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My Week in Film: Two Classics Followed by My Hangover and The Hangover

June 28, 2010

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A Face in The Crowd (1957) by Elia Kazan is a film that Netflix gave me a 4.9 out of 5 star possibility that I would enjoy it. 4.9 out of 5 seemed rather unlikely to me, because, well, I’ve always hated being told what to do. I was so wrong. I’m now a believer in the Netflix algorithm and think it is nigh flawless. I loved this film. It is the story of Lonesome Rhodes, amazingly portrayed by Andy Griffith, an Arkansas drunk with a bad marriage, a fraudulent annulment, and a larger than life personality. He is discovered in the drunk tank of a small town by Marcia Jeffries while on the prowl for ‘real life’ stories for her radio program, the eponymous A Face in the Crowd. His disturbing skyrocket thrust into national recognition is like a slow-mo car-wreck waiting to happen, as his drug of choice becomes stardom (although he never puts down his literal bottle through the film either).

I enjoy a virginal viewing of a film like this, and can’t help but be fascinated by it’s relevance today. Popular culture is littered with Pre-fabricated bands, cast aside child-stars who once knew power, American Idol cast-offs, Survivor losers, singles that the Bachelorette did not choose, and the list can go on and on now that I have 1500 HD channels. Kazan’s near-precognitive story illustrates the dangers inherent in TV stardom. A person with a built-in audience could topple empires if there were not a Jiminy Cricket employed in their writing staff. Lord Acton (1834–1902) stated, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” If his Lordship were alive today I believe he would add the following addendum, “and TV absolutely corrupts.”

I highly recommend A Face in the Crowd, go and Netflix it immediately.

Friday was a really hot day in the Garden State. I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t want to barbeque. All I wanted was a burger and a beer. So we went to a local watering hole to partake. That was at 4:30 in the afternoon. I got back home at 12:30am. Where did the time go? Beer stole it. We went to two bars and talked movies. I met a friend of my wife’s that is a Jarmusch fan which always makes for good barroom chit-chat. The next day though, came the dreaded hangover, which was fine, because the Hangover is on HBO every three hours. I love this film. There is really nothing wrong with it. I’ll leave it at that and let the experts analyze it until the end of time.

On Sunday I watched Bande à part (1964), AKA Band of Outsiders by Jean-Luc Godard. My wife and I are on a semi-chronological journey through the French New Wave. We try to watch them on Sunday, because it is socially acceptable to sit at home and drink wine in the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday. This was my second time watching this film. Godard’s surreal once again clashes with the realism of a gritty noir story. It tells the story of a simple heist, which is infused with poetry, montages that may or may not have occurred, and a wonderful dance number in a Parisian café.

At times Godard feels like he doesn’t care about the mechanics of making a film, which is fascinatingly admirable, but I can see how this might annoy more mainstream audiences. If you liked Breathless then there is no doubt that this would be your cup of tea.

I leave you with some great Godard quotes:

“I would never see a good movie for the first time on television.” – from Los Angeles Free Press, March 15, 1968. Gene Youngblood

“Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.” – The film – Le Petit Soldat

“All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.” – Journal entry, May 16, 1991.

Thanks for Reading!

-Rob

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