Wonder Boys (2000)

One of the funniest and best written and completely underrated and largely unknown films of the past decade with an unbelievably talented ensemble cast of A-list actors, as well as one of my Top 10 favorite films of all time:

Wonder Boys.

Directed by Curtis Hansen, of L.A. Confidential fame.

Go rent this already! Or I can lend it to you, if you know me.


Nadja in Paris (1964)

Short cinema vérité film by French master filmmaker Eric Rohmer. It is a love letter to wandering, exploring, youth, and of course, Paris. In two parts, total of about 12 minutes.


How I Got Lost (2009)

I haven't seen this yet, but it's on the list. I watched this trailer last summer and it really left an impression on me. Writer/Director Joe Leonard's film has some realistic people dealing with some very realistic changes in their lives, confronting the shortcomings of their ambitions, making the best of it, and trying to figure out what's next. Pretty much what everyone deals with, ha. Anyways, I didn't hear squat about how this movie did, which of course is the case with a lot of great indie movies, but that's okay, because I can then see it with a unfettered point of view. Also refreshing in this film is the unfamiliar faces of new actors (Aaron Stanford and Jacob Fishel), which I always appreciate. And of course the music in this trailer is rad: the little piano ditty, and then Clarence Carter's "Patches". Enjoy!


24-Hour Party People (2002)

Here's yet another great movie that I saw just a little while ago for the first time and wondered how it was possible I hadn't seen it yet: Michael Winterbottom's 2002 24-Hour Party People. Brilliant! It's the funny and true story of how bands like The Happy Mondays, A Certain Ratio, and Joy Division (and then later New Order) came to be in the crazy drug- and sex-addled 1980s Manchester, UK.

The very talented Steve Coogan, as Tony Wilson.

Taking the lead is the brilliant Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson, a journalist-cum-music-producer who stakes everything to promote, record, and exhibit this revolutionary music he believes in.Coogan's wry style is a pleasure to watch as he interacts both with (musically) historical characters, as well as when he breaks the forth wall and addresses the audience directly. Coogan, and actually a few other people, turn to the camera and speak about what is happening in the film, or what to expect in the future, and it works really well. It can be a risky proposition sometimes because it obviously can take the audience out of the diegesis of the film, but here it enhances the whole experience.


This film is a love-letter to a very flawed time and place, with some very flawed characters, but you can't deny that it must have been a very exciting time for musicians. Wilson's idealistic dedication to the music, to promoting all these bands is truly amazing. If you enjoy music by Joy Division et al, or are a fan of Steve Coogan, this is essential viewing. Even if you aren't, it is definitely a fun romp through the late 70s and into the 80s of a very distinct time in pop culture history and is littered with great moments. It also contains a great blend of real archival footage mixed with stuff filmed for the movie, as well as some of the real people from this time period in cameos and other small roles normally reserved for extras. Highly recommended. For a taste, watch this great little trailer:


Inception (2010)

If you haven't already figured out, the movie I am most looking forward to this year is Christopher Nolan's Inception. All the viral marketing, the trailers, posters, interviews, cast list, everything is building the excitement and intrigue for me. I guess what is so cool is how many questions there are to be resolved, the trailer shows a lot of cool imagery, but what does it all mean? Nolan is a terrific filmmaker, from both writing and a directorial standpoints, and his conceptual and technical know-how is entirely on another level. I would rank him up there with Hitchcock and Kubrick for his pure comprehension of the cinematic medium. Anyways, after all that praise, immerse yourself in Inception. July 16th just can't get here fast enough, as far as I am concerned!


Back to the Future IV: The adventure continues at 1:64th scale!

My friend Andy and I are working on science fiction short film right now that involves lots of effects including a stop motion car chase sequence. For the past couple months now we've been preparing and finally this weekend, we're gonna start shooting. We wanted to sort out a few kinks, and we made this today as a test! Enjoy!

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

This movie is often on TV and when it is, there is little I can do to resist watching it! Director Robert Aldrich's 1967 war film features a huge ensemble cast with many familiar faces from the past, including Donald Sutherland, Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Telly Savalas, and actor/writer/director John Cassavetes, who himself was a hugely important figure in American independent film.

A filthy, unwashed, unshaven dozen.

