The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, December 9-15

Paris Belongs to Us, 1958.
Paris Belongs to Us (1961)
Directed by Jacques Rivette
Filmed over a period of years as the political paranoia of the 1950s gave way to the social and artistic retaliation of the 60s, the first feature by the one-time editor of Cahiers du cinéma plays like the spiritual commencement of the nouvelle vague, so prescient its perspective and sense of generational anxiety. Whether an outgrowth of this civil consciousness or simply a coincidental convergence of creative and cultural tides, the film even more impressively triangulates what can now be seen as Rivette’s primary thematic preoccupations. Amidst an eerily unpopulated Paris, a troupe of amateur actors rehearse Shakespeare’s “unstageable” play Pericles as gossip concerning a friend’s apparent suicide flowers into an invisible conspiracy of performative and political intrigue, leaving one idealistic student (Betty Schneider) to bear the weight of an ambiguous yet palpable post-war ennui. At once an urban morality play and a work of meta-cinematic interrogation, Rivette’s debut captures a city in the throes of transition as the past stubbornly yields to the demands of an evermore metropolitan modernity. Jordan Cronk (December 15, 6:30pm; December 18, 3:30pm at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Lynch/Rivette”)


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