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Armchair Cinephile

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THE 400 BLOWS IS NOT PORN

The Adventures of Antoine Doinel (Criterion Collection)

In good conscience, this column cannot recommend going to the video store this week. There's just too much good

 
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stuff out there on big silver screens, truly something for everyone, and that hasn't been the case for months.

If, however, you've just broken both your legs, or if you've got an ugly rash and don't want to be seen in public, the least you can do is match the five new Current Choice theatrical releases with a five-film festival of classics in your living room. The Criterion Collection is here to help, with The Adventures of Antoine Doinel, a new box set compiling the four features and one short film François Truffaut made about the eponymous character.

Actor Jean-Pierre Léaud made his starring debut in Truffaut's first feature film, The 400 Blows (released in 1959), and re-teamed with the director at intervals over the next twenty years. The character grows before our eyes, from troubled adolescence through first love, marriage, fatherhood, divorce, and all the real life that comes between such landmarks. As 400 Blows was largely autobiographical, Léaud was usually viewed as an alter-ego for the filmmaker, a Marcello Mastroianni to his Federico Fellini. But all participants agree that the character was a hybrid, representing both the director and his actor. In addition to marking the birth of this relationship, 400 Blows was a landmark in the French New Wave, a movement rejecting the slick adaptations of literary classics that were so prominent in France at the time.

That's just scratching the surface, but young Antoine himself would be squirming by this point, anxious to sneak out and get inside a movie theater. At home or in the multiplex, it's a good week to emulate him. •


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