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Friday, December 03, 2010

At the beginning of our movie night at SideWalk show last Wednesday I had much to say about Kat Yew's choice of movie, Rules of the Game. First it was an adventure to find a DVD copy because it turned out Kat couldn't find hers. After buying one from Borders on 32nd and 1st I heard from Sam Moree about how he was enjoying watching the movie at home, how it devolved/evolved into marx brother's slapstick and he was wondering how it all ended... He was preparing for the our show. He had rented it, the two disc criterion version, from Two Boots... He had a copy of the movie for us to run during our set. I didn't have to look for it at all... Meanwhile I had already walked down St. Marks where I used to buy packaged media such as Long Playing Vinyl Records, to find that all the Sounds stores had become tatoo shops.... I knew J&R would come through as they always do and they did not come through. The copy I bought cost 40 dollars at Borders, two discs... I began watching it and did notice a beautiful looking black and white image. The film looks timeless and yet exotic, as if the costumes were anachronisticly modern while the setting was old Versaille. We're in the post war modern world of pre-world war II. The lawyer star -- he has quite a comedown in Casablanca where he works the roulette table -- remains ever cheerful and sincere. As far as I remember, he only lost his temper once. The lightness of the drama throughout the movie gradually becomes shocking and I suppose offensive. Jean Renoir may wish to deconstruct the discreet charm of the bougeousie but he is part of the charm. He's the bear. The mechanical musical doll gets a striking close-up. The Germans in France are well represented by the Game Keeper, the Rules of the Game Keeper. The hunting scene is a slap in the face today and probably would elicit offense. There's a surrealist offensiveness to the entire proceeding if one has investment in the real world, if one considers the historic context, but in its own world, the Rules of the Game is pretty smooth sailing slapstick. If Renoir has any animosity toward high society, he contains it in an engaging pop film. A synopsis of the film can be highly detailed. It opens with the successful completion of a solo transcontinental flight across the Atlantic! But where's the welcome from the Austrian orchestra conductor's daughter? Oh, that's right, she's home with her husband, the lawyer who collects mechanical musical toys. The aviator's radio broadcast makes clear to anyone who knows them that the aviator and the lawyer's wife are friends.... You learn a lot from these movies. Renoir is the filmmaker who let Stroheim teach us to clip geraniums at the end of Grand Illusion...