Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Deconstructing Intimacy

Within a relationship, what signifies intimacy? Perhaps passionate conversations are red. Troubling considerations are blue. What symbolizes and explains the failure of intimacy? Jean-Luc Godard deconstructs intimacy within a marriage while indirectly explaining the husbands involvement, and silently exposing the wife’s, in Contempt.

Very early in Contempt, he films a scene, between husband and wife Paul and Camille Laval, in erotic-red tones. This represents a passionate moment between Paul and Camille. However, this scene does not mark the beginning of their relationships failure. Later on we see that he has doubts about her truthfulness prior to where the story begins (as he questions her mother to confirm if a lunch date actually take place). This is a brilliant understatement, by Godard, of the stories middle being placed at the beginning of the film. They are in the bed. She lays nude, questioning husband Paul’s content with her body: part by part. This conversation continues as the color tones change into a standard-color scheme. Physical aspects of their relationship dominate the subject of their conversation, thus displaying shallowness. Immediately after this, the subject matter shifts in color and content.

The film continues this conversation in melancholic-blue tones. Here, Camille and Paul discuss their love for each other. Paul confesses that he lovers her “totally, tenderly, and tragically” (Godard). However, Camille responds by saying, “Me too Paul” (Godard). His response is full of emotion, while hers is short and lacking emotion. Therefore, the disproportionate display of emotion is melancholic. Paul’s way of displaying his affection toward Camille is peculiar.

Paul’s display of affection is his ability and willingness to trust Camille with Jeremy Prokosch, a man who obviously has sexual interest in her. He sends her off with ignorant-arrogant-American film producer: Jeremy, a producer who ironically wants “more than sex” in his film. Camille appears confused by this but later shows anger. So Jeremy speeds off with Camille in a red-hot convertible and Paul walks to find them, not knowing the address. The intimacy continues to unravel. It is practically nonexistent by the next scene.

The apartment scene is the major scene in which Godard completely deconstructs the intimacy between Paul and Camille. This scene is the longest in Contempt and the most intense. It embodies a lengthy series of shots in which Paul and Camille walk in and out frames. When they are in frames together, this is very seldom, one or the other walks out of the shot. They also talk through walls. Door sporadically close between them as well. Pan shots follow whoever walks in or out of the shot. During the climax of the scene, Paul smacks Camille. At one point, she is in a red towel on a red couch nude. Although a passionate color surrounds her, passion does not exist within her for him. By the end of the scene, they sit appropriately on blue chairs, in a sad place in which their relationship lies. They sit with pan shots and a lamp between them. The apartment represents their relationship. The way they move and react to each other within it represents the breakdown of their intimacy—its deconstruction. Paul’s involvement in the deconstruction appears as he explains the plausibility of his script for Odyssey.

Godard indirectly explains Paul’s reasoning and chosen actions toward his marriage in Paul’s dialogue about his new script for Odyssey. The deconstruction of there relationship continues as Paul creates parallels between his marriage, and the marriage of Ulysses and Penelope. Paul’s first develops this parallel when he states. “…maybe Ulysses was fed up with Penelope, so he went off to the Trojan war, and since he did not feel like going home he kept traveling as long as he could” (Godard). Odyssey does not implicate this. Paul creates this theme while working on a screenplay for Jeremy. In Odyssey, the suitors that cause havoc annoy Penelope. She also desires Ulysses to come home. At the end of Odyssey, Ulysses and Penelope unite happily. Paul also continues to justify his interpretation of Odyssey by explaining, “Penelope despises Ulysses for telling her to be hospitable to the suitors while he is away” (Godard). In Greek culture, as is relates to social norms defined by Greek mythology, the act of being hospitable relates to guest within the home in general. Being hospitable does not include adultery. In addition, a suitor’s goal is to convince a woman that she should be with him. Dismantling an existing marriage by committing adultery does not apply. This is Paul incorporating his personal experience into his writing. It is not and accurate portrayal of Odyssey when considering the culture from which it emerges. Camille’s silence, regarding select matters within her relationship with Paul, initiates her marriage’s demise.

Godard silently exposes Camille’s involvement with the destruction of her marriage—her refusal of contributing to intimacy. She claims that she loves Paul, but this is not true. The truth is that she despises him for his love toward her, that he is willing to place the relationship on the line in order for her to be happy. For instance, Camille claims she does not want to leave with Jeremy, especially alone in the car, but she does. She resents Paul for insisting that she go. However, the truth remains that if she did not really want to go she would not have. She is livid because she does not feel the same and he calls her on it. Every display of his affection only intensifies her anger. She despises the amount of trust Paul has in her because she does not trust herself. Paul’s actions force her to confront the lack of feelings and devotion she has for him. However, she does not thoroughly express this in dialogue. Instead, she is passive about this topic. She is borderline violent if Paul confront her with this topic. His choice is setting her up on a blind date causes the problems in their relationship to surface.

