Breathless: Godard’s French New Wave classic hits Vinegar Hill for one night only

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Put on your black turtleneck and just try to resist Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Godard's Breathless, playing at Vinegar Hill Theatre this Thursday, May 16, for one night only. Put on your black turtleneck and just try to resist Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Godard's Breathless, playing at Vinegar Hill Theatre this Thursday, May 16, for one night only.

Before there was Netflix or On Demand, or even Sneak Reviews, the only way to see an older movie was to catch a second screening at a movie house. Vinegar Hill, the local theater with a penchant for art house classics and independent film releases, is reviving the tradition for a one night only screening of Jean-Luc Godard’s harbinger of cinematic revolution, Breathless (À bout de soufflé, 1960) on May 16.

“It’s the best way to see a movie anyway, with a crowd” said C-VILLE Weekly’s own James Ford, who is also one of Vinegar Hill Theatre’s four staffers, a group of self-admitted “movie nerds” responsible for the pick.

Breathless may be a fixture on film school syllabi, but Ford says he’s been surprised at how many people he has met in promoting the event that have never heard of it. He hopes the classic film series will bring together film buffs and casual popcorn eaters, and that it will expose a new generation of moviegoers to the classics. The film is Godard’s first feature, and is credited for launching La Nouvelle Vague (the French New Wave), filmmakers of the late ’50s and ’60s dedicated to experimental film form, editing, and sound, and engagement with social and political commentary.

“I love everything I’ve seen by Godard, Vivre Sa Vie [To Live One’s Life, 1962], Masculin féminin [Masculine Feminine: 15 Precise Facts, 1966].” said Ford. “[Breathless] changed cinema forever; people around the world are still making movies today that are influenced by it. It feels like seeing a movie for the first time.”

It’s a crime story, it’s a love story, and it’s a great date movie, if you don’t mind your date falling in love with Jean-Paul Belmondo’s pouty-lipped attitude, or Jean Seberg’s pixie bohemian charm (or both). Depending on how the seats are filled on Thursday, these one-off screenings may become a regular monthly occurrence.

Buying a ticket to the series is also an opportunity to support Vinegar Hill, now part of the Visulite Cinemas family of theaters, through a perilous timethe zoned historic building which houses the theater is up for sale, leaving Vinegar Hill renting month to month and unsure if their lease will be renewed past August.

Vinegar Hill just launched online ticketing (finally), making advance tickets available at http://www.visulitecinemas.com/specialevents.asp.

Thursday 5/16 $7.50-10.50, 7pm. Vinegar Hill Theatre, 220 W Market St., 977-4911.

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