Eddie Constantine in hat and trenchcoat

The French New Wave, film noir and sci-fi all collide in Alphaville, Jean-Luc Godard’s mad mash-up of all three genres. If it does nothing else it demonstrates that as long as you have imagination you don’t need any budget at all to make an impressive movie. Godard shot it all in Paris, with no sets, no gadgety props, no special effects. He didn’t even bother with a newly minted character. Instead he repurposed Lemmy Caution, a gumshoe created by British crime novelist Peter Cheyney who had already appeared in a string of French B movies by the time Alphaville came out in 1965. Then, as here, Caution is played by the American singer … Read more

Godard Mon Amour aka Redoubtable

Louis Garrel and Stacy Martin

Le Redoutable aka Redoubtable aka Godard Mon Amour is another exercise in period spoofing for Michel Hazanavicius, the French film-maker who made his name with pastiches – notably winning an Oscar for The Artist, the faux silent movie having followed two 007 spoofs, the OSS 117 movies. In all three a fictional character was held up for mild ridicule while Hazanavicius and his team sweated the small stuff, getting thousands of details just so in an attempt to conjure a world back into existence. As with the OSS films the period this time is again the 1960s but this time the central figure isn’t fictional, it’s director Jean-Luc Godard, the hippest man in … Read more

Dans Paris

Louis Garrel and Romain Duris in Dans Paris

Since The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Romain Duris has been pretty much the hottest name in French cinema. There’s plenty of opportunity for him to do some high intensity scowling in this claustrophobic drama about a family whose secret, its driving force, is depression. His dad (the excellent Guy Marchand) is clearly wrestling with it, his brother (Louis Garrel) has flown off in the other direction and is banging anything female that moves and now Paul (Duris) is in deep trouble too. There’s a bad attack of the narrative cutes at the outset of Christophe Honoré’s latest film, when Garrel turns to the camera and addresses it directly. But give the film … Read more