best film: Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows is the dawning of a new era –The French New Wave– and it marks the arrival of a wunderkind (his debut, Truffaut was 27) in cinema. The shockwaves are still being felt as that gut-punch finale, the “FIN” open-ended, freeze-frame, zoom-in, still hangs in out there in space.
most underrated: Maybe it is Ozu-fatigue from the sheer abundance of riches coming from one auteur– or maybe there is some remake bias against it—but Ozu’s Floating Weeds is the most underrated film of 1959. Get used to seeing Ozu here because almost all of color films are woefully undervalued. Floating Weeds currently sits at #909 on the TSPDT consensus list and I have it nearly 700 slots higher.
- It’s a remake of his stylistic breakthrough 1934 film A Story of Floating Weeds— it’s where he first started his cutaways/pillow shots. Ozu is almost always basically remaking his own films as far as both narratives and styles so I have zero problem with his 25-year-old update here in color
- From Ebert: “Sooner or later, everyone who loves movies comes to Ozu.”
- Ozu’s color compositions are stunningly beautiful—that opening is a highlight- the lighthouse and bottle in the foreground. Then he cuts to the boats in close-up blocking the mise-en-scene like von Sternberg (but beyond anything by von Sternberg) and then the red post office box. It’s the best opening of any Ozu film to date in 1959
- Flowers galore from Ozu- we’ve seen it since he hit his color period- red red red here
- Reds galore- flowers, jello, pen, umbrella, flags, bike in the foreground, watermelon—Ozu is picking food for his characters to eat based on color
- We have Ozu’s trademark generational misconnect here- it rears its ugly head late
- Even the wooden spikes at the train station have a red top—Ozu is a genius
- No happy ending—it’s a return to form- continual bounding and floating—red light on the back of the train
most overrated: It is impeccably written and very very funny- but Some Like It Hot from Wilder at #26 on the consensus list is just wrong. I don’t have it in the top 26 of the 1950’s.
gems I want to spotlight: Chabrol’s Les Cousins and Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour. This is the year of the French New Wave after all. Les Cousins is a is a tremendous follow up to Chabrol’s 1958 Le Beau Serge debut. Resnais’ film is even better. The opening 16-minute montage medley is important to film history—lyrical– it is brilliant—this is the documentary section and Resnais fragments or flickers in the shots of the bodies of our two voices to ground you in a feature fiction film as the camera has rolling tracking shots (often establishing shots of a museum, hospital in Hiroshima). He’s melding this tragedy and these two characters and fusing the two cities (Nevers in France and Hiroshima in Japan where the film is mostly set) with these two embodiments of those cities in the form of these characters (Emmanuelle Riva and Elji Okada). The remaining 70-80 minutes of the film is told through them—a meditation on pain, trauma, memory— Resnais is a forerunner in the use (incredibly prevalent since 1959 when this film came out) jump-cut editing to carry us the viewers to the terrible lives of their tragedy via flashback (shot silently here carried by voice-over). I’d always sort of attributed this to Midnight Cowboy and the past of Jon Voight’s Joe Buck character and how Schlesinger uses it—but this is 10 year before. It also seems improbable that Godard didn’t see this film (the year before Breathless) – Breathless, of course, revolutionized the jump cut editing technique but I see it here. Lynn Ramsay’s hermetically-sealed, frozen characters in a post-trauma state seem influenced by this film as does Kiarostami’s melding of documentary and fiction and those lines blurring. The cutaway editing and those rhythms also feel like an influence of Ozu’s trademark pillow shots (pioneered long before Resnais).
trends and notables:
- We have liftoff with Truffaut and the French New Wave — again, some may use Varda earlier in the decade or Chabrol’s debut in 1958 as their starting point but 1959 is the true year here in my opinion. The 400 Blows is the giant film— Chabrol was under 30 (like Truffaut) and like Truffaut worked at Cahiers du cinema – Resnais isn’t as clean a fit- he worked on documentaries before, was older (he’s nearly 40), and had edited Varda’s La Pointe Courte. Either way, these are a series of strong debuts (or second films in Chabrol’s case—Varda still hasn’t made her sophomore effort) from France. And overall three of the top six films from 1959 are from France (though certainly Bresson isn’t New Wave)
- It isn’t just the French in 1959- the veterans Ozu, Hawks and Hitchcock represent the year in a big way with each delivering one of their best four or five films. In 1958 I wrote about Hitchcock’s three-year run from 1958-60 with Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho but it is worthy pausing here to do it again. Hitchcock and Truffaut would be connected—teacher and student. It isn’t just because of the landmark 1966 book, but we also have the freeze frame, and these incredible runs during their careers that overlap despite the difference in language, age, and experience. Truffaut’s run, to begin his career nonetheless, from 1959-1962 (so four years instead of Hitchcock’s three) of The 400 Blows, Shoot the Piano Player, Jules and Jim (all in the top 73 of all-time) rivals Hitchcock’s.
