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The Last Metro (1980)

August 23, 2011

Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu are wonderful to watch in this beautifully filmed look at French theater under the German occupation in 1942.
The movie is about a theater ownwer, Lucas Steiner, who is Jewish and is forced to hide in the cellar, pretending to have left the country. His wife, Marion, runs the theater and stars in the new production. The leading man, Bernard is in love with her, but she keeps putting him off.
In the end, Marion gives in to her desires, betraying her husband. As the war nears its end, the occupation is lifted and Lucas can come out of the cellar.
Marion visits Bernard in the hospital and tells him she wants to be with him and we think it is a real life scene, but it is just a scene from a play. We have been tricked.
The movie takes a rather light handed look at a dreadful time for the world and for France, but that is how Truffaut saw France in his youth.
A movie about the French, the Nazis, the collaborators and love in the theater.

Fahrenheit 451

February 14, 2010

The lead actor, Oskar Werner, who was so good in Jules and Jim, was really bad in this and ruined the movie. He played the lead role stiffly, with no emotion. How could someone who was selling his soul to the devil have absolutely no emotion over it.
When he was a fireman the lack of emotion was understandable, but once he starts making his conversion to book lover he should have started developing a personality.
It’s a shame. Great book, great director but the movie was just mediocre.

The Story of Adele H (1975)

February 9, 2010

Truffaut tells the ‘true’ story of Adele Hugo, the daughter of Victor Hugo. As the film open it is 1863 and we are in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has followed a British soldier, Lt. Pinson, who had been stationed in Guernsey, an island between France and England. She is infactuated with him. She writes him a letter saying that she loves him and he must never have received any of her letters. He doesn’t answer her letter. She is devastated.
She sends home for money and writes lots of letters. When he comes to see her, he tells her to return home. She tries to bribe the poor Lieutenant by saying that when they marry she will come into a lot of money, but he knows the family will never give their permission. She threatens to go to his superiors if he discards her. She gives him money for his gambling debts and he takes it. She continues with her delusional letters.
She begins spying on him and sees him with another woman. As her health suffers, she writes her parents that Lt. Pinson wants to marry her, but only with both their permissions. She also asks for more money. They write back with their permissions and some money. When she shows him the permissions he still rejects her.
She is obsessed. She has given herself to this man and she can’t face his rejection. She has alienated herself from her parents and her whole life. She sends a letter to her parents saying that she has been married and needs more money.
Victor Hugo has the news of her marriage published in the papers. Her parents then found out about the deception and beg her to come home.
Adele begins (continues?) a descent into madness, possibly originally sparked by her older sister’s death at the age of 19 years ago. When Lt. Pinson gets engaged she goes to the family and tries to sabotage it, which she does.
Adele’s mother dies and Lt. Pinson is transferred to Barbadoes. Adele follows him and her descent into madness is completed. A Barbadoes woman who nursed her accompanied her home. Adele was placed in a private clinic where she stayed for forty years.
An interesting story of obsession and madness.

Love on the Run (1979)

February 7, 2010

The fifth, and final, film in Truffaut’s Adventures of Antoine Doneil that began with The 400 Blows. When we last left off in Bed and Board Antoine had returned to Christine after having left her for a brief fling.
This movie starts with Antoine being in love with Sabine who works selling records. After five years of troubled marriage (with several separations), Antoine and Christine Doinel have a private audience with the judge and conclude a friendly divorce process (the first by mutual consent under a new law) . During the process we see flashbacks to earlier times (and movies).
While leaving the court house lawyer Colette who we had met in Antoine and Colette sees him and then goes and picks up his book.
When he sees her get on a train she waves and then he gets on to. She reads his book with interest, particularly the parts that are about her. He then surprises her with his appearance. They talk about the old times, including fabrications he had in his book.
Antoine is shocked to find out that Colette, who is unemployed, has been making money sleeping with men on trains. Another youthful dream exploded.
Now Antoine is almost desperate to get back to Sabine, who doesn’t want to see him. She is really upset over the way he acted.
An old friend of Antoine’s mother and father, Mr. Lucien, shows up at work. He was the man kissing Antoine’s mother in The 400 Blows. Between Colette and him the series has come full circle.
This was a good movie, but much better when watched as part of the series. There are a lot of flash backs to scenes in the earlier films. The most interesting thing is watching Antoine grow up and down and conversely trying to figure if this how Truffaut really regards himself. If this is it, then it has to be one of the most truthful exposes ever written.

