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Brian

Of the half-dozen or so of his films I've seen, Lacombe, Lucien is far and away my favorite. But there are so many I still want to explore. I recently borrowed his documentary God's Country from the library. Hopefully there will be time to watch it before it comes due! I'd also like to see the Silent World and Zazie sometime.

Thom

Thanks Brian - I wonder, is there something particular about Malle's direction that makes Lacombe, Lucien stand out from the others you've seen? It's a powerful story, but is there anything in particular about Malle's telling of it that makes it work for you?

For instance, that early sequence where Malle moves us from the outside where a bird is happily singing to Lucien mopping up inside a building (nursing home? I can't recall). He spies the bird singing through a window or door and later kills it. That sticks with me. Such an unexpected but effective way to establish this sort of malevolent side to the kid's character.

Brian

Honestly, I think I liked Lacombe, Lucien so much in part because it felt almost like it was made by another filmmaker (Fassbinder, perhaps?) Its grim view of human nature appeals to the cynic inside, and isn't a quality as clearly shared with other Malle films that feel somewhat more sentimentalized, like My Dinner With Andre and Murmer of the Heart. Not that I dislike any of the Malle films I've seen. Just that, not having a real handle on his most characteristic traits as an autuer, Lacombe, Lucien is the film that stands out for me from among the others.

Thom

It's fitting that you mention Fassbinder, Brian. Because I first saw Lacombe, Lucien a mere two weeks before also viewing The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979). I remember that the similarity in the themes—people adapting and surviving particularly difficult times in ways that are judged harshly in retrospect—struck me then. I don't recall particular similarities in the storytelling though. I'll also look for a certain level of sentementality and how it's handled when I screen the other Malle movies (got 'em all in the DVR now).

OutOfContext

I DVR'd five of the TCM broadcasts, but have only completely watched Zazie which I found very colorful, entertaining and funny; surreal, but in a deliberately unsophisticated way. I dipped into a couple of the documentaries which look really interesting. I saw most of Place De La Republique which is just 'man on the street' stories. Once again, deliberately unsophisticated and very interested in the secrets of everyday. Calcutta looks fascinating too, but I was eating while watching it and had to postpone that viewing, because it is, to put it mildly, unappetizing.

I only know Malle from Atlantic City (which I loved) and Pretty Baby (which I didn't), but, neither one of those pictures would have led me to expect what I've seen so far of his earlier work. Can't wait to give him the time he deserves.

Thom

OutofContext, thanks for sharing your opinions on Malle. Coincidentally, I too began the mini-Malle fest with Zazie dans le Métro (1960). I enjoyed Zazie's zany adventure through Paris, fueled by an expanding cast of ever more oddball characters. I like that you mention the surreality of whole affair which is dominated by experiments with wide-angle lenses and undercranked camera effects--are these common Malle techniques? I don't recall anything like that in the more serious Lacombe, Lucien. I love the way Malle keeps events and images here centered on the mischievous young Zazie while the other characters and the city itself react around her in a fashion that reminds me somewhat of the style of Le Fabuleaux destin de d'Amélie Poulain (2001). I'm looking forward to more Malle. When you have chance to see more of your own DVR'd collection please share your thoughts about them with us here.

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