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Je vous salue, Jean-Luc

Just in time for holiday giving, Olive Films has at last released an American edition of Jean-Luc Godard’s decades-in-the-making (or at least, decades-in-the-rights-clearing) “Histoire(s) du cinema” — 266 minutes of Godardian goodness assembled from a dizzying array of sources cinematic, literary, musical and painterly. Flashes of lightning like coherence burst through billowing cloud banks of Godardian obscurity over the course of eight episodes. While the sage of Switzerland may not always have his facts straight (did you know that Erich Pommer founded Universal?), the project is a magnificent non-linear journey across the 20th century, occasionally touching on movies but just as often occupied with the moral paradoxes of Western culture — its highs (“Some Came Running”) and lows (Sarajevo).

I can’t imagine that there will ever be a definitive critical account of this sprawling, brilliantly associative, impossibly dense work, and while I certainly don’t have one to offer in this week’s New York Times column, I do have a few elementary observations, which can be found here.

131 comments to Je vous salue, Jean-Luc

  • Dave,
    Thank you!

    Most narrative films, from Minnelli at the top down to Z-Westerns and Z-Thrillers, put enormous care into costuming characters. The costumes tell us about the character’s personalities, social class, and attitudes. They form geometric designs that can be used in compositions. They transport us to other countries, You can shoot a scene in Griffith Park, and if your hero is dressed as a gaucho, it will look like Argentina. (It helps if your star is Rudolph Valentino.)

    Costumes reflect individual artistic personalities of designers: Greats like Travis Banton, Walter Plunkett and Orry-Kelly have their own looks. They also reflect personal visions of directors who work with them like Minnelli and Walsh.

    Studies show that Americans can look at a person in real life, and guess their income accurately. Costume designers know all about this. Most people think of Tom Neal in DETOUR as the epitome of seedy poverty. Many critics suggest he is simply playing himself.
    Well, you should see Tom Neal in WITHIN THE LAW (Gustav Mahaty, 1939). In his pinstripe suits, he looks like a nice young man from a millionaire family, who grew up next to the Hardy family. Costuming, acting and directing all do this…

  • Blake Lucas

    It’s especially great to be reading this thread because I finally was able to see L’HISTOIRE(S) DU CINEMA this year—the Gaumont edition, which I have; I watched the eight parts at intervals over weeks and plan to go back and watch it all again in a more concentrated way.

    I want to say just as humbly as I possibly can–because it is a very dense work and I have only seen it once–that though I responded positively to parts of it (the ending was indeed moving), I found L’HISTOIRE(S) often challenging and struggled a great deal with it at times, and not only for one reason. I say this as someone who also rates Godard the greatest living director—and there was a time back in the 1960s when I saw each new release over and over again and he was for several years my favorite of all directors. Now, it’s more a matter of faith. I have my ups and downs with him—and seems like I’m not alone even among his other admirers here—but on some level he does seem to grasp cinema more deeply, enough to make so many of the others seem vapid by contrast, and maybe that makes his more annoying stretches more so, because I want so much from him.

    I am fine with Godard as a cinematic essayist. To a great extent, narrative had its day in the classical age and when someone still does it well (Edward Yang, for one example, was amazing to me) I respond as much as ever but it’s just so rare now. However, even though formally he is suited to the cinematic essay, one problem with JLG is that his cinematic fluency is not always equaled by a profundity of thought. In WHEN MOVIES MATTERED, Dave K. wrote four pieces on Godard that helped me understand some of the problems I’ve had with his later work (as I recall it was in the NUMERO DEUX piece)—that Godard will so often act so certain of the thought he is offering, almost arrogantly so rather than humbly (I’m saying this in my own way I know, Dave) but then very soon after might either contradict himself or say he can only ask questions.

    In his 60s work, I believe Godard was already on his way to being more of an essayist. I recently rewatched VIVRE SA VIE and though it has a solid and effectively simple narrative thread and highly sympathetic heroine as portrayed by Anna Karina, it is filled with digressions to philosophic thought and other musing, very characteristically an interrogation of the forms in which we see cinema. It’s right that a modernist cinema would come to this kind of self-consciousness and I liked it through all of those early films, and not only because JLG was indeed more “playful” then but because he seemed to fall more happily and comfortably on the side of “it’s all questions…”

