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Film Club: Breathless

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Mark Kermode | 13:29 UK time, Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Today is the first of my introductions in the new Kermode Uncut Film Club.

The film is Breathless from 1983 - get yourself a copy of the movie, watch the intro and let me know what you think.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Breathless is a very rare thing; an American remake of a French film that is truly translated, as opposed to transliterated. Interestingly, Gere was the star of the only other one I can think of at the moment too (Sommersby).

    These films have taken the basic premise and structure of the original and re-created them in a way that is accurate within the sphere of the cultural context of the US. The characters retain their humanity because of this. Gere is not Belmondo and there is no crass attempt for him to be. He is a true translation, taking into account location, period, language, economics, politics etc.
    In short, this film demonstrates how a film can be successfully revised for an audience far removed from the one that would have been expected to watch the original.

    I hope that makes sense?
    Dominic

  • Comment number 2.

    I watched both A Bout de Souffle and Breathless last year, after Dr K mentioned them a number of times. While I would say A Bout de Souffle is a more important film, and probably a better film, there's no doubt that Breathless is a lot more fun!

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm not a massive Jean Luc-Godard fan. I tried to watch Film Socialisme and found it to be so bad it was frightening. I even saw on the Metacritic Film Website that Film Socialisme appeared on Top Ten Lists for 2011 which made even more scared. I cannot explain why I enjoyed Breathless but I found it to be fascinating with its' themes of Pop Culture.

    If I did have one last request Mark it would be this. Could you introduce a more mainstream one time and a less mainstream film the next. Like taking in turns. So let's say next time: American Beauty and the blogpost after that: Tales from the Crypt

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks Mark! I never really had any interest in seeing this film before but you most certainly got my attention. I especially like how you pointed out the way its post-modern style was almost too ahead of its time. I personally already see a lot of similarities to contemporary films like True Romance, with the protagonists love for comic books and obsession with the rockabilly era. It's on Netflix Instant so I'll be checking it out tonight and will post my comments later or tomorrow.

  • Comment number 5.

    I haven't seen the french original so couldn't compare both movies but I don't think I am missing too much... I love Breathless, ever since they used to show it on telly in the mid 90s... Richard Gere is ott and fairly ridiculous, but so is the whole film and that for me is the charm.

    I first saw this film when i was about 13 and seeing Gere riding along in a stolen car with an amazing sunset tossing all the cassettes he doesn't like out of the window was quite frankly the epitome of cool.

  • Comment number 6.

    Thanks for the intro Dr K, looking forward to watching it again armed with your information.

  • Comment number 7.

    I watched it last nice and had a pretty mixed response.

    I agree that much of the film is beautifully shot, with a lot of the shots of LA, reminding me of Michael Mann; especially Heat and Collateral.

    And the film does do the whole pop culture thing ten years before Tarantino. (and the skateboard kid is ready - the Silver Surfer does suck).

    On the other side the character of Gere is massively annoying. Maybe its true that this was what he was aiming for, but I just didn't like him. You just wanted to give him a good slap.

    Also the female lead, Valérie Kaprisky, is IMHO pretty wooden.

    So I had no sense of involvement about what happened to them.

    Still, ahead of its time in many ways.

  • Comment number 8.

    The 1983 remake of Breathless is a film about the utopia that is L.A. and Richard Gere's character is its illigitamete, and very annoying, son.

    Comparing this film with the original is inevitable and like the original Godard version (which I had to endure under torture a record twenty times at both A-Level and university) both films were way ahead of its time.

    In the original's case it was the unique film and narrative techniques used. In the remake's case its Richard Gere dressing like a 'Frenchman'. However both films influenced a horde of generations of filmmakers by displaying that intertextuality is a cinematic art form and it should be embraced. However unlike the original, this remake has been very sadly lambusted and tossed away.

    In conclusion I have to say that whilst I'm no fan of Gere, Valarie Kaprisky is a sight for sore eyes, and unlike the original the 1983 remake is far more fun, wittier and the soundtrack is sure zanier. Whilst no masterpiece, it should receive some form of recognition.

  • Comment number 9.

    I watched this a couple of week ago in preparation for the Film Club. I loved the beginning of the movie and loved some of the end, but the middle left me cold. It just did not click for me.

    I really enjoyed Gere's portrayal of Jesse Lujack and did not think that Valerie Kaprisky was too bad either, but as you mentioned, the soundtrack is really what grabbed me.

    From Jerry Lee Lewis to Dexy's Midnight Runners, the film felt very current although dated. I know the trousers were awful, but I have seen a lot worse walking around claiming to be 'hipster' or 'retro'.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think Godard is largely overrated. There are things about "Weekend," "Contempt," "A Woman is a Woman" and "Alphaville" that I like very much. But I can't say that I truly enjoy his films.

    As for "Breathless," I agree that it nails the Los Angeles settings. Reminded me a bit of Michael Mann's "Collateral" in that way. I'm a So. Cal native, so I appreciate those touches. I also think that Richard Gere is a much better actor than people think. He seemed entirely credible to me in this role. And Kaprisky over Seaberg? Sorry, Seaberg cultists, but that one's a slam dunk.

  • Comment number 11.

    Dont know if the film left me breathless, ill watch it later, but i left the intro after you started it with "So..". Very irritating.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'll have to check this out sometime (despite swearing to call off all movie watching til I'm done with uni studies), but I'll have to check out A Bout de Souffle first -- always gotta see the original first.

  • Comment number 13.

    I've seen it but what's the point in talking about it now. Unless you're in the first 9 or 10 comments, Mark probably isn't gonna read out anything you say anyway.

  • Comment number 14.

    Jonny616,comment 13.your completely wrong.Mark read 2 of my comments out and both were well down in the 40s and 70s comments number.Prehaps you need to write something witty or interesting to say.

    Mark, prehaps having a film that was available to 'watch now' on lovefilm would increase numbers of viewers on older films? Just a thought!

  • Comment number 15.

    I was surprisingly taken by Breathless and its energy. When watching Gere's ridiculous performance, my brain balked, but my heart couldn't help but go along with it. Comparing the film with A Bout De Souffle is not very helpful, because it is its own particular vision, and I have to say that I'm glad I watched it. Good call, Mark!

  • Comment number 16.

    Top marks for mentioning 'The Wrong Man' - A film i caught on Television late at night back in the day, The ending always stuck with me as does the ending in Breathless. Link Wray and Eno/Fripp on the same soundtrack? That is just something else! The shots of L.A. Remind me of To Live And Die In L.A. released two years later also.

  • Comment number 17.

    First time watching - I couldn't help but shamelessly enjoy its ridiculousness. I was also surprised by its brooding sense of humour, which was at times shameless fun but could also be quite knowing and grim.

    The award for the simultaneously best and worst fake road projections goes to the scenes wherein Richard Gere and Valerie Kaprinsky go for fast drives in the pink convertible - the road barely turns with the car, hilarious!

    Richard Gere's fashion also wins some awards in my books. Those are some trousers, sir.

  • Comment number 18.

    "In every sun-- in every star-- I see her face!" I don't know whether it was the ripest of ripe dialogue, the surreal chunks of Silver Surfer monologues, or the saturated technicolor palette, but Richard Gere's Hot Headed Street Punk© tour de force had its way with me in spite of every logical fibre of my being yelling "Neither real people nor any other fictional characters talk like this!!" Mark's breakdown of a classic RG performance needing Breathing, Blinking and Buns finally makes sense to me. It's a gem.

  • Comment number 19.

    The Onion AV Club did a good article on Breathless a while ago, which is what inspired me to see it: http://www.avclub.com/articles/breathless,59916/
    I actually love this film. I find the original to be that thing that one must never say about an old, foreign film - boring. I'm loathe to use the term but it's the most honest one. And for all Gere's character got flack for being unlikeable, I thought Belmondo's was painted in much the same way.
    Incidentally, I believe Godard signed the remake rights over to McBride on a napkin.

  • Comment number 20.

