Genre: Crime/Drama/Foreign (French)
Premise: (from IMDB) A young car thief kills a policeman and tries to persuade a girl to hide in Italy with him.
About: “Breathless” was one of the most famous films of the French New Wave. The French New Wave was a movement in the 1960s where filmmakers began rejecting the traditional straight-forward methods of writing and directing a story. Essentially, before this, most movies were told in a very linear obvious predictable way. Directors were encouraged to be unpredictable in their methods of cutting and storytelling. Francis Truffant (the writer of this film) and Jean-Luc Godard (the director) were both film critics for the French magazine, Cahiers, which is where they first formulated their ideas for the French New Wave.
Writer: Francis Truffant
Details: 90 minutes

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I’ve never really been a fan of the French New Wave. I think that’s because it’s one of those things in film school that they tell you you HAVE to appreciate. And, of course, being young and rebellious, that makes you want to NOT appreciate it. Ironic since The French New Wave was created in part by young filmmakers rejecting a film industry they were told they HAD to appreciate.

Also, a lot of the techniques the French New Wave films had introduced (such as jump cuts) had become so widespread by the time I saw it that seeing them used in an old black and white French film didn’t have much of an effect on me.

Also, I don’t care what kind of techniques you’re using in your film, whether they’re revolutionary, weird, different, what have you. All that matters to me is: WAS IT A GOOD STORY? Did I enjoy the characters and the journey they went on? That’s what bothers me whenever people try to do something different, is they’re more focused on doing the thing that’s different than they are telling a compelling story.

I have to admit, after watching Breathless, I needed Wikipedia’s help to flesh out my understanding of the plot, but basically the story is about a Frenchman, Michel, who for whatever reason is obsessed with Humphrey Bogart. He dresses like him, tries to act like him, and tries to bed as many ladies as possible, presumably like him.

After stealing a car in Marseilles, Michel ends up shooting and killing a policeman. He heads to Paris, where he hits on as many women as possible. There is one woman who he actually likes though, an aspiring journalist from America named Patricia. They slept together a few months ago but she’s not sure she wants to sleep with him again because she’s afraid to fall in love.

But Michel doesn’t give up easily. He tells Patricia he wants to run away with her to Italy. She goes back and forth on the idea, culminating in a 30 minute bedroom scene where the two discuss life, love, sex, and running off together. Eventually, the police catch up to Michel, who must dart around the streets of Paris to avoid them. That is until Patricia gives up his location, all because she’d rather not fall in love. She hates that feeling. And poor Michel’s going to take the fall for it.

Fin.

Oh man, I hated this movie so badly in film school. But it wasn’t as bad as I remembered it this time. I mean, if you know what you’re in for (zero plot, lots of experimentation, endless scenes) you provide yourself with a sort of shield of bearability. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed Breathless, but it had its moments, and could be strangely charming at times.

Now I realize that the French New Wave movement was more about deconstructing the way movies were directed, but by association this affected the screenwriting side as well. If you’re going to be making jarring jump cuts all over the place, you are affecting the story whether you intend to or not. However, from what I understand, Godard and Truffant took that a step further here. They almost relished the lack of a plot in their script.  Boy, would they not be fans of Scriptshadow.

And again, this is because, before the French New Wave, France only celebrated these very straight-forward linearly-constructed period pieces. These guys wanted to turn all of that on its head. No more period. No more linear. No more obviousness. The foundation of the story would work to unseat the audience’s expectations.

I normally like that. But only if the story you’re telling is an engaging one. There is no story here. There’s a freaking THIRTY MINUTE SCENE with a guy and a girl in an apartment talking about nothing! It’s pretty ridiculous how long this scene goes on for. Ironically, it’s the biggest thing the movie brings to screenwriting. The dialogue here is completely unstructured and non-mechanical, a problem in many movies pre-1960. It encourages a more natural approach to characters conversing, which gives the scenes a new kind of energy previously unseen in film. And it’s something you still see in film today.

Of course, it’s important to note that it’s REALLY EASY to make dialogue realistic and natural when you have a 30 minute scene and your movie has no plot. The characters don’t have to push any story along, discuss any backstory, or inform the audience of anything important (exposition). On top of there being no time limit, they can literally talk about anything they want, so of course it’s going to feel naturalistic. Try to do that in a 3 minute scene in a movie with an actual story and you’re going to run into trouble. Still, the spirit this approach invokes is a great one for screenwriting.

