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Louis Malle


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In the Trailers thread, Bethany has asked for recommendations of Louis Malle films, so I thought I'd start a new thread here.

The Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley is actually screen a Malle retrospective soon, which might be a good page to review his filmography. As a documentary buff, I've always wanted to see his Phantom India, so I'm really glad to learn that Criterion is working on a DVD.

I think Prins is a Malle fan. Anybody else?

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Vanya on 42nd Street is one of my all-time favorite films. One of the greatest ensemble cast efforts I've ever seen.

I'm one of the only film buffs I know who actually thought Damage was a good film.

I've remember enjoying Au Revoir, Les Enfants, but it's been a long time since I've seen it. (Thank God for that film... it introduced Kieslowski to Irene Jacob.)

There was a good article on Malle in the New York Timesrecently, but alas, now you have to pay for it online.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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The only Malle film I've seen is Au revoir les enfants, which I really liked a lot.

Of course, at the time, I didn't know it was a Malle film. I just new it was the film that inspired the title of Reservoir Dogs.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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I'm totally with Jeffrey on VANYA. One of my top tens. Though I never know how much of its greatness to attribute to Malle, who documented it, and how much to Andre Gregory, who directed the actors long before Louis was invited in with his movie camera.

Which of course puts me in mind of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, another Malle I've seen many times.

I'm with Jeffrey, too, on DAMAGE. Which I didn't much like when I watched it, because I wanted it to be sexy and titillating, but found it cold and off-putting. Which, on reflection, I thought was profoundly right, and deeply appreciated. Art rather than exploitation. Put me in my place.

Ascenseur pour l'echaffaud, eh? Hadn't dawned on me that was Malle! Being a Miles Davis fan, I've listened to the soundtrack many times. What do you know.

"Reservoir dogs" is from AU REVOIR...? Cool! Stick around this place, I might learn something...

Ron

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Prins is a Malle fan -- in fact, for probably half a decade he considered Malle's My Dinner With Andr

Edited by M. Dale Prins

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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2 First best: David Thewlis in Naked, absolutely.

Not to derail this thread or anything, but does anyone know how I can see this? I saw a clip on cable TV years ago, though I didn't know what it was back then, and I've really grown to love Thewlis' acting in recent years.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Naked's only VHS or Laserdisc, alas -- virtually the only of Leigh's films not on DVD -- although rumor has it that Criterion is working on a DVD with all the cool stuff that was on the LD: a Mike Leigh commentary, the Thelwis/Leigh short "The Short and Curlies," a Leigh radio play, etc. I rented mine at a Hollywood Video, as I recall, although now that video stores are ditching their entire VHS inventory, who's to say if that is still an option.

Dale

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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I am not a huge Malle fan. He did however direct one of my favorite Noir films, Elevator to the Gallows, a very moody abstract film, with great Parisian scenes and a Miles Davis soundtrack, it will be in limited re-release this summer.

Edited by TedK
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Welcome, Ted. Great, that makes three positive recommendations for the film; this thread was inspired by the new trailer for Elevator to the Gallows. (Maybe I should say 3.5 since Ron salutes the score.)

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Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I will definitely look into some of the recommended films here, since I have enjoyed the two Malle films I've seen so highly.

I wanted to get lost and love the questions there

Beauty and the truth I could breathe like air

--Sam Phillips

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  • 2 months later...

I hope this should go into this thread. smile.gif

I am trying to watch Vanya on 42nd Street. What is wrong with me? It jars me because it is so talky and so "acted."

Now I love Malle. I love Chekov. But today Vanya just seems to be the wrong film for me.

Yesterday I watched 3-Iron by Ki-duk Kim in which the main characters had no dialogue. It was a quiet film - but disquieting, too - but I loved it, and found the lack of dialogue made me watch facial expressions, gestures, everything. Also, the characters are not famous actors so you don't feel they are "acting."

And yesterday I also watched Robert Bresson's L'Argent. While not as great as Au Hasard Balthazar (or Diary of a CP, or a Man Escaped) there again the dialogue was sparse and there were no real "actors" in it.

So today Vanya hit me as talky as all those yakking news anchors on TV are or some of those old Cary Grant films. With everyone "acting" up a storm. So I turned it off.

Why on earth would I prefer Ki-duk Kim's films? It is such a different culture - not western but eastern - but I find his films beautiful. They enfold me. His Spring, Fall, Winter, Summer and Spring is one of his most beautiful.

All of this has nothing to do with Vanya. Only my reaction to Vanya. (which is on our top 100.) And I love theater. I love good literature. So I don't understand why it jarred me so trying to watch it.