    Breathless is stylish, undoubtedly, and I do have a huge weakness for Richard Gere in just about everything. Saying that, I have big issues with even uttering it in the same breath as A Bout de Souffle, nevermind arguing that it's better. I'm not in the 'this movie is sacrilegious!' camp, but I just can't help but to feel that Breathless sucked all the free-spirited rough-edged joy from the original and covered it in tacky 80's gloss. The bit of dialogue about William Faulkner and the quip, 'Who's that, someone you slept with?' - is spoken as Valerie Kaprisky takes her top off, which sort of makes the wittiness fall flat, and I think that's the main problem with the movie. If it claims to be a remake, even a revised one, I can't help but to compare it to the original, and it really does lack all the wit and punchiness of A Bout de Souffle.

  • Comment number 21.

    Meh... Breathless seems to me a completely different film. For instance, where À bout de souffle plays around with what Hollywood represents, Breathless feels completely Hollywood as it is. Pretty traditional in my eyes. I don't get what Breathless wants from me. I do get what the old, French version is about.

    So yes, I prefer Godard's version, for a few simple highly subjective reasons really. One. I have fun watching Godard's film, it feels witty, clumsy, confused, plus the sunglasses are cool -- Breathless, a tad boring at times. Two. Belmondo has a playful, sometimes comic charm in À bout de souffle, Gere in Breathless is just highly irritating...

  • Comment number 22.

    For years no one would ever admit to liking this film, let alone prefering it to the original, so good for you not going with the crowd. Watching Breathless now i can see elements that have been copied elsewhere, the deliberately fake back screen projection probably inspired the taxi cab scene in Pulp Fiction. Various points of comparison the in-joke about Lazlo Kovacs isn't reproduced, the "hero" is amoral in the original and a narcissistic dreamer in the remake. Ultimately A Bout de Souffle may more influential Breathless is more fun.

  • Comment number 23.

    Blimey, that was fun!

  • Comment number 24.

    Before this evening I had never seen Breathless before. I have never seen A Bout de Souffle either, so I can't speak to the comparison between the two. On its own terms my first reaction is that Breathless would be entirely forgettable if it wasn't for the last ten minutes. First of all I genuinely can't tell whether Richard Gere acted well or not. No idea. Even taking Mark's 'acting like a bad actor' argument on board - I think it still requires a leap of faith to say "Yes, Gere means for us to squirm while we watch him 'act'" and I don't think I was able to make that leap. Not on first viewing anyway. I thought Kaprisky was blandly efficient but not bad by any means. I don't understand why Mark and other contributors here are being negative about the trousers - I absolutely loved them, and want a pair. But that last scene was terrific and I quite understand why anyone would want a recording of it on cassette tape - the development of that piano/accordion theme into big string-led melodrama that is then punctured and blended with the rock n' roll song was magic; it actually made me think of ennio morricone-scored final shoot-out scenes from sergio leone's westerns; an almost perfect blend of music and images of men with guns. Worth the watch for that alone. Where is my cassette recorder?

  • Comment number 25.

    I haven't seen A Bout de Souffle so I cannot make any comparative comments. However, what that does mean is that I came to Breathless unencumbered with any filmic baggage. Right off the bat I have to say that Gere's Lujack has to be one of the most annoying main characters I have watched and Kaprisky is more than a tad wooden at times...but, Breathless did entertain me for the whole of its running time. Lujack is the classic narcissistic, ultra-cocky anti-hero that we would all like to slap, and the fact that Gere managed to make me feel like that throughout is testament to his performance. People like that really do exist (I'm sure we have all met at least one). As for Kaprisky, well whether intentional or not, she plays Monica as slightly bewildered and permanently off-balance and this is spot on for how we might imagine a 'Lujack' type character would make a naive French woman in LA feel. As for the film's influence, there is little doubt that the likes of Tarantino have drawn heavily from this movie as source material, not least True Romance's Clarence (who works in a comic book store!)/Elvis v Lujack/Jerry Lee Lewis/Silver Surfer.

    Entertaining? Damn right. Did it leave me Breathless? Hmm, not quite and I did still want to smack a Lujack!

  • Comment number 26.

    Well, all in all, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In the beginning all I could think of was “you’ve got to be kidding me” what with the fake backgrounds and Jesse being a repulsive creep however, by the end of the movie, I sort of cared about the characters and I was sort of moved by the final scene.

    I must say though that there was a lot of driving without looking at the road, which (like Amélie) annoyed me to no end.

    Love the show (Steve?) from Italy.

    Raffaella

  • Comment number 27.

    I remember 'Breathless' got me through those difficult teenage years. In much the same way 'The Wickerman' did.

    I imagine it's quite tame now.

  • Comment number 28.

    Not 100% sure what I just watched but I'm sticking to my policy of noting my initial reaction to a film and I can't deny that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    The interesting thing for me is how you talked about watching this film after becoming a fan of Richard Gere in "An officer and a Gentleman". The films that we look back on with the most fondness are not always the "best" films we've seen but the ones that felt right at the time and we're not sure why but that's the joy of it.

    “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

  • Comment number 29.

    Mark, I'm so pleased you're doing this as it may be the nearest thing we have to a return to Moviedrome, with the added bonus of reading other opinions on the film (after you set the scene in your usual brilliant way). I have a DVD copy of Breathless in the post and will put up a response when I've seen it. I remember staying up late a couple of years ago to watch A Bout de Souffle on TV and finding it quite hard going, but that could have been because I was tired. Curiously the only thing that stuck in my mind from it was the fact that outside noise seemed to be incorporated into the film without any sense of worry that it would detract from what was going on. I remember once scene between Belmondo and Seberg in an apartment which was enlivened by the sound of someone on a motorbike driving very loudly past an open window. I thought to myself, "Is that what the new wave was all about? Realism taken to the nth degree? It must be, because as a story, this film is not worth getting excited about."

  • Comment number 30.

    I just finished watching Breathless, Dr. K. Here's what I thought (more or less).

    I have seen the original (a few years ago, I think) and did not share the viewpoint with the French that the original was a classic. I didn't see a point to the film. It was a completely irresponsible hood that drags someone down with him as he finally steps over the line. A bad guyin the beginning with no explanation why. A bad guy to the end. Pointless. I get that it was the New Wave and all of that. Live fast, die young. No Future. Cool! Nihilism! Hipness! Inappropriately edited scenes. Random cuts. Cuts too soon! Too late! Bleeeaaarrrggggghhhh!!! I HATED it. The only thing good about it was Seberg, not because of any other reason than she was a beautiful woman, though, and the camera as they say loved her.

    I don't want to sound contrarian, but I guess, I'll have to. Although I did like this version better than the last, I still think that it ended up lacking a core, much like the main character. And SLIGHT SPOILERS WARNING... It's just a little one, though, since it does occur so early in the film, but I do believe this version at least made the main character slightly more sympathetic in that he doesn't intentionally murder someone. If I remember correctly, the terrible editing in the original left you not really knowing what happened between the main character and the police officer, but you get the idea that he murders the cop in order to get out of facing responsibility. With Gere's Jesse, the killing is an accident. It does make it at least somewhat of a tragedy. Sure he's dumb and self absorbed, but he didn't MEAN to kill anyone. You sort of feel bad for him, even if he has been really, really, REALLY stupid and irresponsible.

    I'm not much of a Richard Gere fan, but I did think what he did here was sufficient. I got the Jerry lee Lewis shtick/mannerisms/accent, but thought maybe the film should have at least given a little more of an indication of that for those that weren't familiar with Lewis' persona (other than playing songs in the background). One 10 second clip of Lewis on television or something would have sufficed. As it is, the schtick doesn't entirely work, but that's the director's fault. I did notice right off the bat that the beginning credits were presented with comic book style lettering. Even the title was in a cartoonish font, I guess to signal what they were trying to present with the main character. As a lifelong comic book fan I was slightly annoyed that some of the details involving the Silver Surfer (one of the greatest creations of the late cartoonist Jack 'King' Kirby) were changed in order to fit the story, just as Tarantino got Superman wrong in Kill Bill Part Deux... But I digress.

