Narcissistic Rebellion: Breathless Review

August 10, 2009

breathless

Widely cited as one of the most influential movies of all time, Jean-Luc Goddard’s À bout de soufflé (Breathless) dropped a revolutionary bombshell on the cinematic landscape upon its 1960 release. Informed as much by the kinetic pace and pulp thrills of Hollywood gangster flicks as he was by the improvised non-linearity of the burgeoning French New Wave movement, Goddard tore up the rulebook and invented a new cinematic language characterised by spontaneity, radically unconventional cinematography and a self conscious emphasis on style and attitude over narrative cohesion. Yet À bout de soufflé is also a rebellion against conventional morality, with its iconoclastic young leads exhibiting an adolescent rejection of responsibility. They are interested in nothing outside of their own obsessive self images, careening impulsively from one haphazard circumstance to the next.

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Impossibly Cool: Le Samourai Review

July 1, 2009

Le Samourai

Jean-Pierre Melville’s ultra stylish 1967 noir thriller is not as well recognised as it ought to be these days. The cult movie maxims that were codified in Le Samourai and then imitated in the dozens of hipster crime flicks that followed are now better known than the film itself. Yet Le Samourai is a great film in its own right, an elegantly constructed masterpiece of understatement and efficiency; pure movie expressionism distilled down to its most quintessential elements. The influence it wields over an entire generation of modern film-makers, who strain after its effortlessly detached sense of movie cool, has been incalculable.

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