The plot revolves around a group of military misfits and criminals who are given a chance to redeem themselves on the battlefield by being trained for a suicide mission into occupied France in the Second World War. If they participate, and survive, then they will either be paroled or their death sentences commuted to life in prison. The mission is to parachute into France and infiltrate a highly secured French chateau where some important Germans with some important documents have fortified themselves. The film mainly centers around the training, the galvanizing, and building of relationships between the men and their commander, Major Reisman, played brilliantly by tough-lovin' cinema legend Lee Marvin. Initially, their main opposition is between each other. Their egos and arrogance means constant friction, often racially motivated, between the men. But they are galvanized as a team when their top secret mission is threatened to be canceled due to a suspicious Colonel who has a bone to pick with Reisman. Overcoming this, and displaying amazing teamwork and craftiness during some rehearsal war games, means the team is allowed to go ahead with their mission overseas.

Lee Marvin (right), as Major Reisman.

John Cassavetes (behind the wheel of the jeep) took acting gigs to finance the films he wrote and directed.

Now this is one of the great war films, full of everything you could want. Some great training sequences, some amazingly unsavoury characters who become quite endearing, some comedy, some trickery, and some great action sequences. Yes, it's from 1967, but they don't make war films like they used to! The action doesn't feel dated, and it's really nice to see sequences where all the special effects are all done real, on camera, as well as sequences that involve hundreds of extras. Despite this, the strengths of the film lie in the performances of the varied cast. We have rapists, murderers, deserters, thieves, and liars who must overcome their own personal struggles and egos. And we have Major Reisman who has to get them all to get along just long enough to complete their training and the subsequent mission.

The gang gets down to business.

If you where hoping that Inglourious Basterds was going to be more about the Basterds, like I did, then take a look at this. There are some priceless sequences, like my favorite, the sequence where the Dirty Dozen shows up at an Allied base commanded by Reisman's rival, Col. Breed. Breed was expecting Reisman to show up with a General to inspect his troops, so Reisman has to quickly come up with someone out of his gang of convicts to promenade as a General. The sarcasm in Donald Sutherland's performance is brilliant, and this scene just makes the whole movie for me.

When I watch this, I can't help but feel that it has more substance than recent war films. There is less sentimentalism, less romanticization, less of a preoccupation with "WAR IS HELL." The Dirty Dozen isn't a film about the war, it's a film about soldiers, set during the war. We know the parameters, we know the context of the war, but we follow a cast of characters more than the actual war. Films today romanticize the 1940s, and are so swept up in educating younger generations by showing us the graphic experience that war can be. They tell us to be horrified by the terror and brutality that war can be, but it is shown in glorious effects laden set-pieces shown in bleak and crisp picture quality and surround sound. It has become a mixed message. As horrifying as it was, the opening sequence to Saving Private Ryan, was regaled as a masterpiece, an amazing achievement in action cinema, and has been emulated time after time in other films as well as numerous video games. War may be hell, but it can look flippin cool! Older films are less preoccupied with the action. Limited resources and technology meant that stories had to be more creative and focus on interesting stories and relationships between soldiers. Films like The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape, and The Bridge Over The River Kwai dealt with unique situations and circumstances were men were tested morally, and psychological, as well as physically. They had to focus in on an aspect of the war instead of just focusing on a vast topic like the Europe Theatre, the Pacific Theatre, Pearl Harbour, or the Russian Front. I know I sound like an old man, but I really think that we've lost something with readily available special and visual effects. War movies have moved from a more drama-oriented genre to the action genre, and I feel that their strengths really lie in the personal and interpersonal drama that goes on when one is put in an extraordinary situation.


Tron: Legacy teaser (2010)

If for some reason, you have not seen this yet, here it is. This is the teaser/test footage that they showed at Comic-Con last year that sent shivers (good shivers) through the internet. It is amazing and beautiful footage from the upcoming blockbuster sequel Tron: Legacy that will be released later this year and was filmed in Vancouver! Even if this film turns out to be a narrative dud (not saying it will) it most certainly will be enjoyable eye-candy. Director Joseph Kosinski has even said that this footage is nothing compared to what will be in the final film. That's pretty exciting seeing as how cool this looks! Have a look for yourself!


The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

I always really liked this trailer for the Coen Bros neo-noir, The Man Who Wasn't There. Everything in it I like: the music, the dialogue they chose (particularly Tony Shaloub's words), and the dreamy cinematography. Pretty well done noir, and I'd recommend seeing it if you like film noir, neo-noir, or are a fan of the Coens.


You're goin' down, Orson!

