(c) 2013 by James Clark
My initial motive in turning—from a series of films suffused with Bressonian concerns, about misplaced or over-the-top mojo—to Michelangelo Antonioni’s, La Notte, was to bring into play a more intimate, close-up range of the phenomenon. Bressonian elicitations tend to spotlight chronic malignancy with slight countervailing rallies (or no rallies, but rallies being implied by egregious debilitation [a specialty of Michael Haneke]). After several months of investigation in that vein, I thought it was time to make clear that another major filmmaker had staked out a significantly different approach to overdrive and underdrive. The films most characteristic of Antonioni magnify the substructures of intent in such a way as to reveal a perpetual oscillation between peaks and valleys. Thus La Notte begins with a bedridden, terminal cancer patient (locked into disfigurement), while in the room next to him there is a young girl who amorously embraces passers-by. The first patient has two visitors, who don’t comprehend how lucky they are to be in the swim, and not like The Paperboy’s Charlotte,
What I had not anticipated was how extreme a level of audacity Antonioni had brought to his film about “the night.” Over and above the key passage of a long, eventful party, proceeding from dusk till dawn, and over and above the depressed benightedness of the protagonists, Lidia and Giovanni, (and also the largely spoiled-rotten partygoers, having to endure a power failure), there is a far less obvious (and yet gripping) lack of discernment coming our way courtesy of Valentina (as it happens, far from a sanguine cupid). She attends the party (at her home, after all); but only partially—in being by herself or with Giovanni nearly the entire episode. Her quiet declamations (from out of fabulous wealth), as to tolerating only solitude and silence (a situation enacted by Lidia, but without follow-through to the consistency marshalled by Valentina), gradually bring us around to realizing that The Night we’re plunged into here is the entirety of world history to date.
Mooted in La Notte by that blonde woman so casually abused by Giovanni, the ending of La Dolce Vita brings down the curtain at a slice of contemporary ennui presented in such a way as to imply a generation having jettisoned moorings that served fairly well. (The angelic young girl putting to shame the protagonist in the final frames also thereby enables the good old days of simple [and presumably sound] affection to put to shame the destructive self-indulgences of corrupt urbanites.) Antonioni wants us to recall this proposal the better to dissolve it by the new chemistry of the scenario of La Notte. He does not trade in sociological rhetoric, but instead in the consequential sensuality of bodies stripped down to directionality directly engaging the sensibilities of the viewer. Lidia and Giovanni’s rally comes from out of the dynamics they have shared with us from the film’s outset. And, similarly, Valentina’s sombre fortification pierces us in its cogency about a surround (not merely the quorum of a deluxe party and its wider associations) that doesn’t get it now, and hasn’t got it since time immemorial. A surround chronically deadened in such a way as to maintain a bathetic semblance of vitality (and leverage economies of scale toward even more such deadness) poses almost indescribable nightmares against the impulse toward sensual and, as such, historical integrity. In 8 ½, Fellini tempers the problematic of rich bastards in such a way as to prescribe celestial toleration toward unsound, mere mortals. Although a promising engagement with others on behalf of the best they have to offer informs that gambit, it is not the one La Notte brings to salience. At this point of his career Antonioni (who was, in his final film, Beyond the Clouds, to retreat into an option of precious resignation) was youthful enough to be galvanized by the warfare entailed in his discoveries. Before veering off to try his hand at investigating energetic brokers of advantage (Blow-Up being an instance), he did pursue for a little while phenomena of impasse from perspectives close to that of Valentina, in The Eclipse and The Red Desert. The Jean Cocteau-based film, The Mystery of Oberwald, from 1981, long after the premieres of the others mentioned, but where Monica Vitti (who portrays Valentina) stages a final campaign, represents a sort of rally for the rigorous and paradoxical issue of solitude.
