not sure that Godard is much different than his contemporaries: Truffaut, Chabrol, Rivette, Rohmer, etc. But man, his essay films get on my nerves! I'm glad that this isn't one of them.

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III.

Godard loves finding words within words for some reason. In this film, Marianne finds words within her name. Ferdinand/Pierrot changes the word art (l'art) into death (le mort) with one doodle or two with his pen. The amazing thing is how words can change between languages. When I was watchingFrance/tour/détour/deux/enfants the other day, Godard tried asking a kid what verbs he could find in "découvrir" (to discover). The child failed to find "ouvrir" which means open. In French, the words within words are positive: "to discover". In English, the prefix is a negative: "dis-" and the root word: "cover" is negative, obviously meaning "to hide". DIS/COVER. A double negative is a positive. In Masculin Feminin, Godard finds the words "mask" and "ass" inside the French word "masculin", but doesn't find any inside the word "feminin". In English, the word is very similar: "masculine". An "e" is added. What words can be found inside of "masculine"? "as" and "line". Very different than “mask” and “ass” if I may say so myself. Maybe French is a language with more meaning. Maybe the words within words have little meaning. Maybe Godard is onto something. Maybe he never found what he was searching for with the words in between words.

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Conclusion.
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This movie is a lot of nonsense and fun. Some people may take it more seriously than it's meant to be. Since rewatching Le Mepris and Pierrot le Fou at around the same time, I've noticed that it's very similar. Marianne and Pierrot die violent deaths at the end. While they are criminals on the run, the cause of their deaths are very different from Camille's (Brigitte Bardot) and her lover's. However, Pierrot film seems like another incarnation of Mepris, like Godard hadn't yet quite expressed himself or gotten a point across in the way he wanted to. Or maybe he was simply repeating himself.
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With a beautiful, special cameo from Jean Seberg (in the film within a film).

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Brothers Bloom (2008, Rian Johnson)
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What could have been uninteresting or a disaster actually turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

The preview looked like it was about idiots gallivanting around Europe:
-Penelope the heiress who crashes her car every 5 seconds
-Bang-Bang the pyromaniac
-The Brothers Bloom, the inseparable con-artists with a lame plan we've seen 1,000 times before.

Right? Well, wrong.

It would be very easy to oversimplify the plots and characters, only because so much is going on.

The aforementioned Penelope (played by Academy Award winning Rachel Weisz) "collects hobbies". Thankfully the writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick) actually put some thought into the script or this could have been a snooze-fest. Along with Penelope's bottomless well of hidden talents, is a person aching to make a connection with the rest of the world, and not sure how to do so.

The story of the brothers starts from their childhood, when they develop a plan to rip off the local children who suffer from being too-well provided for. Their masterplan is a barrel of laughs and quite well thought out.

Mark Ruffalo plays the brother who is the brain and the true criminal. Adrien Brody plays the crook with the soft spot: always remaining close to his brother while looking for his one true love. Relationships are key for him.

Things get complicated fast, and while we're aware that things aren't all what they seem, neither are we exactly sure what lies ahead.

I can safely recommend The Brothers Bloom for its wit, charm, and nearly silent performance by outstanding Academy Award nominated Rinko Kikuchi (Bang-Bang). Don't hesitate to run to the theater, because it won't disappoint.

Rating: 83/100