“John Brennan on Thursday recalled being asked a standard question for a top security clearance at his early CIA lie detector test: Have you ever worked with or for a group that was dedicated to overthrowing the US?”
I need a word. Just a word. A word. To start it off. Nothing fits. Frustration? Yes, perhaps. Ferment? That might work even better. It is a feeling. I search for it on the Internet. I cast my net to the blog sea. Ahh, Valentine’s Day… Yesterday. How I wanted to write, yet I abstained. Abstinence. Discipline. Youthful anarchy.
I needed a word. As so I sought. Abandoned, abandonment, abstract expressionism. No. Alex Chilton, Anna Karina. Yes. After two films she was back. Here. Anne Wiazemsky? No. We will wait for her at the Tout va bien café.
Art house, arthouse, Astruc? Yes. Alexandre. caméra–stylo. A free-flowing style. Freewheeling. Big Star, Bilinda Butcher? Yes. Feed me with your kiss. Do you know how to kiss? With the tongue? That’s correct. You stick your tongue out and I will kiss you on the cheek.
So I found my word? No. I found Bob Dylan, Boise, bored to tears. A phrase. Bresson. Wiazemsky. No, not yet. But, pickpocket. Yes. Money. A big stack of money!
Broken heart. Ok, now we are getting somewhere. And how does a heart break? Neil? Love. CSS. No, not the computer language. Language? We are barely passing English class. Romeo and Juliet. Verona. Valentine’s. The world’s shittiest Starbucks. Right by my house. Trust me. I’ve been to Starbucks in middle-of-nowhere Arizona…in a fucking Albertson’s. No, Target. Maybe Wal-Mart. No more depressing than the one by my house. Sure, the buck-toothed high school senior was not much on the eye candy scale, but I am living in the same wasteland. Neu Mexique. The place where they tested the bombs. Long ago. Trinity. I have become the destroyer of worlds.
No, the other CSS. Tired of being sexy. That one. And Cary Grant. Yes, my jacket’s at the dry cleaner…and I don’t have any money…so I won’t take off my coat. Tou bi or not tou bi contre votre poitrine: dat iz ze question. Something like that. Claude Brasseur. What a brute! What a fucking asshole!! !
Chris Bell. The singer. The white one. Yeah. Dead. No. Cinémathèque Française. O-kay! Now we are getting somewhere. But I keep searching. The English classes are not enough. Maybe the Chinese will prevail. Sami Frey is betting Chinese: 5-2.
Cocteau. Yeah. We’ll sit in the car and listen to the radio. No, I’m not allowed to do things like that. Hey, how old are you anyway!?! Conlon Nancarrow? Yes. And the last time Michel Legrand on the big screen [English broken].
When it should be sad, the jazz kicks up impossibly happy. Happily. Hereusement? I don’t know. I am on the other side of the pond.
Crying. Depressed, depression, depress-o-rama. And then she feeds a tiger.
Doldrums. No. The other ones. Not the horse latitudes. Ennui. Yes. She is bored, but she doesn’t know she’s bored…until she’s not bored anymore. Euros Childs. No. Completely inappropriate.
Farfisa. Maybe. Pasolini. Frankenstein. Rasputin. Claude Brasseur. What’s your family name, Arthur? Rimbaud, like my father. But he’s dead. As I pump a bull’s eye into the midway target. Can I keep my chart? [Crumples and throws away.]
Leave no traces. Like the Situationists. No more poetry. Arthur Craven. Shitty family. It’s no joke. We need that money. I was in Indochina. Don’t fuck with me. Like Raoul Coutard.
Back to black and white. Truly a film noir. Série noire . Gallimard. Says so at the end. Dolores Hitchens.
Forlorn. Ooh! That’s a good one! Any catch? French cinema. French film? Harmony Korine. No. Later, later.
Henri Langlois. Yes. Now we’re back on track. A name. We needed a name. Like Tarantino. His production company. Like the car scene with Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. Same thing. They’re talking about nothing. But they are incredibly rude. Crude. Blow a fucker’s brains out. 2.0
But the travesty is that Godard is forgotten in France. ;that Quentin is cooler than Jean-Luc. Quel dommage.
Howard Hawks. To Jean-Luc. And then who? David Lynch? Not very often. Too many misses. Same with Harmony Korine. But those two are as good as it gets now.
Balls. Giant figurative testicles. The Madison. Joseph Beuys balls. Wolves and coyotes and felt and fat and goldleaf. Heathen child youthful anarchy. La Düsseldorf. Klaus Dinger? Motorik.