    I think they unnecessarily were hitting the audience over the head with some of the symbolism... Everything that Jesse possessed was stolen. His persona (Lewis), his ideals (Silver Surfer), his cars, even his heart... to which, when he gave his stolen heart to Monica and announces it to make sure the audience 'got it'... well, I felt like I was being poked in the eye. Yes, I got it. But I still didn't care for it. I guess it does set up one character for a fork in the road, where they can choose the right or wrong path, but the guy you're supposed to be following here never has that. It's never explained why he is who he is. There is no character arc. He just has one road to follow to its inevitable end. So it's back to "Live fast, die young. No Future. Cool! Nihilism! Hipness! Bleeeaaaggghhhfffgghhhh!!!" I 'd have to say if I were to rate this, I'd probably give it 2.5 stars. I thought it was watchable, but I still found it lacking, especially that cheesy Jerry Lee Lewis sing-along moment at the end. I've actually seen this same sort of story done far better in films like 'Straight Time' or 'Five Easy Pieces'.

    Like the original, I think the best part of Breathless was the female lead (Valerie Kaprisky in this case). I did appreciate that this is another film that I can now say "umm, James Hong was in that one" if and when this film gets mentioned by friends of mine (admittedly, highly unlikely, though). So to answer your question... 'Breathless' left me sighing.


    And the Silver Surfer does NOT suck, by the way. Just sayin'. His appearance in the recent Fantastic Four sequel didn't do justice to him.

    And one question... Is there ever a time when someone other than you, Dr. Kermode, can pick the film? I can think of several that I've never heard you mention that I would like to hear what you think about them, my 'Best Film of the 2000s' being among (amongst?) those.

  • Comment number 31.

    Just finished watching the film and i liked it,the visual style of it was great,the soundtrack was really good,and you could see the places where more recent filmmakers had drawn from,overall its probably a film i would have probably never watched,but im glad i did

  • Comment number 32.

    Enjoyed this quite a bit, more than Godard's Breathless, which I don't really care for. Gere was great, Kaprisky not so much. I wonder if Lynch's Wild at Heart was influenced at all by this film, especially the Cage/Elvis and Gere/Lewis similarities. Methinks they'd make a great drive-in double feature.

    Just a suggestion: I don't know how feasible it would be, Mark, but if you plan on continuing this film club, I think using some sort of basic message board would make these discussions much easier. Anyone else agree? Also, you should join in the discussion!

  • Comment number 33.

    Given a choice between A Bout de Souffle and Breathless I'd rather leave the screen turned off and read a book.

  • Comment number 34.

    A couple of years ago I was interviewing Jean Pierre Jeunet when he brought Micmacs to the HKIFF and on sharing his distain for the French New Wave, I stopped the conversation dead to shake his hand. While there are certain specific treats to be gleaned from the movement I very quickly found Godard in particular to become very repetitive. Let's face it, how many times do we need to see men wearing hats sit in a bath and read poetry, pausing on occasion to flick their cigarette ash or slap an attractive woman? McBride's film is far from perfect - it doesn't have much of a plot and as a result gets baggy, repetitive and a bit dull in its second half, but all is redeemed by the exceptional Richard Gere and a final scene that must surely rank as one of the great endings of Modern American Cinema. If our only choice is all or nothing, I'm willing to suffer through the Godard if only to let us keep the McBride.

  • Comment number 35.

    There was a cartoon/comic book look to a lot of the scenes, with the colours used, the backgrounds and Jesse's over the top behaviour, and i liked the juxtaposition of fantasy vs reality, such as when he found the gun in the little Porsche and he placed it on top of the Silver Surfer comic. His childlike character enabled him to live in the moment with no real thought of consequence or future as opposed to Monica who was younger but more adult. The intensity of his feelings and his passionate 'its all or nothing with me' attitude had a naivity and sweetness, and there couldnt have been more fitting locations for this tale than LA and Vegas. A whirlwind of a movie, and i loved it.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'll catch the next bus.

  • Comment number 37.

    The thing is, it doesn't MATTER that Godard's films are usually unwatchable. That's not the point of Godard. Godard was, is first and foremost an experimentor. He tries things. His films ARE more for flm makers and students rather than cinema goers. That's no bad thing, surely? He's the guy doing the pure research, if you like; others then take the results of the experiments and find a use for them. McBride was Tarantino ahead of this time? Huh. Godard was there first in 1960. First. In 1960. At a point when he and Truffaut and the other now well known French filmmakers were just young guys with ideas who wanted to make films, and it being 1960 and France they really were kicking against a very entrenched and conservative establishment.
    And anyone who things Godard can't make a good watchable film, go see "Vivre Sa Vie" or "Le Mepris" or "Bande A Part" or "Le Petit Soldat".
    Grrrrr.

  • Comment number 38.

    I quite enjoyed that! Thanks Mark, I might not have watched it if you hadn't chosen it. Hope you stick with less main stream movies for future picks.

    At first I thought the movie was a play on the original and Gere's character was poking fun at his French counterpart's quirkiness, but it's a film that really comes into it's own mid way through as we see cracks of Jesse's real personality start to shine through. While a lot of the dialogue and story is similar to the original the Pop culture references and the dream like portrayal of L.A. give the film it's own identity. In fact I liked it more than 'À bout de Souffle'. Fantastic soundtrack to boot.

  • Comment number 39.

    Having never watched Breathless before (I have never forgiven Mr Gere for the mess that was Final Analysis) I was very wary going in. However I was surprised to find a sleazy treat, with Gere recapturing for me the greatness he showed in American Gigolo. Their is so little to like about his character, a narcissistic cop killer who wears plus fours, he still brings an anti-hero qualit. He treats life like it's one big comic book and that one day all the 'characters' will understand and appreciate his greatness.

  • Comment number 40.

    In all honesty, although the ending of the film made my hairs stand on end, throughout most of the film I felt pretty underwhelmed. However, I disagree with the assessment that Richard Gere's character was too obnoxious to relate to, I felt that Gere's performance exuded an aura of naivety and innocence that is epitomized by his love for the Silver Surfer comics. He seemed to not really be aware of the consequences of his actions, demanding what he wanted, when he wanted it, in the manner of a young child. My opinion is that the film shows his actions catching up with him, not all of them entirely his fault, and I think that his sheer determination and idealistic vision of hope and happiness in the face of it all make the ending all that more, for the lack of a better word, breathtaking.

  • Comment number 41.

    @draclear

    Yeah, I actually enjoy a lot of Godard's stuff, despite not really caring for his Breathless. I would actually argue that most of Godard's work is highly watchable, if not always really deep or meaningful. Seems like a whole lot of people are completely writing off his work.

  • Comment number 42.

    I saw Breathless years ago but couldn't really remember what it was all about.

    Having seen it again I have to say that I HATED this film.

    HATED, HATED, HATED, HATED, HATED, HATED, HATED IT!!!!

    The most annoying thing about the film is Richard Gere. This must be one of the most undisciplined and narcisstic performances ever put on to celluloid. Since he played such a cretin in the film, I couldn't care less about whether he got shot at the end of the film or was sent into exile on a planet for other immature buffoons!!

    I'm not sure if Valerie Kapriski should be checked for woodworm after her performance in the film. She looked beautiful at the time but it counts for nothing if you can't act.

    As for comparing the film to what Quentin Tarantino has written, I completely disagree. Tarantino may be obsessed with comics and pop culture but he knows how to tell a good story.

  • Comment number 43.

    I dunno man. "Wait my taco!" was as good an improvisation as I've seen.

  • Comment number 44.

    Now that we have all watched and disagreed on a divisive film from 1983, might I point out that Kermode Uncut Film Club is practically obliged (perhaps morally) to take in a divisive film from 1984 next.

    Dune. Dune next. Let's get to the bottom of the long running critical riddle of whether Dune is better than Breathless.

    Dune.

  • Comment number 45.

    I first saw the poster for the film outside a video shop when I was about 7 & thought the tagline was cool. I forgot all about it then about '89 it was on ITV or something & I watched it all & loved it. Don't understand people thinking Gere was a bad actor, although Richard Burton said 'you cannot over-act' I probably view acting differently because of this. Many scenes stand out, but my personal favourite is the bit were he is watching the news & she is in the shower & he starts singing 'Suspicious Minds' very, very cool. Definately in my top 10.

  • Comment number 46.

    Like bobshark, the Suspicious Minds scene was great and the overall movie was great also, kinda reminded me of an less serious 1980's version of 'Drive' with the cars, LA as a character, the jacket, the girl, the dominant soundtrack. Thought Kapriskys acting left her down at times and Gere was a little strong. Really enjoyed it though ☺

  • Comment number 47.

