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. Good Morning (Yasujiro Ozu)
  2. Dreams (Ingmar Bergman)
  3. Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock)
  4. The Devil, Probably (Robert Bresson)
  5. The Godfather, Part 2 (Francis Ford Coppola)
  6. Masseurs and a Woman (Hiroshi Shimizu)
  7. Sadie Thompson (Raoul Walsh)
  8. Beauty and The Beast (Jean Cocteau)
  9. Marius (Alexander Korda)
  10. The Story of a Cheat (Sacha Guitry)

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1- Who would think that Yasujiro Ozu, sublime master of the small gesture, could make such a charming little comedy like Good Morning, with its fart jokes and neighborly misunderstandings?  You often read that this is a remake of his silent I Was Born But….., however I don’t buy it.  The earlier film is a graver affair about intergenerational disappointments. However, I do seem to remember that there were fart jokes in that one, too.

2- I thought that Saving Mr. Banks would be a nice, competent film telling the story of how Mary Poppins finally got made.  It was that, but it was quite moving as well, with some striking artistic touches.  I particularly liked the images of Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers finally signing the contract to allow Disney to make the film.  She is seated at a table at her home in London, and opposite here is a huge Mickey Mouse doll Walt had sent her as encouragement. It is a quiet and very funny touch.

3- My experience with Bresson has been sublime (Diary Of A Country Priest, The Trial of Joan of Arc,  A Man Escaped) or excruciating (Au Hazard Balthazar).  The Devil Probably falls into the latter category.  I wish I had the skill to watch his films more critically.  I know I am missing tons

4- We had a real New Year’s Eve treat watching Beauty and The Beast followed by Marius, the first part of Marcel Pagnol’s beloved Marseille Trilogy.  These films become more and more essential to me as time goes on.  I am planning a ‘Have You Tried…………..?’ article on Marcel Pagnol soon.

5- I had heard of Sacha Guitry but didn’t know what his stuff was like.  TCM showed two of his films on their Sunday night franchise called TCM Import. Looks like they have some arrangement with Criterion.  I just watched The Story Of A Cheat, which was an absolute delight.  It seems to be a precursor to Kind Hearts and Coronets, but even funnier and more clever.  Looking forward to seeing more of him.  I may just have to buy the Criterion boxed set.

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The Last Ten Films I’ve Seen

  1. Lacombe, Lucien (Louis Malle)
  2. The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Fred Schepisi)
  3. The Tarnished Angels (Douglas Sirk)
  4. Make Mine Mink (Robert Asher)
  5. Orpheus (Jean Cocteau)
  6. All That Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk)
  7. Lightning (Mikio Naruse)
  8. The Verdict (Don Siegel)
  9. Lifeboat  (Alfred Hitchcock)
  10. Fort Apache  (John Ford)

 

1- I have been trying to see as much Douglas Sirk as I can lay my eyes on. Some of it is astounding, some of it is excruciating. All That Heaven Allows falls into the astounding group, and The Tarnished Angels, along with the supremely insane Written On The Wind,  for me, alas, fall into the excruciating group.  It might just be me, though. When I first saw Imitation of Life, I wanted to throw things at the TV. Now I think it is a masterpiece. Not on the level of All That Heaven Allows, but a masterpiece.  Stay tuned for an article on Sirk appreciation, soon I hope.

2- Both  Lacombe, Lucien and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith are powerful works on the destructive power of racism and hatred. Both are films that I have heard of for years but never got a chance to see.  Thank you, TCM

3- After the magnificent but depressing experience of the two films above, the exact tonic I needed was Make Mine Mink. For some reason I always thought it was a Doris Day vehicle. Much to my delight it turned out to be one of those confections of absolute insanity that only the British of the 1950/60s could have created. All hail, Terry-Thomas.

4- Over the years I have viewed and re-viewed Beauty and the Beast by Jean Cocteau.  I had seen Orpheus years ago and remembered it as beautiful but difficult.  Seeing it again, it was still very beautiful, but seemed less substantive than the perfection that is Beauty and the Beast. And was there ever a more beautiful man than Jean Marais?

Jean Marais

5- The ‘Cavalry Trilogy’ of John Ford occupies a position in his oeuvre comparable to that of the Henriad in Shakespeare’s canon.  A recent viewing of Fort Apache convinced me of this.  If I ever get over my natural indolence, I will write a piece telling you why.

6- It’s time for a Have You Tried…. piece on Mikio Naruse.  He is criminally unknown and amazingly wonderful.

7- Having seen it over 30 years ago, I remembered Lifeboat as one of those ambitious but failed Hitchcock experiments, like Rope. Man, was I wrong. The constraints he puts on himself seem to unleash his genius even more. Take that, Lars Van Trier and your Five damned Obstructions!