Tuesday, August 5, 2008
|7:30 p.m.||Shoot the Piano Player|
François Truffaut (France, 1960)
(Tirez sur le pianiste). Sad-eyed and slouched, Charles Aznavour plays Charlie, a honky-tonk tinkler working a low-rent dive in Paris. Broken by an earlier tragedy, he spends his time hunched over the soothing keys, coaxing tasteless tunes for the wine-soused revelers. That is until he’s roused from retreat by a B-movie plot fraught with bickering thugs, a punch-drunk bouncer, a big-hearted bar girl, and a past too painful to endure. Truffaut’s gleeful and ironic thriller is an homage to the American gangster film. Girded by Raoul Coutard’s forceful photography and Georges Delerue’s intentionally jovial score, and set amid a lively reimagining of Goodis’s gutters, this delirious neo-noir delivers enough body blows to the genre to make it say whatever Truffaut wants. And sing like a canary it does—about the ever-captivating past, love’s sad sacrifice, and one man’s final ruination. This unlikely but terrific caper does have victims: the serious and the slapstick are beaten to a pulp.
• Written by Truffaut, Marcel Moussy, based on the novel Down There by David Goodis. Photographed by Raoul Coutard. With Charles Aznavour, Marie Dubois, Nicole Berger, Michele Mercier. (92 mins, In French with English subtitles, B&W, ’Scope, 35mm, From Janus/Criterion Collection)