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Archive for November 28th, 2012

by Sachin Gandhi

The phrase “Love is Blind” is thrown around so much that it has become a cliche. However, in the case of Preston Sturges’ perfect comedy The Lady Eve the phrase actually sticks. In fact, the film is a literal depiction of the phrase because love causes the protagonist Charles (Henry Fonda) to blindly ignore all obvious evidence in favor of his heart; not once but twice.

One can understand Charles tripping over love’s heel in the first instance because encountering the delightful Jean (Barbara Stanwyck) after spending a year in the Amazon is not really a fair match-up, especially since Jean has planned to seduce him. Jean wouldn’t have noticed Charles but he inadvertently makes himself a target not only for her but all the other woman on a traveling ship. When Charles is able to halt a traveling ship to get on board from his private boat, he alerts everyone that he is someone important. Jean, along with her father ‘Colonel’ Harrington (Charles Coburn) and Gerald (Melville Cooper), learn that Charles is wealthy due to his family brewery business, Pike’s Ale (The Ale that Won for Yale). The trio are professional card sharks and make a living out of conning people. So, a wealthy person like Charles becomes an instant opportunity. Charles’ wealth also makes him attractive to every other woman on the ship, who try to get his attention, but he is not impressed by any of them. However, Jean trumps them by getting Charles all to herself. Of course, it does not take much effort for Jean to win over Charles. He is intoxicated by her perfume and with a few maneuvers, including getting him to kneel down to put a pair of shoes on her, she gets Charles light headed and blurry-eyed. Charles’ bodyguard Muggsy (William Demarest) suspects a trap is being laid out by Jean and the Colonel but Charles ignores Muggsy’s warning, especially since he wins $600 off the Colonel and Jean. In an expected turn of events, Jean also starts to fall for Charles and plans to settle down with him to leave her criminal past behind. She even tries to minimize Charles’ loss in the next round of cards against her father’s plans. When she leaves the card table, Charles asks the Colonel for permission to marry his daughter. The Colonel has no problems with their relationship and uses the marriage topic to con $32,000 out of Charles. For his part, Charles is not bothered at such a loss because of his family wealth which increases with each passing second: “everytime the clock ticks, 14 people swig a bottle of pike”. After acquiring the Colonel’s permission, Charles proposes to Jean on a moonlit deck and she genuinely accepts his offer. Colonel Harrington finally believes his daughter’s seriousness and asks her to wait to reveal the truth until they get off the ship in order to preserve his and Gerald’s dignity. In the meantime, Muggsy’s investigations uncover a photo where Jean, Colonel and Gerald are documented as professional card players. Charles feels betrayed and does not give Jean a chance to explain matters. She is heart broken and wants revenge as they disembark the ship and go their separate ways. (more…)

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(c) 2012 by James Clark

In The Devil, Probably, Robert Bresson examines how headstrong and lost bright students can be. Moreover, the fascination of such a plummet is revealed to be due in great measure to a hunger to coincide with priorities embodied in an unusually assertive advocate of a life of inquiry, in accordance with the successes of that rationality stemming from Plato’s Academy. Whereas the academic trappings of that film are never in doubt—even while he places himself in the firing line dispensing his demise, the protagonist rattles on donnishly, “Shall I tell you…—they slowly creep up on us in a film, namely, Lars von Trier’s The Idiots (1998), taking upon itself Bresson’s problematic of clannish young intellectuals demonstrating what a formidable nuisance they can be, as organized for sustaining (far beyond school days) an inflected fealty to an antiquated moment of history. Both films place special emphasis upon the irony that their little Lost Patrol is spurred on, by charismatic leadership, to bruit hither and yon that they are headed for reality never before cresting in that way. (In fairness, both rebellions do touch upon innovation, to absolutely no effect.)

Whereas Bresson adopts an antiseptic narrative (as bending to the hegemony of rational factuality) never betraying for a moment the slightest shred of carnal pulse (an enervation embellished with wryly induced observations like, “God doesn’t reveal himself through mediocrity”)—and counting upon an eccentric thread of metaphor to allude to such renegade manoeuvres—von Trier (far less wedded than Bresson to modest income; and far more intent upon staging incipient cloudbursts to rain upon underwhelming parades) plants within the swarming, comprising the energies of The Idiots, a protagonist, Karen, who is not at all a co-ed (being a 30-something adult with clearly no stake in making waves) and who becomes caught up in the studious idiocy by reason of happening to be at one of the sites where the swarmers’ unusual but hardly unconventional exercises take place. (more…)

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