And as a follow-up, here is a clip from the great industry movie Get Shorty where Travolta's character Chili Palmer watches Touch of Evil at an old rep theatre. Ha ha, it's such a great scene, from a fantastic movie. I could write a whole thing about Get Shorty, it's one of my favorites! The last good Travolta role. Here's the clip (warning, contains spoilers from Touch of Evil!)


The opening sequence to Touch of Evil (1958)

Have you ever seen cinematic perfection? It's a lofty thought to toss around, but perfection, masterpiece, and Orson Welles are all words that go well together. So, look no further then the opening sequence to Orson Welles' 1958 noir, Touch Of Evil. Why? Because it is a layered, technical achievement. Because it's a perfect combination of cinematic flair, narrative efficiency, and organic mise-en-scene. And because it is filled with excitement and intrigue. It's a great film on the whole, but this establishing shot/sequence is so full of detail that it alone is worth analyzing. Watch the clip, then maybe read my short analysis. Then watch it again!

We begin with a dark close-up of a time bomb, an assassin holds it, almost showing it off to the camera. His hand comes into frame and sets the timer. Who's arming the bomb? Who is the bomb intended for? Where are we? A woman laughs in the background, the assassin spins away offscreen, and the camera twists up, and we see that it's nighttime, and, nearby, a woman and a man, walk down an alley towards us. Welles immediately makes us complicit in the scene; we've seen the bomb, we know someone is going to get it, and that first camera move makes it seem as though we are actually in the point of view of a second assassin, a silent observer. The assassin holding the bomb re-enters the frame, spots his target, and watches the couple walk around a corner. He must act now! He runs past the camera, we follow as he dips out of sight, his shadow dances across the screen (I think this is my favorite part). We move forward, following the shadow to the trunk of a convertible car. The assassin deposits the bomb in the trunk and disappears! The camera, impossibly somehow, lifts off the ground, we see the whole scene in birds eye view--still the original shot!--and the couple gets into the convertible and drive off. Oh no!

The camera stays locked on to the car, and the bomb, even as it passes behind a building. The car radio is on, playing a swanky jazz track--Welles is so aware of sound in this film--and becomes a great measure for how close we are to the doomed. We know that bomb is still ticking! The car turns onto a bustling main street, slowly driving towards us as the camera slowly recedes--keeping a distance between us and the bomb!--while people walk in the street, on the sidewalks, and other cars drive past. A traffic control officer stops the convertible, but the camera continues to move backwards--almost drawing the destiny of the convertible, broadcasting it's future. A street vendor pushes his cart across the street. The convertible resumes its course and nears the camera. Another officer stops it again to allow a couple cross the street. We begin following this new couple, who are they? Why, it's Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh... but, oh no, they're walking the same way the bomb car is going! The car motors ahead, offscreen, and we stay with Heston and Leigh.

They continue walking, laughing and whispering in each others ears like a new, young couple. They catch up to the convertible and walk past it again, and... a small herd of goats! In the city? We must be in somewhere rural! Maybe someplace like a Mexican bordertown? They continue walking, that bomb car still menacingly close in the background--still the same unbroken shot. More people are now on screen--more potential innocent victims! We near a busy border post--the car still looming behind--and a voice calls out to the couple, beginning some short and efficient dialogue [which establishes a lot of information quickly: my notes in italics].

Border Guard: "Uh, you folks American citizens?"
Leigh: "I am, yes." [But he's not.]
Border Guard: "Where were you born, Miss?" [Miss?]
Leigh: "Mrs.! ... Philadelphia!"
They pull out their passports.
Heston: "Vargas, the name's Vargas." [Ah, Vargas, that's his name. He's Mexican!]
Border Guard: "Hey Jim, you see who's here?" [He's famous!]
Border Guard 2: "Sure! Mr. Vargas. Hot on the trail of another dope ring?" [He's a famous detective/D.A./lawyer!]
Heston: "Hot on the trail of a chocolate soda... for my wife!" [He cares for his wife, Mrs. Vargas! And seperates his business from his family life.]
Border Guard: "Your wife?"
Leigh: "Sure, barely a bride!" [Newlyweds!]
Border Guard 2: "A lot of talk up here about how you cracked that Grandi business." [Oh-ho, he's done some shaking down, maybe he's made enemies?]
Border Guard: "Yeah, heard you caught the big boss!" [Their big boss?! He's definitely made some enemies!]
Heston: "Only one of them, the Grandi's are a big family! Good night." [A whole family of enemies!]

