Francis Coppolla kicked back with his best pal Akira Kurosawa after a hard day of filming and they hoisted a couple of glasses of Suntory whiskey, at least that’s what these commercials want you to believe. I think they were friends! I think if you want to be a great director you need to get some Suntory whiskey right now and start drinking! Also you need some killer shades like Akira is wearing. Kom Pai!
P.S. Check out the ice clinking in the glass sound effects, they make it all happen for me.
TCM has done it again, screened a somewhat obscure film I’ve never seen. The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane is a stylish thriller (sort of), a psychological fairy tale chess game, the board pieces consisting of a precocious blonde angel, sexy, innocent brilliant, deadly, an evil Prince, sadistic, pederast, coward, bully, with pretensions of refined debauchery, a teen aged limping magician, complete with top hat and cape, accomplice, lover, confidant, defender of his lady’s virtue, a large village policeman, slow, good natured, (later to write Jacques Brel is alive and living in Paris) and a racist Queen of a landlady, driving in her Bentley like the wicked witch.
Beautifully directed and photographed TLGWLDTL feels like a EuroHorror film, not quite a giallo ( no black gloved killers) but definitely closer to the Italian style of filmmaking than the American. Complete with a glimpse of a nude 13 year old Jodie Foster ( really her older sister Connie, body doubling her) that was cut out of the American release. Martin Sheen is excellent as the pervert neighbor who covets Jodie’s nubile body, but Jodie is amazing, a captivating, mesmerizing performance that dispels the incredulity this tale could easily raise. It’s worth watching sheerly for her genius. She has a magnetic, feral/angelic quality that makes it hard to take your eyes off her. The camera loves her would be one way to express it but it seems to me that some people can project their thoughts through the Cinema Eye (the camera lens) much more powerfully than others. Is that Acting? I think it’s more a psychic phenomena than a learned craft. The director,Nicolas Gessner, a Hungarian, does an excellent job. A true Euro director. He understands Film and manipulates it beautifully. One of the things I look for in a great filmmaker is a memorable image for the last shot of a film. True Cinema creators always have this, and this movie has a beaut.
The score is interesting, Chopin concerto played as source from a record, and wah wah guitar funk, so 70’s, another aspect that draws comparison with the Italian thrillers of that era. This film also serves as an example of how to make an excellent film with basically one location and only a few actors, it’s a great lesson in restrained resource filmmaking. It was based on a novel and the author(Laird Koenig) wrote the screenplay, so there was a lot of thought put into the story before the cameras rolled, you can tell. It won a Sci Fi award but I think Jodie should have gotten an Oscar for her work.
What an incredible experience! To see this amazing movie on a screen, a brand new 35 mm print in glorious, luminous Black and White! A religious experience! L’Immortelle is a superbly beautiful flm! I read an interview with Robbe -Grillet where he complained about the crew of this film. They were very professional, they didn’t want to do the unorthodox things he asked for, like jump cuts, dark scenes etc. He bad mouthed them pretty well. But the movie is so beautiful that he should forgive them. I watched Trans-Europe-Express right after and it didn’t look one quarter as good. I’ve read several of Robbe-Grillet’s novels, some I think are great, others I don’t like as much but when he is on, his stuff is among the most creatively inspirational of anything I’ve encountered. Maybe that’s part of his being such an innovator. He goes out on these creative limbs, exploring new ground in storytelling and it is so liberating! I feel such boundless inspiration because (as Robbe-Grillet so ably demonstrates) anything is possible.
L’Immortelle was shot in Turkey (Istanbul), the locations are like nothing I’ve ever seen, the film is like a puzzle, a recollection, a dream, a fantasy of oriental splendour, a Frenchman’s postcard view of Istanbul from inside a shuttered hotel room, an occurance on a dark road outside of town, a beautiful mysterious woman. In this film Robbe-Grillet captures the complex, overlapping reality he built the Noveau Roman (New Novel) on. Quite an achievement for his first film. There is a belly dancing scene that is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on a silver screen. The Middle Eastern music is amazing as well, I hope a soundtrack is available. Robbe-Grillet said that he spent a lot of time on the sound and you can tell. A dense montage of sounds, backgrounds, insects, street sounds, atmospheres, truly a rich sonic palate that works beautifully. I hope this film will travel and be shown all across the world, it’s been very hard to see for a long time and it deserves to be screened. It’s a real piece of Cinema that I think should be seen in a theater if possible. Bravo to the French Cultural arm of the French Embassy for striking the new 35mm prints and making them available to theaters here in the USA, imagine a government that takes Art seriously. Incroyable!
Here is a clip of Jean Pierre Melville appearing in Jean Luc Godard’s 1st feature À Bout De Souffle (USA Breathless). Melville was a hero to the young directors of the New Wave. He also had a reputation for being somewhat of a tyrant. I heard an interview with the cameraman from Army Of Shadows, Pierre Lhomme. He said that only during the restoration of the film, 35 years after it was made, did he realize what a great film it was. Before that there were too many bad memories associated with the various sequences and seeing them would bring these on set recollections rushing back. It was only after all those years that he could be objective. Also the star of that film, Lino Ventura, had huge fights with Melville on the set of Le Deuxième souffle(1966) and vowed never to speak to him again. Nevertheless when Melville called him to be in Army Of Shadows Lino came and from what I hear the director and his star never spoke directly to one another through the entire film! “Tell the actor to do it again!”, “Tell Melville I’m ready.” etc. Astonishing when you see the incredible performance Lino gave. But here is Melville playing a famous novelist being interviewed at the airport by a throng of reporters. And because it is is a French film, he mainly talks about chicks.
They’re screening two rare Robbe-Grillet films at the Billy Wilder Theater on Friday Nov.7. L’IMMORTELLE and TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS.
Scene From L’Imortelle ( The Immortal Woman)
These films are almost impossible to see so go if you can, I’ll be there. Here’s the details. I’ve been reading a lot of Robbe=Grillet’s novels recently, very inspirational stuff, creatively inspirational. The way he plays with plots making intricate patterns out of genre plot devices. “Generators” he called them, elements of genre storytelling that are now part of our collective unconscious from years of pulp magazine writings, grade B horror films, film noirs, etc. I’ve never seen these films so I can’t write about them. But they are showing Last Year At Marienbad on Sunday Nov. 9th, an influential structural film Robbe-Grillet wrote that was directed by Alain Resnais. I’ve seen that one. I went to see it at the Bleecker Street Cinema back in the late 70’s. There was a sign at the door to the theater, it read something like this.”Dear Patrons, The catalog lists the running time of this film as 107 minutes. We’ve timed the print we have at 93 minutes but we can’t tell what’s missing.” That should give you an idea as to what the film is like. It’s very cool, definitely worth seeing, there’s a famous long shot of a formal garden, people stand here and there in tuxedos and gowns and their shadows were painted in.
A Famous Image That Conveys Robbe-Grillet’s Prismatic Approach To Storytelling