Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Loulou (1980, Maurice Pialat)

Part of the 80's Project (returning after a three month hiatus)

A lazy critical fallback is praising a movie by referring to it as being "realistic", but isn't "reality" the very antithesis of what films accomplish best? Don't misinterpret me as the type of viewer that seeks solely from films only escapist fare (another lazy fallback, this by average filmgoers). But if you think of your favorite scenes in film history, be it Psycho's shower scene, Citizen Kane's montage of a disintegrating marriage or Chief Brody on a crowded beach getting closer and closer as each beachcomber passes by in Jaws, the directors employed editing, music, framing and among other various methods to create a cinematic language that as art far transcends realism. In William Goldman's book Which Lie Did I Tell he addressed one of film's most tried and true cliches, the protagonist (in his book he used Lethal Weapon as his example) always finding a parking space in front of whatever place they stop at by writing a scene where the cops spend a good five minutes driving around looking for an open space. In a Film Theory class back in college, our professor showed us two scenes from two films that depicted a minute of time and asked us which related most to our sense of the passing of time. The first scene was from Ingmar Bergman's Hour of the Wolf, where Max Von Syndow looks at his watch for exactly one minute, the scene is one static shot, taking place in real time. The next was from Alfred Hitchcock's Sabotage. In the scene, a woman unknowingly has stowed a bomb on a bus, set to go off in one minute. In the scene Hitchcock cuts between the unsuspected passengers, the bomb ticking, the bus wheels, the city outside, etc. This montage takes about thirty seconds. The overwhelming response was that Hitchcock's depiction of a minute represented people's relationship with the passage of time that everybody agreed that people tend to lose track of time and never register an exact minute in time.

Maurie Pialat's Loulou is a film that attempts to represent "reality" in direction, stylistic choices, acting and screenplay. The first thing that stands out is its complete lack of a score, in fact the only time we ever hear any music is when a character is listening to a radio either in a car or at home, and once we exit car the sound ebbs out like it would in real life. Pialat also stages most of his actions in the most objective angle possible, framed mid-screen.

The screenplay is sans any major plot points, it revolves around a woman, Nelly (Isabelle Huppert) who leaves her husband and bourgeois lifestyle for an affair with poor ex convict Loulou (Gerard Depardieu). Plot-wise, that's pretty much it. There is never any specific reason given, its implied she herself isn't entirely aware, other than Loulou represents a dramatic shift from her stale and demanding husband Andre (Guy Marchand), perhaps it's his magnetism, his sexuality or just his je nais Deparideuness. That's not to say its a boring film or nothing happens, just the drama is all derived from the characters actions or inaction. The best scene occurs when Andre starts a scuffle with Loulou, he weakly pushes him and they end up in an alley swinging and badly missing one another and getting exhausted before incurring any physical damage. They keel over and just sort of stare at each other no longer interested in fighting, Nelly consoles both of them before they settle on a truce and go to a bar to share a drink. Pialat is able to pull this off so that it combines awkwardness, humor and honesty. It's a tone that the film straddles throughout, like in another scene where Loulou's ex girlfriend visits him while he's in bed with Nelly, Loulou invites her to join them, and as she starts to undress, Nelly gets up and leaves, the ex follows her out, leaving Loulou who had been having visions of threesomes dancing in his head, alone.

In addition to this "realness", Pialat minds some interesting thematic ideas about class distinctions. Nelly seems to be at war with her instincts and desires, she rejects her bourgeoisie lifestyle, but not the tendencies that come with it. She still is an avid reader, but when her husband asks if she discusses literature with her new amour, she blithely retorts, "I read books, what do I need to talk about them for", as a rejection to one of the sole benefits of their relationship one assume. Still, in the brief period when she returns to her husband mid-affair she does seem more at home in the comfy bed in Andre's nice loft then she ever appears in Loulou's cheap flat, lying on a mattress in the middle of the floor. Since no explicit reason is ever given for her affair, one senses she has reconsidered her impulses at comfort in place of passion.