    The longest piece I’ve written myself on Godard was on ALPHAVILLE (in Magill’s, and somehow this was the same Godard that fell back to me in DEFINING MOMENTS IN MOVIES—but that’s fine because it’s a great movie and after many viewings and the first piece I’m very clear what my thoughts and feelings about it are). Watching it for the long piece I found that as much as one can separate an integral work of art into its components, there were three main ones. One of these, again, was narrative—JLG’s command of cinema seemed to come easy to him in this regard and the film is effective as taut futuristic sci-fi/tough detective melodrama; he also knows genres and how to take from them, revitalize them, and take them completely in his own direction, and all of that is done well here. Another component, or level, is simply mise en scene—sound, image, and, (I don’t think it’s pretentious to say in this context) what I’d call poetic vision. On this level, the film is even better, and that’s the level on which I most celebrated it—JLG’s transformation of contemporary Paris of the day without effects was all done through cinematic command, though sensitivity to tone, texture, mood, ambiance, a still amazing achievement that goes to the heart of what movies can do. So this is something he could do without caring as much about narrative and he has certainly not lost that gift. Finally, there is the level of thought and ideas—here, although it doesn’t pull it down, ALPHAVILLE is kind of simplistic, perhaps deliberately so and not unappealingly, pitting the dehumanizing computer against the old-fashioned sentiments Lemmy Caution still knows.

    And for me, JLG’s sentiments once he went into his political period and after have remained often at this kind of simplistic level, though much less appealingly. Make no mistake that “Godard/Gorin” period was very challenging to the Godard devotee, especially if you saw them as they came out, on the heels of his earlier masterpieces—I can’t imagine even the most committed Marxist not watching UN FILM COMME LES AUTRES in stony, dumbstruck disbelief. Sometimes, once he moved out of this period and came to his movies of the last 30 years, JLG has been penetrating and insightful, even at times amusing and engaging in a readily accessible way. But for me he’s just not quite the great mind on any subject he thinks he is—and his seeming presumption that he is can be alienating. I for one don’t see the relationship of cinema and the Holocaust (not to say there is not one) to be so easy to set out the way he always seems to want to do—the way he does it at times almost seems to trivialize the subject.

    So, if he’s always cinematically sophisticated, and certainly intellectually sophisticated, he may not be as politically sophisticated as he thinks he is. All this by way of answering Alex’s question from the last thread more than I did there. I don’t think there is some ultimate political wisdom in films, regardless of how great a film may be or how much real world effect it might have.

    But I must confess I had other problems with L’HISTOIRE(S). I like all the cultural references, know some and if I don’t I do know art, literature and music well enough to always appreciate why they are there, as well as cinema, but these works in fleeting reference are not what they are in their original form and very far from it—to confine to cinema for just a moment, fleeting clips do little justice to works in which long takes are integral to their expressiveness, so L’HISTOIRE(S) is inevitably going to show off someone like say Eisenstein better than say someone like Mizoguchi (though I’d hasten to say it can never truly represent either filmmaker). It’s a vision of cinema that may go through someone’s head, and in a very coherent way for someone like Godard and for us too if we are following him here, but it’s also very subjective—as the film itself implicitly acknowledges. For me, more and more, when I think of a film, I want to think of it and study it as it as integral work, and that means that shot durations, for example, are important, and even essential to what I am responding to in the work. Even the most indelible images mean less to me torn from their context, which is not to say they cannot be powerful—and of course, there are many instances, as in L’HISTOIRE(S) where they evoke the work even if it can’t truly be said they represent it. They are now more deeply about something else, something personal to Godard, and the film finally stands or falls on how one responds to that.

    I know it’s not in the nature of L’HISTOIRE(S) to openly take this into account—even if in a more indirect way, as I’ve said, it does acknowledge it, so maybe I need to find another way into it and then can also agree it is “magisterial” even if not, as I guess some would have it, a kind of last word on the cinema of the last century. I know it would have helped the first time, and still would, if Howard Hughes and Irving Thalberg were not inexplicably central to the first part, or if he wouldn’t go so predictably off onto that Holocaust kick. But I do intend to try to take those things in stride next time.

    In any event, just my thoughts and I acknowledge others here know this work a lot better, have spent a great deal of time with it, have thought about it more, and have had a lot more to contribute to this thread . You’ve all contributed things that will be helpful to me in going back to L’HISTOIRE(S) DU CINEMA.

