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La belle, la bete, and Boudu too…

October 27, 2013

This is a place where one entry in the story of my relationship to film will lead to another — just like, well, in a story.  We all create a narrative we like to tell about ourselves. With me it most often reflects back to film; what I’ve seen and   more immediately what  I’m choosing to watch now.

A lot of people, especially boomers and older, complain that they don’t make movies like they used to. The press, so enamored these days with box office, points out that this “neglected demographic” will spend its sizable entertainment dollars on hackneyed pseudo “Merchant/Ivory” fare like Marigold Hotel.

Wasn’t it Max Perkins who quipped to Hemingway that nothing serves the notion of the good old days better than a bad memory? Well, yes, they don’t make movies like they used to. And they shouldn’t. As for our contemporary market-place, it’s just as crass as it’s always been.

These days, I am watching movies that are far, far different than those pictures, back in the day, film school and before, which first captured my imagination. David Thomson noted, there is a certain group of film people who display a “Faulknerian” possessiveness about the films that made a lasting impression on them. For us the past is never really past. The current product more often than not is just that, product. Still it is our own “dependable” personal pantheon of films that haunt the shadows now flickering across multiplex screens.

But on occasion a contemporary filmmaker invokes the shadows of films’ past while crafting a unique contemporary film language. The other night I watched Leos Carax’s Holy Motors. Outrageous, confounding, and mesmerizing, Holy Motors kept me watching.  Yes,  at times it was impenetrable and ridiculous, funny  and touching, but it was the kind of movie that kept me glued to  my seat. It stuck and as I deconstruct it in my memory it continues to blossom, a true love letter to the movies, with a blues stomping entre acte of rocking accordions, which will levitate you straight up into the vaulted dome of the church where it was filmed. This is a magical thing.

So, go now and watch Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast or Orpheus, Jean Renoir’s Boudu Saved From Drowning, even Paul Mazursky’s Down and Out in Beverly Hills, but especially Leos Carax’s Holy Motors (mental health advisory in effect).

*  *  *

Flash. I’ve just learned that the AARP sponsors an annual Movies For Grownups Award. This news has left me speechless. Cripes. That’s enough to get you gnashing your dentures into a fine Polident-like powder. Soil your Depends.  I mean, it’s not as if “grownups” aren’t bemoaning their lost youth. This makes it even more imperative that you watch Holy Motors and revel in the behavior of Denis Lavant’s character Merde. Either you’ll get it or you won’t. It’s part of the movie experience…


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One Comment
  1. Barbara permalink

    Rayman, you are a delight. A complex morsel deposited for our pleasure.


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