What man in his right mind releases his wife to a sex-hungry rich man? What initially appears as a rude gesture by Paul is not: it is his tragic love for Camille. He is willing to let her go even if he inevitably loses her. He is concerned for her happiness. She again despises him for having such immense love as well as being accurate in predicting her behavior flaws. Although he does not want to accept that, she does not love him. He is painfully correct. She is brutally wrong. Not because she loses her feelings for him, because of the way she lets the relationship linger. Camille knows she is not worthy of such amounts of love, therefore, she is in contempt by disrespecting her marriage. Paul indirectly expresses his relationship through his writing. Camille seldom speaks with substance. An apartment inanimately deconstructs intimacy within a marriage, and Jean-Luc Godard constructs it all.

Works Cited

Contempt. Dir. Jean-Luc Godard. Perfs. Michel Piccoli, Brigitte Bardot. Fritz Lang, Jack Palance. 1963. DVD. Studio Canal Image. The Criterion Collection. 2002.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bonnie and Clyde

snapshots of white trash blot those lips, beat
a footboard naked, naked female
plays peek-a-boo, you ain’t got we ain’t got
smitten eyes sneak off the lower corner
se promener. Ohhh, do we dare? That cold-

erect mold of steel feels strange but good in
my hand, the barrel vomits wheels swerve
a grassy knoll, we stole paper that waitress
and sharecroppers can’t serve or spray, faye dunna
beatty, fuck a foreclosure we are contained

by berets and bee-bops, the wind is not
dense enough to dam our flee. Moss grows from
our scalp, a humid night snores. What is it
dreaming? Brown-paper bags of cash, a sweaty
cinema, gold chimes strangle her neck, she

likes the way white trash blows the wind, rustles
her body, wrinkles her panties. Why can’t
she kiss the gun? At least the blue eyes aren’t
impotent. The neck of the woods has blanched-
Baptist caught in its throat, constipated

by a prude ass? Hunky-tunk poesy
the southern twang of badges, hillbilly
periodical absorbs blame. A jay stalin
floats tied to wrists, they don’t exterminate,
belly-up chassis from sharecroppin grit,

spit rains down her face. He does not blot air
lipstick put on by a hollow-steel phallus.
Eugene wilder than ever, a boy tumbles
down a hill of sand blue eyes are impotent
to momma, barrow of distant news,

a crouched-pink robe on linen, southern-Baptist
chicken draws ghetto gnats, they taxi. Headlights
squirt smoke. Bird’s eye view of blood on temples
headlights squirt smoke makes eyes bland, blood invades
a stark-white turban. When did trees learn to

shoot? Bled and feathered by hay, tie-dyed by
gunpowder, blond tendrils red, bareback favor
blooms scattered eyes behind glass, stains will not
wash away over-alls sling arms, moss wants to
sprout out of paper, the jay stalin picks

the moss, leaves the inverted voice behind
poesy, incessant ink predicts
infinite pause of breaths. Hands shake, the lense
is epileptic sighs after orgasm,
spasms are still, muddy take out carton

peaks through curtain, the pear juice stains our chins
startled by a flock, bushes shock our bodies
torso rolls the hay ,mane sweeps the soil
gratuitous bullets, blood and soot our
matrimonies honeymoon is…

2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle


Monday, November 17, 2008

Loves of a Blonde: Part 2

he throws a

as it falls she

she is naked
in the street
to compete

with other
in the window

they pivot
he turns to
see some more

Loves of a Blonde: Part 1

A ring slides off one finger
and falls on another, tangled
tresses ponder the color
of his eyes, a forest hushed

by snow sleeps while a diagonal-
striped tie gropes a tree. What
does it mean? The ring strikes a chord
against the floor, rolls between toes,

strolls between her legs. He spreads them
to find it, yet he finds a void.
He spreads her fingers to find
a path to lie, her wrist is slit,

that's sexy to him, doubts twist,
Him asking her to go is the
invitation she needs, his embrace
is laced with combat, distracts her

hips as shoes woo the floor, the heat
of a hand on her nape escapes,
a face plies a wall as a torso
cuffs to block breasts from the moon. White

noise from sheets cause her to trust fumes
of solitude. She rubs the hair
between her legs, it speaks, she plays
naked in a coat as she peaks

out the door to find another
version of herself, she stalks
voices behind it and finds
a ring she does not wear.

Masculin Feminin

Black and white he speaks as he writes she turns
the pages of the magazine but does not
read, he reads what he says to her what will
they be? Woman shoots gun, in a café

the sound of the street is louder than the
outside, he asks for sugar to see if
her breasts are sweet, he chews the sugar,
sips his coffee to leave, in a washroom

she washes her hand combs her brunette mane
while they discuss the etiquette of lies
Will his comments on her beauty get him
laid? If you add the poor girls to the rich

girls and divide by two you will not get
an average, gray does not exist. So what
is she or what will she be? Small talk inside
and muffled voices behind the door

two kisses disjoint locked libido.
Woman shoots gun. Lyrical intercourse
surrounds ears as a hand pulls a shoulder
to propose marriage. Will he and she become

them? They dance she leaves a photo booth
contained by strangers expensive breasts, three
frames of nothing, “I might dump her,” he says
a frosted window with naked bodies and giggles behind

while she sleeps his hand creeps below a sheet.
she is pregnant, he is dead. What will she be?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

L'Histoire d'Adèle H

Cosmetics and wardrobe deconstruct, in Françoise Truffaut’s L’Histoire D’Adele H, to accentuate the mental unraveling of Adele.

During the beginning of the film, we see a beautifully composed femme. She is full of hopes that she will be able to re-acquire her intimate connection with her lost love [character]. She has a trunk of beautiful silk dresses. Her mane is proper, soft as the silk of her garb, her lips are soft and subtle, and her skin is flawless. However, they gradually wear out while her hopes depreciate in her reality.

As the story progresses, her wardrobe becomes stale. Her mane is sporadically wild. Her flesh becomes flushed with sweat. She also rarely changes her dresses. Adele tends wear the red dress on the regular basis. Her grasp on reality diminishes as she dwells within her misery. This frame of mind assists her attempts of blocking her lost love from proceeding in his current life by lying and even attempting to have him hypnotized into marrying her. This takes place as she tries to convince her former lover that he should return to her. However, he continues to resist and provides her with glimpse into another woman’s boudoir. Her costume further deconstructs from here.

By the end of the film, her dress is dusty and ripped. Dogs in poverty-stricken streets follow the edges of this dress complementing it with more tears. Her skin bears the pale equivalent of a corpse. She is among the walking dead. At this point of the film, she lacks the mental capacity of even acknowledging her lost love on the street. She is in fact gone. She has completely retired from reality.

La Nuit Americaine

Le Nuit American, Directed by François Truffaut depicts the parallels between life and art.

Like life, the in the midst of film production, anything can go wrong. For instance, director Ferrand, played by Francois Truffaut himself, has to accept the restraints of movie-house schedules. He also has to consider his surroundings due to mise-en-scene. He has to handle his cast with delicate care due to their melodramatic lifestyles and temperament. He even has to work around death. However, he has to complete the film. These ongoing and unforgiving obstacles must take place in order for the film to be completed. Therefore, the art of directing a film mirrors life.

Regardless of what incidents may occur in day-to-day life, life goes on. Le Nuit American heavily portrays this.

For instance, Although Julie and Alphonse, two significant actors in Ferrand’s film, end up having brief mental breakdowns during the production of it. This is because Alphonse has a fit when his girlfriend leaves him for a stuntman. Of course, Julie ends up committing adultery in order to convince him to stay to complete the film. Regardless, the film is eventually completed.

This film is light-hearted yet well induced with the sporadic incidents between of life and art. Proving they are essentially intertwined while at the same time parallel.


Alphaville, directed by Jean-Luc Godard humors the elimination of femininity.

The major contributor to this effort is the script. For instance, in one particular scene, main character Lemmy Caution corrects Natacha Von Braun when she repeats the words “Le Conscious” by pronouncing the correct article “La”— the feminine article versus the masculine.

Part of the story also reveals that words are gradually removed from the dictionary like "autumn sun." This phrase is a concrete form of imagery. Imagery is a feminine form. Therefore, it is removed from the dictionary. Furthermore, the script reveals that artists and poets are all dead. This further dismantles the existence of femininity within the film.

In Alphaville emotions are banned. One cannot display any form of concern or tenderness toward another. It is true that both men and women possess the ability to express emotion. However, it is also common knowledge that men tend to react with a pretense based from logic. Here again femininity is being edited.

The most dramatic illustration femininity’s demise is the portrayal of the female character. They are brainwashed and tagged with serial numbers. As I mentioned before, they are not suppose to express emotions and are merely servants and sex objects. For instance, in two different scenes two different woman, Lemmy is escorted to a hotel room. Both women recite very similar scripts as if there is no tolerance for variation. They both constantly ask him. “are you tired?”

Basically, Godard succeeds at removing the feminine traits and aspects of femininity throughout Alphaville. How the characters see, feel, speak, and behave is all altered. Because of this, the film was able to mimic an android-like portrayal.

Le Mẽpris: Contempt

Without explicitly denoting the failure of Paul and Camille’s relationship, Jean-Luc Godard brilliantly implies the seed of its demise in Contempt.

