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Film Club: Breathless

Tuesday 22 May 2012, 14:29

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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).

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    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.

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    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

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    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!!

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    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.

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    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 .....

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    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.

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    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....

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    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.

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    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...

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    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'.

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    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!!

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    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?

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

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


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