When one thinks of the French New Wave a couple things trickle into the brain: Godard, for one, and The 400 Blows the other. Obviously, there is a lot more in between those lines, and if a film enthusiast were to dive into the BFI’s 2022 critics’ list of the 250 greatest films of all time, there are plenty of examples to snack on.
As Jim mentioned on a previous episode, he’s making his way through the entire list of 264 movies (ties lengthen the list from 250 to 264.) He still has a fair amount left to see (he’s got 48 to go as of this writing.) Along the way he’s keeping Teal up to date with all the films he’s watching, and which ones command his attention.
On this week’s episode of Stuff We’ve Seen, two of the movies Jim challenged Teal to watch are up for discussion. The two films fall in the early 1970s portion of the French New Wave, in a period Jim calls, The French Next Wave, where different directors took over from where Godard, Truffaut, and Eric Rohmer left off. Jacques Rivette was also a member of the Cahiers du Cinema, and quite the experimenter in his own right. Not nearly as well-known as some of his Cahiers compatriots, he created some classics that have withstood the test of time. His most notable work is Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), and it came in at number 84 on the BFI list.
Jean Eustache is another French Next Wave filmmaker who may have gained more notoriety had his career not been tragically cut short in the early 1980s. But his magnum Opus, The Mother and the Whore (1973), made the BFI Director’s greatest 100, and 104 on the critic’s list. That may be an indicator that directors appreciate the film more than today’s critics, and it isn’t hard to see why. First, it isn’t widely known. Both Jim and Teal had never heard of the movie until the publishing of the latest BFI list. Second, it’s not easy to find. The copy Jim and Teal watched wasn’t the greatest, although Jim believes there is a restoration available somewhere. Celine and Julie is more accessible thanks to Criterion. One can find the title on Blu-ray or streaming on the Criterion Channel.
So, what did Jim think of these movies, why did he challenge Teal to watch them, and what did Teal think of this pairing of cinema verite looks from the French New Wave? Well, that’s to discover on this week’s podcast. Take a listen and enjoy!