    I saw "Breathless" the first time when I was about 10, on TV and I only had a faint recollection of it being a pretty silly movie, although I must admit the scenes in which Richard Gere sings and/or dances to various songs have an unexpected staying power.

    I saw the movie again last night (some 15 years later) and although it didn't seem as silly now as it did then, I didn't enjoyed it very much. It was only in the last half hour that I felt the movie really took off and we caught glimpses of McBride's talent (for example, the way the finale is timed is amazing). For the most of it, however, "Breathless" is a predictable, talky film, a campy over-the-top story told in a pretty conventional, "straight" manner.

    And as for comparing it to the original: "A bout de souffle" is nowhere near Godard's best work, but it was (almost by accident) a groundbreaking moment in cinema. It challenged classical storytelling and cinematic form in a way few movies have done. It may not be the most enjoyable movie ever made, but out of the two movies we talked about here, it certainly is the most rewarding.

  • Comment number 48.

    I find it interesting this American remake of the critically acclaimed French New Wave film is first, as Mark recently outright dismissed the existence of the remakes of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Let Me In for pulling the same tricks this does.

    Breathless is a fairly dull film, too reliant on the events of the superior original; showing none of the experimental flair of Godard when it does go into new territory. They (rightfully) try to replace Godard's intellectual arrogance with copy and paste metaphors, but a long conversation about Silver Surfer's plight matching the main character's, and a plastic heart literally breaking in half are possibly the most clunky moments ever put to film.

    Richard Gere is the antithesis of Jean-Paul Belmondo - a proto-Nicolas Cage (not just in accent) whose regret of killing a policeman and his subsequent actions suggest a lack of control over his immaturity. Gere is more likeable than the cold, indifference of Belmondo, but he plays the role almost too well because he becomes intolerable to watch as the film progresses. His cause is not helped by Valerie Kaprisky's Monica; her character having more gaps than her sentence structures as she is constantly reined in to match the characterisation of A bout de soufflé's Patricia.

    The couple's time together is meandering at best. A copy and paste reference to a William Faulkner novel is the only memorable exchange between the two, again through its sheer clunkiness. Shame 75% of the film consisted just of them together.

    The ending, while beautifully directed, is a cop out. Courtesy of translating to an American audience that supposedly despises leaving the cinema unhappy, Gere is placed in a position of martyrdom instead of receiving his comeuppance. Because he loves a girl, who is running towards him at the time, he gets the defiant "love conquers all" ending. Awwww, everyone goes home happy, etcetera.

    So to recap: I did not like this.

  • Comment number 49.

    Breathless.
    Wow! So many good comments from people already, lots of points that I would make myself, so sorry if I'm repeating anything.

    Well, one can see why you love it Dr K, we all know about your man crush on Gere and your love of rock'n roll, The King, old cars and those trousers!

    Despite Gere's irritating portrayal of Jesse and my better judgement I found myself getting caught up in this story of these mismatched lovers, especially in chase scene where they run and run and run. Yes Jesse is an annoying bafoon, but he's a flippin' sexy annoying bafoon and he knows it! It's the classic bad boy gets the good girl story. Jesse is the silver surfer. When the boy at the news stand calls the surfer a jerk, he's calling Jesse a jerk, later reiterated by Monica too, the symbolism is hardly subtle. The surfer loves earth  and stays even though he should leave. Jesse loves Monica, he stays in LA for love at the risk of his own life.

    The shots are stylish and run the gamit from close-ups in the style of pure comicbook panels (echoing their garish colours) to wide shots of LA with its unusual mish mosh of architectural styles (what's the deal with the house that looks like a tacky ice palace?). One shot that stood out for me was the crane shot as Gere runs from the car scrapyard, really lovely. 
    The comic book style is not just reserved for the look of the movie, the dialogue is overblown with an unrealistic tone. Jesse never seems to be a real person, instead channeling his rock'n roll hero Jerry Lee Lewis or spouting Silver Surfer quotes. The one moment when he is truly himself is behind the screen in the movie theatre when he makes love to Monica. The romantic music from the movie theatre swells and in turn becomes the soundtrack to their own love scene. We see why he is desperate to hang on to her. It's the one moment in the whole movie when he is good and true and real.

    It must be noted that this is an important movie in terms of its clear influence on the highly regarded and  critically acclaimed Quentin Tarantino. He has stated (like you Dr K) that he prefers this version over Godard's A Bout de Souffle and it's influence is clear, from its pop culture references to it's use of music.

    It has definite problems, one feels little sympathy for Jesse, even though the shooting of the cop is accidental he shows little remorse and, lets face it, he's a bit of a prat. You never really get any kind of sense of who he is or just what exactly he does. Kaprisky's acting leaves a lot to be desired but her sheer beauty makes up for some of it, the camera loves her. The lack of strong narrative is problematic but the style just about saves the movie regardless of this. Not one I will be rushing out to buy but still an ok watch mainly due to Dr K's intro.
    I look forward to the next movie.

    PS I saw the ending as more retribution than love conquers all.

  • Comment number 50.

    Hi Mark,i picked up a dvd copy of Breathless this week and watched it earlier this evening.The last time i viewed this movie must of been about eighteen years ago.Despite being a big fan of the original i still enjoyed watching the Jim McBride version.It's a great slice of hyper active bubble gum pop culture fun,if viewers approach it with a critical viewpoint in mind or compare it to the original then i think they may be annoyed by it.The tone of the film is all over the place but i think that makes the film interesting and entertaining.When Jesse finishes his discussion with the kid about the Silver Surfer you half expect him to break into a song as he's walking away,and it wouldn't of mattered,it's the type of film that you could get away with something like that.
    Overall i'm glad i watched the film and i will watch it again sometime,maybe as the support movie on a double bill with Wild At Heart.

  • Comment number 51.

    So I took up the challenge from Dr KErmode and went to my usual Video Store to pick up Breathless. I first checked the customer computer which said they had a copy in the Drama section. I could not find it so asked at the counter where the staff computer said it was in Action-Drama. So I rented it for $1.00 and came home and watched it.
    I had first seen it in the mid 80's on television but remembered very little on the other hand I saw the French original a couple of years ago and did not like it at all.
    I found the film to be a real mess and not a good mess. I did not like or enjoy any of the characters and neither story, performances or dialogue did anything for me. The visual choices and locations were probably the best part of the film but I can safely say I will not be watching this again.
    Hopefully next film for the Film club will be better for me. I am hoping you pick Michael Manns underrated and under seen 'Thief'.

  • Comment number 52.

    odd that for the past 18 months Mark has done nothing but moan about American re-makes of foreign films and ordered us only to watch the originals yet for the first film club film he wants us to watch an american re-make of a foreign film.

    Rightio Marky Mark.

  • Comment number 53.

    I find Jim McBride's version to be a dumb American version of a truly inventive self-conscious film. While Godard's film makes you think about cinema and the consumption of American popular culture in a new way, McBride's film simply presents an unironic celebration of the stupid, apathetic, and facile. You're right to say that McBride's Breathless anticipates Quentin Tarantino, but why is that such a good thing? From Godard to McBride to Tarantino represents a downwards trajectory. Godard's Breathless is a difficult film and a thoughtful commentary on what was, at the time, a visually and politically sophisticated popular American style (the classic noir cycle, 1941-1958). McBride and Tarantino, however, push into the realm of pastiche - 'Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a linguistic mask, speech in a dead language. But it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody's ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse, devoid of laughter'.

    While we're on this subject, I find dismaying the trend for releasing great cult films in DVDs that say 'The film that inspired Quentin Tarantino', as if Kiss Me Deadly (1955), Branded to Kill (1967), Le Samourai (1967), The Long Goodbye (1973), etc, are only valuable for inspiring hack cover versions of exploitation movies.

    For the next Film Club, may I suggest Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd. (1950)? It is readily available and would be a timely choice given the success of The Artist.

  • Comment number 54.

    Like the film club idea, miss the days of Moviedrome and film seasons that would have introductions on tv. Had never seen Breathless before, just watched it and thought it enjoyable but not a masterpiece. Excellent locations and soundtrack, thought Gere was good in the role. Found it a bit slow paced after the first half hour hour so, very good ending.

