Monday, September 07, 2009

Viewing Log #10: Tally up the alley cat aggression [8/31/09 - 9/6/09]

by Ryland Walker Knight

—Enter the void.

  • Nickelodeon [Peter Bogdanovich, 1976] Before I fell asleep I was enjoying this goofy run-on sentence of an homage. It's got the right tone, even if, Barry Lyndon aside, I often feel Ryan O'Neal is a rather tone-deaf performer. I probably won't make an extreme effort to see the second hour.
  • Le Pont du Nord [Jacques Rivette, 1981] I've been watching this in pieces, just as I've been reading Don Quixote kind of slowly. This picture is more grim, though it has its laughs. And it has plenty to marvel at, like the spiderweb gun or the eye-slashing bit with Pascale attacking posters.

  • Little Murders [Alan Arkin, 1971] Motherfucker this movie is dark. And hilarious. And smart. Gould has to be one of the greatest, coolest actors ever. Arkin's cameo is insane, a gut buster. Thought of Charlie Kaufman a lot, and I almost want to watch Synecdoche again, somehow.
  • Boudu Saved From Drowning [Jean Renoir, 1932] Watched it twice, and it's kind of perfect, a film teeming with contradictions, with activity abutting stability. But I don't think it's as simple as freedom is the disregard for appearance. I think it's bigger, it's a process and a river; freedom is to not ignore the bank along your float.

  • The Princess Bride [Rob Reiner, 1987] # I guffawed twice, and generally smiled. Andre The Giant is great, maybe perfect; Faulk can do no wrong. It's so easy.
  • The Lower Depths [Jean Renoir, 1936] It fits: if Gabin is a pauper king, Jouvet is a royal bum. Despite the perpetually open world, there's always something dropping out from beneath people in a Renoir film. Further, the fairy tale of these worlds (still "realist") only opens one happy ending and its invariably clouded, however ebullient. Maybe the weakest I've seen, but it holds life all the same. Lots of mobility.

  • The Story of Marie and Julien [Jacques Rivette, 2003] Watched it twice in two days. Wanted to pay better attention to that cat, and how the clocks were used. Also, Béart is really great on top of really great looking. Not sure if it can equal Duelle or Noroit, though it has a delicious ending.

  • Grand Illusion [Jean Renoir, 1937] # Made me want to just watch Renoir films for a little while. Talk about timing, and teams, and a screen teeming. Still, I get the feeling he's better than this elsewhere (besides Rules).

escargot my car go
I work on what I love, I work the service on my vertince
And I work till this here little flat line closes the curtains


  1. Man, so many great movies here. Little Murders has long been one of my favorites, probably the best representation of Jules Feiffer's caustic wit, maybe even better than anything in his great comics and plays. The monologues are just stunning, and as great as Arkin's cameo is I'm a sucker for Lou Jacobi and Donald Sutherland, each delivering some of the greatest oratory in the cinema.

    And of course those two Rivettes are lovely. Marie and Julien was my introduction to the director, and it remains a favorite, mainly for Beart's utterly charming and mysterious performance -- check out that Mona Lisa smile in the final shot. And, yeah, clocks and cats; great sound design with all that ticking and bell-jingling. Le Pont du Nord is Rivette at his most dry and formalist, full of games without rules and puzzles without solutions. It's strangely enchanting.

  2. Yeah, Little Murders is probably my very favorite film; i'wve watched it over and over and it just kills me. Such a masterpiece of absurd filmmaking, in a way that can never be done again.

    I was also into Le pont du nord, a lot - though I also had to watch it in segments.

  3. What's crazy about _Pont du Nord_ is how conceptual it is despite being so documentary. Everything's on location, but all the "plot" is tethered to elsewheres; motivations, such as the are, are hardly "explained" but given body through choices. And then it all falls apart in a kung fu lesson! This recasts the whole picture, making me think that every encounter is pedagogical in some fashion or another. Also, it's funny that Bulle is the Sancho Panza character. And finally: what a shame Pascale passed so young. She's so cool in her leather jacket. Great eyes, too.

  4. _Little Murders_ is amazing. Can't say it enough.

  5. Renoir films I've seen, in approximate order of how much I like them:
    1. Rules
    2. Day in the Country
    3. Boudu
    4. Crime of Mr. Lange *
    5. Grand Illusion
    6. La Chienne *
    7. the Golden Coach *
    8. La Bete Humaine *
    9. the Lower Depths
    10. la Marseillaise
    11. the River

    * = I've only seen it on home video.

  6. Thanks, Brian, for the list. I'll have to add the silents to my Q. I'm sitting on _M. Lange_ with _La Bete Humaine_ and _Golden Coach_ arriving this week. I will definitely need to see all of these on big screens at some point in my life; thankfully, that won't be too, too hard. He's a staple for a reason. And, lemme also say, that it's perfect to watch a ton of Renoir alongside a ton of Rivette. It makes so much sense. I forget, Brian, did you make it to _Spectre_? I don't think you braved _Noli me tangere_ with me and Mark. Did you?

  7. No I think I was only able to catch Celine & Julie Go Boating, Paris Belongs to Us and the Story of Marie and Julian in the (relatively) recent slate of Rivette retros. Too many Sunday shows!

    I've never seen a Renoir silent. I keep hoping for a chance someday. Yes I know a few are around on DVD. I'd really rather not go there.

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