Close Up

1 - 29 April 2018: Essential Cinema XII


Zero for Conduct
Jean Vigo
1933 | 44 min | B/W | 35mm
French with English subtitles

So effervescent and charming that one can easily forget its importance in film history, Jean Vigo’s enormously influential portrait of prankish boarding-school students is one of cinema’s great acts of rebellion. Based on the director’s own experiences as a youth, Zero for Conduct presents childhood as a time of unfettered imagination and brazen rule-flouting. It’s a sweet-natured vision of sabotage made vivid by dynamic visual experiments. read more

The 400 Blows
François Truffaut
1959 | 99 min | B/W | 35mm
French with English subtitles

François Truffaut’s first feature is also his most personal. Told from the point of view of Truffaut’s cinematic counterpart, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), The 400 Blows (Les quatre cents coups) sensitively re-creates the trials of Truffaut’s own childhood, unsentimentally portraying aloof parents, oppressive teachers, and petty crime. The film marked Truffaut’s passage from leading critic to trailblazing auteur of the French New Wave. read more

Lift to the Scaffold
Louis Malle
1958 | 88 min | B/W | Digital
French with English subtitles

Taking place over the course of one restless Paris night, Malle’s richly atmospheric crime thriller stars Jean Moreau and Maurice Ronet as lovers whose plan to murder her husband (his boss) goes awry, setting off a chain of events that seals their fate. A career touchstone for its director and female star, Lift to the Scaffold (Elevator to the Gallows) was an astonishing beginning to Malle’s eclectic body of work, and it established Moreau as one of the most captivating actors ever to grace the screen. read more

The Fire Within
Louis Malle
1963 | 108 min | B/W | Digital
French with English subtitles

Maurice Ronet (Elevator to the Gallows), in an implosive, haunted performance, plays Alain Leroy, a self-destructive writer who resolves to kill himself and spends the next twenty-four hours trying to reconnect with a host of wayward friends. Unsparing in its portrait of Alain’s inner turmoil and shot with remarkable clarity, The Fire Within (Le Feu Follet) is one of Malle’s darkest and most personal films. read more