One filmmaker strongly impressed by that sense of perpetual darkness (brightened by occasional rays of elevation)—so unsuspected in being a scintillating comedian and seemingly lacking Antonioni’s erudite gravitas—is Quentin Tarantino. His film, Inglourious Basterds (2009)—with a brutal approach to spelling that recognizes damaged goods all round—establishes , among many other things that his grasp of Italian cinema does not begin and end with Spaghetti Westerns. Whereas Antonioni would ruminate for decades upon an unforthcoming normality and the elusiveness of creative traction, he would conspicuously overlook the scope for violence such parallelism would broach. His was a perspective, upon the uncanny, finding apt summation in oracular postings about working toward, “…the true image of that absolute and mysterious reality nobody will ever see…” Under the fortuitous but unfortunately brief promptings of the work of Jean Cocteau (our next look at Bresson being the latter’s collaboration with that bard of the surreal, in the Nazi era film, Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne), Antonioni produced, as cited, a version of The Mystery of Oberwald, in which Monica Vitti portrays an aloof widow/queen having to duel with an assassin. That, I’m pretty sure, Tarantino would say, does not go far enough toward bringing to bear the interpersonal pressures, temptations and variegated murderousness any incubation of creative serenity must assimilate. This eagerness to reach full disclosure may be behind the decision to have his aloof heroine in Inglourious Basterds being aloft on a ladder and navigating amidst the marquee fretwork of her Paris movie theatre (during the Nazi Occupation) on behalf of announcing a diversion, perhaps not so diverting after all, called Le Corbeau, by that steel-trap sensibility, Henri-Georges Clouzot. Corbeau is a term for raven, but also an ominous human who sends disturbing anonymous letters; and Clouzot’s film is about an unknown malcontent spreading malicious and terrifying rumors in a small town. The claustrophobic distemper entailed in her programming seems to serve as an alert to her not to succumb to such resentment and assault, thereby squandering her reservoir of potent reflection.
And here we must note how the film’s very first chapter—where as Nazi investigator admits to a French farmer he knows full well to be harboring a family of Jews, “I love rumors [“Facts can be so misleading”]—beams directly back to that marquee. He quickly explodes the rumor (Perhaps his love of rumors entails a hunting formula to the effect, “just take the opposite”) that the Dreyfus family—a name exuding political mayhem—have fled to Spain; has his underlings blast the floorboards beneath which they are hidden, killing everyone in and out of sight (the farmer being as good as dead in having to live with buying his and his family’s survival by pointing out the part of the floor where his friends were hiding)—with the exception of the heroine (Shoshanna) who races from the basement and is spared being gunned down by the avid games player who has been the scourge of her family, sparing her only to become caught up in the process of her bizarre liberty. Before reconfiguring the farm for good, the intruder (named Hans Landa) with a floridly and self-satisfiedly polite rhetorical comportment can’t resist inquiring of the dairy farmer—his duplicitous tendencies signalled by his first name, Perrier—if he’s heard of his nickname, “The Jew Hunter.” Though he’s reflexively quick to down-play that bad-ass term, which he obviously loves (rattling off his respect for Jews being like rats [cutely squirrel-like] and gently ridiculing Germans being like hawks [unimaginative, in not having to scheme to stay alive]), he feels compelled to point out that in their self-protective shrewdness “they abandon dignity.”
That launch-point for our amazingly connected protagonist swiftly transforms to another centre of cruel stealth, a group of Jewish-American soldiers during their first briefing for terrorist activities in Occupied France. Their leader, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (think Italian rain, atmospherics) establishes their striking affinity with Lada’s team, by rattling off, with the same kind of self-congratulatory certitude characteristic of The Jew Hunter, “The Nazi ain’t got no humanity.” He goes on to sketch out the gist of a career as a Nazi Hunter being akin to that of an exterminator: “We will be cruel to the Germans. They will be sickened by us…” Raine particularly stresses to his generally clerkish-looking charges that he expects each of them will scalp a hundred victims and present them to him, he being at rather florid pains to let everyone know he’s travelled a long, hard way from his Smokey Mountains homeland and deserves some feel-good rewards. Now, just as in Django Unchained, a representative of a much-abused race seems to have carte blanche in dealing with his enemies, the jaunty anti-fascists here may induce the viewer to feast on vengeance in some of its most lurid forms. But there is a large body of evidence to support the—perhaps surprising, perhaps outrageous—presence in this film of logic not at all at ease with such ultimate conclusions and solutions. And the cauldron of this complex and painful lucidity is Shoshanna, whom we left tearfully sprinting across the vivid and exquisite French countryside, her face and hair covered with the blood having sprayed from the rest of her family.