Of course, it is not Godard’s style to feed his viewers a story’s true beginning. So, very early in Contempt during a scene filmed in erotic red tones, wife Camille lays nude, questioning husband Paul’s content with her body: part by part. As the film cuts to melancholic blue tones, Paul confesses that he lovers her “totally and tragically.” She claims that she loves him too, but this is not true.

The truth is that she despises him for this love. This is because she does not feel the same. His display of affection only intensifies her disgust.

In two different scenes, ignorant-arrogant-American film producer Jeremy Prokosch makes improper advances toward Camille. Both times, her husband insists that she go off with him, so she does.

Therefore, Camille resents him for this. What initially appeared as a rude gesture by Paul is not. It is this “tragic” love he has for Camille. He is willing to let her go even if he inevitably loses her. This occurs although the story seems to be framing a parallel between Odyssey and Paul in reference to why they leave their wives. Instead, the story reveals. He is concerned for her happiness. She again despises him for having such immense love as well as being innocently accurate in projecting her lacking. He is painfully correct, she is wrong.

This revelation is implied because this content is conveyed through the actions and emotions portrayed between Paul and Camille. However, it is not actually apparent within the extensive dialogue that takes place in the numerous disagreements between Paul and Camille. Basically, Camille knows she is not worthy of such amounts of love, therefore, she is in contempt by disrespecting her marriage.

Les Carabiniers

Director Jean-Luc Godard flirts with the classics in Les Carabiniers.

All of the main character’s names in this film relate to Roman history. Ulysses and Venus come from Roman myth. Michelangelo is a world-renowned sculptor and painter from Rome. Cleopatra is intricately connects to Roman history because of her affairs with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. It is the distortion of how they are portrayed that creates a sense of intrigue in this film.

Like Ulysses of Roman Mythology Godard’s Ulysses is involved with war. They both lead troops, however, the latter portrays a more brutal persona. This is because Godard seems to be trying to illustrate the true aspects of war: cold-graphic executions and senseless justifications of war. Michelangelo is the most distorted character.

The Michelangelo of Rome is one of the most world-renowned artists of the high renaissance period. His talents closely place him in virtuoso status. Goddard’s portrayal shows Michelangelo as a bona fide moron right down to the his mannerisms. This is ironic because Michelangelo of Rome is also referred to as mannerist. The closest form of art that Godard’s Michelangelo comes close to is attempting to feel-up a woman taking a bath on a film screen. Although it has not escaped me that during the period of the High Renaissance that artist would dig up human bodies in order to perfect their compositions. Could this mirror the vain reasoning of Godard’s character Michelangelo?

Like Cleopatra of Egypt, Godard’s was involved with two men of military backgrounds (in this film’s case they are Ulysses and Michelangelo). She also comes across as having a thirst for power but has very little physical involvement in the acquisition. However, she does not exude the power and intelligence as the former.

Godard’s Venus seems more complicated to deconstruct. Considering the Venus of Roman mythology is the Goddess of love, and Les Carabiniers is a film about War and its appetite for spoils, Godard’s Venus seems to portray what happens when love goes wrong. However maybe this is the most accurate depiction translated to a different period for a different purpose. I do not recall very many Roman myths related to Venus that involved beautiful endings.

Vivre sa vie

epiphany in candid poses of
bliss, his and her backs distract the focus
of themselves, her blurred reflection is his
further obstructed, bird’s eye views
black passage blocked entry eviction
dissolves, revolve a silent film, condemns

a misses at the stake, tears on screen
mirror on-screen tears: big-blue-almond eyes
disguise a prostitute, shall we humor some
photos? eleven pm undress dissolve
one thousand francs wait in the street for
the john premier Doom, room twenty-seven

entry reflects our exterior: dirty
soap and a stiff rag on the dresser—close
the sheer drapes, a pocket full of wrinkled
francs ,an insult makes her smile, behind his
back: peek-a-boo miss? she dances by herself:
a masquerade of bosoms bliss: ah the

epiphany, where it is suppose
to be? Once a body poses in silence
and the mind dances alone— both die, she
thinks she is going to close her storefront
vagina, instead a pelvis is traded
for postmortem mannerisms or?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wall, Corridors and Doors

The Constructs and Confines of a Mind

French new wave film L’Annee Denière à Marienbad recreates the process of memory with walls, corridors and doors— the constructs and confines of a mind in action. Walls, corridors and doors pose as symbols of these constructs and potential obstructions within the film. Although one may initially acknowledge these collaborative elements as parts of a large building, one can also construe them as parts of memory’s architecture. Alain Resnais uses walls, corridors, and doors to portray the construction of memory and its functionality.

L’Annee Denière à Marienbad simulates the process one goes through to remember. When one initiates the recollection of memory, he may or may not be successful. The ability of one accessing his memories depends on the constructs and confines of his mind.

