Friday, 21 September 2007

Joseph Wren Reviews His Ten Favourite Films, Part 4

Paris, Texas
West Germany/France 1984
Director: Wim Wenders
Screenwriters: Sam Shepard & L.M. Kit Carson
Running Time: 147 Minutes
Certificate: 12
DVD Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Paris, Texas is the first film that comes to mind whenever I consider films about absent parents. Consummate character actor Harry Dean Stanton begins the film looking like he’s stepped out of David Lynch nightmare scripted by Gun Van Sant, wandering the brutal Texas desert burdened with the curse of memories, but any viewer who can stick with him through this slow burner will be rewarded with a fascinatingly complex and deeply haunted character. An English language German/French co-production set in Texas, the story of Paris, Texas is timeless and universal.

Decisively slow paced, patient viewers who can enjoy this ride, accompanied by Ry Cooder’s flawlessly atmospheric soundtrack, are rewarded with an unforgettable conclusion. The final act of Paris,Texas is so still, yet so moving, as a portrait of a broken family that is without identity, that I still to this day am moved by the simple truth of the situation. Watching Natassja Kinski’s face as she listens to the story of her life is something so simple and emotionally honest that I am reminded of the power of cinematic art.

A Bout de Soufflé (aka Breathless)
France 1960
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Screenwriter: Jean-Luc Godard & Francois Truffaut
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Certificate: PG
DVD Distributor: Optimum Releasing

Directed by Jean Luc Godard, and written by Francois Truffaut, Breathless is fuelled with the creative energies of the two young iconic men at their most unadulterated moment, years before their notorious falling out. My gateway to the French New Wave, this film’s own passion for cinema, philosophy, women and culture bursts through the celluloid with the infectious spontaneous energy associated with Paris in the 1960s.

Jean Paul Belmondo’s character Michel opens the film by telling us that he’s an arsehole, shoots a cop, treats his women badly, pushes people around, and whilst running from the law has the luxury of mind to criticize modern architecture in Paris. After all of this reprehensible behaviour, one can’t help but to think of how cool it all is. Breathless is dangerous, self-parodying jazzy enjoyment. The editing is irrational, the story is unbelievable, and the action is just silly, yet Breathless manages to be and feel like an intelligent picture.
Joseph's Top Ten concludes tomorrow!

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