Ten reasons why I love the movies
Specifically “Dancing in the Dark” from Minnelli’s The Band Wagon (1953), and the jazz rendition of “All of You” in Mamoulian’s Silk Stockings (1957), both instrumental and pure transcendental eroticism. Serviceable as an actress, Cyd was peerless in dance…and legs — which may count as two reasons why I love the movies.
The genius of Citizen Kane (1941), yes. But also the nervous entertainer making a bid for TV in Around the World with Orson Welles (1955) — his encounter with Raymond Duncan (eccentric millionaire brother of Isadora) and charmed by the elderly English ladies are alone worth the price of admission. And then there is Henry Jaglom’s Someone to Love (1987), something to love…or hate, depending on where you stand with its creator, a jabbering hybrid of Woody Allen and Eric Rohmer. Welles is quiet through Jaglom’s psychodrama, but wraps things up with a rousing soliloquy about sexuality and evolution.
Self-proclaimed Grandmother of the New Wave. Her material may be slight, but Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961) is particularly haunting; and A Hundred and One Nights of Simon Cinema (1995) is a matchless valentine to the movies.
Where to start? Carole Bouquet and Ángela Molina playing ‘Conchita’ in That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), after Maria Schneider made it clear he’d need two actresses to play the two-faced demise of Fernando Rey. Stéphane Audran and Jean-Pierre Cassel jumping into the bushes for a midday quickie in The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)…foot fetishes (Diary of a Chambermaid , El ), dislocated body parts (Un chien andalou , The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz ), and the endless jabs at class and Catholicism. Which brings us to…
Manner and poise in the face of ruin. Called ‘the master’ for good reason. There are works of high art (Vertigo ), pulp noir (Strangers on a Train ), bizarre experiments (Rope ), half-baked attempts at Freudian surrealism (Spellbound ). In the end, though, no one can touch him; Sir Alfred has been in a class by himself since time began. Given the choice of seeing any one of his pictures, I’d opt for To Catch a Thief (1955) — no masterwork, but endlessly enjoyable.
If his Young Girls of Rochefort (1967) is the greatest movie ever made, how is it that Lola (1961) is Demy’s best film? Such perplexing thoughts take Flickhead well into the wee hours…
Very heated with Burt Lancaster in Siodmak’s The Killers (1946); juggling husband (David Niven) and lover (Stewart Granger) while clad in a grass skirt in Mark Robson’s The Little Hut (1957); her gleeful boast of Sinatra as ‘ten pounds of guinea and one hundred pounds of cock’…these are things to remember when seeing that face, the smile, the teeth, the eyebrows, the eager and welcoming eyes, the strong, perfect body built for vigorous, hearty sex. Why, she even made Grace Kelly look downright dowdy in Ford’s Mogambo (1953).
Bernard Herrmann’s the best, Miklós Rózsa has even made me cry. But Goldsmith’s score for Polanski’s (and Towne’s and Evans’s) Chinatown (1974) hits me like no other. Which brings us to…
Arguably the last truly great adult film made in America, and something that finds its way before my eyes every six months, a ritual that’s been going on for nearly twenty years. I believe David Thomson equated John Huston’s hissed line readings with the mist that rises from fresh cow pies. How true, how true.
I cannot explain my attraction here. Suffice it to say that Chabrol has kept me going for decades. While he’s made some bad films, and some very good ones that I didn’t care for, there have been waves of excellence (Les Biches ) and brilliance (La Cérémonie ). Although he’s been chipping away at class conflict since the beginning (Le Beau Serge , Les Cousins ), lately the films have become increasingly focused: Merci pour le chocolat (2000) and especially La Fleur du mal (2003) insinuate that the bourgeoisie must inbreed to insure its survival — for who else would have them?
…What are some of yours?