It’s time yet again for my favorite feature at TDYLF- my annual list of the 50 greatest French films of all-time. One aspect I’m starting to really enjoy about this list is how organic it is. Each year, movies rise and fall thanks to re-watches, exposure to new films, and new insights. Keeping and maintaining this list throughout the year also serves an important function for me. It motivates me to continue learning, and grow as a French film enthusiast. A few notes before we get started:
- I am not an authority on this. I’m just a Francophile with a Blu-ray player, Netflix and Facets subscriptions, and a love of movies.
- As much as I try, I am not a completist. There are a lot of films I simply haven’t seen. I’ve done my best to make it as comprehensive as I could but there’s always room to see more. There are still some relatively glaring omissions. Please feel free to recommend others, as I am always on the lookout to improve this list. It’s a labor of love for me.
- There is obviously a lot of personal preference involved. However, I’ve given a lot of weight to objective aspects like a film’s influence, importance, creativity, and how much they embody the spirit of French cinema and history.
- To qualify, the film has to be a French language film. There are non-French directors on this list but every movie is a French language film.
With that out of the way, I present to you the 50 greatest French films of all-time: Continue reading
There are many cinematic debates that have raged on for years. These debates provide two options–two icons or two tremendous films–that are strikingly similar, and yet still distinct from one another. Almost universally, they’re presented in black and white. As the title suggests, there can be only one option chosen as a favorite. There’s no room for gray area. I find that notion horribly misguided. I can love pizza and beer equally, for instance. Having said that, the debates are still a whole lot of fun and they’ve made me try to learn more about the other side far more than I would have without the debates. Here are some of my favorite debates, and my verdict. Continue reading
It’s time to wrap up my de facto François Truffaut week, a week where I’ve honored Monday’s birthday boy. I’ve included a big screen review of The Bride Wore Black and waxed poetic about the importance of the man. And all week long, the question has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue–what are my favorite Truffaut films? Here is how I’d rank every Truffaut film I’ve ever seen. There is a bit of personal preference included in the list, but for the most part I’ve tried to stay true to overall quality. Enjoy! Continue reading
How fitting that the fourth non-new release movie that I’d see on the big screen this year would be a François Truffaut film, The Bride Wore Black (1968), just three days before Truffaut’s birthday. I didn’t have a notebook so I didn’t particularly jot down enough for a full review. But there are several thoughts I’d like to share about the film. Continue reading
Monday was François Truffaut’s birthday, and I feel like I missed an opportunity by not writing about him. To make up for it, I’ve more or less turned this into a de facto Truffaut Week. The fact of the matter is that Truffaut is one of the most influential and important filmmakers in film history. His techniques have been mimicked and recreated for decades since. If you could, imagine for a moment that the entirety of film history is a river. Imagine that the first films ever made are the source, and that the movies being made today are the end of the river emptying into the great unknown that is the sea. In the middle of that river, there’s a gigantic rock that shifts the current of the river. All of the water flowing forth from that spot touches that rock. That rock is the work of François Truffaut. Continue reading
This week will mark Bastille Day. What better time to honor a country that’s given the world of cinema so many incredible films? In terms of both quality and quantity, I’d stack the history of French film up against any on the world scene. To pay proper homage for Bastille Day, I’ve compiled the 50 greatest French films of all-time. A few notes before we get started: Continue reading
Re-Watchterpiece Theater is a series that explores the organic way that attitudes about films change after you watch them a second time, a third time, or more, further down the line than the original viewing. This week, I’ve chosen François Truffaut’s seminal masterpiece from 1959, The 400 Blows.
The First Viewing
The first time I saw The 400 Blows was early in 2007. I had just started watching foreign films within the last six months, and had completely gone nuts for The Criterion Collection. My friend Ryan, a filmmaker and the most knowledgeable film fan I know, had been recommending Truffaut to me for a few months. With my increasing love of foreign film and natural Francophilia, my tastes and that director seemed like a match made in heaven. Continue reading
Usually, directors are behind the scenes, spinning their vision into a movie. But they don’t always stay there. Occasionally, they’ll appear on screen. Sometimes, it can be a leading role. Other times, it’s merely a cameo. Here are ten great acting performances by directors in the films of others.
Fritz Lang as Fritz Lang, Contempt
Lang’s films- especially his silent films- are some of the best movies ever made. But before I’d ever seen a single film that he directed, I saw him playing the director in the film within Godard’s film, Contempt. How’s that for post-modern cinema? A director acting in a film in the role of… a director. Making it even more off-kilter, he didn’t even play a fictional director. He played himself, and it was precisely what the movie called for. Continue reading
Back before Christmas, I wrote briefly about some scenes from the last ten years that made my jaw drop. I’d like to re-visit the concept without limiting myself to the last ten years. Here are some really amazing scenes of cinema, along with a brief description of what it is that I find so magnificent about them. They’re all over the map, too. I hope I’ve got something for most everyone. Continue reading
When you’re a hardcore film nerd, you spend too much of your time trying to spackle in the cracks in your film knowledge. My friend Marty, for instance, is currently obsessively trying to knock out the entire Criterion Collection. It’s a noble goal- Criterion makes some amazing movies. But we’re talking about some 550 or 600 movies that they’ve released. To date, he’s somewhere in the 400’s. My recent obsession has been the films of two art house titans- Francois Truffaut and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Continue reading