  • Comment number 55.

    It's certainly good fun. Has some unusual trousers. I don't think it's as cool as the original and Kaprisky looks a little lost - but then she did work with Zulawski and La femme publique is definitely worth a look, must have been quite an experience from which few would recover. Gere is good, perhaps often underrrated. Whatever happened to the director?

  • Comment number 56.

    Having never seen A Bout de Souffle I can't draw any kind of worthwhile comparison, however Breathless certainly entertained me, more often than not as a result of Gere's choice in trousers. Handsome sod gets away with it, too...

    It's not going to reach my favourites list, but I am glad I took time out to watch it. As for Dr K's love of this movie, I can't help but feel the inclusion of Dexy's Midnight Runners on the soundtrack has more than a little influence...

  • Comment number 57.

    Decent enough. 6/10. Great soundtrack and use of locations. Shirt and trousers OTT but goes with Gere's performance. Never saw the original. Silver Surfer and a hot french chick? Odd but sort of works.

  • Comment number 58.

    I saw the original when it was released and refused to see this remake. So I owe you a huge thank you, Mark. It was fabulous.

  • Comment number 59.

    Err, *puts up hand*. How can this 'film club' work? When people walk into a cinema, they see the same film at the same time. But here, people will see the film at different times, and risk issuing spoilers for those who, for whatever reason, haven't seen it yet.

  • Comment number 60.

    Good evening Mark and Film Club,

    First off what film should we track down for next week?

    I thought "Breathless" was pretty slow until half way through then it got better.

    I enjoyed Jesse Lujack played by Richard Gere because even though he seems narcissistic and living in his own fantasy world, I find myself liking him for those reasons. He's being true to himself through his love of the Silver Surfer and 50s rock n roll which he feels an affinity with.

    In a non-narcissistic way I felt I could relate to it - being a 27 year old Scotsman who loves disco music above just about all else (mainly New York disco a la the sound from indie labels like Salsoul, Prelude, West End to name a few), I can see that the world around him has moved on to more modern music but he hasn't because to him, there is no better form of music and its part of his identity (as I think disco is to mine).

    He doesn't take himself too seriously, but why should we? Its really his world we're looking into and how he sees it. We don't know how old Jesse is, but to himself he's like a 50s teenager living for the moment. It's only when things happen later on that he starts to consider other people than himself for the future (I'm not going to spoil it).

    Maybe he sees the Silver Surfer as a role model, not just because he's a super hero but due to the feeling of unrequited love he has - to an extent, Jesse can sympathise with that as we see early on in the film he claims to love Monica and want her bad.

    The theme of Jesse being in his own world is continued when he and Monica go to Errol Flynn's estate. To the audience its pretty much looks like a dive, but for all we know Jesse choose to go there, as part of his fantasy ethos - Errol Flynn being a major box office draw back in the 50s.

    I felt the ending to this film, way way WAY better than the original. I think the original takes itself too seriously but this - its more fun, enjoyable, you can analyse it like so many have done on this blog or just switch off and enjoy.

    Looking forward to the next choice - good one to start off with :)

    Regards,
    @discocampbell on Twitter

  • Comment number 61.

    Just to echo the above comment, can you end each introduction by telling us what film to see next and two weeks notice should be sufficient in future.

  • Comment number 62.

    Comment 60 -- 'I think the original takes itself too serious but this - its more fun, enjoyable, you can analyse it like so many have done on this blog or just switch off and enjoy'.

    Why the emphasis on enjoyment? Good films make you think, offer aesthetic experiences that contribute to your understanding of the world and of yourself, challenge your ideas and prejudices, and encourage discussion. Analysis is not a Bad Thing -- analysis simply means being a more active viewer and thinking about the experience that the film is offering, what it means, how it creates these meanings, how it uses the conventions of cinema, and how much you should value it.

  • Comment number 63.

    Breathless is on MGMHD if anyone is looking to watch it and can't find it, in HD too, sky channel 313, its next showing is Saturday 8:40am. I plan on taping it and shall give a bit of feed back once I have watched it.

  • Comment number 64.

    The remake of Breathless has been solidly lodged in my top 10 favourite's of all time for a few years now. I came across the VHS in a charity shop for a pound and, being another die hard Richard Gere fan I snapped it up. I've seen it a good 50 times since then.

    I genuinely think Richard Gere's performance is great in this movie, he's perfectly cast as a childish, selfish dummy with a non existent attention span who's learnt to coast through life on sheer charisma and good looks (that's not to say I think he is like that in real life, I just think he plays those parts very well). I'm also a Valérie Kaprisky apologist, I get that her performance technically leaves a lot to be desired technically but I find it hard not to like her and feel sorry for her as Jesse put's her through all this stuff, while Jesse is dumb she is naive, innocent.

    Watching The Big Easy proves that Jim McBride clearly knows how to do sexy and I think he excelled himself with Breathless, I consider the sexiest movies I've ever seen and that's the main reason I love it so much. It's stars, it's characters, it's story, it's soundtrack, it's sweet little touches (for example the scene set behind the cinema screen) all add up to the perfect package of sexy fun.

  • Comment number 65.

    I avoided this film at the time of release and never bothered getting around to see it.

    Thanks Dr. K. I loved it. I thought Gere was brilliant but the beautiful Valérie Kaprisky was a bit rubbish. I think her wooden acting is partly the reason Gere's performance was so misunderstood. I took it that Gere played Jesse as a facade; deliberately obscuring the character's deeper self. Maybe it's wishful thinking because the alternative, that Gere was playing Jesse for real, is too dreadful to contemplate.

    The pace of the film really zipped along, I was gripped throughout. A real joy.

    Thanks, a great movie.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hi Dr. K,

    First off, I would have to agree on the superb use that Jim McBride makes of the LA location. A lot of films seem to find it hard to capture the essence of Los Angeles, but Breathless does it quite brilliantly, in much the same way that the aforementioned Michael Mann has in the past, and Nicolas Winding Refn did for last year's Drive.

    As many other people have pointed out, there are definitely echoes of Tarantino in the film, who has spoken in the past of his love for the film. Pulp Fiction is an obvious indication of this, although arguably the clearest pointer comes in the shape of the Tarantino-scripted, Tony-Scott directed, True Romance.

    Though Valerie Kaprisky's inexperience did manifest at times, Richard Gere carries the film shoulder high, producing a performance that I found to be engaging for the duration of the running time.

  • Comment number 67.

    It's unfair, but the comparisons to other films made afterward are unavoidable. The style and themes of the story were explored much further and with much more fun in TRUE ROMANCE and WILD AT HEART. The depth of Richard Gere's character was explored much further in BADLANDS. However, I prefer this honest portrait of conceited people much more than an inadvertent portrait of a conceited director (Godard).

  • Comment number 68.

    I loved "Breathless" when I saw it while it the University of Glasgow in the 80s. Got hold of the DVD recently and found it just as enjoyable as before, and holding two revelations for me:

    1. So that's where I got the idea that singing along to the radio as one speeds down the highway was cool! Sure, lots of annoying idiots did so too, but this was Richard Gere, man -and hence cool. (I substituted Jerry Lee Lewis and the LA highways with Run Rig or Bruce Springsteen and a drive to Loch Lomond)
    2. And the movie is also where I got the idea (5 years later) to surprise my girlfriend in the shower. Worked, though -we've just had our 20th wedding anniversary.

    Still have not dared to wear anything like those pants Gere wears, though.

  • Comment number 69.

    I have just finished watching this and I can say I enjoyed the film somewhat. I personally thought Gere's performance was the outstanding feature in the film, however the performance by Valerire Kaprisky was personally left to be desired. I enjoyed the whirlwind tour of LA and the soundtrack was personally outstanding. I thought Gere really portrayed his character superbly - the character was clearly obsessed with his comic book hero through being largely seperated from the 'real world' and I personally felt that he thought was invincible (illustrated further within the very last scene).
    I would like to say thank you to Mark for the recommendation, as I have never watched this film before and did enjoy it. That said, I cannot see myself rushing to rent it again!

