Thursday at 7 p.m. is Étaix's "Yo Yo." Made in 1965 in gorgeous black and white, "Yo Yo" begins with playful animation for the credits and never disappoints in its ingenious visual gags as the film moves from a masterfully composed silent film set in 1925 to a celebration of sound storytelling and events from WWII. The title character, a millionaire played by Étaix, lives in a huge mansion but pines for love. A circus passing through provides him his escape and his son a career as a circus clown with brilliantly staged scenes reminiscent of Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati, for whom Étaix worked.
Friday, June 21st, Jean-Luc Godard's political thriller "The Little Soldier" screens. Set in 1958 with the French Algerian war as the backdrop, the deserter, now Geneva-based photographer Bruno Forestier must carry out an assassination. Godard's unique, unpolished style with its spontaneous ambiance feels just right for the tangled web of romance, betrayal, confusion and political intrigue. A scene of protracted torture still resonates today.
Not previewed, director Raymond Bernard's "Les Misérables" will screen Saturday, June 22nd at 5 p.m. The running time of four hours 39 minutes necessitates the early start time for this highly praised version of Victor Hugo's celebrated 19th century novel. And Sunday brings Jacques Rivette's 1982 thriller "Le Pont du Nord" at 7 p.m.
Different film scholars and critics will introduce each program and lead discussions after the screenings. This will include me for Pierre Étaix's "Yo Yo" on Thursday, June 20th All films are in French with English subtitles and screen at Webster University's Winifred Moore Auditorium. For more information including program descriptions and ticket information, you may go to cinemastlouis.org or call 314-289-4150.