December 04, 2008

First Live-Blog

OK Lauren. I'm doing a liveblog after your example. It is a very cold afternoon and I have nothing better to do than watch several movies hanging around my comp. I know I should do more with this, but it'll just be a rather dull running commentary on movies nobody is ever going to watch. Useless. But maybe fun.

1. British Sounds (1970)
This will obviously be like all the other Vertov Group agit-prop I have swallowed: long periods of boredom and a drifting mind interspersed with a few moments of wild curiosity, all in a very small, very pretentious package. Let me have it, Godard. Maybe liveblogging will give me something to do while I am bored.

It is a bit past 3 PM. Start.

3:09. Credits. Fist punches through the British flag which has the title (British -Images- Sounds). I am amused.

3:12. Car assembly line. Slow tracking shot. Loud work noises occasionally competing with a narrator spouting Communist lines about workers and the bourgeois. Already bored.

3:18. Some well-expressed thoughts on the worker and communism. But the original shot is still going.

3:21. I wonder if Godard considers himself a worker in the same way the people on this assembly line are workers...

3:24. Oh, I hate it when Godard does this: multiple sound tracks for revolutionary narrators. Guh. But there is a naked woman wandering on-screen now. Hmm... but perhaps the assembly line was more interesting.

3:26. Proletariat vs. Bourgeois eroticism.

3:32. The Pro-Capitalist reporter with the gap in his teeth is quite an artless touch.

3:40. FORD USA = FOR US. Interesting.

3:42. What are these guys talking about? I've been watching them for awhile now. Impossible to concentrate. I suppose that's the point.

3:45. The workers on the car assembly line can't afford the cars they make. These guys are cool, I see.

3:50. Students writing a song about Mao. Hopefully I'll never sink so low.

3:54. 'If a million copies of a Marxist/Leninist film is made, it becomes Gone with the Wind.' Lots of stuff on bourgeois and militant aesthetics. Why all these proclamations about society and cinema? It seems to me if Godard wanted real change, he could've been doing something much more productive...

3:56. ...Instead of singing about communism... I wonder what these students are like now.

3:57. "It doesn't mean bringing films to the people; it means making films from and through the people." There it is, the whole ideology behind the Dziga Vertov Group. I am still not sure what they expected to accomplish aside from self-righteousness (a vile quality!).

4:00. A bloody arm sliding through the earth. Is this symbolic of something? Oh, it's grabbing a red flag.

4:01. Two dozen fists. Two dozen British flags. Two dozen holes. "Mao!"

Self-righteousness is dangerous. The film shows why this is true of the bourgeois. It doesn't much consider that this is true for the workers. Hmm... Workers have it bad. Minorities have it bad. War is bad. The bourgeois like it this way. The workers have to fight the rich. POINT TAKEN. At least it was short.
2. The Moon's Our Home (1936)
Margaret Sullavan and ex-hubby Henry Fonda in a screwball comedy? How awesome is this going to be? Eh, maybe not so great, but should be the perfect palette cleanser to that last viewing.

4:21. Credits. I wish there were some supporting players I liked...

4:24. A picture about pictures. Oh no! "I won't, I won't, I won't!" Is Margaret playing a diva? A brat?

4:25. Nope. Awesome as ever.

4:32. "Anthony Amberton," stealing Cherry's show. Yes, it's Fonda. Romance better start on this train.

4:36. Dual image, back-to-back, Margaret and Hank are whipping on each other to their private helpers, although they have yet to meet. I think this is the first time I've seen this particular technique this early. I like it.

4:38. Aw, brushing each other's teeth right in each other's faces. When will that wall vanish?

4:42. "Movie marshmallow;" I love that term.

4:47. Ah, a respectable-marriage plot. Bring back Henry.

4:54. Fine way to be introduced. More carriages should carry Margarets. Fonda's not too bad, either.

5:04. A snowy countryside. What could be more romantic? "Did Cherry Elope?" Oh, it's a snowy December day in real life, too. I suppose there's romance in that (maybe I should go do something...).

5:10. Sledding is an art. Like piggy-backing? This sort of moment is a romantic comedy staple, certainly.

5:17. How many more times will Margaret get a face full of snow? Lots, I hope.

5:21. Old people sex? My imagination says Yes!

5:27. A skiing lesson; I know what's coming for Margaret...

5:29. ...And Henry's just made it a lot more interesting.

5:32. Best wedding scene. But now where will the story go? A conflict over her identity?

5:36. What kind of wedding night is this? You know, Sullavan and Fonda make a great couple. I wonder what they were like in real life... Uh oh, perfume. Explosion imminent.

5:44. Strange predicament. Absolutely perfect for those comic gods of Fate. Yes, here's the impossible and awesome hand of Comedy. The final scene is set...

5:57. "I'm tired of having my own arms around me." Silly ending, not nearly as satisfying as it ought to be, but the romantic in me is hyped nonetheless.

I had nearly thought my Old Hollywood phase was over, but no, this is exactly what I need. Romantic comic fluff is necessary for my cinematic diet. Love it!
3. On purge bebe (1931)
Renoir's first sound film. I expect it to be a comedy in the manner of La Chienne and Boudu. I'm going to have to rely on my French for this, so I won't understand what is going on. All this considered, I am still excited for it.

7:00. Credits. Michel Simon.

7:02. I see: a stuffy man working who refuses to interrupt his work. He questions the maid(?), confuses her, and then complains about her lack of intelligence as she leaves...

7:05. A woman--his wife?--enters and begins haranguing/teasing him (did she just ask about another woman?). Action is centering around the bucket... yes, I see what kind of comedy this is. I think I'll shut up for awhile.

