Shoot the Piano Player

If The 400 Blows was “very French”, and it is considered to be, Francois Truffaut’s follow up was meant to be “very American” and really it’s the most American of things: the mashup. It’s a New Wave crime comedy based on a Noir novel and the tonal shifts! Oh boy, the tonal shifts! That is to say it is not “American” in the same way that The 400 Blows is “French”. It’s a bunch of American stereotypical elements rolled into one silly film — a “grab bag” as Truffaut himself describes it.

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Jules and Jim

We return to Francois Truffaut this week, who we haven't seen since we finished the Adventures of Antoine Doinel. In fact this is our first Truffaut film in which Doinel is not a character. Jules and Jim, instead, is a period piece about a trio of friend and lovers whose situation becomes untenable. How Truffaut, and author Henri-Pierre Roche, choose to resolve the untenability is the sticking point of the film for us, particularly because Roche's original novel is "semi-autobiographical" and the ending is one aspect that earns that"semi".

Love on the Run

The final film in Francois Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series (and, not coincidentally, Criterion's The Adventures of Antoine Doinel boxset), 1979's Love on the Run is a capstone and a bit of a clip show, editing in flashbacks not just to the previous four films, but recontextualizing other Jean-Pierre Leaud films in order to add more backstory. Pat isn't necessarily impressed, but that doesn't stop us from fantasizing about what this film would have been like if it was made, say, last year, with the rest of Leaud's career to pull from.

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Bed and Board

We next meet Antoine Doinel in 1970's Bed and Board. This time director Francois Truffaut has his character slightly more married but just as restless as ever before. Unfortunately, this manifests in some pretty demeaning tropes about Asian women in general, and Japanese women in particular. C'est la vie, as the French say, but perhaps more apropos: C'est la vie quand vous comptez sur les stéréotypes raciaux.

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Stolen Kisses (and Antoine and Colette)

This week we start The Adventures of Antoine Doinel boxset, a collection of films by Francois Truffaut. We've already talked about the first film in the set, The 400 Blows, quite awhile ago. When Truffaut came back to the character -- and cemented the troupe that would star in all 4 (and a half) films lead by original star Jean-Pierre Leaud -- he took a markedly different course, leaving behind the gritty coming of age tale that defined the French New Wave and creating something a bit more lighthearted, if still brilliant.

We kick things off with Stolen Kisses (1968), in which Antoine meets and courts his future ex-wife Christine. For the sake of completeness and continuity we also roll in a short film -- 1962's Antoine and Colette -- which is on The 400 Blows disc and makes me think too much about how I used to interact with women. Hopefully I've changed! Antoine (barely) does!

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