Sunday, 19 October 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 312: Sun Nov 9

Day for Night (Truffaut, 1973): Ritzy Cinema, 4pm

This is a  Guardian Film Club presentation with director Richard Ayoade and the newspaper's film critic Peter Bradshaw. Here is the Ritzy Cinema introduction to the afternoon's events:

Guardian Film Club is a chance to hear some of today’s filmmakers talk about their work and the films that have influenced them, and to revisit a classic of modern cinema. Each guest will curate a film of their choice and take part in a Q&A hosted by a member of the Guardian Film team, followed by a screening of the film.

First up: Richard Ayoade will introduce François Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT. The comedian and actor, best known for his role in The IT Crowd, has directed music videos for bands including the Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend. His first film, SUBMARINE, was a stylish adaptation of Joe Dunthorne’s coming-of-age novel. THE DOUBLE, released this year, is an unsettling, absurdist comedy about a meek office worker who meets his doppelgänger, and is inspired by a Dostoyevsky story.

Richard will talk to Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw about François Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT, a film about filmmaking. Truffaut himself plays the harassed director making a melodrama called Meet Pamela on location in Nice. As the production descends into chaos, it is his job to keep the drama of real life (including affairs, accidents, imbroglios, death) off the screen. A gentle, funny tribute to the movie business and the magic of cinema, the film won the 1973 Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Watch out for a cameo appearance by Graham Greene.

This October, Faber will publish Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey, in which the director reflects on his great cinematic legacy as only he can: in conversation with himself. You can buy a copy of the book at a special discount price of £12 when you purchase your ticket for this event.

Time Out review:
If we’re to learn anything from François Truffaut’s delicately cynical, New Hollywood-style satire from 1973 on the joys and pains of movie making (re-released in conjunction with the BFI’s current Truffaut season), it’s that we must view directors as social and professional chameleons. They must tap in to the emotions of their cast and exploit real suffering for the good of their camera. They must stand their ground with money men, sometimes employing visual trickery and snap decisions to preserve their integrity. Most of all, they must suppress the cosmic fury that comes when a leading lady arrives on set drunk or a trained kitten refuses to hit a mark.

It’s a hilarious and informative movie, and in the pantheon of films about filmmaking, it strikes a neat balance between the operatic neuroses of ‘8 1/2’ and the warm, pastel-hued nostalgia of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. Also of interest – and a devious nod back to his ’60s heyday – is the manner in which Truffaut captures these behind-the-scenes shenanigans, employing gliding crane shots and flashes of abrupt editing to make us fully aware of the majestically artificial way the world is depicted by filmmakers.

Truffaut stars as indefatigable director Ferrand, shooting a fusty melodrama called ‘Meet Pamela’ and wearing the same sports jacket, shirt and tie combo as he would in ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. He delivers the same coolly detached performance too, though it works a lot better in this context. The fact that his childish lead (Jean-Pierre Léaud, of course) is too often in a strop to concentrate on the part, or that his star (Jacqueline Bisset) is a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown are accepted as part and parcel of the business. But as Ferrand makes sure he’s seen in possession of a stack of serious film tomes and has nightmares about being trapped outside a cinema showing ‘Citizen Kane’, the point is that even if the end result is a piece of trash, a director always strives to be an artist.

David Jenkins

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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