Precious Bodily Fluids

Quickies, Vol. X

The Philadelphia Story (1940, dir. George Cukor). Much better upon growing up twenty years or so. This is a bit more of an “adult” movie than other Grant-Hepburn-Stewart fare; perhaps more in the vein of Tracy-Hepburn, such as Adam’s Rib. Apparently the marriage-divorce-remarriage genre was popular at this time as a way of being a little “realist” and still getting a green light from the censors. Clearly Kate – and not just her character – owns the film, but it’s Jimmy who wins in his only showdown with Cary Grant. Best guy doesn’t always get the girl, but as Kate’s character points out, she’s not the best girl, at least not morally.

Stranger Than Paradise (1984, dir. Jim Jarmusch). Should’ve gotten to this one much earlier; not just in terms of viewing, but writing something more immediately following the viewing. Isn’t hard to see the connection between Jarmusch and Ozu, Antonioni, Wenders, and the rest. With an active camera and a b&w aesthetic, he made the urban hipster and his habitat beautiful. This would be a kind of ode to the working class if only someone here worked. Nothing much happens, so an intimacy with characters, landscapes, and visions is achieved without the baggage of suspense and thrill.

The Emerald Forest (1985, dir. John Boorman). Not unlike a live-action version of Avatar, with dialogue to match, it’s heavy on the environmentalist message, which it conflates with a kind of savage humanism. Boorman has a male type, to be sure – Powers Boothe reminds one of Lee Marvin (Boorman’s Point Blank). This is filled to the brim with clichés: vengeful but loving father, powerless mother, purely innocent natives, naked natives, forest fires brought on by whiteys, shallow spiritualism, and a tribe that would’ve been expunged from the earth were it not for a white father-and-son who team up to let it survive. It’s an obliviously ironic film, since it wants to vilify the white man while on a narrative level the ultimately inept natives need (and get!) a powerful Caucasian boy to take over as chief. Neocolonialism at its ripest. Apparently the whole thing’s viewable on Youtube starting with part one here.

This entry was published on February 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm. It’s filed under 1940s Cinema, 1980s Cinema, American film, Jim Jarmusch, quickies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Quickies, Vol. X

  1. ‘Stranger than Paradise’ is without doubt one of my top ten of all time. As you say nothing much seems to really happen in it and this is what amazes me of Jarmusch, how can he keep a sense of rhythm and atmosphere in such a convincing way and for so long with just a couple of guys and the cousin driving around, watching t.v. and sleeping in motels

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