7:19. Film seems to be keeping a theatrical structure. I suppose reading the play ought to help my understanding. Michel Simon just appeared. Back to being quiet.

7:28. Are those chamber pots these men are throwing? They are made of porcelain. 100 francs a piece? I am greatly amused and curious. I need to learn more.

7:33. Is it the kid that's constipated? I think so. At first I thought it was the wife. I bet Renoir had fun directing these actors.

7:51....Two men purged.

Odd little film. I am going to go research it now.
Yes, those are chamber pots being thrown. Yes, it is the kid who is constipated (the mother is just obsessed with it). Fascinating. Renoir's test to prove his commercial viability and he passed.
End of liveblog. I am proud to have accomplished so little with it.


Lauren said...

Must see moon very very soon. Perhaps a Margaret festival even. But especially if there's old people sex! ;) I'm interested to see her paired with Fonda, too.

I was not familiar with that Renoir. Now I must have it!

Yay liveblogs! Did you have fun with the format?

Ian said...

Which Renoirs have you seen? I would save bebe until later.

I expect an awesome Moon review soon.

Hmm... I'm not sure how I feel about the liveblog. Usually I just get lost in a film, but continually thinking about which thoughts of mine I ought to write down and which to hold back is difficult. Also, because I was watching the movies on my computer, changing from blog to film was an occasional bother. But I hope you enjoyed my less-censored thoughts!

Lauren said...

I've seen some Renwaaars. Ranked, 'cause why not?

Les Bas-fonds
Rules of the Game
Partie de campagne
The Grand Illusion
The Golden Coach
La Chienne
La Bete humaine
Boudu Saved From Drowning
Elena & Her Men
The River

Tons to go, but I will say I'm more interested in bebe than anything post-Rules, excepting French Cancan.

I did enjoy your less-censored thoughts, but entirely see the point about writing while also viewing films on the computer -- that would be almost impossible, with a film of any interest. I still wonder whether it has any useful application in film blogging, but I may have to do a repeat for the next long weekend. Tapes are getting worse than ever; I'm getting pickier about what I record, and still.

I need a new "current project." It is nearly time to admit noir has failed me, or I it. Perhaps a Margaret festival. Perhaps. Something to tide me over till Lean. ;)

Lauren said...

...or Ann Todd, maybe. I can't tell just from Passionate Friends whether she is truly interesting. Do you know her much?

Ian said...

I've been thinking about keeping a running commentary of my thoughts when I begin my senior writing project for next semester (uh, I guess I've already begun it). For a close analysis of the films, I'll probably spend a couple of my viewings just typing quick words and thoughts as they pass.

As for Renoir, I think I might interest you in some post-Rules work. The 30s are absolutely awesome, but he's still got it later on. Diary of a Chambermaid blew me away, if only because Renoir's form was so distinctive compared to the Hollywood norm--it takes an obsession with Hollywood to see the contrast, and I think you might appreciate it (although you don't seem as sensitive to form as I am). And what I have seen of his later French films, I recommend them all, too (and say that you must get on French Cancan immediately!).

Hmm... I think noir is a failed project because it is too broad for you. You ought to stick with actors. Or directors (but you don't seem to do director projects as often). As for Todd, I've only seen her in The Paradine Case--or IMDb says I've seen her, but I don't remember her as a presence at all (she does have Laughton and Coburn to compete with, though).

Lauren said...

Noir is too broad, but I'd hoped it would capture my attention for as long and as deeply as pre-Codes did. So far nothing has really inspired me to go on with it, sadly, despite Barbara and Nicholas Ray as comfortable entry points, despite shockingly warming up to Mitchum and Lancaster... I'd hate to admit the whole style just doesn't click with me, but I'm not invested enough to stick with it till I find the right focus, y'know?

4-6 film narrow projects are more in tune with blog reconstruction, until I find someone new to be completely obsessed with. I've probably only ever been obsessed with two directors (Cassavetes, Almodovar); of course you're right that's usually reserved for actors; but a project could cover almost anything, and I hope to get somewhat creative with it. At least interested in it.

Your running commentary would be interesting for me to follow-- I have a vague notion that you watch dozens of films a week, but I seldom know what they are, and seldomer still know what you think of them. If you wrote it and shared it I would follow closely. :) Another blog thought I don't have the slightest idea how to implement yet: a permanent running liveblog on the main page... (there for all my random comments I'm for some reason compelled to record & catalog, forcing all reviews to be real reviews...) Well, you should experiment with something of the sort if it's useful to your SWP/blog -- inspiration!

I feel too that I am insensitive to form. As I wrote in my Christmas Tale review, I've been wondering if I have absolute positions, or any foundational opinions, on the sort of thing, as most of my compatriots do... it's strange to think I do not (not much) after years consumed in cinema; it seems I've never really changed from literary/cultural/ideas/&celebrity-worship background I came to film love with. Strange.

Ian said...

I think you ought to write more on specifics of material form. That might be an interesting project for you. You might discover some interesting things.

"I have a vague notion that you watch dozens of films a week, but I seldom know what they are, and seldomer still know what you think of them."
I keep a journal of all my new viewings, but I don't write anything in it aside from date/title/year/company(for old Hollywood)--as a rule, I don't have opinions on them. Everything I watch I use to explore and strengthen ideas that have formed elsewhere, and my blog is something like me trying to sythesize everything. So I think in a way you do get all my opinions on the stuff I watch, I'm just never explicit about them. I'll think about posting some of the stream-of-thought writing I do for my project...

A permanent liveblog at your place would be endlessly amusing. Is there a feature for it? I'm sure you would tire of it before long. Actually, on second thought, I might tire of it, too.

Think about writing on form. I would really like to see you do it.