This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

4Nov/09

1962: NYFCC

BAMcinématek
BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
718-636-4100
www.bam.org
The New York Film Critics Circle is celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary with a series of films at BAM that looks back as the seminal cinematic year of 1962. While such integral works as Jacques Demy’s LOLA, John Ford’s THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, and Robert Aldrich’s WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? have already screened, the series turns to a French Nouvelle Vague ménage a trios November 5-7 before wrapping things up November 9 with Michelangelo Antonioni’s IL GRIDO.

Crooner Charles Aznavour is super-cool in Truffaut classic

Crooner Charles Aznavour is super-cool in Truffaut classic

SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER (François Truffaut, 1960)
Thursday, November 5
François Truffaut shot out of the blocks in 1959 with the classic 400 BLOWS, and he followed it up with this magnificent noir about a virtuoso saloon piano player and his always-in-trouble brother. French crooner Charles Aznavour is super-cool as the secretive, shy piano player with a hidden past who gets caught up in his crooked brother’s dangerous predicament, against his better judgment. Comedy mixes with pathos, dance-hall jollies lead to murder and kidnapping, and lost love holds a curse in a dark, haunting film you will never forget.

Truffaut classic follows a very special kind of menage a trois

Truffaut classic follows a very special kind of menage a trois

JULES AND JIM (François Truffaut, 1962)
Friday, November 6
François Truffaut’s triangle classic about two best friends, played by Oskar Werner (Jules) and Henri Serre (Jim); World War I; and the woman they both love, the free-spirited Catherine (the marvelous Jeanne Moreau), is one of the most charming, entertaining films you will ever see.

Varda film is Nouvelle Vague classic

Varda film is Nouvelle Vague classic

CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (CLÉO DE 5 À 7) (Agnès Varda, 1962)
Saturday, November 7
After getting a biopsy taken and drawing the death card while consulting a fortune-teller, popular French singer Cléo (Corinne Marchand) begins looking back at her life — and wondering just what’s left of it — while awaiting the dreaded results. The blonde beauty talks with old friends, asks her piano player (Michel Legrand, who composed the score) to write her a song, and meets a dapper gentleman in the park, becoming both participant and viewer in her own existence. As Cléo makes her way around town, director (and former photographer) Agnès Varda shows off early 1960s Paris, expertly winding her camera through the Rive Gauche. Just as Cléo seeks to find out what’s real (her actual name is Florence and that gorgeous hair is a wig), Varda shoots the film in a cinema verité style, almost as if it’s a documentary. She even sets the film in real time (adding chapter titles with a clock update), enhancing the audience’s connection with Cléo as she awaits her fate, but the movie runs only ninety minutes, adding mystery to what is to become of Cléo, as if she exists both on-screen and off, alongside the viewer. A central film in the French Nouvelle Vague and one of the first to be made by a woman, CLÉO DE 5 À 7 is an influential classic even as it has lost a step or two over the years. Varda, now in her eighties, has also made such well-regarded films as LE BONHEUR (1965), VAGABOND (1985), THE GLEANERS AND I (2000), and THE BEACHES OF AGNÉS (2008), among others.

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