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. Tel Aviv on Fire (Sameh Zoabi)
  2. Welcome, Mr. Marshall (Luis Garcia Berlanga)
  3. Musidora, the Tenth Muse (Patrick Cazals)
  4. Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais)
  5. Zazie Dans Le Métro (Louis Malle)
  6. Arrebato (Ivan Zulueta)
  7. Steamboat Round the Bend (John Ford)
  8. Million Dollar Legs (Edward Cline)
  9. Peter Ibbetson (Henry Hathaway)
  10. Bernie (Richard Linklater)

1- Glad to see that my original assessment of Tel Aviv on Fire is my current one, too. Wickedly funny and so cleverly plotted

2- Welcome, Mr. Marshall is the second film that I watched by Berlanga. I imagine that Franco’s powers had seriously diminished or he was just not interested in persecuting artists by the time this film came out. A decade or so earlier, he would have been jailed or worse. This is an ‘international’ satire in the vein of The Mouse That Roared but much funnier. U.S. aid seems to have been regarded as a windfall for the people of this tiny town and their preparations to convince the visiting Americans for what they believe to be the inevitable showing of dollars is hilarious, and not nearly as cruel as it might have been. I am looking forward to seeing more Berlanga. He’s like later Bunuel but minus some of the surreal nuttiness.

3- I hadn’t seen Last Year in Marienbad since the days of art house cinemas back when I lived in New York. Criterion Channel started featuring it last month as a tribute to the ineffable, ethereal Delphine Seyrig. I was happy to just watch it without trying to figure out what it was ‘about’. Probably it is impossible to know what it was about. The screen play is by Alain Robbe-Grillet – ’nuff said. But it looks spectacular. It is a very hypnotic film. It occurred to me that it would make a great double-bill with Carnival of Souls

4- I realize I am constitutionally unfit to pass judgement on Zazie Dans Le Métro:

A) it is based on a novel which is written in a playful language reminiscent of Joyce. Malle has said that he wanted to fill the film with cinematic games the way Queneau filled the book with linguistic games. My French is not good enough to appreciate the later and I got very tired of the former.

B) Slapstick exhausts me. It makes me very impatient and it NEVER amuses me. This is all the movie is – relentless slapstick.

C) It stars the most annoying child actor I have ever experienced.

But you may love it.

5- Peter Ibbetson is nothing short of a travesty. It is based on a very strange, romantic fantasy novel by George Du Maurier (Daphne’s grandfather). The book is compelling in its imagination. The movie jettisons most of the fantasy and what romance is left is like a left-over turkey sandwich. It looks like this was a prestige project. Henry Hathaway was a big director. Gary Cooper was Gary Cooper and Ann Harding is a great, sadly neglected actress of the time. It should have been at least good. One wonders why a studio would invest so much capital to film such a potent fantasy novel, then cut the novel off at the knees. It’s sad, because no one will ever try to film it again. Paging Masterpiece Theatre?