So, parameters in place, lawman Heston walks off to the sidewalk with his new wife, and the convertible drives through the checkpoint, the guards ushering it through without commotion as the woman sitting shotgun complains about having a ticking noise in her head(!!). The car drives off screen, and we push in on Mr. and Mrs. Vargas on the sidewalk

Mrs. Vargas: "Mike, do you realize that this is the first time we've been together, in my country?"
Mr. Vargas: "Do you realize I haven't kissed you in over an hour?"

They kiss, and off-screen:


So there ends a nearly three and a half minute shot which sets up the the film in three ways. Firstly, narratively, by including information about who these people are, what their relationship might be like, who their enemies might be, where they are, and that this is a lively and dangerous place (people are getting car-bombed for Pete's sake!). Second, technically, it's obviously brilliant as well. Long takes always require careful and elaborate lighting, precise rehearsals, and committed actors. Check, check, check. On top of that, we have a very complex camera movement which works flawlessly with its subjects, both Mr. and Mrs. Vargas, and the bomb car, but still allowing us to see plenty of their surroundings. And thirdly, it stylistically establishes the film. We are brought into a vibrant border town, somehow both so full of life yet so noir, replete with shadows and tinny bongos playing in the distance, a world of dark alleys and darker rooftops, a world of mystery and intrigue, where criminals can plant car bombs and no one is safe!

No one is safe!

Want to watch it again?

The film itself is a masterpiece as well, with some excellent performances by Welles himself as Quinlan, a limping, corrupt, racist, obese, and alchoholic detective, and Marlene Deitrich as a Mexican prostitute Quinlan used to shack up with. Charlton Heston isn't bad either.

An almost unrecognizable Orson Welles as Detective Quinlan.

This film was famously taken away from Welles by the studio, and re-edited, and once Welles saw the version they had re-cut, he went home and type an impassioned 58-page memo detailing all the ways they had destroyed his film. Now, however, after many years of only the studio version, a cut of the film has been re-edited per Welles' notes, and this apparently is the closest to his original version that you can get. Go rent it!


Trailer for Marie Antoinette (2006)

I can't believe I forgot this when I was writing that list of movie trailers that trump the films they are promoting! This trailer makes me positively swoon! Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette came out in the fall 2006 to luke-warm reviews, and yes, it's hard to see how a film can follow up such a fantastically dreamy, ethereal, and frollicking trailer such as this. Shot after shot of Marie Antoinette (played by the pixie-like Kirsten Dunst) running, dancing, naively having fun, and then collapsing in sheer wonder at her life. Yes, there was a whole country starving and living in poverty, but that's what adds some melancholy to the whole situation. Coppola's brilliant idea of mashing up 18th century events with 1980s new wave pop hits strangely... works! Not only is the trailer for the film driven by this music (here, by New Order's fantastic song "Age of Consent"), so is the entire film, in fact a two-disc of 80s hits was released as the soundtrack! A curious move to some, but only if you aren't aware of Coppola's body of work. Her three features, The Virgin Suicides, Lost In Translation, and now this, all celebrate a similar fatalistic and ephemeral view of the world without feeling morbid, in fact they celebrate the little things, the wonders, and the relationships one experiences.


Ed Wood meets Orson Welles

In preparation for my upcoming post about Touch of Evil, here is a great clip from Tim Burton's Ed Wood (1994), where Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) has a chance encounter with Orson Welles, as played by Vincent D'Onofrio.

"I'm supposed to do a thriller at Universal, but they want Charlton Heston to play a Mexican!"


Collateral (2004)

I don't know what it is about watching movies on TV that I own on DVD, but often I'll just sit there and watch it, even though I could watch it sans commercials and less censored with the comfort of a store bought disc. Last night this happened. Long story short, we now have HD cable and it was on TV in HD last night and I got sucked in. You can even pause it and rewind it (I did at one point, because I missed a line I wanted to hear! it was awesome). But enough about TV, because I'm here to talk about Collateral.

Admittedly, I was a little disappointed the first time I saw this, but that's because, as mentioned previously, I am such a huge fan of Michael Mann's 1995 masterpiece, Heat. And Heat, well, it's really just not advisable to compare anything to that. Collateral is, for a lack for a better word, more "mainstream" than a film like Heat, despite the fact that Heat starred De Niro and Pacino. I mean, this thing stars Tom Cruise. And Jamie Foxx, who later the same year would win an Oscar for playing Ray Charles, and be nominated for this role! So we are dealing with the Tom Cruise crowd, which does not really call for an as nuanced a film as something like Heat. That being said, Michael Mann has by no means dumbed down his style for the Cruisites, but rather simplified the concept. But by no means take simplification as a byword for "lamed up." His characters are just as interesting, but the film is just smaller in scale, more easily digestible, and about an hour shorter than Heat.