- It is brought up at length in the “gems” section above but Resnais’ work is really a revolutionary film when talking about the history of film editing
- It pales in comparison to the weight of the French New Wave but the Brits had their own New Wave- derived from the theater-based “angry young men” movement or kitchen sink realism. These were gritty black and white contemporary films, working class characters—again a backlash against the Cinemascope, colorized, big budget sword and sandal genre. Tony Richardson is a big part of this movement and he has his first archiveable film in 1959 with Look Back in Anger (which, ironically enough, uses THE original sword and sandal cinemascope star Richard Burton). For Richardson The Entertainer would come in 1960, A Taste of Honey in 1961, Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner in 62’—Jack Clayton is another big director figure here and Room at the Top is his debut here in 1959
- 1959 would also mark the end of the Apu trilogy for Satyajit Ray. He wasn’t part of a larger movement like Truffaut (though I consider Ray part of the larger realism movement) but his stretch from 1955-1959 with the trilogy and The Music Room thrown in last year is sort of a one-man realism movement (or carrying the torch from the Italians as that mode had really run its course aside from De Sica’s Two Women)
- It has already been mentioned- but Truffaut and Resnais with their first archiveable films
- Lastly, some great actors get their start in 1959. George C. Scott (wow what a start with a nom going toe to toe with Jimmy Stewart in Anatomy of a Murder), Ben Gazarra is in Anatomy as well in a smaller role, Sean Connery (Darby O’Gill and the Little People– a charming Disney live-action film), Dirk Bogarde in a duel role in Libel, and last but certainly not least, the previously mentioned Jean-Pierre Leaud in The 400 Blows
best performance male: Unlike 1956 with John Wayne or 1958 with Stewart there is no clear #1 for 1959. I think you could give it to either Cary Grant or Leaud. If forced to pick one male performance for 1959 I’m going to go with Cary Grant in North By Northwest. He’s the epitome of style and the film and performance are a precursor to some of the great action films and performances to come later (notably James Bond and then by influencing Bond, influencing Indiana Jones). This forever links Grant with both comedy and action/suspense. This is far from Grant’s first foray into the genre (as far back as George Stevens’ Gunga Din, Grant proves he couldn’t been Errol Flynn if he wanted to). Jean-Pierre Leaud may give the best child acting performance of all-time. Behind Grant and Leaud in 1959, it would again be Jimmy Stewart in Anatomy of a Murder leading the way in one of cinema’s greatest courtroom dramas- it feels like Stewart gets mentioned every year. It may not quite be up to Emmanuelle Riva’s achievement- but Elji Okada is certainly worthy of a mention in Hiroshima Mon Amour. Dean Martin gives the performance of his career in Hawks’ Rio Bravo. He’s not even the lead, Wayne is, or the comic foil (Walter Brennen), but Martin shows range, pain, and nuance. He’s not a talented actor- this is closer to the acknowledgement a few years ago for Rock Hudson—but Charlton Heston deserves something for being in both Touch of Evil in 1958 and Ben Hur in 1959. Lastly, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis sort of split a mention here for their stellar work in Wilder’s hilarious Some Like It Hot.
best performance female: Emmanuelle Riva levitates in Hiroshima Mon Amour– she gives the best performance of the year. At the 59-minute mark she delivers a long monologue— the tale of the death of her first love, devastating, impressive acting. We’d get another display by Riva at 71-minutes with her confession in the mirror. The confession isn’t to her husband, but to her lost love during the war and it is not for cheating, it is for telling her story which she considers much more important. Marilyn Monroe is the runner-up to Riva in 1959. Monroe, like Lemmon and Curtis, was a talented comedian and this is her at her artistic peak. Angie Dickson gives one of the great trademark Howard Hawks’ strong female performances in Rio Bravo– fitting maybe that we’re 20 years removed from Jean Arthur in Only Angels Have Wings. For the last two slots of the year we have Juanita Moore and Lana Turner in Sirk’s Imitation of Life—sadly this is the end for Sirk- his last feature and archiveable film.
