Two movies, both very much of their times, one of which is still ongoing. Loving (Irvin Kershner, 1970) stars George Segal (left) and Eva Marie Saint as husband and wife. They’re living the suburban commuting life in Westport, Conn. He’s a struggling commercial artist. She’s on the home front with two small children. Segal (Brooks Wilson) is a philanderer, having an affair with a gallery owner, Grace (Janice Young) in Manhattan, and is the sexual interest of Nelly (Nancie Phillips) the wife of his commuter buddy Will (David Doyle – John Bosley of Charlie’s Angels fame). The film, shot by Gordon Willis – well known as photographer on Woody Allen flics – has a remarkable sense of realism, with an outstanding performance by Segal whose character is frustrated by his marriage and work and who cannot relinquish his appetites for alcohol and women. This storyline is almost an update of that of the characters in TV’s Mad Men, only the story takes place at the end of the Swinging Sixties, culturally long after the conformist era captured by the television show though chronologically only several years apart. The film’s next-to-final scene is an extraordinary voyeuristic moment - one of the most embarrassing to which characters are subjected in any film I’ve seen - leading to the final resolution, which may be no resolution at all.....The other movie is Henry Jaglom’s 1992 Venice/Venice. I’ve long been a fan of Jaglom (above right), as quintessential a “modern” director as Robert Altman, and whose films with ensemble casts have the same documentary feel. They deal with the post-1960s Me Generation zeitgeist, marked by affluent characters’ introspection and neuroses. Both directors’ films are more complex than that of course. And in Jaglom’s case it’s his focus on women that really defines what they are all about. Jaglom is fascinated by women. Yes, he is physically attracted to them but he’s also absorbed by their psychologies. He finds them more interesting than one-dimensional men because they’re more open, honest and straightforward about what they’re thinking, their attitudes towards men and to the world at large. Films like Someone to Love, Babyfever, Eating, and Last Summer in the Hamptons are good examples of this viewpoint. But so is Venice/Venice – half shot in the Italian city, half in the Los Angles seaside neighbourhood. The film opens at the Venice (Italy) film festival and seems like a documentary as Jaglom plays a director fielding press interviews. But he is not really Jaglom but a director named Dean, though he is for all intents and purposes Jaglom, right down to Jaglom’s trademark hat. Nelly Alard is the French journalist Jeanne with whom he has an affair in this most romantic of cities. She is a modern Mona Lisa, an inscrutable woman who is at turns intrigued and disillusioned by the director. Alard's acting has been mainly confined to French films though she was in Jaglom’s Eating (1990). Too bad we have not been able to see more of her because she is indeed a real find. (photos: Segal - librarising.com; Jaglom - informedinvestor.ic24.net)
Monday, August 22, 2011
Meanwhile, I also watched Rabbit Hole (John Mitchell Cameron, 2010) starring Aaron Eckart and Nicole Kidman. I don’t think I’ve seen Kidman in a less glamorous role. She played a wan, angst-ridden suburban housewife recovering from the death of her child. Sure, her bleached-out look might have just been designed for the role. Perhaps it’s just me but, at 44, is she starting to lose her looks?
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
http://www.facebook.com/pages/FishSoup-Films/113298592435 .....Meanwhile, in terms of the scheduled feature films I saw over the mere three days I was there, Richard Press’s 2010 Bill Cunningham New York impressed the most. The documentary follow octogenarian New York Times Style photographer Bill Cunningham on his daily bicycle rides around Manhattan. For decades Cunningham has made a living photographing what ordinary people wear. But this being New York street fashions can often dictate what the next designer trends (ripped jeans?) will be. The eccentric Cunningham – who lives in a hovel of an apartment in Carnegie Hall – is as an enthusiastic reporter of fashion at his advanced age as he always was.....Next up was Young Goethe in Love (Philipp Stölzl, 2010) about the early life of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of Germany’s historical literary titans and the writer of Faust. It shows how Goethe’s first and perhaps most famous book The Sorrows of Young Werther came to be. An historical film it’s anything but stereotypically solemn. Rather, it’s enriched by a vein of humour that captures a kind of everyday reality of what Goethe’s young life, when he was an unknown and had prematurely given up being a writer, could have been like.....Another film set in Germany was One, Two, Three. But this by classic Hollywood director Billy Wilder was a hilarious screwball comedy. I’m surprised I never heard of it before. It stars James Cagney as manager of the Coca Cola West Berlin bottling plant at the height of the Cold War. Not only does the film have constant one-liners but politics are the underlying theme, presented in a hilarious light with Capitalism versus Communism centre stage. Also remarkable is what was filmed. The movie was made just before the Berlin Wall went up when there was still easy access to East Berlin. One, Two, Three shows the two Berlins which, especially in the East, still looked as if World War II had ended the day before. For screwball comedy enthusiasts and Cold War historians this film is a must. It’s much better than The Spy Who Came in from the Cold!.....Queen to Play from first time director Caroline Bottaro (2009 France-Belgium) was an impressive first directorial outing though it was a bit derivative in its story line of a wallflower finding her passion, in this case through the game of chess. The acclaimed French actress Sandrine Bonnaire was in the starring role. Kevin Kline, in his first French-speaking role, played her mentor as the reclusive intellectual Dr. Kroger. What was great about this presentation was that both Bottaro and Bonnaire were present and answered questions on stage after the film.....And finally, the best of a midnight program of short films was Yuri Lennon’s Landing on Alpha 46 (Anthony Vouardoux), which captures a certain reality of an astronaut in his cramped cockpit landing on a distant planet. One doesn’t know whether to take the film seriously, which seems the intent of the director of this 2010 German-Swiss co-production. But upon Yuri’s emerging on terra Alpha we’re treated to some very black German humour.