Thursday, September 10, 2009

Alliance Française schedule

At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm


September features François Truffaut at Alliance Française.


At Alliance Française on Friday, September 11:  Jules et Jim / Jules and Jim (1962) by François Truffaut – 110 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. B&W. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 89 out of 100.


With JeanneMoreau, Oscar Werner, Henri Serre, Marie Dubois.


Two young men, Jules and Jim, have been the best of friends for many years, and their friendship becomes even more closer the day they discover that they love the same woman and that she loves them both… A strange situation indeed, but even stranger is this young woman who, although her behaviour could seem paradoxical to others, keeps a surprising simplicity and purity in the relationship with her two lovers.

Alliance description


Decades of a love triangle concerning two friends and an impulsive woman., Sean Axmaker: François Truffaut's third feature, though it's named for the two best friends who become virtually inseparable in pre-World War I Paris, is centered on Jeanne Moreau's Catherine, the most mysterious, enigmatic woman in his career-long gallery of rich female portraits. Adapted from the novel by Henri-Pierre Roché, Truffaut's picture explores the 30-year friendship between Austrian biologist Jules (Oskar Werner) and Parisian writer Jim (Henri Serre) and the love triangle formed when the alluring Catherine makes the duo a trio. Spontaneous and lively, a woman of intense but dynamic emotions, she becomes the axle on which their friendship turns as Jules woos her and they marry, only to find that no one man can hold her. Directed in bursts of concentrated scenes interspersed with montage sequences and pulled together by the commentary of an omniscient narrator, Truffaut layers his tragic drama with a wealth of detail. He draws on his bag of New Wave tricks for the carefree days of youth--zooms, flash cuts, freeze frames--that disappear as the marriage disintegrates during the gloom of the postwar years. Werner is excellent as Jules, a vibrant young man whose slow, melancholy slide into emotional compromise is charted in his increasingly sad eyes and resigned face, while Serre plays Jim as more of an enigma, guarded and introspective. But both are eclipsed in the glare of Moreau's radiant Catherine: impulsive, demanding, sensual, passionate, destructive, and ultimately unknowable. A masterpiece of the French New Wave and one of Truffaut's most confident and accomplished films.


DVD available from



At Alliance Française on Friday, September 18:  La Peau Douce / The Soft Skin (1964) by François Truffaut – 165 mins – France/ Portugal, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. B&W. Generally favorable reviews: 74 out of 100.

With Françoise Dorléac, Jean Desailly, Nelly Bénédetti, Daniel Ceccaldi.


Pierre Lachenay is a well-known publisher and lecturer, married with Franca and father of Sabine, around 10. He meets an air hostess, Nicole. They start a love affair, which Pierre is hiding, but he cannot stand staying away from her…

Alliance description


Rotten Tomatoes: The Soft Skin, from one of the New Wave's most prolific directors, François Truffaut, is a brilliant classic replete with intrigue, emotion, and stunning imagery. This anatomy of an affair between successful publisher and novelist Pierre Lachenay (Jean Desailly), and airline stewardess Nicole (Françoise Dorléac), begins on Lachenay's trip to Lisbon for a lecture. On the airplane he watches, enraptured, as Nicole changes out of her work shoes and into sexy, sling-back pumps. From there, his lust for her only grows, and he begins a deeply involved affair with her that continues back in Paris. Meanwhile Lachenay's perfect bourgeoise wife, Franca (Nelly Benedetti) is entertaining friends and playing with their cute five-year-old daughter, Sabine (Sabine Haudepin), seemingly unaware of her husband's strange behavior. But when Franca discovers that he's been cheating and may even be in love, she reacts irrationally. The Soft Skin's surprising finale is one of the most memorable in film history. Perhaps it is Truffaut's attention to detail that builds so much tangible emotion into his films. The camera seems to skim over surfaces, examine the unattractive angles of people's faces, read street signs. In the car, the camera is riding in the back seat, but as the car speeds up, it's pressed against the windshield. In The Soft Skin, Truffaut expresses a precise emotion with each sequence. Viewers of the film are so often nervous because of the way Lechenay's gaze flits around, blurring up the scenery, frantically. Then, when Lechenay is with his lover, Nicole, the light is bright, the gaze is steady, the mood is triumphant. In the final scenes, as the cobblestones of Parisian boulevards whiz by chaotically, we are reminded of the suspenseful clues given in Hitchcock movies, and we know what is about to happen. At once beautiful and hilariously observant, Truffaut's expressive visuals make The Soft Skin an inarguable masterpiece. 



DVD available


At Alliance Française on Friday, September 25:  Baisers volés / Stolen Kisses (1968) by François Truffaut– 87 mins – France, Drama/ Romance/ Comedy. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 77 out of 100.


With Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claude Jade, Delphine Seyrig, Daniel Ceccaldi, Michel Lonsdale, Claire Duhamel.


Antoine Doinel is 24 year old. Behind bars in a military brig, he awaits his discharge from the army. Finally free, he goes to the house of the parents of Christine Darbon, the girl he was in love with before being drafted. Alternately night watchman, private investigator, a shoe-shop employee, Antoine is professionally and emotionally unstable...

Alliance description


Rotten Tomatoes: FrançoisTruffaut'sBaisersvolés (Stolen Kisses) is the third film in the director's Antoine Doinel series, which begins with young Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud) running away from home in The 400 Blows. Now the lovable everyman is a bushy tailed twentysomething who has just been released from military service. Anxious to jump back into civilian life, he reunites with his girlfriend, Christine (Claude Jade), and starts a job as a night watchman at a hotel. Some hilarious scenes follow as Antoine's combined incompetence, flightiness, and general bad luck land him in some ruthlessly ironic situations. Still, the determined youth perseveres. After he loses his hotel job, Antoine is hired as a private detective, and then as a shoe salesman; he's fired, however, for sleeping with the boss's wife (Delphine Seyrig). And when he's not working, he throws money at whores like there's no tomorrow. (His date with "a very tall woman" epitomizes the quirkiness of French humor.) In an unforgettable scene, the frenzied Antoine stands in front of the mirror emphatically repeating the names of his lovers and then his own. All of these famously original episodes feed into flashbacks from previous films in the series. To complete the picture, Baisers volésincludes beautiful shots of Paris--the Sacre Couer, the Arc de Triomphe, and other favorite monuments--that cement the always-romantic nature of Truffaut's works.


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