A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Claire's Knee (Éric Rohmer, 1970)

Aurora Cornu and Jean-Claude Brialy in Claire's Knee
Jerome: Jean-Claude Brialy
Aurora: Aurora Cornu
Laura: Béatrice Romand
Claire: Laurence de Monaghan
Mme. Walter: Michèle Montel
Gilles: Gérard Falconetti
Vincent: Fabrice Luchini

Director: Éric Rohmer
Screenplay: Éric Rohmer
Cinematography: Néstor Almendros
Film editing: Cécile Decugis

Call me naïve, but I never realized before how much Claire's Knee is a kinder, gentler version of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Éric Rohmer's characters exist to talk, not to act, so that physical seduction recedes in the face of verbal dalliance. The novelist Aurora in Claire's Knee is not, like the Marquise de Merteuil of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's novel and its many adaptations, out to deflower the innocent, using Jerome, her equivalent of Valmont, as her instrument. For her, the dalliance of older man and teenager is an intellectual exercise, one that might result in a novel for her and only incidentally in pleasure for him. So it's also of importance that of the two jeunes filles en fleurs of the film, it's the more intellectual Laura who truly attracts Jerome, while the strikingly pretty but vapid Claire may be dismissed along with the brief erotic thrill he gets from caressing her titular joint. But has a film ever been sexier without actual nudity and copulation? Add to that the taboos about underage sex, and we get a film taut with suspense yet essentially light-hearted and full of wisdom about the complexities of love.

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