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Monday, March 5, 2007

Blown by Truffaut at Seattle Center

posted by on March 5 at 12:15 PM


Sorry for the lurid subject line, but I want to gush about seeing The 400 Blows this weekend at SIFF’s new Seattle Center digs, and “Attending Janus Films Essential Art House Cinema at Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall” seemed too dry an introduction to what was a thoroughly wonderful experience.

As Annie Wagner will be explicating fully in next week’s film lead, the Seattle International Film Festival has begun year-round programming at Seattle Center, starting with Janus Films’ Essential Art House Cinema Festival, a crash course in 20th-century cinema featuring masterworks from Bergman, Kurosawa, Jean Cocteau, Max Ophuls, and many more.

On Friday night, I joined a couple hundred other folks at the screening of Truffaut’s 400 Blows, which I’d never seen before and which knocked me out. I think I first heard of the movie in connection with Lasse Halstrom’s My Life as a Dog, which was hyped by a critic or two as some sort of sibling of/successor to The 400 Blows. But as most people know and I just found out, Truffaut’s film is in a class by itself, capturing the experience of childhood more fully than any movie I’ve ever seen, and featuring a number of scenes I’ll never forget. (Top of the heap: the spin-cycle centrifugal-force carnival ride, and the kids watching the puppet show, shot from the puppet show’s perspective.)

As for the venue: It’s dreamy. It reminds me a bit of the BAM Cinemas in Brooklyn, where I saw Memento for the first time years ago. Comfortable, great sightlines, big screen, and the coming weeks bring more great films that I can stand (Jules & Jim! The Seven Samurai! Smiles of a Summer Night!!!), all of which deserve to be seen on a big screen in a dark room full of entranced strangers. (For a full list of films in the Essential Art House festival, go here.)

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The 400 Blows is an amazing film, and JP Leaud is totally dreamy. If you're interested in some of the references, though, such as the line Antoine keeps repeating about being born of a shark, check out Lautreamont's Maldoro.

Posted by johnnie | March 5, 2007 1:49 PM

I can't believe I missed it! A friend told me about it last year. I hope it plays somewhere again soon.

Posted by impossible prince | March 5, 2007 3:29 PM

Maldoror. Also recognized as a predecessor of the Dadaists and Surrealists, pretty wild stuff. Up there with Gravity's Rainbow.

Posted by treacle | March 5, 2007 5:15 PM

Dave, you forgot to mention the great sound. SIFF, thanks for giving us an awesome new venue to see film. Yay!

Posted by xu-tech | March 6, 2007 3:20 PM

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