- The 400 Blows
- North By Northwest
- Rio Bravo
- Floating Weeds
- Hiroshima Mon Amour
- Some Like It Hot
- Anatomy of a Murder
- The World of Apu
Archives, Directors, and Grades
|Al Capone – Wilson||R|
|Anatomy of a Murder- Preminger||MS|
|Darby O’Gill and the Little People- Stevenson||R|
|Floating Weeds – Ozu||MS/MP|
|Good Morning – Ozu||R/HR|
|Hiroshima Mon Amour – Resnais||MS/MP|
|Il Generale Della Rovere- Rossellini||HR|
|Imitation of Life – Sirk||MS|
|Last Train From Gun Hill – J. Sturges||R|
|Les Cousins- Charbrol||HR|
|Libel – Asquith||R|
|Look Back in Anger- Richardson||R|
|Never So Few – J. Sturges||R|
|North By Northwest- Hitchcock||MP|
|Odds Against Tomorrow-Wise||R|
|On the Beach- Kramer||R|
|Operation Petticoat- Edwards||R|
|Our Man In Havana- Reed||R|
|Pillow Talk- Gordon||HR|
|Ride Lonesome- Boetticher||HR/MS|
|Rio Bravo- Hawks||MP|
|Room at the Top – Clayton||R/HR|
|Sleeping Beauty – Geronimi,||R|
|Some Like It Hot- Wilder||MS/MP|
|Suddenly Last Summer- Mankiewicz||R|
|The 400 Blows- Truffaut||MP|
|The Crimson Kimono – Fuller||R|
|The Diary of Anne Frank- Stevens||R|
|The Ghost of Yotsuya – Nakagawa||HR|
|The Hanging Tree-Daves||R|
|The Horse Soldiers – Ford||R|
|The Hound of the Baskervilles- Fisher||R|
|The Indian Tomb- Lang||R|
|The Mouse that Roared- J. Arnold||R|
|The Nun’s Story- Zinnemann||R|
|World of Apu- S. Ray||MS|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-See- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives
You’ve said that the late 1950s and early 1960s are likely the greatest period in cinema. I certainly agree, and would probably define the stretch as roughly 1957-1962. What do you believe to be the second greatest five to six year time span that could possibly challenge this one? 67-72, 72-76, 50-54, 79-82 (four years), 99-01 (three years) are some random choices from the top of my head. I’m positive I have forgotten some. There are other periods like 74/75-79/80 that initially seem compelling yet include one year that is something of a dud (77).
@Graham — hmm I’ll keep an eye out as I finish out the year by year archives but I like your suggestions above– 1999-2001- nice one… good work
Haven’t you mentioned 1999-2001 like a billion times yourself though? Not without good reason, it’s a fantastic string of years. But I think I’ve seen you talk about it on Soderbergh’s page (Traffic), Inarritu’s (Amores Perros) and just generally mentioning how great 1999, 2000, and 2001 are.
I would like to highlight the incredible career of Antonioni, he did the same as Hitchcock 1960, 1961, 1962 all masterpieces, and you can add Red desert (1964) all this in 5 years. Those are 3 of the 100 best movies.
In fact, i dislike the opinions of Bergman, Visconti and Truffaut on Antonioni.
It bothers me a bit how automatically everyone chooses Godard unanimously as the director of the 60s, okay Godard made more movies than anyone else in that decade, but how much value do the average movies he made add to? It all comes down to choosing quantity over quality?
I would take Antonioni’s 5 masterpieces over Godard’s 3 and his other movies.
I still don’t understand how directors dislike Antonioni.
Here the quotes.
Visconti on Antonioni
“It seems that boredom is one of the great discoveries of our time. If so, there’s no question but that he must be considered a pioneer.”
Truffaut on Antonioni.
