Francois Truffaut
Exploring Michael Haneke: The White Ribbon

Exploring Michael Haneke: The White Ribbon

The first of Michael Haneke's two Cannes Palme d'Or awards was for his 2009 film, The White Ribbon. — Haneke's two and a half hour black and white German film with no musical score may seem like an odd entry point to such critical acclaim, but The White Ribbon offers a probing commentary of authoritarian regimes, questions the idea of origination of malevolence, and examines the relationships between stifled parents and their children in a way only Michael Haneke can. Haneke delves beneath the facade of cordiality in a German village just before WWI. When a series of evil deeds begin to occur, the town is forced into suspicion of one another while trying to secure the uniformity enjoyed in the town. Haneke reveals, as he removes layers throughout the film, that these behaviors and occurrences don't exclusively belong to a foregone era. In the time since WWI, evil still happens and oftentimes we can not discern its origins nor is there always a clear indication that such evil exists beneath such a formal cordial society. A silent opening and credit sequence sets the tone for what is to come, a startling raw depiction of real life beneath the surface level human interactions. Forever interested in human behavior and the idiosyncrasies of emotion, Haneke tells the story of the events that took place in this village through the narration of a teacher in the town who admits that his recollection may or may not be completely factual. Delving beyond the veneer of society to bring broad philosophical concepts to daily human existence is a strength of Haneke's and one expertly exacted in The White Ribbon.

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling continues the subject's undying search for truth

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling continues the subject's undying search for truth

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling is an invitation into the mind and heart of one of the most innovative and brilliant comedians to ever live. — Whether you know Garry Shandling from his standup comedy, his brilliant masterpiece in deconstruction, It's Garry Shandling's Show, his groundbreaking examination of ego and interpersonal relationships, The Larry Sanders Show, or even if you don't know of Garry Shandling at all, the documentary detailing the life and rise of the comic is essential viewing for the human experience. As the title would suggest, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling shares entries from Shandling's personal journals, in his own handwriting, accentuated by his constant search for truth often pursued through meditation and reflection. This documentary provides a fascinating glimpse into the complicated private thoughts of a most human and restless individual. Shandling seemed to never be truly satisfied, even at the peak of his career, because there were still so many questions left unanswered. For those who exist on a higher plane, like Garry did, peaks are often only seen as the precursor to life's valleys and a reminder that happiness doesn't last forever. The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, directed and produced by Judd Apatow who calls Garry "(for 25 years) the most important mentor that I had", lovingly highlights Garry's comedy brilliance, his deep introspective mind, and the demons that plagued him through all of it. Unlike many documentaries about a subject who has passed away, Apatow never paints Shandling as a perfect individual, but rather, details Shandling's highs and lows while seeming to bridge together fragments of each to make a whole yet prematurely-ended picture of a life. The loving detail and care Apatow has clearly put into this exceptional tribute to his friend and mentor is a gift to each person in the audience. He illustrates how true Garry was to his path and allows his quest to be an inspiration to the millions of people who were never fortunate enough to know him. In the documentary's trailer, Apatow voices that, despite being close to him, Shandling was also a mystery to him. Throughout the documentary, Apatow seems to be searching, just as Garry was searching, to gain a deeper insight into the enigma that Garry Shandling was. The result is an incredibly moving tribute and an immensely illuminating experience.

Truffautbruary, a month dedicated to Francois Truffaut: The Last Metro

Truffautbruary, a month dedicated to Francois Truffaut: The Last Metro

In what was intended to be the second installment of a trilogy, The Last Metro shines as a look into the arts during Nazi occupation. — Day for Night was Francois Truffaut's glimpse into the behind the scenes world of moviemaking, The Last Metro, in a similar vein, served as a glimpse behind the inner workings of a theatre. Truffaut sought to highlight more than the behind the scenes lives of theatre actors and owners, however, he also wanted to dive into France during the Nazi occupation. Growing up during the time of the occupation, Truffaut felt that many film and literature depictions of that time period were disingenuous, as he never felt that France was as free as it was made out to be. Most importantly, Truffaut felt it necessary to bring light to the anti-Semitism commonly experienced in France from other French residents, a phenomenon that is commonly only depicted to occur from German occupiers. Inspired by Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be, and The Sorrow and the Pity by Max Ophüls, Truffaut put a great deal of research into the film by delving into the private writings and diaries of actors from this period. Once he felt ready to take on a subject once again so personal to Truffaut, he made the decision to produce the film solely using his own company. The Last Metro was the costliest film Truffaut ever made, and also took the longest to edit than any of his other films. The money and the preparation paid off as The Last Metro proved to be a critical and commercial success, boasting record ticket sales, earning 10 César Awards, and becoming the highlight of the latter part of Francois Truffaut's brilliant career.

Truffautbruary, a month dedicated to Francois Truffaut: Day for Night

Truffautbruary, a month dedicated to Francois Truffaut: Day for Night

Francois Truffaut wrote the greatest, most beautiful love letter to the cinema with his 1973 film, Day for Night. — Intrigued by the remains of a huge abandoned film set complete with several building facades, a subway entrance, and a Paris sidewalk cafe, the idea presented itself to Francois Truffaut to make a film about the creation of a movie. This intrigue fulfilled a lifelong wish of Truffaut's to film about the inside workings of the demands on a filmmaker, and what it's like to make a film. Truffaut called this venture "a profession of faith in cinema" and "a true and sincere film on an artificial world." Much to my delight, Truffaut would appear in this film as the director of a film he is making, though the character is not intended to be a version of Truffaut as a filmmaker. The intention was to provide a neutral, professional image of the working film director, rather than a direct interpretation of himself as an artist. Day for Night is still a Truffaut film, however, and many autobiographical elements exist. Deciding to approach the film with a graphic overview of what the film would be, yet leaving enough room to deviate, Truffaut was confident that his small crew and 42-day shooting schedule would bring his love letter to the cinema to the screen. At the time of its production, Day for Night was the project closest to Truffaut's heart, as he would say, "The subject of Day for Night was, quite simply, my own reason for living." Premiering on May 24th, 1973, Day for Night would bring Francois immense critical praise and become his most internationally celebrated film.

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