The Discreet Bourgeois

Possessed by an urgency to make sure all this stuff I love doesn't just disappear

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The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

  1. Daisies (Vera Chytilová)
  2. The Death Kiss (Edwin L. Marin)
  3. The Tomb of Ligeia (Roger Corman)
  4. Heaven Can Wait (Ernst Lubitsch)
  5. The Story of a Prostitute (Seijun Suzuki)
  6. Boy (Nagisa Oshima)
  7. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)
  8. Voyage In Italy (Roberto Rossellini)
  9. The Insect Woman (Shohei Imamura)
  10. Upstream (John Ford)

—          (I had a big backlog so please forgive the posting of two ‘last ten’ lists in a row)

1- TCM provided a wonderful service this fall by showing the complete, 15-part documentary The Story of Film by Mark Cousins. What made the broadcast of the series even more satisfying was that TCM complemented it by showing many of the films mentioned in the course of the documentary. Daisies was shown as part of a look at the New Wave all around the world. In the beginning, I was enjoying it tremendously as it appeared to be a slightly earlier, Czech version of my beloved Celine and Julie Go Boating. After about 45 minutes or so, it just became grating. I was glad to have had the chance to see it, though.

2- The Story of a Prostitute , Boy and The Insect Woman were revelations. I have spent a lot of time in the rarefied world of Ozu and Naruse and Mizoguchi. It was very satisfying to watch these films by some of the messier, later Japanese masters. The Story of a Prostitute was particularly dazzling.

3- Watching Boy and The White Ribbon made for a troubling but powerful double feature on child abuse.  I was glad to see a film by Michael Haneke at last. I found The White Ribbon thrillingly beautiful. I am still too chicken to watch Funny Games.

4- Upstream was a once-lost film by John Ford recently found in a New Zealand archive. This silent film was a delightful, light comic story of actors in a boarding house. Is there no end to John Ford’s versatility?

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The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

    1. La Regle de Jeu  (Jean Renoir)
    2. Crainquebille  (Jacques Feyder)
    3. Zero de Conduite (Jean Vigo)
    4. Shockproof (Douglas Sirk)
    5. The Devil Rides Out (Terence Fisher)
    6. The Gorgon (Terence Fisher)
    7. The Horror of Dracula (Terence Fisher)
    8. Scream of Fear  (Seth Holt)
    9. Burn Witch, Burn (Sidney Hayers)
    10. The Seventh Victim (Mark Robson)

1- The narrator in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time is constantly trying to put a reality to names of places that he has not yet visited. The narrator ruminates over the names of train stations on the lines to the north.  The realities of these places often have nothing to do with the actual place, but there is an implacable need to concretize the unknown, hence the projection of what the places might be like. I often have that same situation with films of which I know the titles, but nothing else. I always knew the name of the film Crainquebille, and not knowing anything else, I had decided it was some 1930s quasi-documentary about an idealized type of commune.  Imagine my delight when I found that not only was it not a socialist fever dream but a marvelously acerbic film based on a short story by my well-loved Anatole France! The film was an absolute delight.  Another reason to leave offerings at the altar of TCM.

2- Each time I watch Le Regle de Jeu I am dazzled by the its structural perfection as well as the profound human understanding and feeling behind it.  On the other hand, the films of Jean Vigo make me feel like I am knocking my head against a wall. I have watched Zero de Conduite as well as L’Atalante innumerable times but for some reason I just can’t penetrate them and am bored to tears. I will persevere, keeping mind that it took me six viewings to finally ‘get’ Breathless.

3- Halloween has always been my favorite holiday and I love everything about it. Bless the folks at TCM for feeling the same way. This year they showed a bumper crop of Hammer films of which The Devil Rides Out was a particular revelation. Burn Witch, Burn was another title I had always known, but in this case my surmise of what it was like was much closer to reality than my surmise about Crainquebille.