After an episode showing the juggernaut-like, remorseless and stridently bathetic psychopaths led by Raine enjoying what they do (he hyping an associate as “The Bear Jew,” with a view to intimidating thereby an unflappable German officer/prisoner, and consequently having the torturer smash the inhuman German to a pulp with a baseball bat and going on to swagger and shriek, “Teddy fuckin’ Williams knocks it out of the fuckin’ ball park!”), we couple on to the fast-forward, represented by those vigilantes taking advantage of the military decline of the fascists, landing in Paris, in June, 1944 (a time when more conventional warfare was troubling the Germans). There, as mentioned, we find Shoshanna (having changed her name to Emmanuelle) positioned on a ladder at the white and black geometric patterning of the sensually curving marquee of a movie theatre. Supported by deco-thin, black ribbons of metal (criss-crossed by vertical black bands), there is lettering in black, standing out upon a milky-white illuminated background. She performs a little test of coordination in the form of lifting away the letters, one by one (she’s changing shows), and, with a little twist of the wrist, shooting them gently downwards to a soft landing pad of cloth, a zone just at the edges of the order of the work-space. She is by herself, save for a curious and infatuated onlooker. Does that ring any bells? The theatre, which she has inherited, is as gorgeously designed (with marble, deco patterned floors and brilliant wood panelling) as Valentina’s place in La Notte.
It may come as not simply a surprise but a ridiculous stretch to so much as imagine Tarantino attending to La Notte. But close consideration of that latter film’s engagement of the urgency of both pellucid detachment and passionate attachment flings us face-to-face with Tarantino’s army of crazily entangled crash-test dummies as evoking another (and better) way to steer. Whereas Antonioni (at his unfortunately quite rare best), powerfully illuminates the sensual facticity of acceleration, deceleration and steering to an upshot of a masterpiece of flinging the viewer into his or her non-stop adventure with a logic of the heart (important but hardly conclusive developmental components of which beckon from the screen), Tarantino—far more attentive to the violent conflict implicit in human reality—chooses to dwell, deliriously, upon the situation of impasse. But Inglourious Basterds, by introducing a rendition of Valentina whose semitically incendiary name, Shoshanna Dreyfus, is retooled to circulate innocuously as Emmanuelle Mimieux (that latter signage unearthing 60s ingénue, Yvette Mimieux, who became a specialist of sorts in portraying perceptually fragile poor little rich girls—her big moment being titled, Light in the Piazza)—brings to Tarantino’s repertoire of zesty filmic cocktails a dash of super-deluxe Realpolitik, inducing him, at the very end, to have Raine (having sliced a swastika into Landa’s forehead) enthuse, “I think this just might be my masterpiece!” (Completing this thread as to old-time Hollywood personnel, Raine would be in the mold of G.I. Joe-specialist, Aldo Ray.)
Shoshanna’s beauty and solitary mystique, up there ranging amidst the radiant inducement to slight and dynamic pleasure at a site named (truly, but not factually) Le Gamme (gamut), has captivated the, unbeknown to her, Toast of Germany, sharpshooter (a colleague, of sorts, in finessing the movement of projectiles), Frederick Zoller. Amidst silky salutations akin to Landa’s tributes to the French farmer and his non-Semitic daughters, he stumbles in being curious about her name, which she takes to be a soft command to produce her passport, which she, visibly miffed, does, raising in him many apologies and claims of being misunderstood. Zoller is a word referring to customs regulations, and, being the brightest light in the German military’s moment of incipient dimness, he is definitely the go-to guy to deliver safe passage and hideaway. Her passport, which she hands over to him with the same get-lost bearing Vitti fires at Mastroianni at this parallel moment of less than smooth starters, is enclosed in a black folder exactly like the chic compact Valentina uses in her reclusive game of metaphysical shuffleboard. He notes that she’s taking down the announcement of a movie featuring a German comedian whom he declares to be vastly superior to Chaplin, and he congratulates her for her catholic tastes (though you can be sure she was compelled to present a heavy quota of Germanic cinema). Like Valentina, Emmanuelle has a rich fluency in cutting insult that hardly seems so. She tells the young chauvinist, “I’m French. We respect directors in our country….Even Germans…” (The odd and quite wonderful dawning here is how closely the actor portraying Zoller, Daniel Bruhl, resembles a young Mastroianni.)