The other thing Breathless brings to the screenwriting world is its encouragement for storytellers to take more chances in the how they structure their narratives. Not everything has to be “A happens then B happens then C happens then D happens.” It’s okay to start with D first, then move to A, then C, etc. Not that Breathless is told out of order, but its randomness promotes that approach.

Again, however, introducing this option to screenwriters has been both a blessing and a curse. Many think that randomly jumping around in a story automatically makes their movie “cool.” They don’t know enough about movies or haven’t studied enough about screenwriting to understand that there must be a REASON one chooses this route. If you’re doing it just to do it, your script/movie will feel empty. If there’s a purpose to jumping around in time (like the awesome script, Nautica), it’s going to come out much better.

Now a couple of French folks I spoke to have explicitly told me that the French New Wave ruined French film forever. I haven’t watched enough French films to say whether this is an accurate statement or not, but the ones I have watched have definitely pushed me in that direction. The New Wave basically stated that the director is an author, and therefore must leave his IMPRINT on the films he tells. He must enforce his style on the film so that you know it’s his.

The problem with this is that each film then is LITERALLY more about style than substance. The “substance” we’re referring to here is, of course, the screenplay. It’s the story that’s either going to captivate the audience or not. If the French film system continues to operate like that, then you’re never going to get any well-written films. You’re just going to get a bunch of directors jacking off, trying to be the most stylistic douche on the block.

I actually have some well-respected film folks in my corner on this. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of Amelie, when asked about if the French New Wave influenced his film, replied, “Fuck the French New Wave” (to which the press junket he was in cheered). And Martin Scorsese, when asked about Breathless, cryptically responded, “I like it” (unconvincingly), then followed that up with an ass-covering, “I don’t understand it. But I like it.”

And actually, Martin Scorsese is a perfect example of a director with a very recognizable style who STILL places emphasis on the script. And that seems to be where the French are still stuck in the mud. They love leaving their marks as directors on a film, but haven’t been able to admit the importance of the screenplay in the equation, leaving much of their films in the “rambling unfocused mess” category. Whether that’s because of the French New Wave is debatable, but that’s certainly what it looks like from here.

[ ] what the hell did I just watch?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth seeing
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Breathless reminded me to be more playful with your dialogue. Unlike a story, dialogue doesn’t always have to make sense. When people speak, the combination of mood, distractedness, sense of humor, sarcasm, weirdness, etc., should result in some fun/playful/strange exchanges, such as this one from Breathless: “I saw a man die.” “How’d he die?” “It was an accident.” “Take me out to dinner?”

  • J. Lawrence Head

    Ah French New Wave, the elitists crutch. “What? You don’t appreciate New Wave? Then you are not a lover of film. You are uncultured. Be gone.”

    • J. Lawrence Head

      BTW, not knocking the films movement itself, just the attitude around it.

    • Alex Palmer

      French New Wave has aged badly. Personally, I can appreciate it as an important piece of film history, but that’s it.

      Rebels age quickly. But none quicker than the successful rebel; the one who influences generations to come. What was once the avante guard becomes the mainstream yada yada yah.

  • kevin thomas

    Not that I’m a fan of The New Wave but this is my favorite French film and I couldn’t care less about it being fully fleshed out or whether or not the dialogue had substance.

    To me, this film has character. It’s like I’m watching a live-action disjointed cartoon. I love the fact that nothing is spoon fed to me and its narrative gives me the freedom to piece together what’s absent.

  • http://www.jorgeosvaldo.com/ Jorge Osvaldo

    Unrelated to Breathless, but related to the topic of narrative structure, I recently rewatched Memento for the nth time, and while watching it, I was trying to figure out if the story would have been better served by being told chronologically. Obviously, the answer is no; Memento would not be Memento without its unusual structure. But it could have been a different kind of great movie.

    When playing Memento chronologically in my head, the story attains an elegant, clean narrative that is just as appealing as the puzzle that the Nolan brothers created. There is an economy to their scenes, with a concise story that takes place during 2 or 3 days in seedy LA, which a shocking murder taking place at the end and the beginning.

    So the question I was left with was? If Nolan had written this under the guidance of a studio, would he had been forced to rewrite the story as a linear noir? And would that have been such a bad thing?

