Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): January 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Remembering the Movies, Jan. 28 - Feb. 3

Every Friday, we look back at films released 10-100 years ago this week.
Visit Remembering the Movies to further peruse the past

It's a colorful week: eighteenth-century French martial artists, shrinking women, and a liver-munching serial killer rub shoulders as we transition into the second month of the year. Actors include Fatty Arbuckle, Marilyn Monroe, and the very first film star, while a strong directorial field ranges from Hitchock to Huston to Sam Fuller. On another note, opinions are like assholes, and this week I happen to have one (an opinion, that is). So by popular request I offer my (brief) thoughts on the film highlighted above, alongside a memorable "Siskel & Ebert" exchange on the same movie. Break out the fava beans...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Remembering the Movies, Jan. 21 - 27

Every Friday, we look back at films released 10-100 years ago this week.
Visit Remembering the Movies to further peruse the past

On schedule this week (finally! - and from now on, I promise), we've got devils, werewolves, masked wrestlers, and Cruella De Vil. And the Disney's not the only cartoon; there's also a Suess-authored short with an imaginative soundtrack. Add in one of Bogart's best tough-guy roles, and it's a surprisingly strong field this Friday, perhaps breaking the January doldrums. Then again, there's a fair share of critical grumbling to be savoured, and early Oscar winners are not exempt...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Remembering the Movies, Jan. 14 - 20

Every Friday, we look back at films released 10-100 years ago this week.
Visit Remembering the Movies to further peruse the past

This entry was completed on January 12, but was inadvertently saved as a "draft" by Blogger, even after I scheduled it for Friday morning. So much for getting a head start...

This week, the macabre takes the screen, with exploding heads, serial killers, disfigured psychopaths, and abominable snowmen. I also have a little more input than usual here, including a personal recollection of the 1991 film and an excerpt from an earlier review of the 1911 pick. Warning to the faint-hearted: the eighties entry features a graphic, and memorable, screen-cap.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Remembering the Movies, Jan. 7 - 13

Every Friday, we look back at films released 10-100 years ago this week.
Visit Remembering the Movies to further peruse the past

Sorry for the delay; as of this weekend, I'm making certain that "Remembering the Movies" will appear promptly every Friday at 8am. This week, we've got Edward G. helping to invent the gangster film, two Looney Tunes, and multiple responses to the controversial Not Without My Daughter, released on the eve of the Gulf War.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Sunday Matinee: Paris Belongs to Us


Paris Belongs to Us, France, 1960, dir. Jacques Rivette

Starring Betty Schneider, Giani Esposito, Françoise Prévost, Daniel Crohem, François Maistre, Jean-Claude Brialy, Jean-Luc Godard

Story: Anne Goupil is slowly drawn into a mysterious and complicated plot involving her brother's bohemian circle of friends, one of whom is directing her in a play. She slowly discovers that Juan, a young musician and supposed suicide, may have been murdered, either by the femme fatale Terry or a worldwide conspiracy of fascists...or both, or neither. (review contains spoilers)

"I want to tell you that the world isn't what it seems."
- Philip Kaufman

"It's shreds and patches, yet it hangs together over all. Pericles may traverse kingdoms, the heroes are dispersed, yet they can't escape, they're all reunited in Act V. ... It shows a chaotic but not absurd world, rather like our own, flying off in all directions, but with a purpose. Only we don't know what."
- Gérard Lenz

"I speak in riddles but some things can only be told in riddles."
- Philip Kaufman

• • •

Whether you find Paris Belongs to Us a richly original debut, a frustrating mess, or a bit of both depends on how you come at it. The first time I saw it I loved it, falling deeply under its spell; more recently it seemed somewhat more limp than I remembered, its ragtag assembly less charming, the aloofness of its allure more challenging (you must be willing to approach and enter it before it unfurls its tentacles and wraps you in its embrace). If you are in the right mood, Paris Belongs to Us intoxicates - and the ambivalence of its appeal reflects the nature of the conspiratorial mindset itself: to those prone to paranoia, all the loose and dead ends add up to form a complex puzzle that only the "in" can see - if you are lucid enough to step aside and maintain your skepticism, the bits and pieces fall apart and toxic anxiety is exposed as its own self-poison. Ironically, Rivette is able to capture the mood of the first mindset while himself embodying the second: this conspiracy belongs more to the imagination than reality, and Paris Belongs to Us is in part a cautionary tale about the dangerous allure and self-fulfilling prophecy of paranoia.