A clever movie-long montage mixing Alfred Hitchcock with scenes pierced from his own film and television work, using the Cold War as background, “Double Take,” directed by media artist Johan Grimonprez, is also a meditation about the period when the British thriller master directed some of his best work, such as “Vertigo” (1958), “North by Northwest” ((1959), and “The Birds” (1963). Known for the mischievous habit of playing cameos on his own movies, he went on to host the decade-long TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” starting in 1965. Featuring famous look-alike Ron Burrage. Now out in selected screens.
The release of “Two in the Wave,” a new documentary on the tumultuous relationship between French filmmakers Francois Truffaut (1932-84) and Jean-Luc Godard (1930), is a great lead on to revisit four works of these giants of the French post-war industry: Truffaut’s “Fahrenheit 451” (1966) and “Mississippi Mermaid” (1969); and Godard’s “Alphaville” (1965) and “Weekend” (1967).
All four pay open homage to American movies of the 50s and 60s, a passion shared during their years at the Cahiers du Cinema magazine and the Nouvelle Vague movement. Not being their filmmakers’ most celebrated or well known, these four still delight movie lovers of any age as genre exercises and visual treats.
“Fahrenheit” and “Alphaville” mirror the paranoid Sci-Fi B-movies of the 50s. And “Mermaid” and “Weekend” feature two fantastic screen sirens, Catherine Deneuve and Mirelle Darc.
By the way, 451 degrees fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper combusts, but you already knew that from Michael Moore‘s doc. Oskar Werner and Julie Christie are in the original picture, which is based on a 1953 Ray Bradbury novel. Godard’s then-wife Anna Karina is the main draw in “Alphaville,” besides its incongruous alternate title, “Dick Tracy in Mars.”
The allegoric “Weekend” is based on an short story by Belgium-born Argentine writer Julio Cortazar. And it’s the chemistry between Deneuve and the director’s frequent collaborator Jean-Paul Belmondo that carries “Mermaid.”
Any of these films beat most of the expensive assembly-line fare out there these days, or at least the price of a small popcorn and soda. Go for it.
À nous la liberté (1931)
by Rene Clair
Two friends in an anarchic quest for freedom
For the Wandering Mind
A week as good as any to revisit three under appreciated Sci-Fi classics. Grab your popcorn and enjoy the ride.
* THE MIRACLE MILE, 1988. A harrowing view of annihilating weaponry going awry. The discreet cast gets out of the way of the incredible plot. But it’s fun watching Anthony Edwards of Monk and other TV series fame.
* SOLAYRIS, 1972. The original, introspective drama by Russian master Andrei Tarkovski, it’s a meditation on memory and loss, with a mysterious ocean playing a supporting role. Actor Donatas Banionis had previously played Spanish painter Goya in a biopic worth seaching for.