“Antonioni is the only important director I have nothing good to say about. He bores me; he’s so solemn and humorless.”
Bergman on Antonioni.
“Fellini, Kurosawa, and Bunuel move in the same field as Tarkovsky. Antonioni was on his way, but expired, suffocated by his own seriousness. He’s done two masterpieces, you don’t have to bother with the rest. One is Blow-Up (1966), which I’ve seen many times, and the other is La Notte (1961), also a wonderful film, although that’s mostly because of the young Jeanne Moreau. In my collection, have a copy of Il Grido (1957) and damn what a boring movie it is. So devilishly sad, I mean. You know, Antonioni never really learned the trade. He concentrated on single images, never realizing that film is a rhythmic flow of images, a movement. Sure, there are brilliant moments in his films. But I don’t feel anything for L’Avventura (1960), for example. Only indifference. I never understood why Antonioni was so incredibly applauded.”
@Aldo- Yikes! I knew of Visconti’s dislike of Antonioni but not the other two— “boredom” is such a lazy critique– even if its coming these great masters. Thankfully even these three are in the minority. TSPDT has 8 Antonioni films in the top 1000– 4 in the top 150 (very impressive) and is ranked #20 on the all-time director list
I was reading a lot of those quotes myself (I found a great list of directors’ takes on eachother on Criterion that I’ll try to go find) and was stunned by the amount of hate for Antonioni there was. I can understand, say, the Godard or von Trier dislike (and disagree with both) but Antonioni battering I just don’t get. I genuinely cannot comprehend why Antonioni is hated so much, and I think it’s these other, more respected directors’ ignorance of him that leads his name to often be sort of left out when a lot of cinephiles think of the best directors these days.
Here is the Criterion list:
Bergman’s opinions regarding other filmmakers seem consistently incomprehensible and paradoxical. He is famous for saying that Godard made movies only for critics, a comment which I originally thought might have been a sarcastic joke. Bergman’s movies seem, to me, even more slow paced and less directed towards the popular audience than Godard’s. His Antonioni opinions are nearly as regrettable. Firstly, Bergman is nearly as serious as Antonioni (“Antonioni was on his way, but expired, suffocated by his own seriousness”) and likely more sad (“So devilishly sad”). Is the second half of the paragraph included intended to mean that Bergman believed Antonioni had bad form? The Italian master is certainly not the formal all-timer of the Swedish one, who is among the two or three greatest form auteurs. However, he must be missing some things like the color repetition in Red Desert and the frame obstruction image pairs in L’Avventura.
@Graham— totally agreed. haha I thought the same thing- Bergman is saying someone else is too serious? haha. I think it is quite possible jealousy played a factor here. These auteurs are all accomplished– but in the 1960’s Antonioni was a very big deal– the Sight and Sound 1962 (remember this is only done once a decade) had L’Avventura #2 of all-time (behind Kane)— that’s almost unfathomable for a film so fresh to be considered #2 of all-time.
Bicycle Thieves at only 4 years old was ranked as the greatest in the inaugural poll in 1952, so I wouldn’t say L’Avventura as #2 in 1962 as being too unsurprising given that, at least not so early on, as since then the polls have tended to include films much older than their year.
Don’t think Bergman’s off about Godard making movies for critics considering Godard was a critic himself and knew what they were about, and I disagree with the assertion Bergman is even more guilty of that problem further. He made movies far more for himself and his own sensibilities than he did for any critics in my opinion, unlike Godard whose efforts were mostly aimed at blowing the door open for what a film can be, for which I do respect him of course, the cinematic techniques on show in Breathless are unbelievable. Generally, Bergman comes off as very anti-intellectual in a lot of the things I’ve seen him say and in his films, which are very feeling-heavy, as opposed to Godard who is the complete opposite, a highly intellectually-focused person by comparison.
Just take a look at Sight and Sound’s Best Directors of All Time poll where for the Critics’ poll Godard is ranked all the way up at 3rd with Bergman nowhere to be seen, and in the Directors’ poll Bergman is at 7th with no Godard.
@Aldo – to be honest, I always liked Antonioni more than Bunuel and Kurasawa (and some of Fellini’s films also don’t do as much for me as Antonioni’s work). I guess “boredom” is an honest opinion, but still surprisingly unsophisticated coming from all these people. The atmosphere in Antonioni’s films (amongst other elements, but this one is to me the most important) is undeniable. And Bergman calling someone else too serious is indeed ironic. (By the way, I consider them all legends).
