homophone (I believe I am using this term correctly), sauté -- that form of cooking in which all the ingredients are pan-fried together quickly, and moved rapidly around the pan to keep them tasty and never overcooked. You could easily apply this to Sautet's movies, often fast-moving ensemble pieces that catch their characters on the run, as it were, living (and sometimes dying) as best they can. There is a melodramatic element to his work that puts some people off, but which, since I enjoy a good melodrama, never much bothered me. Despite this, Sautet remained a subtle filmmaker (little in his work is overcooked) who always drew wonderful performances from his casts.
Film Society of Lincoln Center's tribute to the movie-maker is currently in full swing, but there is still time to see a number of the films included. (You can discover the entire program here.) If you have never seen it, I would recommend above all the rest, Sautet's first "real" film (he made an earlier one as a director "for hire"), Classe tous risques (1960), which was shown this past Thursday (but the wonderful Criterion transfer of which can be rented from Netflix). This amazing movie -- part noir, thriller, family film, chase movie and soap-opera rolled into one wonderful mix -- features Lino Ventura (above, with gun) and Jean-Paul Belmondo (below, with Sandra Milo, in his first role after Breathless), and both men give sensationally good performances.
Claude Sautet or the Invisible Magic, in which, months before the filmmaker's death from cancer in July 2000, Positif film critic N.T. Binh and his collaborator Dominique Rabourdin had extensive audio interviews, in which the dying director discussed his body of work in sometimes candid detail. The conversations were then illustrated with film clips and combined with additional interviews with Sautet’s friends, collaborators and admirers to form this unusual portrait.
Bernard Fresson, below, right), who has the bad luck to cross the path of the film's non-hero, a nut-case policeman (the titular Max), played in his usual close-to-the-vest style by Michel Piccoli.
Rialto Pictures, opens this coming Friday, August 10 for a week's run at the Elinor Bunin Muroe Film Center.