Bed and Board (1970)

February 7, 2010

The fourth installment of the Adventures of Antoine Doneil has the French title of Domicile conjugal which sounds so much better than the English title. Has Antoine finally settled down? The movie opens and Christine is now Christine Doneil. Now down the cellar it is Christine that kisses him.
Antoine is running a flower stand, coloring carnations, and Christine is giving violin lessons. Antoine gets a job working with model boats. Antoine and Christine get along great and then Christine gets pregnant and they have a little boy. One thing that really works for me is the square with the eccentric people who inhabit it. The women who is always after Antoine, the complainer who won’t leave his apartment until Marshall Petain is buried with honor. the actor who they thought was a gangster ..
Then there are Japanese visitors to the company Antoine works for and he is fascinated by one of the women in traditional garb. When Antoine retrieves the bracelet that she dropped in the pond she gives him a kiss.
When Antoine starts reading about Japanese women and asking Christine to wear glasses in bed we know he is in trouble. He waited so long to be happy and now he is going to risk it. Such is the human condition. Antoine starts going over to Kyoko’s apartment and staying out late. Christine suspects something is going on and it is.
When Antoine accidently brings home roses Kyoko has given him, little notes start falling out when the flowers open, that Kyoko has inserted for Antoine, and Christine reads them. Antoine tries to explain himself saying “she is another world” but Christine isn’t buying it. Antoine leaves the apartment.
Antoine’s legs begin to hurt as he sits on the floor to eat with Kyoto. Some of the excitement seems to be leaving what was once exotic. Antoine begins to miss Christine. While out at dinner with Kyoto he keeps getting up to call Christine. After one of the calls she was gone when he came back, leaving a message to “Drop Dead”.
The movie really works for me as part of the series, as a character study of Antoine. He starts as an unloved youth, then an awkward rejected young lover and when he finally finds happiness he has trouble embracing it. The running gag with the man who owes him money is like something out of Chaplin.
A funny, sweet and very good movie.

Stolen Kisses (1968)

February 7, 2010

The third movie in the series, it opens with Antoine Doinel in the army and in the brig, for going AWOL all the time (Truffaut had also when he was put in jail because he deserted the army). He gets a dishonorable discharge. He goes to visit a former girlfriend, Christine, but she is out and he visits with her parents.
Chrisitine’s dad makes a call and gets Antoine a job as a night clerk. Chrisitine comes to see him at work. We find out that Antoine was writing her up to nineteen letters a week and not all of them were nice. She must have been the reason he joined the army.
A detective comes to the hotel with a husband. They tell Antoine a story and he takes them up to a room where they catch the man’s wife with another man. Antoine is fired. The detective feels sorry for Antoine and gets him a job as a PI.
When Antoine tries to kiss Christine down the cellar, she rejects him, just as it was in the scene with Colette in Antoine and Colette.
Antoine has some adventures on the job. He brings Christine to a magic show because he has to find out about him for a job.
Antoine meets Colette and her husband Albert (from the movie Antoine and Colette) and their baby on the street.
Antoine then takes a job for the agency in a shoe shop. The owner wants to know why everyone hates him. Antoine falls for his wife – he doesn’t even want to see Christine.
When the woman makes a pass at him Antoine panics. When Mrs. Tabard comes to his apartment the next day she is trailed by the detective agency. Another job ends for Antoine. He next becomes a TV repairman. Chrisitine calls for a repairman and they finally get together.
A funny, clever, light-hearted movie.

Antoine et Colette (1962)

February 6, 2010

Truffaut contributed this 30 minute movie to an anthology called Love at Twenty. His segment called Antoine and Colette was a look at Antoine Doinel, his character created in The 400 Blows, at the age of seventeen.
Antoine has been released from the detention center on probation. He works at a record company and lives on his own.
He goes to a concert with a friend and keeps exchanging eye contact with a girl. He begins seeing her around and becomes smitten. He meets her and they become friends and companions.
When she doesn’t show for a lecture he leaves and calls her. She had gone out with friends. When he stops by at her apartment she is out but he meets her parents.
Antoine then decides to move to an apartment right across the street from Colette’s. Antoine started visiting the Colette’s parents. Antoine watched Colette come and go.
When Antoine tries to kiss Colette at the movies she doesn’t go for it. He gets up and walks out. When she visits later she calls him an idiot.
When he goes over to visit her parents, Albert comes in to pick Colette up. Antoine is not happy. He watches a concert on TV with the parents.
A nice little movie on the tribulations of young love.