In catching Frederick’s eye, Ms Mimieux, who would seem to have fixed up a pretty neat little haven from out of wealthy well-wishers (they couldn’t be relatives, though later she hands Landa [not recognizing her] a line to that effect, fortuitously catching him at full tide in that role of magnanimous sophisticate he loved to play [“What else was there I meant to ask you?” he croons, sending terror through her whole body. “It couldn’t have been important...”], despite piling up carnage by the hour for the sake of the Fatherland), becomes entwined in the hugely perilous—perilous to her life and perilous to her creative poise—business of overtly expressing her resentment. Her discovery of a windfall as to making waves coincides with her (far less galvanizing) discovery of her admirer’s having some unique qualities that could, a heavy downside notwithstanding, do her some good. (We may see Giovanni, the accomplished but momentarily demoralized writer, in La Notte, being led around by the nose and underestimated by a Valentina who makes much of having read his novels [but never makes an even slightly intelligent comment about them]; but the palpable desperation of their dialogue cues up a consideration that an opportunity is being squandered.) Next day, tucked away in an atmospherically perfect Paris cafe, Apache cap at a rakish angle, puffing on a Gitane, sipping red wine and reading a surely avant-garde book—like a pampered tourist—she’s spied by Zoller through the window, he comes to her table, all smiles, and asks, “May I join you?” Her reply does not portend a long relationship. Looking up from that probably incendiary book and from out of her picture-perfect bohemian costume and props, she fixes the tightly uniformed alien with a menacing glare. “I want you to stop pestering me. I don’t wish to be your friend.” But then a stream of German soldiers and their girlfriends rushes up to him, some shaking his hand fervidly, others asking for his autograph. The young man politely and restrainedly gets through that adulation; but now Shoshanna has become fascinated that such an awkward kid exerts such clout. One of his fans refers to him as “such a brave hero…” And in his reply to her inquiry about what’s up, he explains (matter-of-factly, but with quiet self-satisfaction) that in an engagement he singlehandedly killed hundreds of G.I.’s. That first night he had run past her the line, “It’s been a pleasure talking with a fellow cinema-lover,” totally failing to quicken her pulse; but now, capping off his anecdote with, “I’m the German Sergeant York” (even though going on to say Van Johnson instead of Gary Cooper), and adding that he’s recently starred in a movie, showing his bravery and skill, called A Nation’s Pride, she accordingly regains some of her Sphinx-like, discreet glow. But, in a convulsive erasure of undertaking any “humanity” about this unusual foe, she rudely storms out of the polite hangout.
On her ladder that first night, the intimate marquee was complemented by a panoramic poster confronting her reverie with an icy mountain and climbers not equipped with her kind of ladder. You might be tempted to equate the flashy heroics there with her assimilation, the next day, of Zoller’s having persuaded Dr. Goebbels to stage the premiere of his movie at Le Gamme, an event that would bring together (for her marksmanship) the fat target of the entire Nazi leadership. (The Gestapo Major [Hellstrom— pale, white storm] rounds her up for that rendezvous with the composure-challenging demand, “Get your ass into that car!” followed by a little slap there. Her magisterial grace weathers that storm. But, in the subsequent confines of a strudel cafe, where she partakes of the sweet fare [topped with rich whipped cream, gorgeously filmed in an intense golden glow] along with Goebbels and Landa [he, once so amenable to unadorned milk, while playing cat and mouse with the farmer], she hatches her own action-adventure scenario, at this point unable to see it for the bomb that it is. Into the planning stage for her big scene, we see her chewing on her dinner with the same mechanical exaggeratedness displayed by Landa with his strudel, pushing the couth aspect by pushing his cigarette butt into what’s left of the saccharine, tiny white mountain.) But the profound heart of Inglourious Basterds has to do with a cosmic mountain, and cosmic resolve.