Mann is a smart filmmaker and writer. His films are heavily researched and the characters are so fully written insofar as their personal histories (including details such as where and when someone may have served prison time, gone to school, been married, etc). And it shows. His characters are probably some of the most interesting I know. They are often either quite ordinary people, or extraordinary people who are somehow made ordinary. In Heat, we are shown the sacrifices and difficult decisions that detectives and master criminals must make, and in Collateral we see what makes a hitman tick and how far an ordinary cab driver can be pushed.

The plot, basically, is Vincent (Tom Cruise) is a hitman who needs to "close five real estate deals" in one night in LA so he gets cabbie Max (Jamie Foxx) to drive him around all night to each "real estate deal". Max quickly realizes what is actually going on after the first mark lands face-down on his windshield, and things go from there. Also costarring Mark Ruffalo in a curious side role as a detective that never really goes anywhere. Other familiar faces include, Jason Statham (blink and you'll miss him), Jada Pinkett Smith, and Javier Bardem. It's a pretty straight up story, but is very well put together. My only complaint is that the ending is not as powerful as I was hoping. Mann has a penchant for creating dramatic closing scenes and compared to Heat, and even Miami Vice, this one feels a little lackluster. That being said, maybe it was just Tom Cruise's fault.

What's probably most interesting though is the cinematography. It was widely discussed that Mann decided to film large parts of the film on HD digital, which enabled him to capture low-light level sequences, particularly important for a film set during the night in LA. Like Heat, Collateral is also a love letter of sorts to LA, to both its vast sprawling layout and its dazzlingly excessive electric landscape. And some of these sequences look fantastic. According to wikipedia, the sequence where Max and Vincent watch some coyotes cross the road was filmed entirely spontaneously, something which couldn't have been done on film without setting up lighting. I can't dislike a movie that has coyotes in it. Go rent it!

Short behind the scenes documentary, mostly based around the fight sequences. Warning, contains small spoiler!


Directors on set

Francois Truffaut (in the back of a 2CV!)

I LOVE each of these pictures. Directors in action. Part of me would be very, very happy to be a set stills photographer for the rest of my life. But when I look at these pictures, I truly know that being a filmmaker is what I want to do. Something about pictures like these spark some kind of excitement and inspiration in me, but it's really hard to pinpoint! I guess it just looks like good fun.
Roman Polanski (behind camera)

Rainer Fassbinder

Otto Preminger

Luchino Visconti

Martin Scorsese (with black goatee and beltbuckle)

Woody Allen (in Gilligan Hat)

Stanley Kubrick (I think this is my favorite.)

David Lynch

Agnes Varda (director of Cleo de 5 a 7)

Federico Fellini (update: No, this is my favorite. Fellini is somehow unbelievably photogenic, how is that?!)

Except for the Francois Truffaut one at the top, these are all from http://www.anneyhall.tumblr.com/


Les 400 Coups (1959)

My sister and I went to see Francois Truffaut's debut feature Les 400 Coups/The 400 Blows last night at the Vancouver International Film Centre. It was presented by Ken Eisner, a writer who often contributes reviews to the Georgia Straight which are often quite funny. Anyways it was a great screening, the print was wonderful, and of course those seats are amazing. It's quite a nice theatre.

As for the film, well, it's obviously excellent. I'd hazard to suggest that if one were going to see only one significant French film from the past, oh, century, then it should probably be The 400 Blows. It's Truffaut's mostly-autobiographical account of 14-year old Antoine Doinel living in 50s Paris who gets into trouble at every turn, mostly due to (often negligent) adults completely misunderstanding what a kid needs. So Doinel gets himself into bad situations, and between his parents, his teachers, and the police, nobody can give him what he needs. The only person he can rely on is his good friend Rene. Their boyish relationship is one of my favorites in cinema, and is just great film about a couple of friends hanging out and often getting up to no good. That's something this film does well, is put itself in the shoes of a kid without feeling condescending.

Many, many people have written about this film, and probably all are more eloquent than myself, so if you know about this film, then there are endless resources out there to get more in-depth. All you need to know to know from me, however, is just go see it. Ideally in a cinema, but if not, make sure you get the Criterion DVD from somewhere. It's fantastic. Gorgeous cinematography, some wonderful music, and extraordinarily naturalistic performances from an astonishing young cast. A number of these actors would return in Truffaut's second feature, Shoot The Piano Player/Tirez Sur Le Pianist.


