Like many of the pioneers of the French New Wave, François Truffaut was profoundly influenced by American genre cinema. His deliriously playful sophomore feature, 1960’s Shoot the Piano Player, shows his particular fondness for gangster movies, with its tale of a meek musician (Charles Aznavour) who finds himself entangled in the criminal underworld. Made on a small budget, the film was shot by the great Raoul Coutard in Dyaliscope, the French version of anamorphic widescreen, which Truffaut hoped would give his scrappy production a professional look. In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, the Criterion Channel’s collection of ten-minute lessons on cinematic style, Professor Jeff Smith examines the movie’s distinctive compositions and the energy they bring to the narrative. Watch a clip above, then head to the Channel to view the full episode and our edition of the film.
Consuming the Cat: Brenda Lien Calls Out an Internet Fetish
In a short film now featured on the Criterion Channel, the German filmmaker interrogates our insatiable appetite for feline memes and what it says about our consumerist culture.
The Art of Lighting a Comedic Thriller
In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, Professor Kristin Thompson explores how Ernst Lubitsch’s satirical masterpiece To Be or Not to Be employs a venerable cinematographic technique: three-point lighting.