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. Ugetsu Monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi)
  2. Heroes For Sale (William Wellman)
  3. Winter Light (Ingmar Bergman)
  4. The Queen (Stephen Frears)
  5. Equinox Flower (Yasujiro Ozu)
  6. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
  7. The Harmonium In My Memory (Young-jae Lee )
  8. The In-Laws (Arthur Hiller)
  9. Miss Julie (Alf Sjöberg)
  10. Torment (Alf Sjöberg)

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1- Seeing Bergman’s trilogy again after many decades has been a very satisfying experience. What the hell did I make of these movies when I was 15 years old?

2- Watching The Queen again makes me realize yet again how irrelevant the Oscars are. Does anyone remember The Departed now?  Who would rather watch Gandhi than E.T?  The awards and the rankings just appear more and more ridiculous to me as time goes on.

3- What a treat to watch two films by Alf Sjöberg back to back while working my way again through Ingmar Bergman’s oeuvre.  Alf Sjöberg was one of Bergman’s mentor’s and indeed, Torment was Bergman’s first screenplay.It contains all the delightful misanthropy we have come to expect from him.   I thoroughly enjoyed Miss Julie, as well.  I remember that it was frequently programmed in the New York City revival houses of my youth, but since it was in Swedish and not  by Bergman, I gave it a pass. Ah, youth.

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The Last Ten Films I’ve Seem

  1. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Jaromil Jires)
  2. Julie (Andrew L. Stone)
  3. A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson)
  4. Isle of the Dead (Mark Robson)
  5. Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau)
  6. Eyes Without A Face (Georges Franju)
  7. Chance At Heaven (William A. Seiter)
  8. Les Enfants Terribles (Jean-Pierre Melville)
  9. The Most Dangerous Game (Schoedsack/Pichel)
  10. Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (Dušan Makavejev)

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1 Some of that Eastern European New Wave stuff really drives me nuts.  I recently watched Daisies which I found insufferable, even though it presages my beloved Celine And Julie Go Boating. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders was in the same vein, but seemed to be playing with psychosexual stuff and who cares.

2 Ever want to see Doris Day, as a stewardess emergency-landing a plane after the pilot has been shot? Then Julie is the film for you. Some fun nuttiness from the 60s.

3- Cat People might be the most famous film of the Val Lewton oeuvre, but Isle Of The Dead really gives it a run for its money.  A eerie film with no trace of the supernatural. It is shot through with superstition and paranoia and is drenched in the legendary Lewton atmosphere.

4- I had the privilege of sitting in on Michael Glover Smith’s film history class at Harold Washington College.  He is a teacher that teaches up to the material and not down to the students.  This is particularly amazing when you consider that the class I attended contained a lecture and viewing of Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped.  Bresson is one of the most, if not the most, rigorous filmmaker, and these kids ate it up. Good going, MGS.

5- I want to love Vampyr by Dreyer as much as I love Nosferatu by Murnau, but that is never going to happen. The first (illegal) adaptation of Dracula, Nosferatu is iconic – with an over-the-top performance by the rat-like Max Schreck – yes folks, apparently that was his real name!

6- It was fun to watch Eyes Without A Face after my recent love-fest with Holy Motors.  Eyes Without A Face is icky in the same way as its contemporaries Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? and Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte. Eyes Without A Face is way more fun and much more stylish. Brava, Edith Schob


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The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

  1. The Children are Watching Us (Vittorio De Sica)
  2. Fists in the Pocket (Marco Bellocchio)
  3. Il Posto (Ermanno Olmi)
  4. High Plains Drifter (Clint Eastwood)
  5. All About Eve (Joseph Mankiewicz)
  6. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
  7. Forbidden Games (René Clément)
  8. Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (Fritz Lang)
  9. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
  10. Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache (Fritz Lang)

 

1- What a treat that TCM gave me the opportunity to watch three such different Italian classics in a row. The Children are Watching Us is even more gripping and heart-breaking to me than Bicycle Thiefheresy, I know. I had heard about Fists in the Pocket but had never seen it. It seems very much in keeping with a lot of neurotic, psycho-sexual stuff that was going on at the time – I am thinking of things like The Collector  and Teorema.I must say that the protagonist was a quite compelling and ingratiating monster.   While watching  Il Posto I would often forget that this was an Italian film and not a product of the Czech New Wave. I kept thinking the protagonist was the hero from Closely Watched Trains.  Anyone else notice this?

I loved Il Posto and I am in love with Domenico Cantoni!

2- As expressed by the epigram to this blog, I worry a lot about great things disappearing and I feel personally responsible to make sure they don’t.  This really struck home while watching Fritz Lang’s epic Die Nibelungen. I worried that hardly anyone, even film lovers, watch silent films anymore. I worried that in the aftermath of the CGI assault on our senses, the poor dragon in the first part, the dragon that dazzled the first viewers the way King Kong dazzled his first viewers, would just look ridiculous:

dragon

Surely true film lovers will allow  themselves still to be dazzled! Surely the crazed, soul-annihilating vengeance of Kriemhild is still kick-ass!  Surely the majesty of UFA running on all cylinders is amazing, still!

A friend of mine once described me as the kid who wouldn’t take a nap in nursery school because he was afraid that the teachers would forget to wake us up in time.

Man, I need to relax.

3- High Plain Drifter proves that even at the very outset of his career, Clint Eastwood reveled in a totally cynical Weltanschauung.

4- The Grand Hotel Budapest is Heaven On Earth.  If anyone tells you otherwise, kick them and walk away.

5- And why have you still not watched Holy Motors?


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The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

  1. Dodsworth (William Wyler)
  2. End of Summer (Yasujiro Ozu)
  3. Stromboli  (Roberto Rossellini)
  4. In The Heat Of The Night (Norman Jewison)
  5. The Graduate (Mike Nichols)
  6. Days of Being Wild (Wong Kar-wai)
  7. The Bad Seed (Mervyn Leroy)
  8. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
  9. Across The Pacific (John Huston)
  10. The Plot Thickens (Ben Holmes)

1- It was interesting revisiting In The Heat Of The Night and The Graduate on the same night on TCM. The latter holds up much better. Both are firmly rooted in a 1960s Zeitgeist, but In The Heat Of The Night  achieves a timelessness in the same way The Grapes of Wrath achieves a timelessness while being firmly rooted in the Depression

2- Is it possible that Days of Being Wild is even more exquisite than In The Mood For Love?  Maybe. Sure glad I don’t have to choose between them! The nocturnal, triste love episode between cop Andy Lau and distraught Maggie Cheung is one of the most beautiful things I have seen in a long, long time. Xie xie, Wong Kar-wai

3- I always knew about Across The Pacific and wondered why a film with almost the identical creative team as The Maltese Falcon was not more famous.  Finally caught up with it last night and I guess the blatant propaganda of the film’s final half weighs down the sexy fun of the first half.  Still, see it. It’s a hoot.

4- I curse myself for waiting so long to see Holy Motors. I could have been watching it over and over again all these months, successfully convincing myself that it might just be one of the most spectacular things ever committed to celluloid.  But don’t take my word for it.  Please read Michael Glover Smith’s lovely review, nay , his lovely paean to this exquisite work. (I sure wish I could write like this! ) Excuse me. I need to go watch Holy Motors again.