No longer biding her time like an Underground Queen, Shoshanna has been confronted with the possibility of turning Le Gamme into a crematorium to deliver a violent setback to crude enemies—a triumph she would never have imagined possible and, more to the point, she would, at the bottom of her heart, never have regarded as apt. Her book—which we imagined to be very high-minded—was, on closer inspection, a detective thriller, The Saint in New York. That same volume is seen by her bed as she plots to have a 35mm print, of her ranting and gloating, spliced into Zoller’s soldier thriller. She argues against the misgivings of her accomplice and suitably marginal and large Black lover, Marcel, ruthlessly collecting on the discreet joy she had dispensed to him, and (perhaps only partly) candidly describing her solitude. “…because you love me and I love you… And you’re the only person on this earth I can trust…” Suggestive of less than perfect harmony there, he had been flummoxed by the Nazi invasion of their neat as a pin (Swiss-like) enclave, and asked peevishly (and perhaps responsibly), “What the fuck are we supposed to do?” That practical concern carries a possibly unintended (but certainly germane) topspin for Emmanuelle’s more primordial dilemma. An indication that she’s not fully up to the solicitude the mission requires comes in the form of her initial surprise about the adulation Zoller ignites. “You’re not just a German soldier. Are you somebody’s son?” His gently mocking reply does in fact rip into her dulled sensibility. “Most German soldiers are somebody’s son.” (Similarly, on his coming to her cafe table and its reservoir of hardback volumes she avoids, he feels the deep freeze of her presence and maintains, “I’m more than just a uniform.” And she snaps back, “Not to me.”) Linking to this predilection to cheapness is the Gestapo approach she deploys toward the reluctant technician she enlists to put her on the big screen. “Put his head down on that table!” With that, she goes on to indicate that his wife and children will be next. Her long-term anticipatory encounter with an astronomical disaster infesting world history, and its concomitant disdain for the wide swath of normality (extending far beyond Nazis)—a range the weight of which is delivered by Raine and his cut-throats, involved in a second plot to make Le Gamme a death-trap)—are thereby rivetingly overcome by a locomotive infection, taking concrete proportions in a sudden addiction to what amounts to strudel fare (including the caffeine Landa interferes with, in ordering milk for her, while he savors his espresso).
As in a Surrealist painting, the paperback and the Apache cap hover, at this point, upon an abyss, to point the way to Shoshanna’s doom, in its dogmatic, savage and self-tortuous sense of virtue. The hero of the Saint series is Simon Templar, an outlaw who sees himself as a beneficent crusader, a Knight Templar, not only in the service of mortals but also of God. “How,” she would at this point, ask herself, “could one go wrong ridding the world of such vermin?” That would dovetail with the peppy logic of Raine, that insatiable collector of pelts and hillbilly sentimentalist, who preps his thugs with the good news, “Our battle plan will be that of an Apache resistance.”
Shoshanna, in flashing into view on her screen in Old Testament black and white, with Marcel in behind igniting a mountain of nitrate film reels to give her giant face image (this home stretch being titled, “Revenge of the Giant Face”) an otherworldly boost, screams out to the assembled monsters, “I have a message for Germans. You are all going to die! I want you to look deep into the face of the Jew who’s going to do it! Burn it down!” During her preparation of that booby trap, we see her in outfits colored Nazi grey. But Shoshanna, with her aura of another big social and cinematic night (Notte), pulls herself out of being in thrall to scheming sensory privation, and dresses for the occasion in a long gown of Valentine red. The absorbing details of her (partial) migration to more fruitful shores work into an incisively farcical sub-plot, wherein Raine and his surviving associates crash the party (as Italians), two of which becoming at large to bomb and machine-gun Hitler et al as the conflagration gets going, while Raine and The Jew Bear are captured by Landa only to behold him dictating advantageous terms for his surrender as leaving the (one) plot (he knows about) to roll to its hellish conclusion. Another vapid movement is Shoshanna’s (now anguished) goodbye to Marcel—her appearing at the doorway to the projection room as a femme fatale, twirling her special compact like a cheap tart.