I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (2002)

We watched I Am Trying To Break Your Heart last night because our free cable was recently shut off! But that's okay because TV is just such a time-suck. It all worked out because I've been meaning to re-watch the film and then writing something about it on here!

In case you don't already know, IATTBYH is a documentary by Sam Jones about the amazing rock band Wilco. I can singlehandedly attribute this film for getting me into the band. I watched it in a class about music and film a number of years ago, without really knowing anything about Wilco, and honestly, this film was kind of a musical epiphany. And today, I love the band, and am seriously enjoying their latest album, imaginatively titled Wilco: The Album.

It's a great documentary, that I feel will take its seat in history alongside other great musical documentaries like Don't Look Back (Bob Dylan) and Lonely Boy (Paul Anka). I mean, the obvious similarity is an aesthetic one. Sam Jones is a band photographer, and he certainly does have a great eye. The film is shot on black and white film, which is a refreshing change from the myriad of documentaries that are all shot digitally. For many documentaries, shooting on film would be neither necessary nor practical, but here it just works. Jones is either brave or smart or stupid to have shot it on film, because so much of filming a band documentary is just keeping the camera running and seeing what happens, and in this day and age, film is bloody expensive! But he most definitely pulls it off.

Aside from the aesthetics, there's a good balance between fly-on-the-wall cinema verite, interviews, and concert footage. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart follows Wilco just as they are putting the finishing touches on their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. We also get into the whole caffuffle that happened between Wilco and their label Reprise, where the label was not happy with the album, and thus released the band from the contract and were allowed to keep their album! The album was eventually released to amazing reviews. Anyways, take a look at the trailer and if your interest is at all piqued by this then go out to your local video store and rent it. It's one of the best music documentaries out there and you don't need to go into it knowing anything about the band.



Une Femme Est Une Femme (1961)

I kind of sit on the fence with Jean-Luc Godard. Part of me loves the avant-guard director for his creativity, and part of me hates him for the resulting pretentions. Despite my aversion to some of his works, many of which are considered masterpieces, I appreciate what he is trying to do. I like the messages, just often not the messenger. Godard is someone who tirelessly continues to flaunt convention and try something new. He is the ultimate cinematic innovator. Many of his films will leave you scratching your head at the end, not entirely sure what to make of the previous 90 minutes, but some will tickle you pink with zest and inspiration. Obviously, Breathless is a good place to start. Maybe you've seen that, and then watched some others (Pierrot le fou, Le Mepris) that you aren't really sure about.  Now you should watch Une Femme Est Une Femme.

This is my absolute favorite Godard Film! It's his first time using colour widescreen film, and of course, he goes to town with it. The colours are beautiful, and the compositions are pleasureable, and the accompanying story is surprisingly easy to follow. Angela (Anna Karina) wants to have a baby, but her husband Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy) doesn't. So she goes to Emile's best friend, Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo). This is Godard's homage to American musicals from the studio era. Though in typical Godardian fashion, he eliminates a lot of the actual music! Instead of doing huge musical numbers, Godard has his actors actually singing on screen, as opposed to lip-synching a playback of some pre-recorded track. It's kind of unsettling, but it works. And the movie is so playful! And funny! It's not as dry as some of his other stuff, and it's all there on the screen, so it's very easy to digest. It's arguably his most accessible film.

Here now, is a trailer for the film. It's less interesting as a trailer for the film, but is an brief description (by Godard himself) of the filmmaker's method.

If you want a taste of the movie, watch this! It's probably my favorite part, and actually one of the first scenes I think of when I think of this film. I'm so glad I was able to find it so easily on YouTube! (Update: Since finding this, I've probably watched this YouTube clip twenty times! So good!)

And just for fun, here's another. This is another great scene that shows the playfulness of the whole thing. If you enjoy this then definitely see the whole film. And I love how they carry their one huge lamp around the apartment.


Orson Welles and Winston Churchill

Orson Welles, as you may guess, was a fantastic storyteller. Aside from his considerable talents as a cinematic storyteller, he certainly could also tell some incredible personal stories, and he had many extraordinary experiences to draw from. Here is my favorite one that I've heard him tell, from an interview on the Dick Cavett show from the mid-60s. I wish I had stories like these in my back pocket!