Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Get Behind Me, Jean Seberg

260) Bonjour Tristesse (1958) Dir: Otto Preminger Date Released: April XX, 1958 Date Seen: August 18, 2012 Rating: 3.5/5

261) Breathless (1960) Dir: Jean-Luc Godard Date Released: February 7, 1961 Date Seen: August 18, 2012 Rating: 4.25/5

This was a great double feature, one of the handful of reasons I'm very glad I got to go to DC two weekends past. I'm not nuts about Bonjour Tristesse, mostly because of Jean Seberg's voiceover (ARGH, NO, SHUT UP). But I do love the sea-side resort atmosphere of that film (reminds me of Xios, the Greek island where my mother is from), and I also rather enjoy, as Victor Morton put it during our brief post-screening discussion, the film's Sirk-ian melodrama. But yeah, eesh, that voiceover! 

Seberg is much more impressive in Breathless, a film that I'm very glad I got to see sans the academic expectations that cinema studies classes would require. Now I can quietly groove on the superficial but expansive pleasures of, say, the interview junket scene where Seberg musters up the courage to talk to Jean-Pierre Melville's sagacious authorial wind-bag.

Then again, my lack of knowledge is clearly a double-edged sword. I don't have as much of the historical context I'd like to fully process either film, y'know? So while I luxuriated in both of their anything-goes narratives, I was only totally immersed in the latter film during its final half hour, when the dragnet really starts to tighten around poor Jean-Paul Belmondo. That (probably) famous shot of Seberg explaining why she chose to rat on her lover is especially incredible, as is Belmondo's long scramble down the rue as he dies. I got similar feelings of visceral joy watching Seberg chase after her stepmother in Tristesse, trying in vain to prevent her from discovering the infidelity she helped to facilitate.

What I'm trying to say is: that was nice. Really hit the spot.

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