    On another note, I agree with some of the above comments - As I largely rent my movies through a prominent online movie rental service in the UK, a weeks notice would help in being able to watch the film in time. Moreover, a dedicated forum (possibly primarily run by trusted members of your choosing) would aid discussion here whilst allowing polls to be put forward so that everybody can pitch in with choices - heck, there may even be a film Mark has not watched that many of us would like to discuss!

    Thoroughly looking forward to the next choice. With the hugely anticipated film "Prometheus" soon to be released, may I suggest: Alien - Directors Cut

  • Comment number 70.

    Godard's "À Bout De Souffle" was a humorous satire of action movies and love stories (among many other things). the fact that "Breathless" was remade with Richard Gere (!!) further proves how shallow and meanless most hollywood movies are. Godard's "À Bout De Souffle" was never meant to be taken seriously and by doing so, this remake illustrates all the points Godard was trying to make without even realising it.

    "Breathless" should only be watched in conjunction with the original, and even then only for film education. On its own, this film is so bad, it barely even has CAMP value!!

  • Comment number 71.

    Sorry to teacher for not doing my homework.I have excuses.I trawled my usual seedy second hand haunts e.g. Jurby Junk/ Phase 2, looking for a VHS or DVD.Found many other joys except this one (Tom Baker DR WHOs!! kerrching!) .Finaly ordered it on line, but postie is very late, still waiting.I`ll hold my hand out and take the ruler like the good old days. Having read the above I`m very curious to see which side of the fence i fall on, having never seen it.

  • Comment number 72.

    Hi Mark

    I still think you have to consider seriously the aims and methods of the film club.

    I would love to take part - but as I previously noted in the original thread, this first choice is not available through legal streaming sources (as far as I could see).

    I only very rarely buy dvds. I am a member of a rental service - but feel that this source could be very frustratingly inconsistent especially should the film club really become significantly popular.

    Is the aim of the club to select truly the most interesting films for review - despite in many cases likely limitations in accessibility ? Or should it try to achieve a wider audience but have to rely on a more limited pool of titles - on "general release" (i.e. legal streaming or on a freeview channel or their associated on-demand-type services) ?

    I vote for the latter ...... but maybe I'm a lone voice .....

  • Comment number 73.

    In response to the above post by "Tetters10" - "Breathless" is nearly 30 years old and has been on television many many times. Anyone with a VHS video recorder or even a Betamax (?!) could have a copy free of charge had they been so inclined. Those involved with the movie stopped worrying about revenue from video and dvd sales a long time ago. Finding a copy of "Breathless" to watch online doesn't have the same moral implications as watching a copy of "Prometheus" for example.

  • Comment number 74.

    In response to the above post by "Verschrankung" - Finding an illegal copy of "Breathless" to watch online may not have the same moral implications compared to illegally streaming a new release such as "Prometheus" for some people, but the practice still has the same legal implications for all....

  • Comment number 75.

    Since any "legal implications" are purely academic unless the viewer either intends to watch the movie at the local police station or is secretly being monitored by Interpol then the only issue at stake here is one of morality.

  • Comment number 76.

    Maybe so, but with the increased lobbying by the music and film industry on ISPs to reveal identities of customers listening/watching/downloading pirated material the legal implications could become all the more serious for the individual - regardless of whether it was a new release or a 1983 film where "those involved with the movie stopped worrying about revenue from video and dvd sales a long time ago". Coupled with the scapegoating of individuals involved in piracy, but not making a living from it, as we have seen in recent years by these industries then you could be walking a fairly short plank. A much better idea is to subscribe to an online dvd rental service or spend couple of quid to purchase the film from an online retailer if you can't be sure that it will not be on tv, or in your library of Betamax/VHS. Morally you will be settled, whilst you are recognising the hard work completed by all of the production/distribution team involved (even though it may not go straight to them) and you are supporting the industry we all clearly love...

  • Comment number 77.

    Trueman -

    You talk about a need to be 'morally settled' without making one single point about morality. All that you have said in your last point is "We shouldn't do it because the music and film industry is out to get us and might." While I applaud your spinelessness in the face of the tyrannical demands that said industries would make of ISPs, I wonder whether you have an argument clearing expressing the 'immorality' of watching/downloading a copy of Breathless (1983) online for free. To phrase that another way: Why does God/Karma/the common good not want us to watch "Breathless" online for free?

    Don't say 'Richard Gere's acting'.

  • Comment number 78.

    Mcos -

    Thank you for your reply.

    With regards to my using of 'morality' within my last post, I was merely just continuing the "moral implications" that Verschrankung made in comment No. 72.

    From a personal viewpoint, I do not watch pirated movies purely because of the very last point I made. I love watching films, as I am sure we all do, and watching films bring me great pleasure. The huge amount of work that has been undertaken by both production/distribution teams in a film that has interested me to the point of wanting to watch it, makes me feel that one of the biggest disservices that I can do to it is to get hold of an illegal copy of said film instead of paying for the chance to watch the fruits of their labour and rewarding them for catching my curiosity with their production. Also, if we truly love watching films, why should we not reward the industry when a film catches our attention to the point of us wanting to watch it? It is a industry at the end of the day and does not run as a governmental service. I know that this is of my own personal opinion, however I fathom to understand how anybody on here would also happily see the fruits of their labour merely stolen, with little (if any) recognition for their hard work, and be absolutely fine with it. With regards to ISPs, although I am scared with regards to privacy etc, I do feel more stringent controls need to be put in place in order to make sure that the hard work in the industry is suitably recognised and rewarded.

    As an alternative answer to your question - Not Gere's acting, Kaprisky's!!

  • Comment number 79.

    Thanks for the reply Trueman

    I worry that your argument has gone circular. Consider comment number 73 above - it is essentially an answer to any sense that you have just offered a clear 'moral' argument.....and you have already responded to it - acknowledging that there IS a moral difference between illegally downloading 'Breathless' and illegally downloading 'Promotheus'. Perhaps what you need to do to get us out of this loop is go into a little more detail about what that difference is.

    Also: you wrote "I fathom to understand how anybody on here would also happily see the fruits of their labour merely stolen, with little (if any) recognition for their hard work"

    I reject the use of the word 'steal' in this context - the violation of copyright (what we are talking about) has nothing whatsoever to do with depriving someone of their property and anyone who thinks it does has been watching those vile 'FACT' ads far too uncritically. As for 'recognition' for those who toiled to bring 'Breathless' into existence: I watched it; I thought about it; then I went onto an online discussion board to discuss it and read what others had to say also. How does that fall short of 'recognition' in your view? On what grounds do you imagine that Jim McBride would feel his efforts 'unrecognised' in this case?

  • Comment number 80.

    Also - I feel sure that you do NOT 'Fathom to understand'. You either 'fail to understand' or you 'cannot fathom'.

  • Comment number 81.

    Thanks for your replies MCos.

    In reply to your last comment - you are correct, It should be "I cannot fathom". Please excuse, my poor grammar at this point in time - I have had a couple of glasses of gavi in the glorious sunshine whilst watching Luke Donald's win in Wentworth.

    On to your earlier comment:
    You state that my argument has gone circular but if you notice within comment no. 74 I qualify my statement at the end with "for some people". I explicitly did not state "for me", since I see no difference in terms of the "moral implications" brought about illegally streaming/downloading either a new release such as Prometheus or an older release such as Breathless.

    Also with the recognition comment, this was of course of personal opinion and I have also "watched it; thought about it; then I went onto an online discussion board to discuss it and read what others had to say also [about it]" but I also felt that, since the film (Dr K) had provoked me to watch it, I should reward the production/distribution/online rental service for the film. Sure the latter is probably the only beneficiary for this but it is still a reward for having the film in the catalogue. If we this ceased to happen, what desire would online retailers/rental services have to stock these more obscure titles?

  • Comment number 82.

    Thanks again Trueman

    "I see no difference in terms of the "moral implications" brought about illegally streaming/downloading either a new release such as Prometheus or an older release such as Breathless"

    Yet you still talk about "moral implications" as if I should know what you mean by that term. I don't. That's why I am asking what you think the moral argument is. Let's use your final argument here as a prompt to clarity - you wrote

    "I should reward the production/distribution/online rental service for the film. Sure the latter is probably the only beneficiary for this but it is still a reward for having the film in the catalogue"

    So - here is my question. Bearing in mind that, in your words, the "only beneficiary" of my legally acquiring 'Breathless' would be the online rental service .....in what way is it IMMORAL for me to ignore this legal avenue and download the film illegally?