@Aldo- well said on Antonioni!
Thanks for your responses guys.
Well Bergman has some good quotes and some terrible ones, praises Tarkovsky and Fellini.
@Drake you could be right about jealousy haha.
Bergman on Citizen Kane.
“For me, he’s just a hoax. It’s empty. It’s not interesting. It’s dead. Citizen Kane, which I have a copy of — is all the critics’ darling, always at the top of every poll taken, but I think it’s a total bore. Above all, the performances are worthless. The amount of respect that the movie’s got is absolutely unbelievable.”
“I’ve never liked Welles as an actor because he’s not really an actor. In Hollywood you have two categories, you talk about actors and personalities. Welles was an enormous personality, but when he plays Othello, everything goes down the drain, you see, that’s when he croaks. In my eyes, he’s an infinitely overrated filmmaker”
He was probably jealous of the movies that top the critics list. (L’Avventura)
Except for Truffaut, Bergman and Visconti are no more entertaining than Antonioni, the most entertaining film of Antonioni (The passenger) is more entertaining than the most entertaining film of Bergman and Visconti.
@Graham and @Zane, I agree with Bergman’s quote about Godard.
@Zane the link you shared was very useful, i remember reading a similar article, but i don’t remember where.
I agree with your comment.
@aldo and @drake i don’t understand why you said bergman being jealous of antonioni and welles.he doesn’t have the right to disliked them and criticized them other than jealousy?it’s a fact that antonioni and godard are probably the two most criticized filmmakers amongst other greatmasters and many people are bored in front of antonioni’s movies (welles didn’t like antonioni either) and many people didn’t understand the meaning of godard movies(personally i like antonioni and i hate godard i think he is the most overrated filmmakers of all time).@drake your review of this year is among the best that you made the top 4 is perfect and i like that you think “Some Like It Hot” is overrated i agree with this but what I like the most is “floating weeds” in 5th position.again great review
@beaucamp- it is just a theory- I don’t know for sure if he or others were jealous of course- just pointing out the enviable position for L’Avventura on the the list. Bergman and others are entitled to their opinion of course– though I do not believe that Antonioni’s brilliance is a matter of opinion– it is evident up on screen.
@drake i agree with you antonioni is unquestionably a major director but that doesn’t mean that he’s untouchable(besides bergman doesn’t totally deny antonioni he just finds him overrated)even though it’s not my case many passionate about cinema finds him boring you said boredom is a lazy critique i agree with that but when talking about movie it’s probably the most difficult feeling to ignore and erase and it’s a critique that comes very often about antonioni.that’s probably why I agree with his 20th position on TSPD best director(I also think his filmography lacks a bit of variety and depth(depth in terms of quantity of course) to pretend to be higher.i will end with a praise of kurosawa about antonioni “In the expression of the innermost feelings he descended to unfathomable depths”
@beaucamp– good stuff here- thanks again for sharing. If you think about “boredom”– it is a feeling you are having as a viewer, right? The site here has like 2000 pages so maybe I’ve used it a time or two (I don’t honestly think I have) myself as a critique– but I try to stay away from “boring” as it isn’t about the actual film– it isn’t descriptive— really what I try to do is describe what is or isn’t happening on the screen.
@drake you are totally right if you used the term boredom too often i wouldn’t find your website so interesting but it’s something that we all feel from time to time even in front of great movies although many of us dare not admit it every time for fear of being ridiculous
I kinda feel that if you’re watching a very critically-acclaimed film and it’s boring you, especially if it’s early on in the film, that you should just turn it off and try it again another time that you might be less-inclined to think of it as boring. This is because you might be tired or something while watching the film thus you can’t focus on its greatness or you are having emotional issues with your life or whatever. But perhaps the next time you start up that film you will think it’s amazing and a masterpiece.
Of course, if you’re towards the end of a film, you should probably just finish it off and then decide to watch it again sometime. And maybe on that second viewing it’ll blow you away.