  • pat graham

    with far more deliberation and generosity than i’m able (or willing) to muster, blake’s pretty well nailed the jean-luc of my cinematic nightmares (and occasional muted epiphanies), so my effusive thanx to him for that …

    meanwhile, on LA CHINOISE once again: the “brilliance” i see in it has nothing to do with marxist identity but quite a lot with the implied “deconstruction” (before the wider cultural fact, yes?) of the visual/technical graphics of agitprop: what posterboard color can do, what typeface can do, what size and cropping can do, how they elicit responses in spite of oneself (apropos x359594’s brecht quote above) … an instructional masterpiece in that regard that, i think, can hardly be bettered * otherwise: pretty noxious going if you’re not sympathetic, which i half am, half ain’t (and which probably makes it worse … or at least more infuriating)–albeit it’s one of the few godards i’d willingly sit through a multiple number of times

  • Alex

    VIVRE SA VIE seems to me the Godard film that most effectively combines the full range of cinematic modes that Bordwell identifies –all of which Godard employs. These are, in Bordwells terms, the fictional-narrative, the rhetorical (or essayistic), the categorical (or roughly documentary), the associational (or roughly poetic) and the formal. Other Gradard films probably have similar range, but I personally like the essentailly fictional-narrative core of the film. For me, the associational-poetic tends to get esoteric when divorced from a narrative core. The rhetorical and documentary tend to draw me away from the cinematic and aesthetic toward what seem to me the greater problem solving merits of print media. Purely formal film strikes me as a poor cousin to music -J. S. Bach over Norman McLaren, brilliant and entertaining though he is, any day.

    (Not that there’s that much formalism to VIVRE SA VIE: all i can think of is that first sequnce (Chapter 1) filmed from behind the heads of the two principals and with the camera panning across from one head to the other and then back again –slowly, again and again-) to its own rythm.)

  • nicolas saada

    HISTOIRES DU CINEMA and NOUVELLE VAGUE are to me the last interesting works of Godard, and it is of course a purely personal appreciation. I have had a hard time with his films since FOREVER MOZART, no matter how beautiful they are. HISTOIRES DU CINEMA struck me as Godard’s response to the vastly underrated HISTOIRES DE l’ART by Elie Faure, a book that has inspired Deleuze and many others since it was first published. Faure’s look at the history of art is devoid of any chronological indications such as dates or biographical details. The book reads just like a vast poem to art, and its form tries to embrace the very style of teh artists it depicts. It is by far one of the major achievements of french literature and I come back to it every now and then. To my disappointment the book has been vastly ignored in France in the past twenty five years. I imagine that it is the same overseas where it is an impossible find. Its language, the powerful allegories that are used by Elie Faure to describe the works of Chardin, Goya or Rebrandt paved the way to Godard’s mental collages in HISTOIRES. You can hear Elie Faure’s read by Belmondo in the first half hour of PIERROT LE FOU.

  • nicolas saada

    Junko, Gregg, I wish films could change the world. I believe they affect their viewers or sometimes adress crucial issues. To me, changing the world would mean elevating the minds and spirits of an audience, beyond mere escapism.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘changing the world would mean elevating the minds and spirits of an audience, beyond mere escapism.’

    Nicolas, I think that happen momentarily. Mind and spirit of audience is raised long enough to do something good, not just fashion. New trial for man wrongly imprisoned, support of anti-prostitution bill is example Gregg and I made of raising mind and spirit. Maybe not happening so often, but could happen depending on movie, and other cause and condition.

  • Barry Putterman

    Nicolas, good to hear from you. I’m very much in agreement with your concise post of 12:12 on this 12/12 of 2011. However, I want to throw in an objection to a term which I thought we had pretty much outgrown but has nonetheless cropped up a few times in this discussion, namely “escapism.”

    Is it “escapism” to look at abstract art or listen to jazz or watch a comedian perform? To paraphrase a fairly recent Dave Kehr review; what exactly is it we are escaping from or escaping to when engaging art which is not directly social or political?

  • Jonah

    I have to say that although Godard is indisputably a political filmmaker, notably in his recent work, I don’t know that I’d ever credit him with being particularly perceptive or lucid on the subject. The overt agitprop of his Groupe Dziga Vertov period is insufferable, and even the weirder, gentler critiques of bourgeois institutions that followed it (Numéro deux, the various television series) make many observations and “arguments” that I find highly dubious. And the past decade of Godard’s finger-wagging over Spielberg and the Shoah seems as sententious and misdirected as Jonathan Rosenbaum’s similarly fuzzy insistence that No Country for Old Men and Drive help consolidate American global political hegemony.