No one will ever mistake Loulou with being representative of any sort of "reality", no matter what cinematic pretension Pialat may present us with, still like life it features internal struggles, questionable decision and most importantly, messiness. Due to the stylistic choices it's a film that's not entirely engaging upon watching, but improves substantially upon reflection.

Monday, September 10, 2007

LiveBlogging: 49ers v. Cardinals Monday Night Football (Fourth Quarter)

The offense looks tepid, but on the bright spot, teams the 49ers have outscored through three quarters this week: Cleveland, Atlanta, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and the NFC Championship representatives New Orleans and Chicago.

So I hesitate to type this, because I don't want Wisenhunt to realize it, but two quarterbacks that the 49ers could never beat, no matter how bad or good their teams are: Brett Favre and Cardinals backup Kurt Warner (shh).

A third down Blitz, I saw it coming, how couldn't the Niners' coaching staff?

After this game, I doubt will be seeing many 49ers or Cardinals games scheduled in primetime, in fact, I think I heard all the major stations are trying to work out a deal to see if the Cowboys could just play every televised night game for the next three years.

Again the referees help out the Cardinals with a crappy personal foul call on an incidental face mask.

Thanks to the referee and a stupid penalty on Mark Roman for taunting (after a 20 yard run by Leinart) the Cardinals take the lead 17-13. Can't really blame the defense, they've been playing great but have been on the field way too much. Now its up to our offense. Crap.

Mr. Woodcock trailer, wow two penis jokes in the title. That's got to be worth something, huh? No. It actually reminds me of a slapstick version of that episode of Freaks and Geeks where Haverchuck's mom dates his P.E. coach.

I know they didn't have Gore for the pre-season but the offense looks holes for Gore, no time for Smith to throw, when he does he's missing open receivers, this does not bode well for the season if they can't fix this. Sorry I know its getting repetitive, but after seeing the vast improvement of the defense, it becomes that much more apparent.

Is Joe Montana around somewhere? Let's get him dressed for a last minute comback.

Stop saying "San Fran", Gollic, what does not saying "cisco" truly save you, .04 of a second?

Darrell Jackson misses a possible game winning reception.

Nice 4th and 1 pickup by Smith, I would like to see him run a little more, especially if the coverage is good, may cause the safety to play up and open up the receivers.

A questionable false start penalty against the Niners (appears the Cardinals jumped off) makes it the fifth questionable penalty to go against them, home field advantage ain't what it used to be.

Wow, how did this all of the sudden become an exciting game?

Jackson redeems himself with that fumble pick-up.

The Niners take the lead, Walsh lives! Walsh lives!

And the second interception, game over, man. Somehow the Niners win.

LiveBlogging: 49ers v. Cardinals Monday Night Football (Third Quarter)

Thoughts thus far:

The 49ers defense is looking much better than last year. The one touchdown drive was only for thirty yards due to the Alex Smith fumble, the field goal was after a 4th down penalty. Fitzsgerald and Boldin have been quiet and that opening interception. However, they need to do a better job stopping the run.

With the exception of a few Gore runs, the offense has looked bad. Play calling too conservative and the line is not giving Smith any time.

Nice way to start the second half for the 49ers, two false starts to start on the Cardinals. Nice stop by Walt Harris. First round draft pick Patrick Willis in the backfield before Leinart gets a hold of the ball.

Where's the intentional grounding? Leinart tosses it away to no one to avoid a sack. Third crappy call or lack thereof against the Niners thus far.

6 Plays, 5 Penalties for the Cardinals in the third quarter so far, way to go taskmaster Ken Wisenhunt.

This offensive play calling is atrocious, spread it out man. Couldn't Norv Turner work two jobs?

Lame third down call, even if Gore caught it he wouldn't have scored or got the first down.

13-10. 49ers regain the lead, but this is no way to pay tribute to Walsh.

Another nice defensive stop. Eventually we need to actually sack Leinart. This game is more Ditka than Walsh.

Cialis commercial. "E.D." now impotent men have a hip slang word for their homosexuality, er, inability to make love to their wives.