  • Comment number 83.

    Many thanks for the fruitful debate MCos!

    In reply to your last comment - as I mentioned in comment 78. morality is of one's own personal viewpoint. I explained mine in comment 78, where among other things, I stated that I felt illegally downloading/streaming was an act stealing. This is of course my own personal opinion, and it may not be viewed in the courts or yourself as stealing, however in my opinion it is an act of swindling involved parties of income. Furthermore, I really feel that if this practice of illegally downloading/streaming dated/obscure movies became largely widespread than what desire would retailer/online rental services have to stock legal copies for people that maybe do not want to head down the alternative, illegal, route?

  • Comment number 84.

    Just a bit of pointless trivia regarding some of the comments made by people pointing out the Breathless influence on Quentin Tarantino.QT provided Tony Scott with some dialogue for his film Crimson Tide,it sticks out in the movie like a sore thumb and is quite ridiculous really.Two sailors get into a fight over an argument about the Silver Surfer,Denzil Washington has the last word by claiming that the Jack Kirby Silver Surfer era is better than the Mobieus period.
    Just thought i'd mention it ,don't know why,anyway,just rambling now,bye.

  • Comment number 85.

    "Many thanks for the fruitful debate"

    Thank you also.

    I cannot agree with you that illegal downloading is 'stealing' as I have already explained - the debate as I see it is about the moral implications of copyright violation; although this is often framed as 'copyright theft' I find that term highly political and plainly misleading. You cannot steal a copyright anymore than you can steal someone's right to free speech - rights are not stolen; they are violated/denied.

    "in my opinion it is an act of swindling involved parties of income"

    Your implication is that every instance of illegal downloading/viewing is an instance in which a legal 'sale' of the material would have been guaranteed - an assumption which is actually shared by much of the research which throws up colossal figures of 'lost revenue' due to piracy. It is a ludicrous and baseless assumption driven, again, by political self-interest masquerading as 'morality'. That is not just 'my opinion' - it is plain as day.

    Finally:
    "Furthermore, I really feel that if this practice of illegally downloading/streaming dated/obscure movies became largely widespread than what desire would retailer/online rental services have to stock legal copies for people that maybe do not want to head down the alternative, illegal, route?"

    It IS already, to revisit your tautology, 'largely widespread', probably because of the inherent moral ambiguity of copyright; though neither the music or film industries would ever acknowledge such a thing, since they reckon the truth to be too expensive. Furthermore, I wonder at the usefulness of the issue of 'stock' in 2012. I subscribe, I should mention, to LoveFilm (note that although I 'love film' I feel no obligation to 'hate piracy' as I am so often prompted to when I pay to see a film at the cinema) and specifically to their 'LoveFilm instant' service: that is an ever growing catalogue of film that is stored and distributed digitally. And it costs LoveFilm, presumably, very much less than having VHS copies sitting in warehouses. So 'stocking' material is not an issue - I can, should I so wish, watch 1973 Dean Stockwell classic 'Werewolf of Washington' right now on LoveFilm so I doubt that there are many films that are seriously confronted with being deleted for lack of demand as time goes on.

    You contend that morality is a question of one's own opinion or 'conscience' and therefore it doesn't really matter that we disagree. However the whole possibility of 'law' (which is at the centre of what we are really talking about here) is that it reflects the outcomes of essentially moral arguments - the terms of which will often change over time, and law will adjust accordingly. My real problem here is that when I see an ad against "piracy" from the film industry (and they have been going on for years) what I really see is a coarse, cynical denial of the depth and complexity of the copyright issue in modernity. That is why I reject terms like 'steal' and 'theft' in this debate and that is why I think, finally, that talking about this is so much more than just an exchange of 'opinions'. There is a 'truth' to this issue, however ambiguous and elusive it appears to be, and it is worth trying to get to so.....let's argue; let's throw ideas at each other; let's not stop at saying 'I 'feel' a certain way...' as you are doing.

    Anyway sorry for the rant - I see a 'love film, hate piracy' propaganda piece every time I go to the cinema now (and i go often) and the rage builds - apologies if I have come off as unduly aggressive.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this.

  • Comment number 86.

    Thank you MCos for you reply.

    I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. For instance, I disagree with your first point especially within the context of this thread, where had there not been an illegal copy of Breathless available online to stream freely, then a number of individuals with no access to a copy of Breathless would have had to purchase/rent a copy in order to engage with this inaugural film club discussion. This would have led to guaranteed legal sales. Moreover, given the case of unpopular/obscure titles, I agree that many people who stream these illegally will not have been driven to the point of actually purchasing if there was no illegal stream copy available. However, a number of those that have streamed these more unpopular/obscure titles will undoubtedly have purchased/rented a copy had a free illegal copy not been readily available. Another case of legal sales of these sort of titles being seriously threatened.

    Also, with regard to legal on demand streaming, I agree as a customer myself (to the aforementioned service in your last comment) I am an avid fan of the service. However, I notice how you have not stated that you can watch Breathless (1983) online. Sure the more popular original is available, but the more less popular version is not. If demand for these more unpopular titles is low, what desire would these services have in securing rights to add them to their streaming catalogues? None, or at best very little. Market demand - if the industry think we are not interested in it, why would they spend money it? But as we have found here, we are interested in these sort of titles, but far too often their demand on the legitimate market has veered of to more shady avenues meaning those like myself who do not assosciate with this practice could in future suffer from this. The "propoganda" at the cinema may annoy you to no end, but on the other side of the coin this exact practice continually gets on my wick and my rage builds due to the possibility in the future of having to miss out on films due to, out of principle, rejecting to engage in this illegal practice.

    "apologies if I have come off as unduly aggressive."

    Not at all, I enjoy a passionate debate and have enjoyed this debate thoroughly and I hope you have too.

    Now back to the grind tomorrow, but we will pick up again in the near future.

    Thank you for your sharing your opinions.

    Until next time...

  • Comment number 87.

    I should note that, when I say this "exact practice" in the last sentence of paragraph 2, I mean the practice of illegal streaming/downloading - not the practice of anti-piracy adverts at the local multiplex.

  • Comment number 88.

    1: I'm usually not a fan of an introduction, but I thought this one to Breathless was very very good. If a film is for recommending, it should be *in Bollywood English* "bloody good!" category. One caveat, because I have seen Breathless already watching the Introduction 1st then the movie afterwards does not create a clash of preconceptions?
    2: Rules of Film Club should be like that "game of no rules" some British guys used to play and make up the rules as they went along; can't remember their names atm.
    3: I avoid piracy on principle though it's good that dvds can't get away with charging 19.99 or higher these days (£7 max imo for 90-120mins types). ^_^ And if flatmate downloads then flicks on a movie while I'm around, er... !

    Breathless: I love this movie. Watched it many times during my teens as a movie that captivated and was fun. I always saw Richard Gere's "Jesse" as someone who wants to live larger than life, where for him a moment is an event; who obviously could handle themselves (history of street-smarts/deal with people) but underneath all that could spot something worth risking freedom for (Valerie Kaprisky). I also liked the comics as a folk wisdom the "pro/anta-gonist taps this limited spring to help make sense of things in an impassive world. So always acknowledged that he was both superficial character (emulating others); an exciting but dangerous spark, but ultimately looking for a deeper meaning. And I think this is where the film holds for me: You could interprete him favorably or unfavorably. It's true Kaprisky's acting is very clunky but her beauty is (very) convincing and the naive and innocent role is possibly important contrast for the main character, Jesse? To sum, why I like this film so much which may be so ordinary/crass to others, is the flow of the film captures a flow of ordinary small events but succeeds in making them feel large.