@zane i agree often a second viewing of a movie you didn’t like can change everything but no one can like them all even if it is among the best movies of all time.the subject,the style,the casting or the visual and many other things if that doesn’t suit your taste,your sensibility or your personality you won’t be able to like the movie and i think it’s something that occure more often than we would like to admit.it’s the concept that kurosawa describe in rashomon because of the human ego it’s impossible of knowing the truth and have complete trust on what people saying
@beaucamp and @Zane— I think a key difference for me here beaucamp is the word “like”- “you won’t be able to like the movie”— to me “like” implies a lot of subjectivity. I can’t deny there is a small element– and I can’t speak for anyone else but that isn’t how I look at it. I think “awe” or “appreciation” are better suited– at least for me. I think that takes out much of the subjectivity.
@Drake Yes, agreed here. I was kinda touching on the “awe and appreciation” bit where I talked about difficulties “focusing on its greatness.” Like, if you’re watching an all-time classic, say, idk, Citizen Kane, and you can note all the hallmarks of great direction, like with the amazing use of the camera and the brilliant mise-en-scene on display but it’s just not resonating with you, that’s often more an issue with you than with the film, and it might be a good idea to just put it off for now and try it again later when you feel you’re in a better spot to view the film. This happened to me with La Dolce Vita, I put it off for an entire week before beginning it again and it did wonders; I loved it. Other (longer) cases are films like Sicario; 2 month-gap between my first and second attempts to watch the film and I loved it, and the most blatant one is a film like Blade Runner; might’ve taken me as long as 2 years (but I don’t think so, pretty sure it wasn’t much more than 1) between my first attempt to view the film and my second, and now I easily consider it one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. Though both of those examples are from a while back unlike La Dolce Vita which was more recent.
I know I asked the Desert Island question about directors recently (on the Howard Hawks page) If we did the same concept for movie years 1959 would certainly be a strong candidate. I used this as the basic criteria
1. Sheer quantity or number of high quality films
2. Versatility/Variety – many forms of this in terms of Genre, tone, subject
matter, pacing, cinematography, etc.
4. Quality of course
We have it all with 1959
All time great Western (Rio Bravo)
Spy film (North by Northwest)
Screwball Comedy (Some like it Hot)
French New Wave (400 Blows, Pickpocket, Hiroshima Mon Amour)
Ozu (Floating Weeds)
Courtroom Drama (Anatomy of a Murder)
I am late for the conversation.
The problem is that Bergman’s criticisms are very vague, i could also accuse his films of boring, in fact many people would accuse him.
As for what is highly criticized, did you ever hear Scorsese speak ill of Antonioni? Not me, in fact Scorsese has spoken ill of any filmmaker? I don’t think so (Marvel doesn’t count)
“many passionate about cinema finds him boring”
As for s cinephiles find them boring, they are not “cinephiles” as you say, I wonder if they also find Tarkovsky boring, if so, they should avoid serious movies.
As for getting bored, Citizen Kane i found it boring on my first viewing, in the theater it was very entertaining, yes i said that, i suppose it was because i was not prepared, but here is the key, great movies, even if they’re boring, get better by watching them again.
@Aldo- yeah we’re on the same page– and I felt the same way about Kane with my first viewing. In my film history 101 class 20 years ago I’d venture to guess the majority of the class thought the majority of the films (and we covered the canon) boring – haha
In Roger Ebert’s review of “Bed and Board” (1970), the 2nd last movie in the Antoine Doinel series he states the following:
“At the end of “The 400 Blows,” we expected, I think, that Antoine would grow up to be an extraordinary human being of some sort, but we were wrong. Truffaut aged him into a pleasant, rather ordinary young man in his early 20s, and now with “Bed and Board,” Antoine has actually become bourgeois.
I thought this was interesting mainly because I thought the same thing as Ebert, that Antoine would become as Ebert puts it this “extraordinary human being” which is not to say that his character is disappointing because on the contrary I love the entire Antoine Doinel series not just the 400 Blows although the 400 Blows is undoubtedly the best of the series. But it is true that the Antoine Doinel character turns out to be a pretty typical young French man when after watch the 400 Blows I thought he would end up a politician or big shot businessman or something.