Walls construct rooms to store memories, which create confinement. Corridors guide thought to consideration, or recovery, of memory. When the recollection is successful, one is able to travel through these corridors, think, and acquire the memory from within these walls. This involves reaching a memory that is not blocked. However, when one is not able to obtain memory, doors block a concrete memory.

Doors are the access point of recalling memory. If they do not open, acquiring memories is not possible. Distortion may also exist as content, within any space, and may cloud memories by creating a distraction that obstructs thoughts. Therefore, memory is blocked or locked from access. These constructs and actions all take place in the mind, which is where this film is located.

During the beginning of the film, an interior monologue repeats three times. Within this monologue, the main character X repeats, “…Always walls, always corridors, always doors…” (Resnais). While this takes place, there are observations of the hotel’s architecture. Here, the sound and mise-en-scène present the premise of this film’s theme: The construction, confines, and contents, the action of the mind’s memory and how they may dysfunction. Because the script provides this interior monologue, the film invites the viewer into X’ inner thoughts, his mind: what he is thinking, how and where he is trying to recall his memories of a woman called A. Because of this, walls symbolize memory storage.

A wall has several fundamental purposes. They are vertical surfaces that enclose and divide spaces like rooms. Within the rooms of the mise-en-scène specific actions take place, therefore, this is where memories are stored.

For instance, X recalls A in the boudoir on numerous occasions. These different scenarios create variation as if the memory is unclear or distorted.

Although the cause of distortion is not present in these particular scenes, the thought process is continuously attempting to seek the memory of what occurred last year at Marienbad with her. Instead of completing the thought of the memory, he engages in possibilities. Where his accuracy fails, his imagination prevails. This process of variation also exists in other settings within the film.

During other variations, he and she are on the terrace and in another, he attempts to win a game against M (the third and last character of substance in the film). They are also in the lounge where the mise-en-scène does reveal a form of distortion.

For instance, in the lounge scenes, people construct distortion. These people are within the scenes; however, their purpose is merely to fill space, to crowd his thoughts. Periodically they move, and then all of a sudden they freeze their motion. Their existence creates this distortion. Being in a room with her amongst these people distracts the memory of his and her relationship. The walls that create these rooms (in order to store memories) also hang and store images.

One scene shows a painting of the hotel (where this film takes place) hanging on a wall. This picture represents a visual memory of how the hotel’s exterior appears. In this film, walls not only combine to create confinement, but also spaces that may or may not be located.

To locate access to a memory, one has to attempt to locate these rooms. Corridors provide a link to access by leading him to access. Therefore, in L’Annee Denière à Marienbad, corridors symbolize the process of trying to locate memory.

This process involves him taking a passage, which then translates to the action of thought. Within the scenes that take place in the corridors, he and she converse or he converses to the viewer. This is his process of recollection. His falling in and out of discourse with her illustrates that he is thinking about her but the memories are not concrete. Her presence merely illustrates her significance as part of the memory.

She cannot help him in this process because she is only a figment of his memory. Throughout the film, although she is responsive and escorts him through these corridors, she thinks that he is mistaken in thinking that they know each other. However, what she thinks is not the premise of this film; how he thinks is— through corridors.

Again, this is his location of travel in order to gain access to his memories, definite or indefinite. Within corridors, he tries to find the location of his memories. Within these scenes they predominately walk, take some form of a journey, to reach the location of the memories. These corridors lead to doors, which may or may not open rooms. In this film, doors symbolize his potential access to his memories.

They determine whether he gains access to rooms. Doors lack presence in this film. This is because the portrayal of his access to memory is sketchy. He has to repeatedly retrace what happens in Marienbad a year ago. By the end of the film, the details of the event are still unclear. His limited access to these doors is the main cause of distortion in this film due to their lack of existence. By not showing him opening, entering, or exiting any doors his recollection is not concrete. Therefore, he lacks a firm grasp on his memories.

By making walls, corridors, and doors symbols of the constructs and confines of the mind, Alain Resnais was able to create a visual infatuation with the primitive aspects of memory. As long as a mind is functioning, there will always be walls, always be corridors, and most certainly always be doors. They will exist in the mind to help or hinder the ability to recall memory. By Alain Resnais illustrating these symbols through architecture in the mise-en-scene and sound, he provides the viewer with a more tangible concept of how memory functions. We are left wondering if the event he sought actually occurred of if it was a figment of his imagination, déjà vu or a dream. If one cannot recall his entrance or exit, how can he really remember his complete journey?

Works Cited
L’Annee Denière à Marienbad. Dir. Alain Resnais. Perfs. Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoëff. 1961. DVD. Argo Films. Fox Lorber 1999.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg

Jacques Demy creates a whimsical façade in The Umbrellas of Cherbough.

