2006 Fall Film Series

French Cinema Classics

French cinema was never dominated by an American style studio system, and has a tradition of great directors as great individualists. Many New Wave directors like Francois Truffaut, Louis Malle and Eric Rohmer began as movie-obsessed film critics, who looked back to towering figures like Jean Renoir and Jean Vigo with admiration and respect. Individualists like Jacques Tati and Robert Bresson, and younger masters like Jean-Pierre Jeunet don’t fit any mold, their films unmistakably their own. Vincente Minelli adored Paris (he’d been an artist there) and created a fantasy world of his own in An American in Paris.

All films shown in French with English subtitles, arrive early for a good seat.

October 20:

Jules and Jim (1962) Directed by Francois Truffaut. Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre (104 min).

Two inseparable artist friends adore Catherine, an elusive free spirit who refuses to choose between them. Set just before and after WWI, Truffaut’s passionate understanding of life and love created this defining film of the French New Wave. “Ranks among the great lyric achievements of the screen”--Pauline Kael. Film notes for Jules and Jim.

October 27:

Elevator to the Gallows (1957) Directed by Louis Malle. Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet (91 min)

A perfectly planned murder goes awry in Malle’s debut, a film noir with an iconic performance by femme fatale Jeanne Moreau, black and white photography by the brilliant Henri Decae, and a legendary jazz score improvised by Miles Davis. "I was split between my tremendous admiration for (director Robert) Bresson and the temptation to make a Hitchcock-like film,"—Louis Malle. Introduced by NC State Film Studies Professor Devin Orgeron.

November 3:

Grand Illusion (1937) Directed by Jean Renoir. Jean Gabin, Erich von Stroheim, Pierre Fresnay, Marcel Dalio (111 min).

A suspenseful tale of a prison break by WW I POWs, Grand Illusion is a pacifist elegy masked as a thriller, about the meaninglessness of chivalry and the futility of war. The Nazis tried to destroy every print, and this recent restoration revives one of cinema history’s great experiences. Film Notes for Grand Illusion.

November 10:

Pauline at the Beach (1983) Directed by Erich Rohmer. Amanda Langlet, Arielle Dombasle, Pascal Greggory.

A slightly chilled Normandy beach vacation inspires an amorous round robin, witnessed by a grave teen. It begins with a 12th century proverb, ''A wagging tongue bites itself.” Rohmer’s films “combine images, language, action and cinematic narrative fluidity to create a kind of cinema that no one else has ever done before.—New York Times. Film notes for Pauline at the Beach.

November 17:

L’Atalante (1932) Directed by Jean Vigo. Dita Parlo, Jean Daste, Michel Simon (89 min).

Juliette flees from her boring newlywed life aboard a river barge, deserting the man she loves. One of the screen’s transcendent love stories, sensual and dreamlike, was directed by a 29 year old genius who died before seeing it on the screen. “This is the kind of movie you return to like a favorite song”—Roger Ebert. Film notes for L'Atalante.

November 24:

Amelie (2001) Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz ( 121 min)

Amelie, a shyly eccentric cafe waitress, discovers a knack for clandestine good deeds. Attuned to the exquisite pleasures and unexpected wit of daily life, her joy is contagious. A color-saturated valentine to a dreamy Paris, the clever interlocking plots and a sweetly frustrating romance add to the pleasures of this tasty confection.

December 1:

Pickpocket (1963) Directed by Robert Bresson. Martin La Salle, Marika Green (75 min).

Not so much a crime film as an almost religious meditation on the meaning of crime, this existentialist policier was keenly attended in its initial release by every pickpocket in New York, appreciative of attention to detail. Director Bresson’s use of nonprofessional actors is key to his unemotionally realistic style. Introduced by NC State Film Studies Professor Marsha Orgeron


December 8:

Mon Oncle (1958) Directed by and starring Jacques Tati. Jean-Pierre Zola, Adrienne Serrantie (110 min).

Quirky M. Hulot clashes with the impersonal, ultra modern push-button world in his funniest film, the tale of a small boy who prefers his eccentric uncle to his efficiency obsessed parents. Tati’s films are precise ballets of music, sound effects and sight gags, his heart placed squarely with the world’s scruffy stray dogs. Film notes for Mon Oncle.

December 15:

American in Paris (1951) Directed by Vincente Minnelli. Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Nina Foch, Oscar Levant.

Gene Kelly’s ex-GI Francophile painter dances in MGM’s Paris to the irresistible tunes of George Gershwin. Seventeen year old gamine Leslie Caron makes her film debut, and Gershwin pal Oscar Levant supplies authenticity. The dazzling ballet in which French Impressionist paintings come to life is a triumph of the American musical. Film notes for American in Paris.


All films will be shown in 35mm prints and begin at 8:00 pm.

The galleries and the Blue Ridge Restaurant will be open prior to screenings

Box Office: (919) 715-5923

Tickets: $5.00/$3.50 NCMA Members

Introductions are by Film Curator Laura Boyes unless otherwise noted.

For more information about the NC Museum of Art: ncartmuseum.org