@James Trapp — I love that observation by Ebert. Thank you for sharing. I’m a big admirer of the Antoine Doinel series as well- I think I caught them all in 2012-2013
Yeah, I consider them to be a big Asset in Truffaut’s filmography, as it is unique (something none of the other top auteurs really have)
Definitely some similarities between the series and Linklater’s excellent “Boyhood” (2014)
just in the way they use one actor in many different stages of life, obviously “Boyhood” is more condensed
@James Trapp— good call- I was actually thinking of Jesse and Celine- the Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy characters from the Before trilogy — also from Linklater. Speaking of– if their pattern holds true- we should be getting a 4th film in 2022. Fingers crossed.
@aldo “As for s cinephiles find them boring, they are not “cinephiles” as you say”, you’re serious about that?because someone find antonioni boring he is not a cinephile?it’s awfully arrogant.what’s a cinephile for you?someone who loves and respect all great filmmakers and all great films without exception without ever questioning anything?it’s impossible.because if you say that you love all great movies then i simply doesn’t believe you.each person that i know who truly loves cinema have great movies or great directors that they likes or dislikes,thinking certain being overrated and underrated.if a movies or a filmmakers is greatly recognized you will always side with the general opinion?and bergman would not be a cinephile because he doesn’t recognize citizen kane and think antonioni overrated and boring?and i don’t understand why you speak of scorsese in fact i don’t understand what you’re saying
Boring is not an evaluation, it is a description.
Here’s a quote from Scorsese that i just posted on the other page.
Here’s a quote from Scorsese
“It’s been said that if you don’t like the Rolling Stones, then you just don’t like rock and roll. By the same token, I think that if you don’t like the films of Sam Fuller, then you just don’t like cinema. Or at least you don’t understand it.”
Replaces Sam fuller with Antonioni
And I did not say that i love all filmmakers, there are certain filmmakers I do not like their films (content) however i can appreciate them, Bergman’s criticism does not make sense
I find Von trier’s films unpleasant (although they are very, very, very good)
I tremendously dislike the birth of a nation, i don’t love it, but i can appreciate it even if it is disgusting.
Zane and Drake explained it better, “like” and “dislike” is subjective, but Bergman doesn’t think they’re incredible films, that’s the difference.
Everyone’s focused on the claim that Antonioni films are “boring” but that’s a blatant strawmanning of Bergman’s critique. According to Bergman, Antonioni “never properly learnt his craft. He’s an aesthete. If, for example, he needs a certain kind of road for The Red Desert, then he gets the houses repainted on the damned street. That is the attitude of an aesthete. He took great care over a single shot, but didn’t understand that a film is a rhythmic stream of images, a living, moving process; for him, on the contrary, it was such a shot, then another shot, then yet another. So, sure, there are some brilliant bits in his films… [but] I can’t understand why Antonioni is held in such high esteem.”
This is a critique based around form, style, and philosophical claims about the ontology of the cinema. Is it still incorrect? I believe so, but argue that point. Nothing is gained by treating one of the greatest filmmakers in history like some random internet poster who is too easily “bored” by serious cinema.
@Matt Harris- fair– but I think these are two separate critiques– Bergman (at least according to the link and quote) does use “boring” several times (as does Truffaut and many others– many of them on Antonioni) https://web.archive.org/web/20160407222716/https://www.criterion.com/lists/178298-directors-talk-directors and the rest of my comments were about that specific critique and how I hate it. Bergman has earned the right to say whatever the hell he wants of course.
