Jacques Demy – Lola (1961)

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Quote:
Jacques Demy was arguably the greatest romantic of the French New Wave, and Lola was one film in which he proved how vital both sides of that equation were to his vision. While Lola exists within the same workaday France of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut’s early films, Raoul Coutard’s cinematography allows Demy to find a beauty and poetry in the most ordinary circumstances; Coutard’s moving camera brings the grace of a dancer to the film’s visual proceedings, no matter how shabby some of the characters’ circumstances may be. The narrative is so fluffy it threatens to blow away at any moment, but Demy primarily uses it as a device to focus on the emotional lives of his characters, and it is their common search for love that moves the story and keeps the film compelling. Demy’s casting is nothing short of superb: Anouk Aimée is joyously radiant in the title role, and her every word and movement convey such a seductive charm that it’s no wonder three men are vying for her hand; Marc Michel, Alan Scott, and Jacques Harden all resister in their own way as Lola’s suitors; and Annie Duperoux is spot-on as Lola’s teenage counterpart. Lola is a film whose goal is obviously to touch the heart rather than the mind, but Demy tells his simple story with such a rare blend of passion and intelligence that he’s able to please the intellect as well. The result remains one of the most purely pleasurable products of the French Nouvelle Vague. Continue reading

Jacques Demy – Les parapluies de Cherbourg AKA The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

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Quote:
Geneviève, 17, lives with her widowed mother, who owns an umbrella shop in Cherbourg. She and Guy, a twenty-year-old auto mechanic, are secretly in love and want to marry, but when she reveals this to her mother, her mother objects on the grounds that Geneviève is too young and Guy is not mature or well-established enough, particularly since he has not yet done his required military service. Shortly after this, Guy is drafted to serve in the war in Algeria. Before he leaves, he and Geneviève consummate their love for each other, which results in her becoming pregnant. While Guy is away they drift apart, and Geneviève, strongly encouraged by her mother, accepts a marriage proposal from a well-to-do gem dealer named Roland Cassard, who has fallen in love with her at first sight and has promised to bring up her child as his own. (The character of Cassard is continued from Demy’s earlier film Lola (1961).) Continue reading

Jacques Demy – Model Shop (1969)

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synopsis

George (Gary Lockwood) is a disillusioned 26-year-old who has just quit his stifling job. He lives in Los Angeles with an aspiring young actress named Gloria (Alexandra Hay), who is none too pleased with his recent unemployment. Hanging over his head is the constant threat of repossession of his car and the virtual certainty that he will be drafted into the army. He sees a beautiful woman in a big car and follows her to her home in the Hollywood hills. A rock-star friend loans him money for a car and he follows the mystery woman to a photography shop. Lola (Anouk Aimée) is an older French model who poses for photographs to pay the bills. After he takes pictures of her, he begins to fall in love with the woman. Gloria discovers the pictures and throws George out of the house. He returns to the model and the two have conversation over drinks before ending up in bed together. Lola wishes to return home to be with her young son and is reluctant to get involved in a relationship. George’s relationship with Gloria ends when she leaves him over her failure to understand his motivations. He resigns himself to the fact he will be drafted and probably end up dead in a Vietnam rice paddy in this story of a young man in search of the greater meaning of life.
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Jacques Demy – Lola (1961)

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synopsis:
Jacques Demy’s auspicious debut — “a musical without music” set in the port city of Nantes — stars Anouk Aimée as the title character, a cabaret singer awaiting the return of Michel (Jacques Hardin), her long-absent lover and the father of her child. Michel went to America seven years ago and promised to return when he became rich. In Michel’s absence, Lola is being courted by her childhood friend Roland (Marc Michel) and American sailor Frankie (Allan Scott). At some point, it seems that Lola will settle down with one of them, but her heart still belongs to Michel. The film is dedicated to Max Ophüls and the film title obviously alludes to Ophüls’ Lola Montes as well as to the heroine of Josef Von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel. Marc Michel makes a reference to his unrequited love towards Lola when he reappears in Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964). — Yuri German Continue reading