Here's a brief history lesson: In the 1950s, there was a little French magazine called Cahiers du Cinéma. It was written by film critics, for film critics, which the general public ate up because it taught them the theory of film and what was good and bad at the local theater. Near the end of that decade and through the early '60s, a bunch of those film critics started making movies, breathing new life into cinema still cribbed today called the French New Wave.
This short period redefined filmmaking in radical, groundbreaking ways and is responsible for some of the most important filmmakers to date — filmmakers your favorite filmmakers imitate to this very day. Here’s a few: three-time Oscar nominee François Truffaut (The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim, Shoot the Piano Player), Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless, Contempt, Alphaville, Week End, A Woman Is a Woman, Masculin Féminin), Agnés Varda (Cleo from 5 to 7), Jacques Demy (Lola), Alain Resnais (who is mostly known for his haunting documentary on Nazi death camps, Night and Fog), Louis Malle (Au Revoir Les Enfants), and a personal favorite, Jean-Pierre Melville (The Samurai, Army of Shadows, Bob the Gambler).
Here’s an easy shortcut: watch any film by Truffaut or Goddard and you’ll be the life of the party because these two are the most notable from the French New Wave movement, the time where the term auteur (fancy French word for “author”) really took off. When someone is classified as an auteur, it means he/she strays away from the exhausted and conventional Hollywood formula and is credited for the entire vision of the movie he/she makes. Truffaut or Goddard are the most popular of the funky bunch and the paramount distribution company responsible for bringing their work across the pond to you and me, the Criterion Collection, is madly in love with their work.
I buried the lede, sorry. Starting in September, the Video Association of Dallas and Alamo Drafthouse will be doing a month-long French New Wave crash course, showing some of the most recognized works from that cinematic period — three of which we've already discussed.
Here’s what’s showing:
Saturday, September 5, Goddard’s Contempt, which co-stars blonde bombshell Brigitte Bardot (...And God Created Woman), one of Hollywoods greats, Jack Palance (City Slickers and Tim Burton’s Batman), and Fritz Lang, the man responsible for multiple masterpieces: Metropolis, Ministry of Fear, and M (which gave a prominent figure in the Golden Age of Hollywood his first starring role, Peter Lorre);
Saturday, September 12:
Truffaut’s rich take on a decades-long friendship with a love triangle tossed in, Jules and Jim
Saturday, September 19:
Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad
Saturday, September 26:
You’ll get to feast your eyes on not one but two films: Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7, followed by a fella who was obsessed with cats and owls, Chris Marker’s La Jetée, which is 28 minutes long and manages to fit in one major movie convention still widely used today and an event that thankfully has never happened: time travel and World War III, respectively.
Every film starts at 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at drafthouse.com/dfw.
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