Driving like madmen. Park on the curb…like Billy the Kid. Drive on the sidewalk. The Simca. Do wheelies…no, donuts. The mud. The giant spools for wire. Tightrope.
Lovelorn. Ooh! Nice!! Lovesick. Mauricio Kagel. Yeah, now we’re getting somewhere. Because, obviously, there’s a smokin’ hot girl out there in blog land into Mauricio Kagel. Good strategy.
We are Sami Frey, here at Dossier du cinema. We are Anna Karina. We are schmucks. We haven’t learned yet to embrace our inner Claude Brasseurs.
How ’bout that MØ chick? Yeah, like her! Except……………….monotony. Morose? Yeah, book it! Nerval. Hanging from the streetlamp. Certainly. Ophüls? Nothin’.
Psychogeography. Clichy. The Louvre in 9:43…surpassing Jimmy Johnson of San Francisco.
AND THE SUBWAY SCENE!!!
Regret, rejection? Yes. Print it. The man sleeping on the sidewalk. Teddy bear or TNT. Richard Hell or Richard Lloyd. Routine. Buy groceries. Aunt Victoria. Like the Queen. And a big pile of money upstairs with the door unlocked and just a jacket draped over it. 200 million francs perhaps. In 10,000 franc notes.
Silver screen. It has to be silver, you fucks! Spider Man does not qualify. It has to be Louis Feuillade. Jurassic Park does not cut it. Did you see her thighs? So white. Black stockings over your heads. Undo the garters. It’s like Le Petit soldat all over again, but this time the terrorists are up and walking around. That’s what terrorists do. They terrify. Burglers burgle. Etc. No torture…handcuffed to the robinet.
I don’t have time for this shit. Shortcut. Dying. “Cheat death on the other side.” J. Spaceman.
Someone to be nice to me for like five minutes and then I’ll leave you alone. This was Jean-Luc “Cinema” Godard on fire.
When most of us think about truck drivers we probably picture a redneck chewing Red Man and listening to Merle Haggard (or, to keep the motif going, Red Sovine). Our truck drivers do an unenviable job which requires great intestinal fortitude (figuratively and literally). It’s a hell of a thing to have a profession where the transport of goods (or people) requires driving at all hours of the day and night. If you’ve never slapped yourself or blasted the A/C to try and stay awake–never searched desperately on the dial for some music to spur you on, then you may not understand this cautionary film noir from Raoul Walsh.
It’s cautionary in at least two ways. Early in the film we see a couple of drivers go over a cliff and burn alive in their rig. Even our hero Bogart loses an arm in a particularly nasty crash. But the other half of the moral tale involves a theme common to film noir: crimes of passion. In this case, it is the jealous love of Ida Lupino which causes her to murder her husband in hopes of clearing the way for a romance with the straight-laced George Raft.
Raft can’t be tempted because, along with that intestinal fortitude of which I spoke, he has a salt-of-the-earth righteousness which keeps him from betraying his friend (the soon to be murdered husband of Lupino’s character). That and he’s in love with Ann Sheridan.
Laced throughout this gritty struggle is the thread of capitalism. We see Raft and Bogart appreciate the first fruits (pun intended) of their labor when they sell a truckload of lemons and are able to pay off the accrued debt on their truck. Just when it’s paid off, tragedy strikes in the form of a wreck and they are back to square one.
Raft is excellent if stiff as Joe Fabrini. Bogart plays his brother Paul. Though Bogie is not really the featured player here, he delivers his lines with such wry languor and cool that we recognize the true star on set. Sheridan looks lovely throughout as Cassie Hartley, but it is the overwrought Lupino who takes center stage as Lana Carlsen by throwing a wrench into Raft’s acquisition of the American Dream.
For me, the most beautiful aspect of this film is in its beginning sequences…when we see the brothers work and sweat and dream. They have nothing but debt, yet they persevere and put their street smarts to work. Film noir may have given us a heroic dose of scandals, but it also brought us the verismo of such as the Fabrini brothers. It’s nice to see this slice of life on the silver screen. As Alfredo instructs Toto in Cinema Paradiso (1988), “Life isn’t like in the movies. Life…is much harder.” Sometimes directors like Walsh bring life into our living rooms. We can thank Raoul…and Rossellini…even Leoncavallo and Mascagni. Throw in Zola too. It’s only natural!