The scene defining this spectacularly rich film has been primed by many visual and verbal touches. Two we have not yet encountered are: the poster with the black horse (like that of the tycoon’s daughter), visible right next to the marquee; and Goebbels’ choice of movie to check out Emmanuelle’s set-up, namely, Lucky Kids (an offshoot of Zoller’s telling her, that first night, how much he loved Chaplin’s The Kid). And it is startlingly accompanied here by David Bowie’s incandescent performance of “Putting out the Fire,” from the film, Cat People. There is an almost deliriously fortuitous, ironic link, at the song’s outset, with the notion of “The Thousand-Year Reich,” bandied about by Landa and others. “See these eyes of green/ I can stare for a thousand years…/ Colder than the moon/ It’s been so long…” That default position of Valentina comes to Shoshanna, pensively leaning against a chateau/villa-level circular window overlooking a population the perverse clannishness of which means centuries of solitude (with a rectangular flag beyond, both its sharp edges and sharp swastika spelling bankrupt ultimacy). Riding that circularity proved too much for her; but as she applies her makeup, a passage shown in close-up with rich lighting accentuating that sensual depth of her cheeks and lips that solitude had sustained, she revisits the homeland she discovered after leaving home. With the soundtrack proffering an elegy to her best (even if fleeting) moments, she sips her red wine and, by comparison with the vacationing co-ed features of her cafe redoubt, we realize she has, for all that gauche bluster, made gains in appreciating the often deadly weight of interpersonal exigencies. “…and I’ve been putting out the fire with gasoline…/ See these eyes so red/ Red like jungle burning bright/ Those who feel me near/ Pull the blinds and change their minds. / See these tears so blue/ An ageless heart that can never mend/ These tears can never dry/ A judgment made can never bend…” She loads a wafer-thin black revolver, far from and yet close to Valentina’s compact-cum-game-component. She slides the gun into her compact-thin black purse, with a blood-red tracer touching from top to bottom. (She recalls loading the projector-magazine including her footage, with its Templar-resembling red cross on a grey ground.) Donning a little black hat with a black veil (a situation of mourning, indeed; and also a echo of Valentina and her black wig), she strides out to the party, her progress filmed from above, eliciting the abyss stalking and stocking her motions, especially as she pivots in clearing the door and doorway, and treads down winding stairs. From a second-floor vantage-point, she keeps her distance, her eyes impassive (like Valentina’s) in beholding the homogeneous clan celebrating their own mastery of advantage. She sneers on hearing Goebbels making much of actor, Emil Jannings’ ring, which he awarded as being “the highest honor” for a German artist, and then registers a dead loss in seeing Zoller so impressed by statements on that order (which happens to be the order she’s flirted with in contracting the final solution. She makes her way toward them and finds herself quite able to accept from Jannings a kiss on the hand and praise for her tony venue.
The time for screening the fiercely assertive (and fiercely opposed) evocation of “pride” has come, and it is remarkable in having its filmic stream of aims finding the mark beginning to bore and embarrass the man of the hour and Emmanuelle’s unrequited love, showing so much more range than Goebbels and Hitler (who, like pair of rubes, love it to bits). Just as she completes installing the last reel including her ruggedly inserted Revenge of the Giant Face, Zoller arrives at the projection booth, eager to find his way to true class; and, with three shots from her chic and thin revolver, she describes the vertices of an equilateral triangle on his parchment-perfect parade jacket. Welling up within her equilateral guts—as big a surprise as Lidia’s suddenly enjoying defunct Giovanni’s kisses in the sand trap—is a cross-current of recognizing failing discernment that cannot be rescinded. She reaches out to the sharp-shooter’s body lying face-down, he turns, now once again (as she has done) heroically resentful, and, in slow-motion, to allow the errant horror to fully sink in, he fires a heavy volley of bullets into her Valentine dress (affording a dismaying glimpse of the scuzziness that other Valentine’s Day predation), blood spraying everywhere, as with her family in the farm house; and her face registers shock and grief from the harsh pain devolving from forcing conclusiveness upon an inconclusive nature and from being abandoned by a serene delivery of many eras with much to offer. (The presence of Tristan and Isolde here is noteworthy in how superseded the old opera [and its old philosophy] is, by way of innovations in harmony and chromatics.)
As she applies war paint for the big ambush—a single track across each cheekbone—the smooth circularity of that window offers another ambush, sadly avoided, wherein tainted reconnoitres can be folded back into a precinct of sustaining equilibrium. Enmeshed in what (at the forefront of her churning perceptions) seems to be obviously doing the right thing, our protagonist becomes lashed by the full force of a hurricane, whereas Valentina would simply sample it and go on to unglamorous but sustaining motions on behalf of a very different history.
The care for very tiny but illuminative (Antonioni-level) observations—astounding, as coming out of a head-banger title (in fact promoted as a Brad Pitt gore-feast)—is never more absorbing than in the visual design exertions to represent the cinema’s name as The Gamut (thereby a site of possible equilibrium). As he explains in a Cahiers du Cinema interview, the Paris movie house (frontally reading Le Gamaar) was to have something to do with an LA movie house named after the owner’s two sons, Gary and Mark. With pure Tarantino blarney, he goes on to claim that the designer messed up and set up the marquee to read with double a’s. AA, at camera angles he would readily deploy, appears to be another M. The GAMM allows the French term for gamut (le gamme) to trickle through, a visual rendition of the muted presence of a range of initiatives each struggling for precedence.