Cléo from 5 to 7

Two days ago, singer Cléo (Corinne Marchand) underwent some tests to determine if she has stomach cancer, and how bad it is. She is scheduled to visit the hospital at 7pm, in two hours time, so whiles away the inbetween hours wandering the streets, first having her fortune told before going to a cafe with her maid (Dominique Davray), having a meeting with two musical collaborators (Serge Korber and Michel Legrand) spending time with a friend (Dorothée Blanck) before meeting a soldier (Antoine Bourseiller) in the park and eventually making her way to the hospital to receive her results.
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Vivre sa Vie

This review was originally written for Blueprint: Review.

Over the course of twelve chapters we experience the life of Nana (Karina), an aspiring actress and shop assistant who turns to prostitution when her acting career fails to take off.

There comes a point where you have to just sit back and declare that some things aren’t for you. You’ve tried them, often numerous times, but always with a similar, less than stellar result. No matter how hard you try, it’s just not something you can get on board with. And so it is with me and the cinema of the French New Wave. It’s not the worst I’ve seen – I’d possibly hand that crown to Godard’s À Bout de Souffle – but Vivre sa Vie comes close. It strikes me as a film in which the director is actively challenging the audience to pay attention, providing as he does multiple occasions where surely only the most fervent of viewers can remain engaged. Throughout this film we witness an entire letter being hand written, word by word, with the camera focussed intently on the letter. A poem is recited, in full. A conversation is had with French philosopher Brice Parain. And through all the ambling, overly self reflective, ponderous yet vapid naval gazing I struggle to maintain a grip on my conscious state as Godard hints at, but never fully embraces a narrative.
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I’m doing this list for several reasons. Firstly, I want to broaden my cinematic horizons, watching those films I’ve often read about being legendary and must-see, yet never gotten around to actually watching. Secondly, I want to revisit some truly incredible films I’ve not seen recently, or perhaps haven’t watched well enough at this point. Thirdly, I’m shamelessly showcasing my admittedly phenomenal writing talents, to allow the literary world to recoil in shock and awe, ultimately paying me a princely sum for stringing sentences together. Finally, I want to give a second chance to films from the first reason that I have seen previously, but didn’t necessarily ‘get’. And so it is with a heavy heart that I approached Breathless (A Bout de Souffle). I first watched this about 3 years ago, when I first dabbled with Lovefilm. Admittedly, I only half-watched the film (a cardinal sin, especially if a movie is subtitled), but I found it silly, boring, and featuring a deeply unlikable lead character in Jean-Paul Belmondo’s sexist, arrogant, pretentious Michel Poiccard, on the run from the police after stealing a car and shooting a policeman, heading to Paris to collect some money and a girl to take with him to Rome. Regrettably, I found myself agreeing with my earlier judgement, as Poiccard proves continually a chauvinistic and rude kleptomaniac, consistently blaming others and never accepting his fate as being a product of his own irrationally actions. Quotations from his dialogue are probably supposed to be profound and thought-provoking, but under closer scrutiny mean nothing (“I want to become immortal, and then die”). Add to this editing tics such as wholly unnecessary (and nonsensical in the context of the scenes) jump cuts and occasions where characters seem to directly address the camera, then the film shows it is in fact largely over-rated. And I’m sure the main character closing his own eyelids after his inevitable brush with justice is supposed to be cool, in the end it’s just stupid.
Choose life 3/10