    I finally managed to watch À Bout De Souffle when I got access to the entire film collection at a University over one Summer : ) . I watched this film with huge anticipation and when it was over: That was very boring! I've read the comments of this blog and still have not found the solution as to what makes people think this film is really "important/great art". Perhaps historically ala "the new wave"? But it seems to me Goddard shot this film as ordinary life he and his friends might experience with a filmic twist of "on the run from the cops" to create story for what is most of the time, just the typical "dangerous charmer" making everyday life interesting for his love interest? A film of everyday life, conversation and company and that's the sort of experiment he intended? It sounds similar to Breathless, but watching some decades later, it was tiresome drivel to sit through; even though the similarities in description to the remake Breathless make it sound sound like the same film. It did not succeed at making the individual scenes into a movie, but it succeeded in demonstrating the idea. So for me it was very boring watching these two people mumbling on screen; tediously so.

    The irony is, I am very critical of remakes, especially foreign films via Hollywood , the money-machine! "Let Me In", makes me gnash my teeth at night.

    The diversity of views in the blog so far is perhaps better than any individual review or critique. I'm a big fan of world/art/independent cinema but am cautious of films that are "too arty for school" or "so slow that your heart rate almost stops" or "becomes overly (self)-referential it disappears up it's ... ." Whereas sometimes you get a Hollwood film that succeeds at many levels at just being so entertaining: Breathless.

  • Comment number 89.

    First saw Breathless at the long since gone ABC Maidenhead in 1983. I really didn't like it then but 29 years later I've upgraded it to moderately interesting. On the plus side there's marvellous use of location, an excellent soundtrack, and some top-notch camerawork. On the downside there are the two leads, Richard Gere's Jesse is just too irritating and obnoxious, and Valerie Kaprisky is quite sexy but in the acting department as wooden as a post.

    Looking forward to the next Film Club nomination, oh by the way Mark, do I get a bonus point for spotting The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy seen on the toilet floor after Jess mugs the fella in the bar loo?

  • Comment number 90.

    I've had this on the shelf for years and never bothered to watch it, until prompted to do so by your introduction (cue memories of my Moviedrome-educated earlier years); I was surprised how much I liked this film, and Gere's fantastic in it, making the character at once both believable and larger than life, with a redeeming streak of exuberant innocence that offsets his car-and-lavatory-themed crime wave. The recommendation was much appreciated.

  • Comment number 91.

    The main criticism of the film would be Gere's completely over the top and generally unconvincing persona. But then again if you tried to explain the life story of Jerry Lee Lewis to an alien it probably wouldn't believe a word you say.

  • Comment number 92.

    In reply to 76:

    Trueman wrote - "Maybe so, but with the increased lobbying by the music and film industry on ISPs to reveal identities of customers listening/watching/downloading pirated material the legal implications could become all the more serious for the individual."

    You do realise movies are typically buffered to RAM (volatile memory) which will dump its contents as soon as it's needed by another application or when you switch off the computer. Generally speaking, no evidence remains very soon after you finish watching?

    It is significantly harder to prove someone watches illegally streamed movies than it is to prove someone watches illegally downloaded movies. Not that it's something I generally do. If there is a new movie out which I want to see then I pay to see it. You talk about being morally "settled" by paying money to an online streaming service to watch movies which have been on tv hundreded of times - I can assure you I feel very morally "settled" in electing not to do this although I did send Herman Melville a fiver after listening to a free audio book of "Mody Dick" the other night when I couldn't get to sleep......yes...I know it looks very fickle!

  • Comment number 93.

    Mr postie delivered today,just watched it. I thought it was brilliant. Jesse is a man child, a person who acts totally on impulse and lives entirely in the moment,this moment, right now.Everything else for him is meaningless, the future?consequences do not exist. How many times have i nearly had a real fight with someone like that, doing something stupid? He constantly creates his own little piece of happiness, even right at the end, rather than think of the future. I think hes a great cinematic character. There has been a lot of criticism of Kaprisky. I think shes his perfect muse , beautiful ;her passion and common sense at war with one another. Ok, so she isnt Katherine or Audrey Hepburn, but they would run a mile from Jesse and think him an idiot. The end was brilliant, great freeze frame, just perfect.

  • Comment number 94.

    Ok, so I watched À Bout de Souffle last night and after great difficulty in finding a copy, watched Breathless this evening. I wouldn't consider either to be great films,. I enjoyed the vigour and energy Gere brought to Jesse. In the first 30 minutes he seems be channeling James Dead from 'Rebel Without A Cause' and Bruce Springsteen's stage act. It's just brilliantly hammy. He is excellent throughout.
    Kapisky is clearly no Seberg in terms of style or talent, but the remake is aided by having an magnificent soundtrack.
    Further, I like Jesse's admiration of the Silver Surfer. McBride and Gere make Jesse a more loveable character (if not by a great deal) than Belmondo's Michel.

  • Comment number 95.

    I havent seen the original but did enjoy this fil. It is amazing what an obvious influence it must have been for Quentin Tarantino...having lived in southern california I can also agree that it nails the feel of LA. Interesting film.

  • Comment number 96.

    I really enjoyed Breathless. The sheer verve of the thing just blows away any cynicism about whether McBride and co should be treading in Godard's footsteps. I loved the look of the film and agree with Mark that LA has rarely looked better in a film.
    Kaprisky did an excellent job, despite the problems in her accent, she successfully showed why Monica would find Jesse exciting to be with but also making it clear that in many ways, she was far more worldly wise than he was. She was all too aware of what she had and what she needed to do to get on in the world. The only false note was struck by her attitude at the end, I felt that she would have been only too able to disengage herself from Jesse and realise that the house of grass in Mexico would have blown away in the wind all too quickly.
    The big thing to come out of the film for me was sadness that Gere, who gave a stunning, livewire performance here, has seen that fire and energy diluted in innumerable roles in subsequent years which seem to call on him to stand around in a cardigan, looking stoical. Here he was both utterly mesmerising and totally believeable. One of the best portrayls of an immature idiot I've ever seen, but crucially never unlikeable.
    So, great performances, stunningly shot, absorbing story...yeah, I'd have to say that I'd pick Breathless over A Bout de Souffle ultimately too.

  • Comment number 97.

    It's not a terrible film, but watching it left me feeling mildly annoyed. A Bout de Souffle is a classic, and although I tried to watch this film with an open mind, I couldn't help but think that it paled in comparison to the original. Even though I disagree with Dr. K this time around I do look forward to seeing what film he chooses next...

  • Comment number 98.

    Hey Mark! I'm a teenager that became film addict within the past few years, so I'm not nearly as cine-literate as the rest of the people in the blog. After recently watching A Bout de Souffle and Breathless for the first time, I must agree with you on this. While A Bout de Souffle was an extremely important film and all of it's praise is completely justified, Breathless was simply beautiful. It was a clever look on the original's concept and was executed with dedicated acting. I can see why Tarantino loves the movie. It's art that people should give more attention toward.

    Anyway, thanks for telling us about this film. I'm excited for the next entry to your film club.

    Good luck!

  • Comment number 99.

    Me and a friend watched Breathless last night, I have to say we loved it. There are gaping plot wholes and many things left unexplained by the film but the narrative chaos suits the films theme. Jesse is a despicable person but funny, I loved the way his politically incorrectness seems to have hardened with time not softened, as is the case sometimes (Rebel without a cause), his stereotyping racial remarks were the best.

    We laughed a lot and enjoyed hating Jesse, Monica also seems to be a paradox, looking ever the naïve foreign girl, with a cute gap between her two front teeth giving her a baby like quality, but at the same time she seems extraordinarily aware of her sexual power over men and is not afraid to use it, she might even be more corrupted than Jesse.

    The pop culture was interesting thinking of the films that have come after Breathless, LA looked great and was a perfect foil for Jesse’s shallowness.

    I haven’t seen the original so no comparison is possible at this time.

  • Comment number 100.

    The first time I saw Breathless was around 1995 after Quentin Tarantino mentioned it was one of his favourite movies. At that time I was obsessed with anything the chin had to say so I immediately tracked it down. To be fair I had never seen (confession nor have I to this day) the clearly classic French original so I had nothing to compare it to, save for a few b/w stills from that film. Anyway I was immensely impressed with the movie, Gere was great, cool, deranged, suicidal, brilliant and Valerie Kaprisky was simply sex on a stick. The film's detached off kilter style makes it stand over so many movies of that decade and still looks great all these years later. And by the way Silver Surfer DOES NOT SUCK.

 

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