AFS Preview: Godard vs. Truffaut
Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, cinema legends and titans of the French New Wave, duke it out for the Austin Film Society's series "Godard vs. Truffaut" from Jan. 3 through Feb. 23 at the Marchesa Hall and Theatre.
But there's no need to take sides*, as various seminal works by each filmmaker are spotlighted biweekly. Discover your inner Francophile at 8 pm Fridays and 2 pm Sundays at the Marchesa.
The rules of cinematic composition are thrown out the window in Breathless, Godard's first feature-length film and one of the earliest of the French New Wave. A young petty criminal with delusions of grandeur drags his American girlfriend (Jean Seberg, whose haircut alone was influential) into his escape plot after killing a police officer.
Truffaut's The 400 Blows became a defining film of the French New Wave. This Academy Award and Palme d'Or-nominated film follows 14-year-old Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud) in 1950s Paris. Frequently misunderstood by his parents and teachers, Doinel steals a typewriter from his stepfather's place of business in an attempt to finance his runaway. His stepfather turns him over to the police and he spends a night in jail with hardened criminals. According to my high-school English teacher, this film was an expose of the ill treatment of juvenile offenders in France.
An unhappily married man runs away with his children's babysitter (Anna Karina) and ex-girlfriend to escape his bourgeois lifestyle, only to find that the woman is being chased by gangsters. The madcap duo go on a traveling crime spree through France that ends with explosive results.
Antoine Doinel, to a great extent the alter ego of Truffaut, returns in this double feature: the film short Antoine and Colette, a romantic tete-a-tete between the two title characters, and the feature-length Stolen Kisses, which finds a more mature Doinel trying to adjust back to civilian life after being dishonorably discharged from the military... but love leads him astray once more.
Godard's black comedy, which includes Leaud, follows a rich married couple with tricks up their sleeves.
Directly following Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board finds hapless Doinel married and a soon-to-be father. While still struggling to find steady employment, Doinel begins a relationship with a Japanese woman.
Celebrate Valentine's Day with Godard's tribute to American musical comedy, which re-teams the filmmaker with his then real-life wife, Karina. The film centers on the love triangle between a baby-obsessed exotic dancer, her lover and his best friend.
Set years after Bed and Board, Love on the Run is the final film in the Doinel cycle. He and Christine have since divorced and the now-published author again finds himself in a quandry of the heart when he reunites with his first love Colette.
*However, if you like taking sides, check out Kimberley Jones and Marc Savlov as they square off in the Austin Chronicle this week.