Monday, October 23, 2006

Watched The Science of Sleep, Love Story, and Amélie. Surprised to find the Jeunet the most rewarding -- swore off him after a review screening of Delicatessen in college, the tics the cartoon hostile worldview too too much an insult to my snob idea that the French might, as they appear to be to the bad cholesterol, somehow also be immune to the global puerility epidemic. Gondry sure isn't. Bernal and Gainsbourg do their best and the animations and occasional neologisms are genuine, but help me if I have to see another movie about emotionally damaged youths struggling to date.

Love Story opens with Ryan O'Neal attempting to extract Radcliffe's last copy of a Johan Huizinga book (dude, there are about a dozen used bookstores with copies of The Waning of the Middle Ages all around you...) from a resentful and sadistic Ali McGraw. The dialogue pops, it's fun to learn that even young Tom Lee Jones was craggy, and Ray Milland attempts to carry the movie on his eyebrows, but there is no WAY O'Neal is as bright, athletic, or rich as the movie makes out. The middle third sags and the last act, while gamely attempting to return to the snappy pace of the outset, is about as schematic as Intro to Film Semiotics will allow. That said, McGraw is spectacular in everything not involving line readings -- she licks snow off O'Neal's face, shudders believably, and generally reminds the viewer how little life ever makes it into the movies. Overall, Love Story feels like a non-richie's revenge fantasy -- if Al Gore really believes this film was based on his and Tipper's story, just maybe we were lucky the fix was in.

As for Amelie. Tautou's mugging on the poster scared me away all this time -- turns out it's the grimace she gives right after estimating the number of orgasms occurring in Paris that instant. (Fifteen.) Jeunet overcomes his cuteness tic to present an admirable tale of a young woman overcoming her neurotic cuteness. And besides, the cuteness turns out to have a lot more to do with Aragon's Paysan de Paris than I'd guessed. Made me feel old. Pleasantly so.

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