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Friday, February 3, 2012

BANDE A PART / BAND OF OUTSIDERS (1964)

Before Jean-Luc Godard became didactically inscrutable, he made his international rep being entertainingly inscrutable. And rarely more so then here. Anna Karina is the needy girlfriend who helps the two guys in her life (active Claude Brasseur & inactive Sami Frey) design what they hope will be a neat little robbery in her own rooming house. But naturally, when they get down to it, things don’t go exactly as planned. The pulpy material is given a playful treatment with all sorts of sidebars & riffs adding texture & critical commentary, yet never quite losing contact with the narrative tropes of a classic caper plot. (The various interruptions constitute a veritable ‘olio’ of vaudeville turns with a spirited dance routine, a pantomime shoot-out & some whistling while you work between the nods toward ‘Pop’ culture & favorite poets.) It’s always a bit of a surprise to find Godard, a WideScreen personality if there ever was one, composing in Academy ratio (1.33:1), but, whatever the reasons, it fits the film’s off-the-cuff noir sensibility. But enjoy this one while you can, by the end of the decade, Jean-Luc had moved on to weightier affairs.

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