Um, offensive lineman, little advice, it helps to block the defensive guy running towards your quarterback a little bit.

Look at that, give the guy some time, and a third and eight completion! Wow, let's try that a little more.

Alex Smith's soul patch is not helping him hit wide open receivers. Or block for himself.

Wow Ditka says these offenses are too conservative.

Patrick Willis is looking like a great pick so far.

Any crackheads still awake in the East Coast just drifted to sleep at 12:41 AM Eastern Standard time, after that, the 98th punt of the game.

And another quarter ends..hopefully I can stay awake to compose some thoughts for the fourth qu......ZZZZZZ (when I fall asleep I type Z's)

LiveBlogging: 49ers v. Cardinals Monday Night Football (Second Quarter)

Do you think Marvin Harrison or Peyton Manning ever called Edgerrin James during the summer and were all like, "Hey Edge, remember that Super Bowl win, that was awesome, I mean the highlight of my life...oh yeah, you signed with Arizona last bad, I forgot. Hey, how are the Suns looking? Oh, that's right the Cardinals...Well good luck with that, yeah, I'm fine, we're going to go for that repeat, which is nice."

7-3. Dumb penalty is costly, perhaps now the offense can put a scoring drive that involves more than ten yards.

I'm sorry, horse collaring is a penalty in the NFL, isn't it?

Hey it's the fourth drive, time to introduce the offense, ESPN!

SHIT! The offensive line has to try this whole blocking the defender thing out, hard to blame Alex Smith for the fumble when he gets turned around and finds two 300lb linemen jumping on him.

10-7 Cardinals. The offense needs to start sustaining a drive or put up a big play.

Mike Ditka is shocked, shocked I say that a wide receiver provided a block! In other news, this is the first game Mike Ditka has watched since 1987 (considering he was coaching until 1999, not a good sign).

When you throw that immediate line of scrimmage throw to receiver, usually nice to gain some yards or at least not lose any.

Smith shows a pair and dives for the first down!

Hey the banjo guy is still alive and attending Niner games! Bay Area sporting legend.

2005 49er MVP, Kicker Joe Nedney ties the game.

What a weak ass penalty call on Shawntae Spencer, and considering that there was no way it was going to play any part in that play makes that a pathetic illegal contact penalty call, way too keep the Cardinals drive alive referee, good to see Tim Donaghy found employment after his NBA career ended.

Wow Matt Leinart looks like a scared child running away from Michael Jackson in the open field. Sorry lame joke, but what do you want, I am improving whilst watching the game.

Nice third down stop. Apparently the 49ers secondary is doing a great job, Ditka keeps telling us so, but ESPN doesn't find it necessary to actually show visual evidence.

Don't run into the punter. Don't run into the punter. Close.

10-10 halftime tie. I wonder if the 49ers are what Dennis Green thought they were. Possibly.

LiveBlogging: 49ers v. Cardinals Monday Night Football (First Quarter)

No wonder there is such an East Coast bias, this game doesn't even kick off until 10:25pm Eastern Standard time. Hopefully this game will at least entertain the thirty inomniac crackheads that will be awake by the game's East Coast end time.

Mike Nolan in a suit! Esquire's 11th Best Dressed man in the world, 2007. The 49ers in their classic 80's unis. Your nightly fashion report.

So far Ditka's been nice to the Niners. Forgiven...for now.

Alex Smith is 1-1, 100% completion percentage so far!

Nice offensive line there Niners. False start then cave in for a 2 yard Gore running loss.

Love the one yard throw on 3rd and 17. Great call, offensive coordinator.

Now the 80 million dollar cornerback will get to test his mettle against two of the better receivers in the game, Larry Fitzsgerald and Anquin Boldin. I don't think there's anyway for a cornerback to live up to that salary, but as long as he doesn't bring back memories of the last expensive free agent cornerback the Niners signed, Antonio Langham, that'll be okay.

Nice! The cornerback not making 80 million dollars intercepts the first Leinart pass.

