music friday: patti smith at the boarding house, 1976
they shoot pictures, don't they: 2019

what i watched

Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnais, 1959). Only my third film by Resnais, after the all-time classic Night and Fog and the bizarre Last Year at Marienbad. In all three films, Resnais plays with time ... in Hiroshima, as in Marienbad, there is looping, endless conversations about what did or didn't happen. (No one doubts that the camps in Night and Fog really happened.) Emmanuelle Riva comes across best ... Eiji Okada apparently did his dialogue phonetically, and while that might just add to the oddness of the film, you imagine he could do better in his native language. Riva is given more to tell us about her character than is Okada, and she is ultimately the more impressive of the two (this was her first feature). Written by novelist Marguerite Duras ... she got an Oscar nomination, losing to The Apartment. It's a very intense film. It's not very likable, but I suppose it isn't supposed to be. #107 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of all time. My favorite films of 1959:

  1. Rio Bravo
  2. Fires on the Plain
  3. The 400 Blows
  4. North by Northwest
  5. Pickpocket

Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963.) I had already done my homage to Albert Finney, but the upcoming Criterion Channel wanted to join in, making two of his movies their picks of the week as they prepare their streaming service. I chose the one I hadn't seen, Tom Jones. It's a busy film, not at all stately like you might expect from a film based on an 18th-century novel. The camerawork is annoying at times, although it does feel very modern, given that many movies these days are burdened with overactive cameras. Once in awhile, Richardson has his actors break the fourth wall, for no apparent reason. The movie is zesty enough ... all of the women have cleavage, even Edith Evans, who was 75 at the time. It's assumed that fucking is on everyone's minds, and Tom goes through quite a list of women on his way to true love. Albert Finney was very pretty in those days, and pretty is the word ... many of the women say it when they see his face. There is a famous eating-as-foreplay scene, and lots of fine actors turn up. Five of them got Oscar nominations, although none won: Finney for Best Actor, Hugh Griffith for Best Supporting Actor, and three women for Best Supporting Actress (Evans, Diane Cilento, and Joyce Redman). Tom Jones won a bunch of Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and John Osborne for the screenplay. It's not a bad movie, but you wonder why the Oscars loved it so much at the time. On the other hand, among the nominees for Best Picture were the famous flop, Cleopatra, and the clunky Cinerama Western, How the West Was Won. My three favorite films from 1963 are The Leopard, High and Low, and From Russia with Love.



The reflexive stuff is in the original novel. Fielding was at least modern, if not postmodern.

Your next Resnais, if you're interested: Muriel. More war trauma, Algeria this time.

Steven Rubio

Always looking for suggestions!

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