    Of course, there is a political value in the old épater le bourgeois routine and Godard is always up for that. But mostly I think politics, like art, sex, popular culture, and anything else, is for Godard something to be aestheticized. It provides structuring oppositions, catchphrases, iconography. There’s a review of Passion by Matthew Wilder (on the Internet Movie Database, of all places) that I think is fairly accurate:

    It also must be acknowledged that for Godard, even ideation is essentially sensuous, aestheticisable; ideas, like a piece of irruptive slapstick staging, a stale aphorism, a blast of the Mozart Requiem, are objects of delectation and desire, and finally repositories of aesthetic emotion–handwrapped presents. To say that the ideology of Godard’s Maoist period was finally another aesthetic object for him is not to condescend to him as a radical-chicster. Very simply, Godard is an artist for whom the gland that produces aesthetic feeling works ten times more overtime than anyone else.

  • Peter Henne

    The reservations I offered in this thread were similar to Blake’s: Godard’s reach exceeding his grasp on historical matters. I think there is no getting around Godard has staked much on grasping and conveying a big picture of history, though at his usual best he balances that off by calling attention to fallibility and limitations. Where I might disagree with some here is on what constitutes the “political period.” Years ago, a Los Angeles cinephile named Steve Smith called the 1966-68 years Godard’s “pre-political political films,” and I like how he put that: they address the audience politically, but they are so involved in self-critique that they are not truly hectoring the audience as I feel BRITISH SOUNDS, for example, does. WIND FROM THE EAST, on the other hand, is one of the Dziga Vertov Group/Godard-Gorin films that I like very much–its point of view is more humble–but artistically, I could not put it on a level with any of Godard’s first 17 features. I like MADE IN USA through SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL enormously, though, after trying for years to see perceptions as astute in SYMPATHY as in his preceding work, I’ve come to feel there is a bit of falling off in both insight and coherence in that last film; it’s still formally magnificent and politically bold. Part of what makes Godard’s politics compelling is that he comes to the subject as innocently as could be maintained, all the better to postulate ideals; at least, that seems to be the intent. Godard is going through a dragged out process of letting go of narrative in these years, and since that occurs progressively over six films, instead of in some sharply marked shifts, that’s one reason why they are so fascinating. That’s what I would call the “pre-political political period,” before he made the next set of films in collaborations with Gorin and others, but I wouldn’t mind shortening the term to the “political period” with the understanding that political doesn’t have to mean principally lecturing, and at its best it doesn’t.

  • Ted Kroll

    Thank you Nicolas for providing one of the puzzle pieces presented by HISTOIRES DU CINEMA by mentioning Elie Faure, a name I am with which familiar because of only because of Pierrot le Fou. A quick Google revealed that there are many used copies of HISTOIRES DE l’ART available. A found quotation: ‘The Spirit of Forms is the final volume of the famous History of Art, a crowning achievement for Elie Faure. But whereas most of the History follows the centuries in chronological order, jumping from civilization to civilization and bringing the continents together, this final volume touches upon the heart of artistic creation. The author compares the metallic structure of the Eiffel Tower to the flying buttresses of Notre Dame, a tortoise shell to the Freyssinenet dirigible hangars at Orly airport in Paris. In these passages, art is seen as having arisen with the dawn of life itself.’ It appears that the work of Faure provided the seeds for Godard. Seems to me that Godard is (among other things) a magpie artist like Bob Dylan who grabbed on to certain ideas very early in his development and has worked them over and over again. I understand the frustration that Godard has produced for many over the years (I doubt if I would enjoy his company), but his work has opened so many doors for me- cinematic and otherwise- that I owe him a great debt of gratitude. And now I look forward to reading Faure’s large works. So, thanks again Nicolas.

  • Jonah, I never claimed, much less insisted, that No Country For Old Men did anything to “help consolidate American global political hegemony”; anyone who claimed any such thing would clearly be daft. if memory serves, I was mainly interested in what a lot of Americans liked about both it and Silence of the Lambs and the fascination of both films with remorseless killing. And in defense of Godard’s complaint about Spielberg’s version of Schindler’s List (as opposed to the book it was adapted from), this largely had to do, if I’m not mistaken, with Spielberg short-changing and ignoring the considerable role played by Schindler’s wife and widow in saving Jewish lives, an objection that seems just and legitimate to me. Maybe this wasn’t Godard’s only objection, but this is the one that stood out for me.

