Jean Eustache – La soirée (1961)

Unfinished film by Jean Eustache (1961, or ’63), with Jean-André Fieschi, Chantal Simon, Paul Vecchiali and André S. Labarthe.
7 minutes – No sound

Premier film de Jean Eustache, librement inspiré d’une nouvelle de Maupassant, inachevé et sans bande son. Ce film retrouvé il y a une dizaine d’années fait l’objet d’une projection inédite. « Un homme invite des amis, pour leur donner lecture d’un texte sur le cinéma dont il est l’auteur et qui vient d’être publié. On pense qu’il s’agit de « Vivre le film », l’article publié par Jean-Louis Comolli dans les “Cahiers”. L’ambiance a quelque chose de très Nouvelle Vague » Cahiers du cinéma n° 523, avril 1998 Continue reading

Jean Eustache – Du Côté De Robinson AKA Robinson’s Place (1963)

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Eustache’s debut film follows two young men near the place de Clichy, looking for fun and whatever trouble comes with it. Unsurprisingly, their attention ultimately falls on a girl. They go to a dancing called “Robinson”. Spurned when she decides to go dancing with someone else, their thoughts quickly turn to revenge. Slowly, we discover the layer of despair that sits just under their carefree appearance. Continue reading

Jean Eustache – Le Père Noël a les yeux bleus AKA Santa Claus Has Blue Eyes (1966)

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Le Père Noël a les yeux bleus
(Santa Claus Has Blue Eyes)
Jean Eustache, 1966. B&W. 47 min.
With Jean-Pierre Léaud, Gérard Zimmermann, Henri Martinez, René Gilson.

Daniel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is desperate to buy a new duffle coat but has no money to do so. Taking a job as a street-corner Santa Claus, he begins to earn income and, more surprisingly, the attention of many young women taken with his costume. Eustache infuses Daniel (and his hometown of Narbonne, where the film takes place) with a keen sense of compassion. As always, daily reality is at the forefront: how Daniel spends his time, his efforts to meet girls, his attempts to make money. A wonderfully earthy film, and Eustache’s first major work. Continue reading

Jean Eustache – Les photos d’Alix AKA Alix’s Pictures (1980)

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Photographer Alix Cléo-Roubaud shows her photos to a young man (Boris Eustache), talking about them as they look at them together. Each of the photos appears as a countershot. Yet after awhile, doubts emerge: we are not really seeing what is being described.

The penultimate film by Jean Eustache, the French director famed for The Mother and the Whore (1973), is Les Photos d’Alix (1980). It’s an 18-minute, 35-mm color film in which we see a photographer—Alix Cléo-Roubaud—showing her photographs to a young man (Eustache’s 20-year-old son Boris). As they work their way through a stack of black-and-white prints, the young man asks brief questions and Roubaud tells him where and how each photograph was made and what her intentions were, what interested her about the images. The photos often feature double exposures and other darkroom techniques (solarizing, masking, dodging, burning). In one of a man lying on a bed, the photographer has used a supplemental exposure to stretch the curving, old-fashioned headboard into a strange sinuous shadow. Another dreamlike images shows a bare-chested man floating in an expanse of milky white light. Later we see a landscape divided by nested rectangular zones of light and darkness created during the printing process. Continue reading