by Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard's Band of Outsiders (1964) is at once a deconstruction of the codes of the classical Hollywood heist film, a melancholy love triangle, and a meditation on the star persona of his muse, Anna Karina. (In this respect, it can be viewed as a kind of counterpart to his A Woman is a Woman (1961) which placed a Karina-centered love triangle at the heart of a modernist Technicolor musical.) The film's soft, misty black-and-white cinematography recalls the poetic realist films of the 1930s, while its use of 360-degree pans bring to mind the work of master filmmaker, Jean Renoir. Band of Outsiders also owes significant debt to the work of Godard's fellow New Wave director, Francois Truffaut. In particular, the digressive, de-centered crime narrative and the multiple generic and tonal shifts recall Truffaut's excellent Shoot the Piano Player (1960). Compared to Godard's most celebrated films of the 1960's Band of Outsiders feels like a somewhat modest work, but it puts forth a thoughtful exploration of the relationship between the classical and the modern, between French cinema's past and its present/future. It also offers a number of distinct pleasures, not the least of which being its iconic cafe dance sequence.