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Oh How I Adore the French

by Steve--Zissou

Created 11/14/17

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Does it ever strike you that the French are the only able country to make cinema, albeit political, comedic, melodramatic, etc. and they master it. Here are some of their best work.

  • It puzzles me every time I watch it. It is the peak of French film making, reaching heights that are unimaginable. I question how Melville was able to craft such a delicate film of a man seeking home while being chased down by his contractors and the police. It is so perfect that it is as cool as Alain Delon's performance. This is the best crime film, and crafted by one of the best.

  • It is impossible to not talk about France without at least shouting out the French. Truffaut was amazing at what he did, and that was taking an Italian Neorealist perspective on Classic Hollywood troupes. His portraits of human beings, either a child criminal or a love triangle, are so brilliant in every frame and movement, his films are still socking and profound 50+ years later.

  • Godard was basically the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert of his time, creating such provocative films that both satirizing the political situation of the time and poking fun at old archetypes. Here, Godard satirizes the idea of star crossed lovers all set to the background of a very commercial France. It is a personal favorite of mine.

  • The reason Godard is so highly esteemed as a director (not a person though) is due to his continuous pursuit of paying homage to his Hollywood forefathers. These three really shine a light on to the person and master Godard was, reinventing the musical, heist, and crime film, all under three years...

  • ...as well as crafting scathing and haunting character portraits in one whole year. A testament to a genius.

  • There was one debate that came up in my screenwriting class over what was Clouzot's best movie: this or Diabolique. I chose the former, and I am very proud of that because Hitchcock once called Clouzot the Master of Suspense. He reinvented tension with this one film, creating an atmosphere I have yet to experience.

  • We will forever be indebted to the genius that is Jean Renoir and his push to create such brilliant films in his lifetime. In my personal opinion, The Rules of the Game isn't a great comedy, but simply a great critique of society. It surpasses the filmmakers of Modern Hollywood by 50 years and we can't thank Renoir enough for poking fun at the louses before the War to end all Wars began...

  • ...as well as creating one of the greatest war films only two years earlier.

  • Technicolor opera that you can understand. A Michel Legrand score, angelic Catherine Denueve, and some of the most beautiful images of all time in a kitchen sink drama. You may call La La Land a masterpiece, but this presupposes any musical before or after it.

  • Dassin was never French, yet his soon sang a lovely French song. I think that enough helps defend my argument, and the fact that heist movies are built upon this template.

  • I much do prefer the latter of these two, but Vigo really started movie making in France, so this whole list really needs to thank his small but infinite contribution to cinema.

  • Tati's trilogy of Hulot films for me is where comedy in cinema really reaches a peak. It is for the intelligent man, the one who looks more into things than needed. I love Tati and the character he brought to cinema, and his visual gags are to die for.

  • Possibly the scariest, most eerie film ever made. A modern horror masterpiece.

  • They also know how to adapt books into the perfect film.

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