  • nicolas saada

    pleasure ! As I told you, I know very few people in France who have actually read Elie Faure. It’s a shame, as I think that his writings anticipate Deleuze, who himself often quoted Faure. I also know that he was Chaplin’s favorite writer (with Burton and his anatomy of melancholy). Chaplin was so proud of being a subject of study for Faure (the wonderful essay on “charlot”) that he insisted on writing the foreword to the english translation of HiSTORY OF ART. There is also a very impressive body of work by Faure on civilization, architecture and cinema. In France, he is completely forgotten. His vision, which embodies a cohesive approach of form as a revelation of
    hidden spiritial forces is seen as “passe” by the brilliant minds who consider zeitgeist as the trendiest thing around. Also, Faure thought of çriticism as an art in itself. He had an obsession in finding the closest verbal equivalent to the artists he described. His paragraphs on Chardin reflect the economy and precision of the painter’s best work whereas the pages on Tintoretto are like a whirlwind of words and emotions. I remember talking about Faure many years ago with Manny Farber, who acknowledged his important input to creative criticism. But Faure was writing a sort of 19th century poetic prose, quite close to Victor Hugo.

  • nicolas saada

    and by teh way, you can find some of his works in english on internet archive!

  • Michael Kastner

    Ted, I have always liked the Dylan/Godard comparison. Years ago in Film Comment Kent Jones(I think) mentioned it & it never left me. Both men dominated their art in the 60’s & were critics darlings(rightfully so).
    Both left their critical & popular following behind to enter personal wilderness years. Both would return to a more commercial work but to this day refuse to live on their past work or give what is expected, as say Paul Mccartney or Claude Chabrol did.
    In the end(for me) what Histoire is to Godard, Theme Time Radio is to Dylan. A master after decades of work making their own art out of art from the past.

  • Jonah

    Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote:

    Jonah, I never claimed, much less insisted, that No Country For Old Men did anything to “help consolidate American global political hegemony”; anyone who claimed any such thing would clearly be daft.

    I apologize if I caricatured your remarks on that film. However you have been developing a critique of violence in American movies for some time, nearly always in negative terms (that is, as a basis for negative reviews) — and that critique is often, if not always, coupled with allusions to America as a perpetrator of violence throughout the world. Sometimes the connection you draw seems to be causal: audiences’ enjoyment of screen violence implicates them in real political violence of one form or another. Other times it’s more isomorphic/analogical, as in this quote about Drive:

    I find the most repellent violence in movies to be the kind that pretends (or even half-pretends) to be moralistic and “sensitive”–maybe in part because it reminds me too much of our foreign occupations.

    The implications of any of this are rarely spelled out, leaving the precise connections between screen violence and American foreign policy vague and “suggestive.” However the allusions always seems to be the prelude to two verdicts: the movies in question are guilty (of something), as are those who enjoy them.

    The connections between screen violence and American political violence are even more tenuous when you are discussing a film like Drive, which was neither written nor directed by Americans. Indeed, I’d argue that compared to relatively tame Hollywood products, many films from Hong Kong, India, and Nigeria are much more provocative in their populist mix of Sadean violence and sentimentality — can these too be connected to America’s foreign occupations?

    What’s more, your assertions of what people like about certain films are often pure conjecture, your fantasies of who mainstream audiences or critics might be “identifying” with, or what they might be thinking or feeling while watching the films. I’m alluding particularly to your review of No Country for Old Men.

    Re. Godard’s critique of Spielberg, I had in mind his idea that Spielberg was trying to “own” the Holocaust by “buying” the stories of survivors. If I recall Godard’s references to Spielberg in Éloge de l’amour are especially cruel. And in contemporaneous films and interviews Godard connects this to his idea (unfortunately one with some currency in European intellectual circles) that America lacks a history and thus has to buy up those of other nations.

    Anyway, my general point was this: I see similarities between the two argumentative styles. As I noted, both seem sententious in that they take a moral high ground while truly engaging only with straw men or caricatures of opposing positions. They also rely on a kind of associative logic that doesn’t clearly spell out the nature of the connections between various things — something akin to a “think piece” that serves up a few barbs while refusing to provide enough of a clear argument to refute. Happily both your criticism and Godard’s films usually have, as I noted, many compensating virtues.

