Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Week of Movie Watching

Synecdouce, New York – I’m not even sure how to start to write something about this film. It’s not so much about anything as about EVERYTHING: Death, sickness, marriage, loneliness, and parenthood. I admired the way writer/director Charlie Kaufman throws away conventional narrative techniques to tell the story. In this way, it reminded me a bit of Godard at his best. On the other hand, I started getting fidgety towards the end, and I was surprised to go back and discover that what I assumed to be a 3 hour film as in fact only a tick over two. I know this is being hailed as a masterpiece, and it might well be one, but I think I need to see it again to decide.

Ten Days’ Wonder – Another Chabrol seen for the first time. This one concerns a bizarre love triangle between a reclusive billionaire (Orson Welles), his troubled son (Anthony Perkins), and his sexy young wife (Marlene Jobert). Welles is a God figure, and other Biblical references pop up everywhere, including the Garden of Eden, the destruction of graven images, and even a crucifixion. There’s also a lot of stylish cinematography by Jean Rabier. Recommended.

Le Samorai – This was the first Melville film I ever saw, and although I liked it well enough, it didn’t knock me off my seat the first time. My Melville fixation started with Bob Le Flambeur, and it has made me go back and revisit this one a couple of times. Alain Delon’s ultra-cool killer is still impossible to get close to, but now I see more clearly why he’s portrayed that way. This man strives for invisibility, whether he’s stealing a car or staking out a hit in a crowded nightclub, and emotion draws attention. One plot point that I had forgotten about was the bird in his apartment. I think that’s his concession to emotion, because in his own way he cares about this tiny animal. Recommended.

Le Boucher – Claude Chabrols’ great 1970 film is a macabre dance between two damaged people. First, a butcher, who is also a serial killer. A teacher, who has her own sexual baggage, enters into a relationship with this man. She discovers what he is. He discovers that she knows what he is. Chabrol being Chabrol, it’s never laid out in simple terms for us, but the crux of this film is that the teacher is somehow aroused by her proximity to this man, and how the feelings he develops for her lead to his destruction. See this with a couple of friends who love to dissect movies. Very highly recommended. For more on Le Boucher, check out this essay by fellow blogger Ed Howard.

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