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In 1962, after having completed only one failed feature, critic turned director Eric Rohmer embarked on an ambitious plan to shoot six films around a common theme and a similar plot. With only limited resources at his disposal, the first two of his Six Moral Tales are short works shot in 16mm black-and-white. "The Girl at the Monceau Bakery" is a 25-minute sketch that sets the basic premise of the series: a young man interested in one woman is briefly attracted to a totally different girl. Shot on the streets of Paris with an easy naturalism and dominated by the young man's voice-over thoughts, it sets the tone of the series with a deft style, unforced humor, and an ironic tone. "Suzanne's Profession" expands to over 50 minutes to explore the awkward triangle between two best friends and a generous, seductive young woman they both shamelessly take advantage of. The men are callow, the women rather exasperating, the talk isn't as enchanting as in later films--and the ending feels, in retrospect, like an early draft of My Night at Maud's with the roles reversed. If his later films are more compelling and assured, the ambiguity of relationships and mercenary behavior of the characters in this early effort reveal a harsh cynicism that later mellowed into a wry irony.

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newVHS Girl at the Monceau Bakery/Suzanne's Career VHS (1962/Eric Rohmer) $5.99