Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Directors Project: #44 - Francois Truffaut

Scene from Cinema Paradiso
With the many lists and essays written on the subject of film, there has been one thing that The Oscar Buzz has tried to understand: Who is my favorite of the film world? For 10 weeks this summer, I will be exploring this with a countdown of the Top 50 names based on a numerical ranking of ratings from various sources, the following is a list of directors who rank above everyone else. With occasional upsets, this is intended as both a discussion opener as well as a better understanding of me as a film critic and fan. Please enjoy and leave any comments you have regarding the entry's selection.


Years Active: 1955-1983

Films as Director: 22

Oscar Wins: 0

Who: Along with Jean-Luc Godard, he is one of the premiere innovators of the Frnech New Wave movement. Mixing realism with a love for film and romanticism, he was in many ways the greatest recognized in the movement, if just because his debut, The 400 Blows, remains the most seen film in France. He has received countless honors and with a more mature style than his counterparts, he managed to create art out of everyday life. While they were at times very personal ventures into his own life, he made timeless stories that worked because deep down, there was a human condition in play that chose to explore motivations more than simply existing. His work continues to charm simply because he was a poet as well as a director, choosing to mix sentimental scores with wondrous scenery. He may have not seemed as thematically as challenging as Godard, but he did have a more consistent, fulfilling style that was unfortunately taken too soon from us. Even then, his body of work reflects a forgotten era so perfectly that it feels as relevant as ever.

Scene from Shoot the Piano Player

-- Jules and Jim (1962) --

Flickchart Ranking: #31 (900 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 970 points

-- Shoot the Piano Player (1960) --

Flickchart Ranking: #229 (700 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 760 points

-- The 400 Blows (1959) --

Flickchart Ranking: 234 (700 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 760 points

OVERALL TOTAL: 2490 points

Scene from Jules and Jim
I will admit that one of my biggest regrets going into this list is that I barely have touched the surface with the French New Wave movement. There is something alluring and fantastic about it that I feel rivals modern contemporary films. They not only romanticize a life that includes a love for films, but also tells universal stories in profound ways. Much like Godard, I wish that I have seen more by Truffaut. Even then, his first three films are phenomenal works that explore the lives of people in France in ways that are both self aware and cinematic without either becoming distracting. Along with wonderful compositions by Georges Delrue, I have trouble finding a lot of faults with Truffaut's work. Shoot the Piano Player may be a genre parody, but it is a loving one that reflects his ability to make madcap humor work. The more personal he got, the better the results became. Hopefully in the time following this project, I will find more and more to like about Truffaut and may one day be among my favorites.

UP NEXT: A second generation director whose made films ranging from iconic mockumentaries to films looking at old age and marriage.

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