seaslug

If my life was a movie

After the emptiness that was Star Wars: ROTS I was ecstatically refreshed when the American Movie Classics channel on cable decided to show some actual film classics for a change. To wit: The Third Man, with Orson Welles, The Snake Pit, With Olivia de Havilland, and Five Easy Pieces, with Jack Nicholson, all shown back to back. I'm not going to go into their plots because you can get much better information at IMDB. The thing that sticks in my mind about all these films is the consummate acting skill. That's what sticks in my craw the most about ROTS. That and the writing.

In The Third Man, a top notch film noir, Orson Welles actually plays rather a small part, as a black marketeer, but this is Welles at his best. His first scene, the amazing play and flow of emotion on his face, so subtle and yet so rich. I swear young Orson Welles was so sexy I'd have become bisexual if I'd been alive back then. That makes no sense but I don't care.

In The Snake Pit Olivia de Havilland plays a woman who has a mental breakdown and is institutionalized. I believe this film may still be considered one of Hollywood's best attempts at portraying the treatment of mental health. Treatment was a lot different when this was filmed in 1948, and the filmmakers do pound pretty heavily on the Freudian theories. Also, the scenes of what was then known as electro-shock therapy are some of the scariest and intense bits of celluloid I've seen. Anyway, de Havilland's portrayal of the confusion and fear felt by victims of mental illness is poignant without becoming melodramatic. She should have won the Oscar for which she was nominated.

Jack Nicholson is probably my favorite actor of all time. I strongly identified with his narcissistic character in Five Easy Pieces, being somewhat narcissistic myself. Nicholson reminds me a lot of Michael Keaton in that both actors always seem to bring a unique brand of humor into even their darkest roles. One often gets the impression that they are both playing a huge joke on everybody, during every minute. A cruel joke.

From Netflix, this week, I watched The Rules of the Game and, for the second time, The 400 Blows. I found The Rules of the Game interesting only for the comparison, on the DVD, of two versions of the film seen most - The 92 minute version that first premiered in 1939, and the 106 minute version currently available. They really are two drastically different films because of the way they were edited. The shorter version was a harsher critique on French society of the day and was not well received. The longer version that I watched was, I felt, more subtly nuanced, and showed that Jean Renoir was a marvelous actor as well as director.

Not being a film student or all that assiduous a follower of directors or actors, I didn't realize the main character in The 400 Blows, Antoine Doinel, appears in other Truffaut films, or that the series and character may be autobiographical. So now I've put all the films Netflix has on my list. The only one they don't have is L' Amour à vingt ans (Love at Twenty), in which the character, Antoine, appears in a 30 minute segment.

It was misogyny week at the movies but back in the real world I've altered my plans. It looks like I'm going to stay here for another year. I've accepted a contract position teaching a software application to staff at Geisinger Health System. It pays three dollars an hour more than I was making before and puts me where, for this area, I'm making decent money. The contract only goes for a year so I should be able to save up some more cash and get out of here at the end of it. One more Pennsylvania winter.
  • Current Mood: mysoginist
There is still a saying in my family when we're around the dinner table, based on The Snakepit, "Save some for Virginia." That movie gave me the creeps when I watched it as a kid.

Yet, the saying lives on. As a tribute to my then recently deceased grandmother, I gave a toast at my wedding and finished it with that line. My aunt cried. It's a doozy.
I'm glad and sad about your not moving. It seems now we have a bit more time to get to know eachother, if you want to that is.

Congrats on the extra money, that is always a bonus.

Huggs.