Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Louis Malle and Roman Polanski during a press conference at Cannes Film Festival, 1968.
In the last couple of decades or so, something has happened to the American dream. I don’t quite know what it is, and it’s still not very clear in my mind. Confusion has replaced patriotism. The intellect has replaced love. If something doesn’t make money, no one is interested. Everything is for sale. Emotions are sold. Sex is sold. Everything is sex. Cars, women, clothes, your face, your hands, your shoes! Look at the ads, at television. My emotions aren’t for sale. My thoughts can’t be bought. They’re mine. I don’t want movies that sell me something. I don’t want to be told how to feel.
sketches for Taxi Driver by Scorsese.
J. Hoberman said that Five Easy Pieces is “predicated on the non sequitur,” making it similar to the European art films of the time. It takes our expectations of cinematic convention and flips them on their head. It’s like traveling down a long road that keeps veering off in different directions, with pit stops on the way that never provide anything but momentary enjoyment and brief revelation, only to disappear before the next sudden turn. There’s one scene in which Bobby is stuck in traffic in the passenger seat of his friend’s car. He sees a piano sitting on the back of a flatbed truck in front of the them and simply exits the car and hops onto the truck to play some Chopin—as if the world is watching. The truck drives off as we see it disappear in the distance, and Bobby continues to play, unruffled. The next scene is at the diner where Rayette works; there is no mention of the flatbed experience again. In a similar vein, Rayette’s pregnancy is hinted at once, but never mentioned again. It’s a novelistic film with flourishes of the absurd set in the vivid and dust-filled American landscape of the time.
After Kagemusha won the [Palme d’Or at the 1980] Cannes International Film Festival, until 1982, Kurosawa traveled extensively in Europe and the United States, meeting filmmakers everywhere he went and being warmly welcomed. While he was staying in New York’s Plaza Hotel, he received many surprise visitors, including film greats Jean-Luc Godard, John Milius, Werner Herzog, and Martin Scorsese.
The combination of Godard and Kurosawa was unusual. Probably he was invited along by Milius and went out of curiosity. Producer Tom Luddy might have come with them as well.
We had heard that Milius was a Kurosawa fan, and Kurosawa also had good things to say about his The Wind and the Lion. Milius asked Kurosawa to teach him the martial art of kendo, or Japanese fencing, and did Mifune impersonations, but Godard only sat looking on, smiling, and never spoke to Kurosawa.
Another unusual visitor was the German director Werner Herzog, whose name was then unfamiliar to Kurosawa. There was a book he wanted to give Kurosawa, said Herzog, but he hadn’t been able to find it in the book store and he had a plane to catch, so he had just dropped by to pay his respects. Then the next day, I think it was, he made a special trip to hand-deliver the book—having gone to the trouble of altering his flight reservations to do so. I believe it was a book of drawings. In any case, Kurosawa found this gesture deeply moving.
Later, in Japan, Kurosawa took the first opportunity to go see Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo and was overwhelmed by its tenacious energy.
— Teruyo Nogami, Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa