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. The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May)
  2. Chushingura (Hiroshi Inagaki)
  3. The Guard (John Michael McDonagh)
  4. El Sur (Victor Erice)
  5. Sunrise (F.W. Murnau)
  6. The Nanny (Seth Holt)
  7. Bedlam (Mark Robson)
  8. The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel)
  9. Chikamatsu Monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi)
  10. The Body Snatcher (Robert Wise)

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1- I had never seen The Heartbreak Kid so I was glad to catch up with it on TCM. I think it would be interesting to write something on how the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s backfired and instead liberating them actually made them more neurotic and depressed about sex.  Just being able to talk more freely about sex is hardly liberation enough.

2-  I had recently watched The 47 Loyal Ronin of Kenji Mizoguchi made during WWII. This historical tale seems to be Japanese culture what The Iliad or The Odyssey was to the Greeks: a sprawling saga filled with fascinating characters and digressive incident.  I imagine a Japanese audience can fill in the lacunae of any film adaptation of the work.  Seeing the 1962 version, Chushingura, helped me to get better idea of how huge this corpus of legend is.  I found it interesting to see that incidents hinted at in the Mizoguchi version are more spelled out here, and vice-versa.  Apparently there are tons of films based on this legend.  Hopefully I won’t have to watch the recent Keanu Reeves version!

3- Victor Erice has made only two feature films and one documentary in over 40 years.  His first film Spirit Of The Beehive is legendary.  His follow-up some 15 years later, El Sur, is equally stunning but a little more incoherent due to producer interference.  The question is why so few films? They answer might be that he only has one film to make and he has made it twice, magnificently. Could that be enough?

4- I love Hallowe’en.  It is the greatest holiday in the calendar. I always indulge in great and not so great horror films. I have written about how much I love the Val Lewton films.  This year I decided to review some of what I thought were lesser films in the corpus: Bedlam and The Body Snatcher.  Bedlam has all the hallmarks of the great Lewton productions: literate, fascinating script, atmospheric sets, great performances, especially from Boris Karloff.  The Body Snatcher misses the mark, even though Karloff is brilliant here and there is a delicious cameo by Bela Lugosi.

5- I know I am supposed to love The Exterminating Angel, but I feel that it overstays its welcome by about an hour.  The whole time I was watching it I kept telling myself that I wished I was watching The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie again!  That is a shaggy dog story as well, but a masterpiece.  The Exterminating Angel feels like he was workshopping the idea for the later film.

6- I am glad to learn and see more of Kenji Mizoguchi.  I had always heard that Chikamatsu Monogatari, aka The Crucified Lovers,was one of his greatest. I was not disappointed.  But man, what a bleak worldview.  His world is more relentless than Bergman’s.  His artistry is stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

  1. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa)
  2. Europe ’51 (Roberto Rossellini)
  3. Fear  (Roberto Rossellini)
  4. Charlotte et son Jules (Jean-Luc Godard)
  5. All The Boys Are Named Patrick (Jean-Luc Godard)
  6. A Woman Is A Woman (Jean-Luc Godard)
  7. Pierrot Le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard)
  8. Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper)
  9. The Color of Pomegranates (Sergei Parajanov)
  10. I Walked With A Zombie (Jacques Tourneur)

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1- It is a good thing to watch favorite classics again and again.  Many films are to be watched once, digested and then you move on to the next one.  But there is another type of film that seems to thrive on being watched over and over again. You know every centimeter of the film, yet there is a tremendous satisfaction in retreading the familiar turf. It might sound like a cliche but the film gets richer with each viewing, and your aesthetics deepen as well. Rashomon is a prime example of this kind of film.  I love it. It is a part of me.

2- I continue to have a maddening relationship with the films of Jean-Luc Godard. TCM recently had a daylong presentation of his features and shorts. It seems like the man made a million films. There always seems to be one I haven’t seen.  This time around I got to watch two shorts I had always heard about: All The Boys Are Called Patrick and Charlotte and her Boyfriend. Both were surprisingly delightful, not an adjective one associates with Godard, especially his later work.  It reminded me of the early, breezy comedies of other Nouvelle Vague directors.  I also had the same instant love for A Woman is a Woman that I had for Vivre Sa Vie. The playfulness, the delightful Anna Karina, the callow Jean-Paul Belmondo, the handsome Jean-Claude Brialy all make for great viewing fun. I still need a lot of help appreciating the later, more polemical Godard. I found Pierrot Le Fou torture to sit through. Advice, anyone?

3- I always thought that the films Rossellini made in the 5os with Ingrid Bergman were weird, poorly crafted and stiff.  But watching Fear and especially Europe ’51  made me realize that they are cinematic operas. The oversized emotion, the large scale acting, it’s all there. And viewed in that light, these films are magnificent.

4- Just a reminder to watch as much Parajanov as you can. There isn’t much out there and it is all kind of astounding.  Read my introduction first.

 

 

 


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Shameless Self-promotion

I will be speaking here on Friday October 23 and Friday October 30.

As Barbara Jean says in Nashville:  “If you’re down to the river, I hope you drop in!”

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Greetings:

Purdue Calumet’s Sixth Annual Friday University is right around the corner—Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.   Our program this year features 16 classes ranging from Neeti Parashar’s “The Origins of the Universe” to Kay Rowberg’s “Fakes in the Art World.”  We also have plenty of politics, religion and sex.  (Our very own Dennis Barbour is teaching “A Biblical History of Sex.”  Who but Dennis?)

On a lighter note, we have classes on music, baking, and wine tasting.  There is something for everyone!  Friday University’s loyal alumni are filling up the rosters and new students are enrolling each day.  We still have plenty of seats available, so please share the news.

For more information about the courses you can visit the website  or call 219-989-2308.