The key in comprehending the significance of the umbrella is to first understand its various contexts. First, umbrellas protect us from certain elements. Second, they can be a force or influence. Third, they can also be something that includes many different parts. The weaving of these contexts creates a whimsical façade.

The musical genre acts as an umbrella in this film. This genre acts as a shield that makes a series of melancholy themes more tolerable: France’s draft related to the Algerian War, sad love story that includes not only an abrupt ending of a relationship but also the unexpected pregnancy of an unwed mother and the gradual failing of a family business. This abundance of sad themes is far more tolerable because they are portrayed through song. The umbrella also symbolizes influence in this film.

Supporting character Madame Emery personifies this influence. This is clearly illustrated within the story. Madame Emery wants her daughter Geneviève to marry a man of higher status (Roland Cassard instead of Guy Foucher). Her wishes eventually come true. The umbrella is also laced within the mise-en-scène.

This is because the story surrounds Madame Emery’s umbrella shop. This shop is the center of all other connecting themes.

Basically, the umbrella is related to many different aspects of The Umbrellas of Cherbough. It is not only a physical attribute within the film, it is also symbolic in its use as a form of genre, its direction, as well as the relationship between Madame Emery and Geneviève within the plot. Again, this makes very difficult themes easier to watch, therefore, the weaving of the many contexts of the umbrella creates a whimsical façade.

Une Femme est Une Femme

Through the use of primary colors Jean-Luc Godard portrays a visual sarcasm in A Woman is A Woman.

Through primary colors he is able to stylistically mimic the immature persona of main character Angela. The primary colors [red, blue and yellow] are consistently used within the mise-en-scène: yellow pajamas; Angela’s red clothes; Émile’s blue clothes, etcetera. Primary colors tend to represent the earliest time of development in humans— children. This is exactly how Angela behaves.

Main character Angela, played by Anna Karina, is immature. She has temper tantrums and constantly reacts as a brat. She wants what-she-wants-when-she-wants it and will not humor reason. She wants a baby even though the way she lives is not appropriate to raise a child: she is in a unstable relationship, her boyfriend does not want a child and she works as a singing go-go girl.

In contrast the definition of a woman is an adult female; however, the main character clearly lacks the maturity of an adult. Although it is blatantly obvious that Angela’s dialogue, behavior and actions reflect an immature woman, perhaps even under-developed, the colors accentuate this behavior. Angela’s playground is within an adult theme. Red blue and yellow illuminate this playground, therefore, creating visual sarcasm.

Jules et Jim

We tilt a plank balanced by her,
pushing ground to soar to insecure
heights, a flight that lands bottomless.

Through her we seek to find what is lost
within ourselves, made weak by her
cracked shell, we dwell within her presence
or lack thereof, like doves we fly,
then our beaks streak the obvious
glass, crash into shallow puddles.
The smudge is clearer than our minds.

As our ankles hit the soil,
we tilt our weight onto our hearts,
smother our sense of direction
in the reflection of her scattered
bosom, schisms and wilted looms
we fall through, plunge to catch erratic
mannerisms of an obscure

femme, dim light is our savoir, we
savor the question of her, chase
and flirt with the whims of her,
“especially me,” Jules said. Jim
begs to differ, for the stiffer
part of him becomes limp from attempts
beyond sarcastic-intimate

lips. Frozen frames of smiles, frowns and gazes
blaze his bones, the only moan he
sounds is the sealed lid of an urn.

L’Anee Denière à Marienbad

Marienbad, memory bad,
a masculine voice hypnotizes
a stuttered view, fertile infinitude
of déjà vu: “…always walls,
always corridors, always doors…”

Walls contain a boudoir, her body
flanks siamese photos, hold rooms of
empty people equal in hollow
movement, hangs images of terraces,
a fountain that towers our shadow,

or not, many times we stood, once I
fell, a lapsed sound covers her stare,
a garden with a maze of static
and grey evergreens, bird’s eye views
of ceilings, baroque trim, tilt down to

corridors whether crowded or
vacant lead to doors, to rooms with walls,
contain a boudoir, her body flanks
siamese photos, hold rooms of empty people
equal in hollow movement,

hangs images of terraces,
a fountain that towers our shadow,
or not, many times we stood, once I
fell, a lapsed sound covers her stare, a
garden with a maze of static and

grey evergreens, bird’s eye views of ceilings,
baroque trim, tilt down to confirm
intimate factions the distraction of

doors may pivot or remain rusted
shut, locked, block exit, slide or revolve
entrance, means of access from corridors
whether crowded or vacant lead to doors
to rooms with walls contain a boudoir,

her body flanks siamese photos, hold rooms
of empty people equal in
hollow movement, hangs images
of terraces, a fountain that
towers our shadow, or not, many

times we stood, once I fell, a lapsed sound
covers her stare, a garden with a
maze of static and grey evergreens,
bird’s eye views of ceilings, baroque trim,
tilt down to walls: corridors: doors.