Anyway, I am renting it from Netflix, and I will not send it back until I give it another try on another day.

I just wanted to share my feelings here. I didn't know who else to talk to about it.

Sara

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  • 3 months later...

Just a note to say the Malle retrospective is coming to the Pacific Cinematheque January 13 - 30.

Given what a crazy month this will almost certainly be, what films should I prioritize?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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FYI, Criterion is releasing three of Malle's films in March: Au revior, les enfants; Lacombe, Lucien; and Murmur of the Heart.

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Those three are good and all, but I am surprised they haven't picked up Zazie dans le metro yet. It isn't nearly as serious and "relevant" as the three Criterion are about to put out, but it is remarkable nonetheless.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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  • 3 months later...

Caught up with Elevator to the Gallows last week. Evidently it did enough business here in Dallas to hang around for a second week, which is gratifying and encouraging. Hopefully we'll get more like it.

As for the film, I enjoyed the clever way the events played out, the black and white photography, and Jeanne Moreau. I loved the way that the main characters look more and more haggard as the film continues, and the consequences of their choices slowly close in around them. The flesh reflects the spirit.

I also liked Malle's use of sound, particularly with Tavernier in the elevator. Hearing the voices of others both inspires hope that he would be rescued, but also inspires fear that he would be caught. Malle's use of this tension makes the film for me.

The opening scene was great at providing a lot of information with little dialogue or context, an example of great writing. We get that there is something clandestine about Tavernier and Florence's interaction over the phone. We get that she is married when the extreme close-up pulls out from her face and we see the ring on her finger. And we learn that something important will happen that will cause them to leave town for good. But without filling in all the information, Malle gives us these facts in such a way as to bring tension to the forefront almost immediately.

Good stuff, definitely recommended.

All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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  • 1 month later...

My wife and I have recently rewatched 'Au Revoir, Les Enfants,' for the first time in perhaps a decade. What a winsome, poignant, heartbreaking film. The characterizations of the 2 lead kids are terrific, in particular Julien. The film does indeed seem genuinely autobiographical, in terms of the details that enliven the film throughout (the ditty that is contemptuous of Petain's regime, reading 'Arabian Nights' for the naughty bits, etc.). And the tension in the climactic buildup is quite intense.

In addition, there's a notable spiritual undercurrent to the film, in terms of the headmaster's/head priest's strong spiritual convictions, as evidenced in his scathing sermon and in his rescue of the Jewish boys. The other teachers as remembered here are exemplars of the faith, in their compassion, playfulness, and the overall fullness of their lives and characters.

So many great films, so little time - I'm already striving to see as much Bergman and Kurosawa as I can; now I'll add Malle to that list. From the conversation here, it sounds like I couldn't much go wrong with my choice of his films (the trailer for 'Elevator...' is quite enticing!).

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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  • 4 years later...

A while back, I caught Murmur of the Heart on Netflix and liked it enough to add several of Malle's films to my instant queue. Unfortunately, what with this and that I've only just gotten around to watching my next Malle film--Elevator to the Gallows. I did a brief post at my 'blog, but the short version is that I liked it quite a bit and am disappointed that Malle never attempted this kind of movie again. There was a point, near the end, when I thought I knew how everything would turn out, and was debating whether the predictability of the plot-twist should count against my opinion of the film or not--and then Malle jerked the rug out from under me (and the characters), using a plot point that I later recalled noting as important and promptly forgetting. It all works out with a machine-like precision (the kind of precision that Ebert led me to expect in The American, but with the bonus of actually surprising me).

If I may copy the only really interesting part of my 'blog post, in many ways, Elevator to the Gallows reminds me of Dial M for Murder, which predates the French film by four years (I don't think the two are necessarily connected, although Malle--according to the Criterion writeup--once described himself as torn between Bresson and Hitchcock). In both, we follow the machinations of the killer as he attempts to correct a perfect murder gone wrong. However, by stranding the actual killer in an elevator, and by introducing a further murder--a crime of which he is innocent, but for which he might still be blamed--Malle one-ups Hitchcock. Here the murderer is no master chessplayer outwitted at last by the dogged police; instead, he is a victim of circumstance. Of chance, almost. Indeed, there is a certain fatalistic aura to the resolution of the three plotlines. In the end, we feel that things could not have concluded otherwise.

One thing that threw me, though.

Why was the investigator so certain that Tavernier would get off lightly, while Florence would spend twenty years, at least, in prison? Is there a quirk of the French justice system that holds accomplices more culpable than, y'know, actual murderers? Or did I miss something?

So that makes three Malle films I've seen now. Hopefully, I'll get around to Au revoir les enfants soon.

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