  • SpectacularOptical

    Yeah, the French New Wave can be overrated, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t produce a lot of worthy films, Breathless included. Carson, I’m curious, are you not a fan of Truffaut? Because outside of being ’60s French filmmakers and buddies and members of the same self-proclaimed film movement, he and Godard are like night and day, and there’s A LOT of story in his movies. Not trying to coax you back to the arthouse or anything, I’m just saying that writing off the whole movement because of Godard is like dismissing James Cameron because of Michael Bay.

    Also, Jeunet can talk shit all he wants, but he basically cribbed the voiceover in Amelie directly from Jules and Jim. And Scorsese’s been pretty vocal about how much other FNW films influenced him, and Who’s That Knocking At My Door definitely takes a lot of cues from that movement, too. So, I mean, we don’t have to put it on a pedestal or anything, but the FNW did have a massive influence worldwide, and some good films came out of it, too. Recognize.

    • J. Lawrence Head

      This actually raises the interesting question and I’m not slamming anybody or anything at all. But, in theory, must we like the source of influence because we like the influenced? Because A led to B and we like B does that mean we must like A? It raises an interesting point.

      • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

        I think it means it should be respected, but not necessarily enjoyed or loved. “Liked” in the respect sense. I’m never going to tell anybody that they should like anything and are stupid if they don’t… it’s all subjective. But I do think some things should be respected, especially if you like the influenced.

        I don’t particularly “like” Citizen Kane. I don’t enjoy watching it. It’s a bore to me. But I absolutely respect it. That goes for a hell of a lot of films out there that tons of other people love. And then I love a lot of films other people don’t.

        I wouldn’t have it any other way. If everybody agreed on everything, this shit would be boring.

  • Citizen M

    What I learned: Um Frebbogar is Humphrey Bogart in French.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      Clitiswoude – Clint Eastwood.
      Etc. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to understand and people usually make fun of my “pretentious accent” (I pronounce English words in English).

      In France, everything is pronounced in French. And they will do as they please. The first time I mentioned a “walkie-talkie”, I got laughed at. “In French, it’s talkie-walkie, you idiot !” … Of course…

  • ArabyChic

    It’s “Cahiers du Cinema” not “cashiers.”

  • ArabyChic

    I have to agree with other commenters who say you can’t judge a whole film movement – let alone a whole country’s output – by one film (or two or three French New Wave Films you’ve seen). If your only experience is Last Year at Marienbad or Breathless, then, yeah – you probably won’t be a big fan. You want a French New Wave film with a story? See one. There are ones out there. Just do a little research.

    As to France as a whole – this country has a whole history of genre filmmaking that I feel you are sweeping under the rug. Horror movies from Eyes Without A Face to the more gut wrenching affairs like Inside.

    I agree that their dramas, and indeed some of their genre movies, are slower moving. But if you enjoy the (relatively) slower pace of Sergio Leone’s later films, then you can enjoy epic crime sagas by Melville too; it’s the difference between a beer and a multi-layered wine. One’s not necessarily better than the other, and you do yourself a disservice in not properly experiencing both.

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      Not to mention they have modern day thrillers that move at a breakneck pace, and perfectly fit Carson’s “GSU” model. Two great examples in very recent years are the excellent “Tell No One” and “Point Blank.” Those are just extremely well executed action-thrillers.

      And then they have much more deliberately paced films. And some of the best horror movies out there, especially considering the state of modern horror cinema in America (“Inside” as you noted is one of the finest horror films in recent years imo).

      Pigeonholing them into one category or another (like all French films are “slow”) just demonstrates an ignorance of their cinema. Does America not produce similarly paced films? Likewise, France has their fair share of high adrenaline action films. They also have their share of crap like we do.

      A lot of Carson’s talk about French cinema feels like someone saying they don’t like desserts because they tried McDonald’s apple pie once and it wasn’t very good.

      • tipofthenose

        I didn’t like breathless but I still don’t agree with carson. The film came out in 1960, which American film from 1960 was so modern that you would want to watch it today three times in a row??? It was another time and it was just a very different way of making movies. Yesterday I watched “Rosmary’s Baby” (1968) and yes I love it and it gets suspenseful at the end but hey the first 60 minutes are amlost only the setup. Films back then had a different pace, also the American movies.
        But besides that I also feel that you just can’t put Hollywood blockbuster formulas over everthing. I love european art house (if perfectly executed) and it is super strong and exciting because it doesn’t care for GSU or all the other rules (yes it uses the same but sometimes very loosely). It can be very refreshing to watch these movies and you should do so as a screenwriter cause they sometimes do things you have never seen before on screen.

