Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
1960–Shoot the Piano Player (François Truffaut)
What I’ve always responded to most in French New Wave films is their sense of playfulness. Sure, the figureheads of what is perhaps cinema’s greatest movement were the most knowledgeable cinephiles we’ve ever had. They were also incredibly intellectual, well-read and well-versed in just about all things art. But in my favorite French New Wave films, it’s watching the youthful exuberance of the moviemakers as they experiment with a still very young medium that I find most inspiring.
Truffaut once said: “I demand that a film express either the joy of making cinema or the agony of making cinema. I am not at all interested in anything in between.”
Truffaut walks the walk, and Shoot the Piano Player expresses about as much “joy of making cinema” as any film I’ve ever seen. I also love its sense of romance, its tragedy and its special lyrical quality. It has one of my favorite scores of all time, and if I were ever teaching a class on voiceover, this is the first film I would use.
I confess. This is one of my five or so favorite films of all time.
What moviemakers can learn: Genres do not have to feel restrictive. We live in a multi-dimensional world where many different traditions meld into one another. Truffaut’s blending of genres in Shoot the Piano Player is done as well as in any movie I have ever seen.
Other contenders for 1960: I have a good number of gaps from this year. These include: Jean Cocteau’s Testament of Orpheus, Satyajit Ray’s The Goddess and Ritwik Ghatak’s The Cloud-Capped Star. I really need to re-watch Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers, as it’s been too long since I saw it to know where it would place on this list. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is one I need to continue to revisit as it’s never had the impact on me as some of Hitchcock’s other films. I really like Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’avventura, but my two closest runners-up are Jacques Becker’s Le trou and Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless.
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work, raising money for his next feature, Peril.