Sunday, June 25, 2006

La Fête du Cinéma Part I
and
The Myth of the Lost Post of June 2006

Today was the first day of La Fête du Cinéma, a three-day festival of nearly free film screenings in every movie theater in France. Of course, Paris - where on any given day you can probably find a theater playing any kind of movie you could possibly want to watch - is the glowing epicenter of all this movie-going and on a rainy day like today, nothing seems more natural than going to the movies.

Today, for me, had a theme: Italian neorealism.

I started the day off with De Sica's The Bicycle Thief, until today another entry on my aforementioned list of movies I'm ashamed to say I've never seen. True to neorealist style, the film is barebones bleak and it doesn't end happily. I thought it offered an interesting perspective on son-to-father hero-worship (especially in the wake of the collapse of fascist Italy) and the malleability of morality in dire circumstances, but it wasn't exactly fun and by the end I was in need of a break.

For an intermission, I watched a Franco-American gay couple have an argument rife with tragicomic language barrier misunderstandings in a cafe on Blvd St. Germain and listened to some Dutch people play some very beautiful music in a very pretty church.

Then back into the fray with Fellini's La Strada. Although technically not neorealist, it certainly feels like it, especially when compared with Fellini's well-known records of decadence La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2. Parts of the movie feel like an Italian cross between I Love Lucy and Duck Soup, but for the most part it's painfully tragic, albeit somewhat reductive and misogynistic. Perhaps because some brief but resonating touches of the fantasy of these other films mix with and soften the film's classically neorealistic dim world view, I greatly preferred this film, even though The Bicycle Thief is certainly the critics' favorite of the two.

And that's it for now. Tune in tomorrow for more summary judgements. Up for viewing: Kramer vs. Kramer and Paris, Je t'aime.

And, yes, the myth: in brief, inspired somewhat by Schubert's Unfinished Symphony (one of the pieces the Dutch played in the pretty church), I've decided to let a post recounting some of last week's activities lie stagnant for a bit. I will finish it eventually and then retroactively post it under June 24, the date it was originally slated for. In the meantime, I'll give updates on my progress and offer you this teaser:

"Sunday Double Feature, la Fête de la Musique, and my very first business trip"
In which I encounter a melting Nazi soldier, dance in the rain, and sneak a knife onto a plane.

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