Why is it that essays bring out the worst in me? Strictly speaking they don’t, but I’ve had all summer to write as much as I please on this little blog, but when I sit down to start my first 3rd year essay, I find myself distracted ever so easily. Maybe this blog isn’t the outlet for my creative pursuits I’d first envisaged, but a tool of procrastination. Aa well the less I dwell the better. I’ve been excited by a lot recently. Photos of the 1930’s depression, Dorothea Lange especially, she’s an amazing photographer with a keen eye for desperate resignation; The haiku – A Japenese verse of 17 syllables – I’ve tried to write a few recently. It’s difficult as with poetry I tend to follow Kerouac’s dictum to ‘remove literary, gramatical and syntactical inhibition’, yet they’re fun none the less; Films – or French films to be more precise. The past week I’ve binged on films, and three stood out to me that I’d like to talk about.
The first is one that I actually watched for the first time last year, but took time to give it another viewing this week, is Jean-Luc Goddard’s ‘A Bout de Souffle’, or Breathless to you and me. One of the inaugral films of Nouvelle Vague, Goddard’s masterpiece epitomises 1960’s European culture. Jean-Paul Belmondo plays the protagonist Michel, who on styling himself on Humphrey Bogart, steals a car, shoots a cop and plays out the rest of the film on the run from the Police with his girlfriend Patricia played by Jean Seberg. Fast, witty and painfully cool, it’s an iconic film admired as much for its look as its substance.
Fastforward a decade to the 70’s, and we have another masterpiece Les Valseuses. It is the film that shot Gerard Depardieu to stardom, and his performance is exceptional. Basically it is uninhibited sex and violence, conveyed through two big brutes who constantly fuck, terrorise and steal from the French bourgeoisie. They hit a brick wall with Marie Ange played by Miou-Miou, a girl they ‘steal’ from a wealthy pimp who despite their best efforts, cannot come. It is her search for unattainable sexual pleasure that emasculates our two thugs. Les Valseuses does verge on porn, yet it’s the casting of Depardieu that makes it so memorable. A throwback to the decadence of the fin de siecle, a sexual deviant and true Libertine for the nouvelle generation.
(Disclaimer – Not own images)