        But like Matty and some other people pointed out a lot of the super hot thrillers and TV SHOWS today are coming from France, Britain and Scandinavia. And Hollywood in the last years has been dying for fresh directors and actors and stories from these countries. WHY? I think beacuse they bring a very different kind of vibe and hero. And hey that is good, beacuse why not mix all the good things together.

      • ArabyChic

        I completely agree, Matty. Ironically, Carson has reviewed the script for the American remake of Tell No One.

        Anthony Zimmer, Le Prophet, Mesrine 1 & 2, Rapt and Free Men are all enjoyable thrillers/crime sagas if not brilliant (with the exception of Le Prophet which is one of the best crime films I’ve seen in years).

  • klmn

    “Francis Truffant (the writer of this film) and Jean-Luc Godard (the director) were both film critics for the French magazine, Cashiers…”

    Wasn’t the name of the magazine Cahiers du Cinema?

  • martin_basrawy

    You should all watch the French spy thriller Secret Defense, starring Gerard Lanvin. Fantastic, gritty spy film! Also OSS 117 movies are hilarious. :)

    • ArabyChic

      I love the OSS 117 movies. Their sense of humor is pitch perfect.

  • ThomasBrownen

    This was a great article. Worthy of a Thursday post. I’m not too familiar with the French New Wave, but this article was a great intro to it, and to Carson’s view on the movement. Thanks!

  • blue439

    Carson, you’re missing the point. The things you are complaining about in Breathless are exactly the things the French New Wave was against — i.e. stodgy, Hollywood-wannabe “cinema of quality films” by established filmmakers based on literary properties. Most of French New Wave were young, radical Cahier du Cinema critics who were pretty dismissive of everything established but paradoxically loved Hollywood cinema, particularly auteurs like Howard Hawks. Yeah, they were too extreme in their views particularly in dismissing people like Clouzot, but their films energized a dying film industry and pretty much was the best cinema of the 1960s. Not only that, American directors coming up at the time were very influenced by European filmmakers — people like John Cassavetes, Arthur Penn (Bonnie & Clyde) and basically everyone mentioned in Peter Biskind’s book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. This led to the great American cinema of the 1970s, including a very European film influenced Mean Streets by young Martin Scorsese.

    • Boxman

      I think this is an important point. Many of the artists in the New Wave were striking out against the artificiality of Hollywood movies. The movies, steeped in realism and generally airy in plot, are a response to that.

  • JWF

    Jacques Audiard has made some of the best films of the last 10-15 years in my opinion.

  • carsonreeves1

    at least tell me why lucian.

    • Abdul Fataki

      To be honest Carson, you chose crappy boring French movies, watch them, then say all French movies are boring. That’s like watching that movie about pig farms then saying all American movies are weird. You want some GSU films? Try: Sleepless Night: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1683921/

      Or: Point Blank: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1545759/?ref_=tt_rec_tti

      Action/Thriller – Likeable/interesting lead – STRONG GOAL – High stakes and URGENCY. Boom.

      • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

        Ha, didn’t even see this post until I just made mine.

        “Point Blank” is an excellent action-thriller. With a GREAT GSU.

        “Tell No One” is also wonderful. Both are very recent (past few years) releases.

        French cinema is as diverse, if not more, than American cinema. Picking a few films and then making a statement on the entire culture is very shortsighted. It’s like someone watching a couple Terrence Malick films and saying all American films suck.

        • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

          And the problem isn’t Carson’s opinion of this specific film. I don’t enjoy Breathless much. I respect it as a part of a hugely influential movement that has inspired many of my favorite working filmmakers.

          The problem is statements like “…the French are still stuck in the mud” and “If the French film system continues to operate like that, then you’re never going to get any well-written films.”

          I don’t see how you can watch a few films – especially extremely unique, aged, and bizarre films like those of the French New Wave – and make broad statements like that. Carson, I urge you to check out some of those action-thrillers. “Point Blank” is a great place to start.

  • rl1800

    LOL, kinda hard to take a review seriously when it refers to the writer as “Francis Truffant.”

  • Alex Palmer

    Fair enough. But consider the fact that entertainment is always subjective to a certain extent. I like that Carson makes no bones about it: Wasn’t for me doesn’t always mean Wasn’t for you.

