LE DÉPART (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1967)

Something co-written and directed by Jerzy Skolimowski that won the top prize at Berlin and stars Jean-Pierre Léaud ought to be my cup of whisky; and, indeed, The Departure, from Belgium, is just that. This dazzling, hilarious, and most tender slapstick comedy-adventure-romance reunites Léaud, who is at his most brilliant here, with charming Catherine Duport, […]

THE BEAUTIFUL PERSON (Christophe Honoré, 2008)

Originally made for French television, La belle personne updates to the present Marie Madeleine Pioche de la Vergne’s (Madame de La Fayette’s) 1678 novel La Princesse de Clèves, transferring its sexual and other intrigues from royal court to high school, in this case, a distressingly dilapidated one. When the action starts, young, popular Nemours, who […]

THE WILD CHILD (François Truffaut, 1969)

If, like me, you enjoy some of the matter of The Miracle Worker (Arthur Penn, 1962) but find its Broadway/Hollywood treatment ridiculously bug-eyed and melodramatic, you may find more rewarding refuge in L’enfant sauvage (best film, French critics), which François Truffaut directed from his and Jean Gruault’s script based on Jean Itard’s Mémoires et rapport […]

DETECTIVE (Jean-Luc Godard, 1985)

Détective, Jean-Luc Godard’s most commercial venture since Tout va bien (1972), zigzags amongst guests, residents and employees at a Parisian hotel. (It was filmed at the Hotel Concorde Saint-Lazare.) Except at the finish, where the action moves right outside the hotel, the film is so much confined to this place that the setting suggests imaginative […]

THE PORNOGRAPHER (Bertrand Bonello, 2001)

Jacques Laurent, who elevated “the genre” (embarrassed, he himself winces at that categorization), is making his first pornographic film in more than fifteen years. Times and audiences have changed. On-set, Jacques’s young producer tells him he is “too old” when Jacques doesn’t even look up at the soullessly raunchy scene that is being shot. Jacques […]

BED AND BOARD (François Truffaut, 1970)

There are at least two opposite ways to consider the fourth film in François Truffaut’s semi-autobiographical Antoine Doinel cycle, Domicile conjugal. If we take one view, Antoine (once again, and necessarily, Jean-Pierre Léaud) disintegrates into a bourgeois groove of complacency that completes the undoing of the rambunctious personality he exhibited in his mid-teens in The […]