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Saturday, 27 August 2011

Icons of Cool #2

C'est vraiment dégueulasse
Okay, is it my fault that international cinema from the 50's and 60's contains so many great examples of cool? First Marcello Mastroianni, and now Jean-Paul Belmondo, he of the pinnacle of Godardian insouciance and insanity.

Look no further than Jean-Luc Godard's game-changing debut film A bout de soufflé (1960) to see how Belmondo, nobody's idea of a handsome leading man, embodies cool.  In the film Belmondo plays Michel, a small-time crook with a serious love for American films, and particularly Humphrey Bogart, who he apes incessantly. He flips cigarettes into his mouth and runs his thumb across his lips just like his hero.

Throughout Belmondo's films, especially with Godard (Pierrot le Fou, Une femme est une femme), Belmondo often plays tough guys with sensitive, romantic sides. He looks almost silly playing a no-nonsense rough type since there always seems to be humour bubbling just under the surface. This isn't to say he never played intense roles, he did and did well, but when I think of my favourite Belmondo films, he always plays a guy who knows all the angles, talks big, and cracks wise at every turn.

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