  • brenkilco

    What does Godard have to teach someone committed to the a b c’s of commercial film construction? Well, jack shit, really. He toyed with narrative conventions for a few years (and it would have been more interesting had you tackled the wilder and more difficult Pierrot le Fou or Alphaville) before dumping conventional narrative altogether. You would have gleaned more lessons from almost any other founder of the New Wave, all of whose styles were distinct. The most conventional, but far from the least interesting, is Chabrol. Check out his late sixties almost thrillers( Le boucher, Les Biches, La Femme Infidele) for a look at how genre elements can be twisted to suit different and very Gallic story ends.

  • K.B. Houston

    Apples and oranges people, apples and oranges.

    This is an American scriptwriting website essentially devoted (correct me if I’m wrong) to educating aspiring screenwriters about the nuances of the traditional three-act script and the most surefire ways to get noticed by film executives of some sort. If this is the case, then why in the hell are we trying to analyze anything in Breathless, from the dialogue to the directing to the acting to whatever else you can put under a microscope? Now, I’m no rocket scientist but I feel fairly confident in saying the last thing Godard ever intended when making this film was for it to be deconstructed by members of an online American scriptwriting forum 50 years into the future. As has already been mentioned numerous times by Carson and members of the SS community, French New Wave was largely a rebellion against traditional cinema. All the things we hold as sacred in the Hollywood scriptwriting world — structure, scene length, character arcs, goals, conflict, etc. — were intentionally thrown out the window. So again, knowing this, why in the hell are we trying to deconstruct it in any way?!?!

    That said, this article was very enjoyable for me. I think Carson is taking some undeserved heat from readers below. What I got from reading this was simply an opinion piece on Breathless, in light of Carson’s recent excursion to France. In no way did I take it as a critique of the script itself. If that’s what Carson was intending to do, then yes, that was a mistake.

    As for the film itself — I’ve only seen it once, but I enjoyed it. You can’t go into it with an analytical viewpoint, especially one from an American screenwriter’s standpoint. I really like the existential dialogue in a lot of New Wave stuff, so that floated my boat, so to speak. Again, it all goes back to apples and oranges. This is not a film made to be deconstructed for its script. It’s an artsy, stylized, period piece that reflects what Godard thought abut and wanted to say at the time. You just have to take it for what it is.

  • ximan

    No offense, but it seems like some folks come to this site just to troll. If you READ the article, Carson isn’t making a sweeping generalization about French cinema altogether, but about NEW WAVE specifically and its requisite disregard of story. And he’s RIGHT! New Wave is suck! (Except “Pierot Le Fou” of course, and maybe a handful others.)

    But even those classics have weaknesses that all come back to STORY. So the article is absolutely right in its assertions, whether you agree or not.

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      Troll? Carson isn’t talking about New Wave specifically at all. He’s talking about French cinema as it currently exists. He’s talking about the entirety of French cinema. Allow me to quote from this (and yesterday’s article):

      “…the French are still stuck in the mud.”

      “If the French film system continues to operate like that, then you’re never going to get any well-written films.”

      “Also, while in France, I learned a lot about the French movie industry and why they make such crappy movies. I’m going to save those discoveries for Thursday but let’s just say it’s a LOT easier now to understand why French movies are so terribaux.”

      “The Intouchables was that rare French film that got it right. Despite seemingly taking the same approach as most other French films (a fairly plot-less drama focusing on the lives of people with the occasional touch of comedy).”

      “….French writers and directors (who are often the same person, which is part of the problem) believe that if they just explore life’s randomness, that their movies will be entertaining because they’ll be “lifelike” and “real.””

      “The Intouchables proves that whatever kind of script you write, a summer blockbuster or a character-driven drama, at the heart of your story should be some sort of objective to tie all the loose strands together. A lot of these French films would be better served by following this simple advice!”

      That’s not even every quote where he almost entirely dismisses French cinema as a whole (and not just the New Wave, at all). In fact, The New Wave had nothing to do with yesterday’s article.

      • ximan

        Touché!

  • Avishai

    I recently started reading “Story” by Robert McKee. He sketches out a triangle, with each point representing a different type of storytelling style.

    The top point: The Archplot. Major external conflict. A single protagonist. Three act structure. Scriptshadow’s delight.

    The bottom left corner: The Miniplot. Everything the archplot is, but smaller. Focused on internal conflict. Passive protagonist. Open ending. Possibly multiple plotlines.

    The bottom right corner: The Antiplot. Anything goes. It acknowledges the rules and violates them.

