Posts Tagged ‘mouchette’

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Mouchette – You In The Damn River, Girl!

February 21, 2009

Mouchette by Robert Bresson…or You In the Damn River, Girl!

My husband, Claude, can be quite the dichotomous film snob.  On the one hand, he adores foreign, nearly impossible to understand films.  On the other hand, he adores people who imitate rednecks or backwoods people.  Like John Bean, who created the character Leroy Mercer and made a bunch of prank phone calls.  And some other character named Jessico White, whose wife says of him, “Now, Jessico, he got a bit of the dai-vel in him”.  I’ve heard an audio clip of some something with Jessico where he and some other guy get their car stuck in a river.  The other passenger, who was confused, says something like “Where are we?” to which Jessico replies, “You in the damn river, boy, where you THANK you ayut?”  To which Claude just prostrates himself in hilarious laughter, complete with hacking cough and slobber.

I digress.

Mouchette by Robert Bresson, with the possible exception of “Last House on the Left” or “200 Motels“, is truly the worst movie I’ve ever seen.  I agreed to watch this “masterpiece” with Claude, who gazed intently at the 42” television to catch every flicker of every frame, as if to turn away would make the film turn into a “Mr. Ed” rerun.  Actually, for me, that would have been a vast improvement.  All during the movie, I can see and hear his reaction – sighs of rapture, squinting of his kino-eye, him gesturing as if to say, “did you see THAT??”; the clickety-clack of his brain thinking “wow, this is some kinda movie, I sure am glad I’m a-watchin it.”

This film, if one can call it that, is about the horrible life of a little girl and all the terrible things she must put up with – an alcoholic father, a bed-ridden mother, poachers, rapists, people trying to pick her up on bumper cars, and, gosh, I don’t want to give away the climactic ending, but let’s just say, you in the damn river, girl.  Mouchette, get out of that river!

When I was interrogated (practically using the Gitmo method) by Claude after having wasted two hours of my life watching this waste of celluloid as to my impressions of the “film”, we nearly came to fisticuffs over my saying, “I hated that.”  I had to hear all kinds of rebuttals:  “You just don’t UNDERSTAND Bresson!”  “How can you say such a thing about one of the greatest films of ALL TIME?”  “Didn’t you see all the REFERENCES in it?”  My father would have said, “I wouldn’t hit a hog in the ass with the Criterion Collector’s Edition of this film.”  Claude also got one of his film snob buddies to tell me that Bresson is an “acquired taste”.  So is being a dog food taster.  I’d go with the latter, myself, if the choice were presented between watching Mouchette and being a dog food taster.

Bresson, in all his “wisdom”, didn’t even use actors for the movie – he just got ordinary people off the street …(”and what PEFORMANCES he got out of them!” proclaims Claude).  To say this movie is a downer is the understatement of the past several centuries.  It makes the Spanish Inquisition look like It’s A Small World after being Disneyfied.  Now, I’m not against films that are downers, per se.  But here you have a story of a little girl whose life is just pure hell, and then, well, she’s in the damn river, and….the end. Or, as Bresson would say, “Fin.”   I just can’t see where cinematic history was made, but apparently it was.  Yeah.  Luckily for me, a favorite director/actor of mine, Orson Welles hated Bresson too, but Claude holds that against Welles to this day.  Decades after Welles’ death.  He reminds me of that fact to make me “feel better” that I’m in “good company” with fellow Bresson-haters.  I really tried to like this.  I kept telling myself, “It’s arty.  Claude likes it.  There must be SOME redeeming quality to it.”  There is none.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.   I even agreed to re-watch it to see if I could discover any redeeming qualities.  After Claude sent me the film synopsis today so I could write this review, I have reconsidered this agreement.

Being the wife of a film snob gives you all kinds of opportunties to impress your friends and neighbors by saying, “Oh, have you seen blah-blah-blah?” and being able to tell them how wonderful it is and how they should discover it, and their lives will be all the richer for it.  Mouchette is not one of those films.  This is one of those arty films that I would tell viewers to run far, far away from…as far as planes, trains or automobiles can carry you.  Your life will not be enriched by Mouchette.  You won’t be smarter or artier or anything that you can boast or brag about to your friends.  You’ll just be depressed.  And then, you might be in the damn river, boy.  Don’t take that chance.

I’m replacing the word “sucks” with the word “mouchettes” in my vocab.  So, Mouchette mouchettes.  I heard a great mouchetting sound.  Less than one star.  If I could give negative stars, I would.

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How I became the wife of a film snob

February 21, 2009

I really have to blame Yahoo Messenger for this one.
Ok, ok, I was on the Internet. Which, that night, amounted to closing pop-up windows from names I couldn’t pronounce saying “Hey, wanna see my pics?” and a link.
Then Claude appeared with a simple “Hello.” Very Dave-like, if you know what I mean. “Hello, Claude,” I’m sure I replied. A minute or two passed. Claude was parsing words. “How are you tonight?” “I’m fine, Claude, and you?”

“I see you like Welles.”

And there’s where it started.

Yes, I like Welles, I like what I have seen of Welles very much, and was proud of the fact that my profile listed such an obscure film as “The Third Man” (which wasn’t even directed by Welles, as Claude has pointed out numerous times) as one of my favorites, along with a couple of Kubrick films.

Apparently, that’s what deemed me worthy of eventually ending up at Claude’s apartment with a bottle of rum. The first night, well, we didn’t watch any movies, but after a few visits to Claude’s “lair”, I began to notice the shelves and shelves and shelves of videos, many unmarked, and DVD’s. Soon our conversations became an endless series of “Have you seen (fill in the blank)” and “but have you seen_____???”

I learned that my self-image of someone who was educated about film, hip to film, knowledgeable about film, and maybe even knew a little something about film was completely wrong. Having 2001: A Space Odyssey as your favorite movie does not put you in the Claude crowd.

Soon, conversations were going like this: Claude: “Oh, sure, you LOVE Kubrick – you’ve only seen four of his films! FOUR! And not even his best ones! And what about Bresson? And Kurosawa and Truffaut and BERGMAN, for crissakes, BERGMAN???”

So I agreed to be a pupil in Claude’s version of Film School 101. Whiteboards appeared, and I had to listen to long, wine-fueled (which I was providing the fuel, like an idiot) diatribes about the transcendental yet ethereal oeuvre Bresson and his use of non-actors as actors.

Yeah.

I tied the knot with Claude, for better or for worse, which in the case of film, in the beginning, I often thought meant for worse, but it has actually turned out better.  However, now Claude has taken to “sic-ing” his friends on me about film – particularly Steve, who teaches film on the west coast.  Steve comes for a visit in 2 weeks, and he has suggested a steady diet of Bresson for me, which I’m hoping, for my sake, he’s kidding about.  I’ve procured one of Steve’s all-time favorites (on Criterion, of course) in hopes of steering him away from that tsunami of depression and suicidal endings.

So, Claude, I may make fun of your Bresson and Ikiru, but I love so many other films and directors you’ve intro’d me to.  And I’ll stay in 101 until probably the day I die.