Tirez sur le pianiste

Shoot the Piano Player, directed by Francois Truffaut, embodies a sense of balance.

Main character Charlie experiences extreme highs and extreme lows. This translates through the storyline. At one point, he is in love and ends up playing as a very successful concert pianist. At another, he is alone and playing at a neighborhood pub. The ending of his relationships with women intricately illustrate the same.

Although both of his women (in his intimate relationships) both die, they die due to opposite circumstances. On one hand, thugs shoot Lena. She runs through crossfire and stray bullets kill her. On the other hand, Theresa commits suicide because she fells death is the only resolution to her self-disguise. Therefore, thugs kill one and one kills herself. This existence of balance also exists in genre.

Francois Truffaut mixes genres in the film to even out the depressing misfortunes of Charlie, drama; slapstick and comical dialogue mingle within this story. By intertwining opposing extremes via plot and genre, he succeeds in portraying a sense of balance.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cléo de 5 à 7

The world certainly does not revolve around Cleo in Cléo de 5 à 7 by Agnes Varda.

This is beautifully staged in an ongoing mise-en-scène. The main character Cleo walks through the city while trying to mentally distract herself from fears of a medical test result. In one of the most memorable shots, Cleo is in the store front of a hat shop. As she peruses an array of hats, the viewer is detached from her every move. This is because the camera’s focus is intentionally set on the reflection of the street. In this reflection buses and cars speed by and pedestrians scat about. This motif of life’s contiguous motion’s and struggles is also reflected in the sound.

In one particular scene, that not only exposes the vibe of a local café in Paris but also Cleo’s fixation on vanity, the sound plays the mortar of this motif. After Cleo decides to play one of her own songs on the jukebox, the sound is saturated by miscellaneous conversations that range from relationship matters to the Algerian War which took place during the creation of this film. The most amusing commentary was someone referring to Cleo’s song as noise.

This film is not only visually pleasing but philosophically interesting. It caused me to consider the significance of an small individual in a large world. At the end of the day, no matter what is on my mind, life goes on in the city and everywhere else for that matter.

Hiroshima Mon Amour

Love, She, meets War, He:

She is a blood-crusted gauze
cradles the flaws of discretion
which lessen the count of nostrils
that share the air. He is a

jagged wound swooned by ice daggers,
phallic-iron barrels, orphans
and widows with infant worms,
stern blood hugs tangled limbs.

Close up views, hues of black
and white, skin scorched, tingles
the finger tips of she
as she grips him in a vague
embrace, the scars melt
the body heat of Germany with
Japan's, a set of hands, wrists,
forearms and elbows twist,
a kiss ignites a familiar
corpse. He thinks she knows nothing
but she knows everything.

Like an atom bomb he
incinerates the petrified
skin on her heart, scrapes the bottom
and finds a reflection
of himself, it bleeds until
his corpse encases his breath.
The scars remain. They breed
on the backs, arms, eye sockets
and minds, mock admirable
decline. He thinks she knows nothing
but she knows everything.

Her tongue is torn. The part closest
to the spine has incomplete
sentences, a reference
to Love’s embrace of lost touches.

The latter fulfills the need
for questions, current actions
feel the same. Is he the blame
or she?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Why does Michel steal? What causes him to be a recluse? Was he ever connected to others? These questions, as well as others, are left unanswered in Pickpocket by Robert Bresson. However, it is not a story with closure that Bresson sought out to portray, it is the compulsive obsession of Michel he wants us to experience and not necessarily understand.

The stoic and systematic main character, Michel never seems to have open discourse with others: his mother, his friends or authority figures. However, he openly communicates to other petty thieves and his journal. This theme of limited communication accentuates the significance of sound and body language through out the film.

I found myself intoxicated by Michel’s frame of mind. The eyes are almost blank in expression, pierced by a dark mind. The ambient sound of shoe soles, transit signals and dollies set a trance for theft. Michel also seemed to be shot from the wrists up while he was prowling for new victims. The erotic focus on fingers and palms gripping, folding then relaxing, forced me to follow his fixation on mannerisms.

A pickpocket needs to be aware of: sound, body language, the hands of others and his own. The questions we are left with are not meant to be answered because Michel does not care if we understand. Therefore, we are only given his point of view, awareness of sound, obsession with hands and their mannerisms and the faces of unsuspecting-sacrificial victims. I believe that Bresson’s purpose was to place us into the mind of Michel, as cold as it was. If Michel rarely communicates with others throughout the story, why should Bresson communicate the voids of him to us? Who ever really knows why people do what they do? Brilliant.

