Daisies (1966): The life of two girls, Marie I and Marie II, who try to understand the meaning of the world and of their life.
Daisies. The Czech New Wave is a very interesting genre of cinema. However, I most certainly can say that it is impossible to deny the art behind making a film like Daisies. While the film was crazy and incoherent from a storytelling perspective, the movie was oddly beautiful from a technical perspective. I couldn’t help but admire the unpredictable lens-changes, and the scenes were so quick and unpredictable it was impossible to figure out what was going to happen next at any point in the film. In fact, the only thing that was predictable with the film was that it was completely unpredictable. However, I still couldn’t help but admire it throughout its 74-minute runtime.
I would like to take a moment to talk about the acting. Ivana Karbanova and Jitka Cerhova were great as the co-leads. Their child-like demeanor, combined with undeniable chemistry made the movie significantly more enjoyable from start to finish, despite a nonexistent story. I look at some of the big budget films now that bank everything on a good story and look technically boring, and now laugh at them. If only Angelina Jolie watched this movie before filming Unbroken. While you don’t need to go as out there as director Vera Chytilova does while filming Daisies, a bit of variability from a technical standpoint goes a long way. Just look at what Birdman just did. That movie’s story made very little sense, and yet it's a phenomenal movie because of the one take sensation it creates. As for Daisies, I thought it was a good film. I enjoyed myself a lot more than I thought I was going to, and I would definitely recommend this movie to my cinema-loving friends
The Verdict: 7/10 Good.
Jules and Jim (Jules et Jim: 1962): Decades of a love triangle concerning two friends and an impulsive woman.
Jules et Jim is a surprisingly good film. After witnessing the unpredictability of the French New Wave last week from Breathless, I think I was a bit more prepared for this movie, and as a result had a far better time while watching it. While the movie was nowhere near as innovated from a technical standpoint as Breathless was, this movie seemed to be more of a character study of these three people and their love triangle than anything else. As a result, I found myself caring a lot more about these people, particularly the character Jim and his struggle to rid himself of Catherine. I was very entertained and engrossed in his struggle to the point that I found myself almost yelling at the screen by some of his decisions in the third act. The movie did a good job making you root for both Jules and Jim, but particularly Jim, from start to finish.
Catherine also was an interesting character. I couldn’t help but see the similarities between her and the character Patricia from Breathless. Catherine’s unpredictability really made me think of this character. I would not be surprised to hear that director Francois Truffaut based Catherine off of Patricia. However, from a technical standpoint I found Jules et Jim to be somewhat lackluster. Perhaps this is because I have been slightly desensitized to the French New Wave style, but I didn’t see much of anything that separated Jules et Jim from the pack short of a few sporadic jump-cuts. To me, this film was much safer in its approach than Breathless was, but its story was also significantly more gripping than Breathless. Ultimately, this movie was good, but not great.
The Verdict: 7/10 Good.
Breathless (1960): A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
Breathless is a very unusual movie. The movie has a plot, but the plot never once feels very coherent. To me, this movie appears to be very abrupt and scattershot throughout its 90-minute runtime. There is one aspect of the movie that is great, however. That is the cinematography. The cinematography of Breathless was very unique and innovative in style, using spectacular long shots that would alternate between close-ups, medium-shots, and even some wide shots. One scene that stuck out to me in particular was towards the end of the film between the two leads. The scene involved both characters talking to themselves, and whenever they did the camera would follow them around the room directly in front of them and then seamlessly change to the other character, as they would begin to talk to themselves. To compare it to a modern film, I believe the cinematography of the movie Birdman almost certainly took some inspiration from the cinematography of Breathless, as there are many seamless wide shots involving Michael Keaton’s character with the camera placed directly in front of him during a self-dialogue.
Sadly though, other than this cinematography, Breathless was not my style of movie. The editing was either great or too awful to follow as we had a great use of the crosscutting style. However, there were also certain scenes that happened so suddenly it took me couple minutes to understand what had just happened. An example of this was when the cop was being shot at the beginning of the film. This may have been the intention of director Jean-Luc Godard, but I could not tell. At the end of the day, I’m glad I saw this movie, however I have no plans on seeing it again. To me, it was an average film.
The Verdict: 5/10 Average.
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