What happened to the starting lineup announcing? Does ESPN not do that?

Gore is not touched and the Niners score first. At least they won't have to worry about being blanked at home like last year's bay area football team who opened the season with a Monday Night doubleheader.

Arizona calls its patented quarterback about to get sacked tosses it to running back who fumbles the ball and watches the ball bounce off the cornerback grasp and back to the hands of the running back for a first down run play again.

Keith Lewis blows a defensive stop...but at least that gives us a shot of his cool mohawk.

First quarter far, so eh. Niners leading and looking strong on defense but thanks to the running in to the kicker penalty, the Cardinals are driving.

The Mikes seem to be striving for respectibility knowing that their ESPN's Doubl A announcing team.

LiveBlogging: 49ers v. Cardinals Monday Night Football (Preamble)

Are you ready for some typos and poorly constructed sentences? Duh duh duh dun.

In celebration of the San Francisco 49ers first telecast night game* since turning Mexicans off American Football for good in 2005 when the NFL generously pitted the 49ers coming off a 2-14 year against tonight's opponent the Arizona Cardinals coming off a (I'm guessing here) 5-11 campaign. Who could forget the 49ers prior year's sole night game, the Ken Dorsey/Craig Krenzel 2003 Orange Bowl rematch? I'll tell you who, Rex Grossman, I believe he has that game on DVD and sends it as a response to every Chicago sportswriter who asks week after week "could it get any worse?" It will also be the first Monday Night Football game in San Francisco, the stadium is now apparently titled Bill Walsh Field in Monster Park at Candlestick Point, since their 2003 trouncing of the Tommy Maddox-led Pittsburgh Steelers.
*the Niners did have a game on the NFL Network last year (a victory over eventual division champs, Seattle) but seeing how that channel operates as a soverign station telecast solely in the mind of the elves that live under your younger brother's bed.

What better way to end the first week of the season then a head to head match up of two teams that ended with a combined 13 wins last year? ESPN thinks so highly of this game that they resorted to the gimmickry of having it announced by three guys named Mike (Golic, Ditka, and some other dude), surely forgetting NBC's disatrous early 90's pregrame show Dickin' Around featuring Dick Enberg, Dick Stockton and Dick Vermeil. Seriously though, I do have issues with Ditka announcing a game that will serve as a memorial to Bill Walsh. Ditka and Walsh were contempories and Ditka often times talked smack about him and his team, most famously dismissing the 49ers as a "finnesse" team. How's this for finnesse Ditka, in their two NFC Championship match-up, Walsh's Niners beat da Bears by a combined score of 51-3, Walsh's defenses sure finnessed your teams out of the end zone.

Okay, rant over. Let's try this thing out. Best case scenario: the 49ers soundly beat the Cardinals and look like the play-off team people are saying they could be. Worst case scenario: a fifth straight loss to the Cardinals, Frank Gore sustains a injury that keeps him out for the year, and my fiancee comes to her senses and leaves me.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

New Beverly Cinema's September 2007 Calendar

Caught Alejandro Jodorowsky's psychadelic epic The Holy Mountain at the New Beverly last night (side note: Wow) and was informed that the September/October 2007 calendar weren't ready yet. Their website, however, lists the double features for September and I wanted to reprint the listings so you can get a sense of why I am so devoted to the theatre. This is the first calendar that recently passed away owner Sherman Torgan had no part in (there is a nice collage of photos of Torgan at the theatre), the new programmers did a great job perserving his aestheic on this month's (Bergman heavy) calendar.

September 2, 3, 4:

Vanishing Point 7:30 (also Sunday at 3:45)
Hells Angels on Wheels 9:25 (also Sunday at 5:40)

Quentin Tarantino is a big fan of the theatre and held a two month long Grindhouse festival here in March and April. Here are two of his favorite films, if you've seen Death Proof you no doubt remember all the references to the car from Vanishing Point, and he has programmed director Richard Rush's (The Stunt Man) Hells Angels on Wheels at various events, it stars Jack Nicholson as a Hells Angels member who gets in trouble when he falls for the leader's girl.