Bob le Flambeur

With any game rules apply. The significance of the moves you make depends on strategy. Never show your hand. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. How the game is played against you is not always fair. Being a polite opponent does not define a loser. Losing does not always mean the game is over, you can always play again. Perhaps the use of checker patterns symbolizes the way Robert Montagne of Bob le Flambeur, by Jean-Pierre Melville, symbolizes the way he views and live his life.

The checker theme is present in Bob’s apartment (kitchen floor), on his close friend’s office wall, and at Yvonne’s bar. These are the key locations where Bob contemplates his next moves. Between these locations he plays cards and dice, makes deals, and rehearses a heist, etcetera. In all locations Bob played a perpetual game of life and he is an admirable player.

I find main character, Robert Montagne to be very likeable because he displays decent boundaries. Anything petty is beneath him. He never sweats over losing everything. He refuses to finance a pimp. He has a patriarchal persona with Paulo and Anne. For example, he does not take advantage of Anne (a young woman) although she invites it. Instead he looks after her by offering her shelter. He does not interrupt intimacy or let anyone else, even if it is at his home. He also has a sense of humor. He is very private. All of this is despite the fact that he is a thief and a high roller. His one downfall is that his philosophy on privacy is not shared by others. This illuminates a strong theme within Bob le Flambeur.

A woman can threaten the strength of a man. Montagne experiences two breaches. Both occur because partners in crime (Paulo and Jean the Gropier) confide in the women with whom they are intimate. These condemning conversations are also both staged within boudoirs. This theme designs an unfortunate chain of events which conclude the film.

By the end of Bob le Flambeur, Paulo is dead and Bob is on his way to prison. The game is over, for now. Bob loses his hand, with grace and a sense of humor, and is thinking about the next.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The car, elevator, restroom, movie theatre and boudoir scenes in Breathless, by Jean-Luc Godard, add a dense quantity of intimacy. However, the abrupt jump cuts and play on sound discombobulate the viewer’s connection with the characters.

Although these scenes are interesting and allow us to see the other norms of a gangster, besides the crime scenes between them, they do not enhance or even implore the empathy from the viewer.

It seems that the choices in editing and sound are the key contributors in separating the viewer from the characters. The jump cuts constantly discern the concentration on continuity. For instance, while watching Michel walk down a street, the point of view is cut from an left side to an extreme right,which makes this film’s motion scatter. This creates a constant detachment. The sound choices further intensify the distraction. For instance, the volume of sirens is increased in the bedroom scene. Perhaps this is informing us of future hazard. Another observation is that periodically a single gun shot was inserted. Perhaps this foreshadows death. It also interrupts the current story line.

By the end of the film, I found myself lacking any empathy for any characters in the film. Although I was invited to view diverse intimate scenes, I was always challenged to make sense of what the point was. Perhaps in portraying Michel this way Jean-Luc Godard meant to tell me that being a gangster was pointless and he is inevitably breathless.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Les Cousins

The Obstacles between Man and Woman

French new wave film Les Cousins by Claude Chabrol delivers bold and dramatic symbols of interpretation— the obstacles between a man and a woman. Although the relationship between Charles and Florence is merely a supportive theme in the overall goal of illustrating the failures of a countryman’s hopes in a city, I found myself drawn to it.

The way in which they meet is the least memorable scene. They cross paths in a pub. Here the viewer is only exposed to a brief dry conversation initiated by Charles. It is quickly distracted by the other occurrences at the bar. This scene is constantly cut as it offers other occurrences at the same time. However, this distraction would appear minor compared to the future interactions between Charles and Florence.

During a party scene, later in the film, the obstacles between Charles and Florence are more pronounced. Their placement with in the mise-en-scene illustrates these bold obstructions. Once they finally meet again at this party they find themselves divided by a tall-metallic fireplace that they literally have to move around to connect. They also experience this just outside of the apartment at a tree. Once they make it around the tree, although their conversation is shot in medium to close up, their responses are delivered in a series of pan shots. There is always an obstacle between them even if it is negative space.

Obstacles evolve into personifications as Charles attempts to get Florence alone in a car ride. They are interrupted by Paul, Charles’ cousin, and his wild party guests, as they run out from the party to join them in separate cars. By the time Charles and Florence reunite again they are divided by bars and dark stripes.

Whether they are on the terrace where Florence is sun bathing or showering with Paul (her new discovered lover), the obstacles increase in scale and significance. Even the ending of their relationship is intensely dramatic.

During the last party scene they are further interrupted by guests. As they enact the final argument which severs any possibility of them uniting, Charles pushes her out of his room. As the mirrored door closes his reflection is yanked away by the door's abrupt pivot. These symbols which are created by direction, cinematography and mise-en-scene create an obvious composition of destiny. Charles and Florence were never meant to be.