Thursday, April 24, 2008

Two More from Truffaut

Mississippi Mermaid

Jean Paul Belmondo is stinking rich, running a tobacco farm on an island in the Indian ocean. Hard up, he mail-orders Catherine Deneuve, as you do, who is just ‘adorable’ as he keeps reminding her (at least she doesn’t go ‘I know!’ as most modern actresses would; Catherine appears melancholy with a touch of wonderment thus making her astronomically beautiful. Jean-Paul has no choice but to put her face on a cigarette packet). Turns out, she’s loony. They make a terrific pair. She thoroughly emasculates him, remarkable given his rarefied beefy studliness. Crimes are committed and a lovers on the run tale ensues with shades of Losey’s Gun Crazy and Hitchcock-cliches abound, as the movie shifts to Paris. It’s clunky as hell and the disjointed last act seems to have been written in one 12-hour bender where the writer, struck by an attack of the schmaltz, turns pure malevolence into a sentimental weepy that is almost as amusing as it is preposterous.

Jules et Jim

Man, bohemians are nuts. At least the irreprehensible characters didn’t die. Although the guitar troubadour lives and that guy was a slut!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Two from Truffaut

Day for Night

Movie about a movie was probably Wes Anderson’s moviemaking template. Interestingly, in the movie inside the movie, Jackie Bissett is an English girl in love with her Fiance’s Father, a relationship quandary she would revisit in the coming decade as Rob Lowe’s mummy who bangs his best friend Andrew McCarthy on a moving escalator in ‘Class’. Or was it an elevator? Maybe it was both? Even though I replayed the scenes a hundred times at the time that was a long time ago. I was 13. If only Alex Chilton had written about that.

‘Day for Night’ is more ‘Love Boat’ than ‘8 ½’ and delightful for those very reasons.

The Bride Wore Black

Jeanne Moreau is on a cursing rampage to avenge the death of her husband who was murdered on the altar steps by accidental rifle-fire from a nearby apartment where five dildos are conducting a slippery get-together. By cursing rampage, I don’t mean she curses them to smithereens, she has Strychnine and well she’s Jeanne Moreau, a terrifying fact in itself. Not sure how she found out they done it, because I fell asleep. I’ll probably never find out because I wasn't that interested in the movie to begin with. I had a bloody great snooze. Perhaps I dreamt I was in a far superior caper, scored by some immaculate Bernard Hermann rip-off.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

H from Portland's Current Reading

I just finished The Savage Detectives all 636 pages of brilliant bagginess. An absolute stunner. Captures the boho lifestyle better than any recent novel I can remember or anything that Kerouac has ever attempted. Hilarious, maddening, at times tedious but well worth it. I actually ripped thru it in 3 weeks. I can't wait for his magnum opus 2666 to be translated later this year. In the interim I'll probably read a Night In Chile.
I am currently going through my "Sweaty man lit" phase. This phrase was coined by the Village Voice regarding John Banville novels. No, I am not reading any Banville novels (although I am curious about his Benjamin Black series). This weekend I finished Revolutionary Road. Christ I need to catch my breath after that one. It reminded me of a 10 page John Cheever/ Raymond Carver short story that was stretched out to a pitch perfect 330 page novel. Not a misplaced sentence in this grimly hilarious novel. I can't believe that Leo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet are filming an adaptation of this. Another vehicle of theirs that I refuse to see.
After finishing it, I went to Powells and picked up Richard Ford's Independence Day (to continue with the sweaty man lit theme) Pynchon's V. and Panama for $2.25. Chet just nailed his hand to Catherines door.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Flannellette Funk at its Finest

What I am about to unload is so disgustingly rich in degradation that it will rock you like a hurricane and chill you to your inner Borgnines. My hair is the worst it’s been since I was 9. Similar in texture to that fake hair you find at the end of sticks that hippies wave unconvincingly in the air at badly organised outdoor festivals. I’ll probably have it cut when you see me again and be revived!

(photo pinched from here:

Modest Mouse were fiery as all hell the other night. They keep producing hit after hit. I can name a bunch of bitching tunes of theirs off the top of my head (Heart Cooks Brain, Convenient Parking, Lounge (Closing Time), Gravity Defies Everything, Third Planet, Float On, Ocean Breathes Salty, Black Cadillacs, Blame it on the Tetons, Bukowski) plus a few killer ones off their latest, which is flannellette funk at its finest (Parting of the Sensory, Missed the Boat, Dashboard, Florida). The Mouse were much better than the last time we saw them with (name-dropping alert!) thirty three and a third of The Cannanes. That was shitful. Love the Cannanes.

Speaking of whom, or rather fifty percent of that fraction of feelings, she (FJ to the G) recently introduced me to Simon Gray, who writes while he thinks (in The Smoking Diaries), whereas I have spent several hours on this sentence alone, though it is really superbly well-crafted, ye must admit. I suppose I’d be a little disappointed if Simon did revisions although I believe he does because every now and again he alerts you to the fact he’s going to leave something there as it is and if he wrote everything down that came to him in an instant, he wouldn’t be saying stuff like that.

I particularly enjoyed reading his recollections of Robert Lowell, who he once had a sardonic, drunken dinner with. Simon was mates with Ian Hamilton who I recall wrote two books that I read and adored called Searching for JD Salinger and another about the literary heavyweights of the 20s working in Hollywood. He was also Lowell’s biographer and one memorable night long ago Lowell was dropped off in Soho by a middle-aged mistress mute long after Hamilton and Gray had already eaten. Lowell then proceeded to order copious oysters which he didn’t so much as touch and mucho wine when there were already two bottles half drunk on the table. Just disgraceful.

Gray is appalled and disgusted yet impressed to see Lowell writing a cheque as he gets up to leave. Lowell hands Hamilton the check then is whisked away by his drab mistress. Hamilton shows Gray a cheque made out to the tune of six million dollars.

What amuses me most about this recollection is that in The Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer describes Lowell as a serene angel of unfathomable depth, whose intelligence and grace makes Mailer feel furiously inadequate. I don’t think Lowell was any tamer I just think that Mailer was quite severely mad. The portrait of Lowell was so touching in Mailer’s book that I bought a collection of poems in Daylesford over the Queen’s Birthday and it was with Lowell’s poems where I truly believed that I began to understand how to read poetry. Why it’s simple, I thought, you read it like prose. How I was blissfully enlightened by such a rudimentary concept befuddled me.

Gray quotes a Lowell poem in ‘The Smoking Diaries’ as the only one he has really admired called ‘Home After Nine Months Away’, so I looked it up in the collection I have (Selected Poems) and I all I found was 'Home After Three Months Away'. Gray either has it wrong or there’s another poem out there. Personally I could care less. I read the thing when I was brutally hungover on Saturday and it did not register in the slightest way whatsoever with my thick skull and I became rather pissed off you know. Began hating myself. I won’t reach for it now, but honestly it felt like everything I had worked hard for just walked out of my life for good like a wife and six kids in a trailer park that deserves a lot better than this. I'm pretty sure I'm delusional.