September 5,6:

Sawdust and Tinsel 7:30
Summer with Monika 9:20

Get better acquainted with the works of late auteur Ingmar Bergman with these films, neither of which are available on DVD currently (though Sawdust will get the Criterion treatment in October).

September 7,8:

The Karate Kid 7:30 (also Saturday at 2:50)
Rocky 9:50 (also Saturday at 5:15)

John G. Avildsen directs both of these inspirational underdog sport stories which each spawned countless sequels (there are ten combined Rockys and Karate Kids!). One can only hope Ralph Macchio has a script in the works called Daniel LaRusso where Daniel-san coping with the death of his teacher Mr. Miyagi decides to get back on the mat for one more event.

September 9,10,11:

Harold and Maude 7:30 (also Sunday at 3:30)
A Thousand Clowns 9:30 (also Sunday at 5:20)

The younger generation bonds with their elders in completely different ways in these two films, Harold is a certified classic, but A Thousand Clowns is also a gem, with a great energetic perfromance by Jason Robards, it is also currently unavailable on DVD.

September 12,13:

Fanny and Alexander 8:00

Ingmar Bergman's autobiographical penultimate feature takes a nostalgic, tragic and magical look at two siblings who are uprooted from their comfortable family when their mother remarries a priest who turns out to be the most evil step-parent this side of Cinderella.

September 14,15:

Boogie Nights 7:30
Roller Boogie 10:20

Do you like the Boogie, you like the disco? The film that put Paul Thomas Anderson on the map screens with a film from the era Nights is set in, the 1979 Linda Blair rollerskating epic, Roller Boogie.

September 16,17:

Playtime 7:30 (also Sunday at 2:55)
Mon Oncle 9:50 (also Sunday at 5:15)

Two of Jacques Tati, the revered Frech director influenced by Buster Keaton and the silent movie comedians, most well regarded films, watch as Monsieur Hulot contiues his battleun against modern technology.

September 18:

Demon Rage (aka Satan's Mistress) 7:30
Scream of the Demon Lover 9:30

This month's Grindhouse Tuesday double bill is simply demonic. Since I am unfamiliar with both titles, I'll let the IMDB plot synopsis describe the goodnes you're in for. Demon Rage: " A woman in an unhappy marriage finds sexual fulfillment in her relationship with a ghostly, speechless presence who doesn't quite say who he is." Scream of the Demon Lover: "A beautiful woman travels to a remote estate to seek employment as a biochemist for Baron Janos Dalmar. She finds herself attracted to him and immerses herself in her work to suppress her lusty desires. A rash of brutal murders occurs in the area and she discovers that the Baron is not what he seems.

For more on the Grindhouse festival, go here.

September 19,20:

The Ritual 7:30
The Magician 9:30

Two more lesser known Bergman films, both not on DVD. Ingmar himself is the lead in The Ritual, his only credited performance!

September 23,24,25:

What's Up, Doc? 7:30 (also Sunday at 3:40)
Paper Moon 9:20 (also Sunday at 5:30)

Director Peter Bogdanovich and star Ryan O'Neal colloborate during the peak of their fame in the early 70's. See O'Neal go verbally mano a mano with his female leads, Barbara Streisand, and daughter Tatum.

September 26,27,28,29:

Mala Noche 7:30 (also Saturday at 3:50)
My Own Private Idaho 9:10 (also Saturday at 5:30)

A Gus Van Sant double bill. His rarely screened debut film (coming to DVD via Criterion) plays with his loose adaptation of Henry V starring River Phoenix and in his first but thankfully not last forray into the Shakespearian tongue, Keanu Reeves. Insert "whoa" joke here.

September 30, Oct 1,2:

TRON 7:30 (also Sunday at 3:35)
The Last Starfighter 9:25 (also Sunday at 5:30)

In 80's movies if you played video games too often in the you often found yourself becomming part of the game! Marvel at 1982 era CGI!
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