    McKee says each of these storytelling styles have merit. Each can be done really well, and when they are, they have their devoted fans. He also says there are plenty of points in the middle of the triangle, gray areas between styles.

    But he points this out:
    1) The Miniplot and the Antiplot are reactionary to the Archplot. They take the principles of the Archplot and either shrink or subvert them.
    2) The further down the triangle you go, the more your audience shrinks.

    He speculates as to why. Perhaps because Archplot is metaphor for life as lived, which we tend to reflect upon linearly. Miniplot and Antiplot are both metaphor for life as thought about, which is perhaps less appealing.

    Whatever the reason, they aren’t the same things. The structure and rules we’re familiar with are of a form of story, specifically the most popular and pleasing one, but far from the only legitimate one. Many French New Wave movies embrace the Antiplot. They’re created by people who totally understand the rules they’re breaking, and have their reasons for breaking them. It’s for this reason we can’t really judge these films by the same rubrik we’d judge the movie’s we’re more comfortable with. We can have our own personal tastes, and I won’t deny Carson his opinion (frankly, this type of movie isn’t my taste either). We just need to give this movie its due. Does it accomplish what it means to accomplish?

    • Alex Palmer

      I used to be a real McKee convert; Story was my first real “AHA” moment in screenwriting. And there is a lot to learn from him, it’s just I’ve had more insight when comparing his teachings with opposing but equally valid approaches.

      Now, I find the whole Arch, Mini and Anti-plot problematic because it emphasises a pursuit of style, not substance. McKee makes it no secret he finds the latter two inferior. And given that his suggestion for writing a miniplot is to “shrink” and archplot, or to create an antiplot you need to subvert it, I’m inclined to agree.

      There are different ways to tell stories, and that’s where plot comes in. But building a film around the idea of rejection is one of the reasons New Wave dated so quickly.

      I recommend checking out John Yorke’s Into the Woods, which deconstructs principles taught by Syd Field, McKee, Snyder etc. and asks the questions that matter. I found it more eye-opening to explore the history of a 3 act structure that has become the measure of quality in this society.

  • Citizen M

    I’ve seen very few French movies. The ones that come out here are usually the more commercial ones, not the ones with long boring conversations about nothing, so I don’t have hangups about French cinema.

    One of the weirdest was La Grande Bouffe (1973), trans Blow-Out or The Big Feast.
    A group of men hire some prostitutes and go to a villa in the countryside. There, they engage in group sex and resolve to eat themselves to death.

    Talk about bizarre! But it’s good to see a few foreign films every year, I believe. It gives one a fresh perspective, and I’ve seen some really interesting ones.

  • kidbaron

    Any chance your reviewing Irreversible by Gasper Noel? How about one of favorite movies from last year — Holy Motors. Anyone who is a fan of movies should check that on out. I had a blast watching it. There’s Riffi which has a classic heist scene. What about Jean-Pierre Melville’s films? He’s considered the father of the French New Wave but made American gangster movies. Carson, are you working you way up to Blue Is the Warmest Color?

  • ElectricDreamer

    How about going back a little further than the French New Wave?
    Perhaps spend a little time with the work of — Jacques Tati.

    His approach to comedy was pretty singular and universally rewarding IMHO.
    Terry Jones of Monty Python cites “Mon Oncle” as his fave comedy of all time.
    Rowan Atkinson remade one of his films into “Mr. Bean’s Holiday”.
    Spielberg drew heavily on Tati for his absurd modernity tale with Tom Hanks, “The Terminal”.

    Consider checking him out, Carson.

    • klmn

      Or Carson could go back to Georges Melies. There are a bunch of his films on YouTube, maybe all of them.

  • Mr A

    “Ruined” French cinema?

    I hardly see how it “ruined” French cinema, seeing as (seemingly to me) a majority of the mainstream French stuff today is as direct as any other movie from Hollywood (Taxi, Banlieu 13, Days of Glory, etc)

  • Jim

    Not a big New Wave fan, but love me some Henri-Georges Clouzot. Diabolique and The Wages of Fear are among the best ever, let alone suspenseful French films.

  • steve

    The French New Wave is garbage. A bunch of pseudo-intellectual frauds pretending to be filmmakers. Absolutely nothing of merit in any of these poseurs or their lame-ass work. The only ones that appreciate these hacks are talentless film school grads.

  • Anon

    Um, it’s François Truffaut, not Francis Truffant. I mean, I don’t like the FNW all the much either, but still…