@aldo and so what?you’re saying that bergman or somebody else has no right to say that citizen kane is not good?what a dictature way of thinking?why?he has take the time to watch the film and make his own judgments based on his personal vision and not general opinion and who are you for saying that they don’t understand movies or like them?truffaut has say about antonioni:”Antonioni is the only important director I have nothing good to say about. He bores me; he’s so solemn and humorless”.you’re saying that truffaut doesn’t like cinema or understand it because he doesn’t recognize antonioni?that makes no sense.last thing i want to say scorsese is not a god who is right about everything
I think nobody is doubting that 1959 is all about the French New Wave. And the 400 Blows would be my top pick as well, as is the case for most people I’d say. There are many important movements in film history, but I believe that perhaps the crowning achievement in revolutionising cinema is that of the French New Wave (the American one and Italian neorealism should be trailing it closely behind). But maybe that’s just me being blown away by my recent viewing of Jules and Jim (avidly waiting for a page on that one). The blend of atmosphere and playfulness (sometimes not so much of that) and philosophy and humour is just impeccable. Those people managed to dive deeper in the realm of where the human condition meets social norms and the status quo than most filmakers had ever done and still present it with such lightweight joy, achieving all that cinema is about – capturing moments in time and elevating them into something to behold (perhaps the freeze frame is exactly that). I really like Godard but Truffaut I love (that’s just a preference). I also noticed you switched between Some Like It Hot and Hiroshima, Mon Amour – not a huge difference, if ever, a slightly noticeable one. But I think it makes sense. Some Like It Hot is amazing but Hiroshima is so powerful it’s impossible to deny – showing us the impact of tragedy on people, I think few directors have done it better than Resnais here. It’s also beautifully filmed which enhances the power of its subject matter, but ultimately the way that it is handled is so delicate it stays with you long after you’ve watched it. Unfortunately, I haven’t watched 2 to 5 yet. The update looks great by the way.
It’s not all about The French New Wave–Drake rightly has North by Northwest and Rio Bravo as Hollywood masterpieces (and I would add Anatomy of a Murder)–but France is absolutely the headliner with The 400 Blows, Pickpocket, and (as you rightly highlight) Hiroshima Mon Amour which is, I think, my choice for the best film of a truly extraordinary year. I don’t think it is any exaggeration to say that it is simultaneously one of the greatest landmarks in the history of film editing, one of the most potent explications of the ontological link between film viewing and human subjective mental experience (here explored through the representation of memory), and features one of the greatest actress performances of all time.
@Matt Harris – yes, I’m sure everything from 2 to 5 is excellent, I just haven’t caught them yet. And I think you articulated it near perfectly “a potent explication of the ontological link between film viewing and human subjective mental experience” – well, it is. Thank you for highlighting the editing, I didn’t want to get into that, but I think that that is generally an element of the French New Wave, the way editing is handled – with jump cuts and freeze frames, and Hiroshima is a wonderful example. It is a film of tragic beauty at its most deeply touching and devastating. I think it’s one of those everyone should see. Actually, I’d say that statement goes for at least three films from 1959 – and perhaps several more I haven’t watched yet.
One of the things you really have to appreciate about Hitchcock is the way he was able to re-invent the same premises over and over. With “North by Northwest ” we have yet another innocent man on the run thriller joining the following:
The 39 Steps (1935)
the young and innocent (1937)
Strangers on a Train (1951) – a little different since the innocent character isn’t exactly on the run like the others but still
To Catch a Thief (1955)
I may be missing others, but I think my point is made, Hitchcock loved this premise!
I guess you could argue The 39 Steps was the closest premise to North by Northwest (1959) but Hitchcock took using set pieces to another level with this one, brilliantly using iconic American landmarks.
I would argue North by Northwest as one of the greatest spy movies of all time as well as one of the greatest thrillers. It is in some ways the ultimate Hitchcock movie, with all the usual elements:
The cool blonde
innocent man on the run/mistaken identity
average person caught up in events beyond their understanding
characters switching sides
use of famous landmarks
and of course the macguffin – in this movie the microfilm the spies are smuggling
An interesting read regarding “hangout movies” which is a phrase Tarantino used to describe Rio Bravo with the theory being there is a long gap in the time between the initial set up of the plot, in this case Joe Burnett’s is arrested and the final shootout at the end of the movie with there being a lot of time in between in which the audience feels like they are “hanging out” with the movies protagonist and his friends in this case.
What are some other examples of “hang out” movies?
@James Trapp– wish I had it but we had this conversation somewhere- maybe Aldo remembers where— Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! from Linklater, American Graffiti, Rio Bravo as you said, I think Lebowski is one
@Drake – Have you seen Compulsion?
It’s based on the Leopold and Loeb murders where two school aged kids murder as a sort of exercise to demonstrate their intellectual superiority. Not the only movie based off or inspired by this case as Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) was along with Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (1997) and a few others.
– Orson Welles gives a great performance as the lawyer (inspired by Clarence Darrow) who defends the boys in court
– underrated courtroom drama in my opinion with some great performances
I highly recommend ‘Ballad of a Soldier’, i think you will like it
@DarkFar- I’ll add it to my list- thank you