Archive for Le Grand Amour

Mail Anxiety

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2018 by dcairns

There’s this really interesting dream sequence in THE MARRYING KIND. Your basic anxiety dream, easy to interpret. Disgruntled postal worker Aldo Ray swept some loose ball bearings out of sight at work rather than clearing them up properly, and he’s worried they’ll cause an accident. Under the influence of too many cocktails, he feels his bed turn into a post office conveyor belt bearing him from his bedroom to the post office, which turns out to be an adjoining space —


That’s the best bit. The many ball-bearings that come scooting out to meet him are cute, but Cukor’s use of a single shot to travel from reality into dream, and the evocation of that weird spacial dislocation unique to the dream state (see also, Welles’ THE TRIAL, where the back entrance of the artist’s garret opens onto the law court offices; “That seems to surprise you,” lisps the artist, staring glassily).

It’s almost as good as the bed that becomes a car in Pierre Etaix’s LE GRAND AMOUR. Though our dreams typically see us leaving our bedrooms far behind with no hint of how way found ourselves elsewhere, movie dreams seem to benefit from keeping the idea of the bedroom in play — hence all those movies where the hero is in his pajamas to create surrealistic contrast with whatever scenario he finds himself wrestling with, and hence also Polanski’s use of bedroom sounds — breathing, the alarm clock’s tinny tick — to accompany his own uncanny dream sequences.

“If I ever had to do hell in a film,” Cukor told Gavin Lambert, “– no, not quite hell, let’s say purgatory — the New York post office would be the perfect setting.”

Cukor didn’t get to do many dreams, alas. He wasn’t likely to get many films noir, being a prestigious as he was, and the other genre associated with dreams, the musical, just didn’t lead him that way, unless you count his brief involvement with THE WIZARD OF OZ. A DOUBLE LIFE is his other hallucinatory one.

I really like that THE MARRYING KIND is a realistic comedy with a dream sequence. People in realist movies so seldom dream, and yet in ACTUAL reality, we all dream a lot. That’s why I like LOS OLVIDADOS better than anything by Ken Loach, even though it’s more depressing. Bunuel’s poor people still dream, though their dreams, as shown, are even more upsetting that Aldo Ray’s ball bearings.

Oh, maybe worth making a comparison to another Columbia picture —


Bedways is Bestways Now

Posted in FILM with tags , , on January 26, 2017 by dcairns

Le grand amour: Anatomy of a Gag from Criterion Collection on Vimeo.

Over at Criterion, I have a new video essay up. Made this one with Stephen Horne and it officially turns our Jacques Tati “Anatomy of a Gag” piece into the first of a series. Watch out for new episodes soon!

Etaix all kinds

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , , on November 18, 2010 by dcairns

“Come and join me in my enchanted world of visual comedy!”

Last Thursday I slipped out of my screening of BLESSED EVENT at the Art College (more on that later when I find a moment) and off to Filmhouse to see Pierre Etaix screen his film LE GRAND AMOUR and talk about it (via an interp). The film was awesome and is discussed in this week’s edition of The Forgotten over at The Daily Notebook. Awesome enough to make me realize I need to see ALL of M. Etaix’s films — and a cursory look at YOYO convinces me even further. Etaix is a major comedy talent whose entire body of work has been buried by a legal dispute for decades. Now he’s back, and by God, I intend to celebrate the fact!

Also at the screening was my friend from Screen Academy, Tamara, who had a moving encounter with M. Etaix — her grandfather was a clown in Belgium who worked with Etaix back in the day, it turns out. I was astonished: it seems you can know a person for years without learning the crucial information that they have clown blood.