  • Brad Stevens

    “I have always liked the Dylan/Godard comparison”

    The funny thing is that Dylan’s sublime film RENALDO & CLARA shows him to be a lot closer to Rivette than to Godard.

  • I’ve always preferred the Beatles/New Wave analogy, with Godard as John Lennon, Truffaut as Paul McCartney, Rivette as George Harrison and Chabrol as Ringo Starr.

  • Nicolas, did you know that Faure also wrote on the cinema? I came across his beautiful and quite original text on Chaplin while I was rummaging around the web; for those who read French, I’ve uploaded it here.

  • Thanks for your considered and thoughtful reply, Jonah. Regarding my comment about Drive, I guess I should have said that cynicism annoys me regardless of what nationality might be assigned to it (which is why I don’t like Lars von Trier either), especially when it pretends to be moralistic, and military occupations that are misdescribed as wars are only one brutal example of this, and shouldn’t be made to stand for all the others. (If you or others think or feel that Drive is genuinely moral or moralistic as opposed to hypocritically moralistic, I’d be interested in hearing the arguments that supported this.)… Regarding No Country for No Men, for better or worse I was trying to come up with an explanation for its extreme, even hysterical popularity, with confounded me at the time (and still does). My association of the climate of this response with the climate of a previous military venture in Iraq was specifically linked to what I thought was the hysterical popularity of another remorseless killer, Hannibal Lecter. I’m certain open to other explanations for this extreme popularity, and if you think my own grappling with this question is itself hysterical, you’re entitled to your opinion.

  • nicolas saada

    Yes Dave, I knew ! He also wrote a wonderful essay on dance and cinema. Have fun, ask your fellow french critics if they read Faure, and you’ll have a surprise. They will pull out Deleuze. But Deleuze is to Faure what Peckinpah is to John Ford…

  • Alex

    ” Godard as John Lennon, Truffaut as Paul McCartney, Rivette as George Harrison and Chabrol as Ringo Starr.”

    Pretty good…until it gets to Chabrol as Ringo!

  • I would propose Luc Moullet, not Claude Chabrol, as Ringo Starr.

  • Alex

    … or maybe Claude LeLouch (though he might be a better match for Paul without John).

  • Brad Stevens

    I guess Anne-Marie Miéville must be Yoko Ono, and Andre Bazin is Brian Epstein.

  • Alex

    Let’s not forget Agnès Varda –even if she’s just an Apple link like Marianne Faithfull.

  • Sorry to keep this going but, intercepting this analogy from the wrong end, how about Scorsese as the American Truffaut? Both came from rough backgrounds, were/are arguably the defining cinematic stylists of their respective nationalities, both were/are activist cinephiles, and both eventually gave into their own public reputations, making a series of follow-ups to their earlier successes all starring the same actor and eventually taking bit parts in family films.

  • MattL

    How about Chabrol as George Martin? Known for his precision and for being active for so long.

  • D. K. Holm

    Scorsese strikes me as Godardian, especially in Taxi Driver, but also as an, if you will, cleaned up version of Godard, that is blending Godard’s rambunctiousness and spontaneity with Scorsese’s interest in “classical” movie beauty and form as evinced in ’70s American cinema.

  • The most significant aspects of the analogy is the way both Truffaut and Scorsese are sometimes typified as the most “French” and “American” filmmakers by international audiences (Godard is more “french” in the sense of being artier but it’s harder to credit his idiosyncratic work to a common french experience or worldview, compared to stuff like Les Mistons/Jules and Jim/Stolen Kisses etc.), the way they’ve gone from being edgy figures to cuddly ones, and to a lesser but noteworthy degree they’re the most public torchbearers of cinephilia among the filmmakers of their generation – Truffaut in his work at Cahiers du Cinema and his interview with Hitchcock, and Scorsese in his 1995 documentary, his two film preservation foundations, and stuff like Key to Reserva. Also there’s the fact that, for all their earlier innovations, eventually they could both be counted on for certain kinds of movies – even their digressions (Mississippi Mermaid/Shutter Island) feel predictable because their cinematic proclivities are so well-known that it’s not difficult to guess who or what they’re ‘doing’ with the movie, if they don’t spell it out themselves.

    I have to admit that, if it isn’t already obvious, I’m a lot less familiar with Truffaut than Scorsese, so please fill me wherever I’m off.

  • Patrick Tolle

    This is a very good review, although I probably would have enjoyed it more if you’d given me an A for my final grade.