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Friday, May 6

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Starring Anna Karina.

(1962) As that vital 2000 francs
 proves elusive, and an ill-placed foot 
gets her in trouble with les flics,
 record store clerk and would-be
 actress Anna Karina slides almost 
inevitably into the game. An old and
 simple story, too often descending 
into the maudlin — but not here, as 
Godard’s detached, objective 
treatment, while also a “passionate
 celluloid love-letter” to his then-
wife/muse, brings a Brechtian 
quality to an almost case study of 
prostitution, while attaining its own 
kind of pathos. From the initial
 breakup, shot solely from behind 
the participants in a bar; to the tear-
stained viewing of Dreyer’s Passion
 of Joan of Arc; to the equally tear-
stained interview with a cop; to the
 awkward, painful encounter with 
that first customer; to the voiceover 
of FAQs while a montage of day-to-
day routine unreels; Godard’s
 elliptical style finds beauty in the 
banal via the pearly grays of the 
great Raoul Coutard’s camerawork.
 With some typically eccentric asides:
 the by-hand height measurement
 (metrically-converted, Karina is 5'6 1/2"); a test on how to tell a lady from a 
tramp; a drive past an endless
 queue to see Jules and Jim;
 Karina’s café discussion with an 
elderly man (distinguished real-life
 philosopher Brice Parain) that ranges from Dumas to Plato to le mot juste to German philosophy; and the legendary exuberant dance around the trying-to-concentrate billiards player. 35mm. Approx. 83 mins.


“A PERFECT FILM! One of the most extraordinary, beautiful, and original works of art
that I know of.”

– Susan Sontag

“The camera by its discipline discourages us from interpreting Nana’s life in a melodramatic way... Curious, then, how moving Anna Karina makes Nana. She waits, she drinks, she smokes, she walks the streets, she makes some money, she turns herself over to the first pimp she meets, she gives up control of her life . . . The effect is astonishing. It is clear, astringent, unsentimental, abrupt. Then it is over. It was her life to live.”
– Roger Ebert

 “Starts out as a documentary on prostitution, ending as a Monogram B movie . . . [Its] true subject [is] the enigmatic beauty and troubling presence of Karina, and the mystery of Godard’s own passionate involvement with her.”
– Tom Milne, Time Out (London)

“Even its colder, more existentialist moments are possessed of considerable emotion. There’s a passion there that’s hard to define except in terms of superb, totally fluid and,
 for the time, completely original and audacious filmmaking... Only Godard could have made this.”
– Derek Malcolm,
 The Guardian (London)

 “Godard’s most classically tragic film
[and] one that has had the greatest practical influence on the subsequent history of cinema.”
– Richard Brody

“The best films pen doors, they support our impression that cinema begins and begins again with them. Vivre Sa Vie is one of those films.”
– François Truffaut


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BAND OF OUTSIDERS: Anna Karina in person

Recorded May 6, 2016