We appear to be in the home stretch here. The pain is not as it once was, but it still means I can not type for longer than a few minutes without my wrist hurting or my fingers from going numb. So the dictated reviews and a ridiculous posting schedule continues on.
Jules and Jim is one of those big French classics that I have been waiting to watch for a long time. I know that this is a phrase I mention quite often, this waiting to see a film rather than just see it when I can, but I have a fear that should I just watch the films I want to see then the final stretch of the 1001 list will become intolerable.
Previously I have seen it two other films by Francois Truffaut (“day for night” and Shoot the Piano Player) and those were a mixed bag for me. I know that Jules and Jim is up there as one of the best films of all time. Maybe it was the build up to this but I found this film disappointing.
One thing that I was able to appreciate is just how many films have taken elements from this. Most notably the narration which made me feel like I should watch Amelie again because it really has been a long time. I’ve also seen this film described as being an encyclopaedia of cinematic shots by combining tracking, dolly, freeze frame, archive and many other types of filming. It is true that this makes this film interesting watch, but I just could not get on board with the characters.
Being released in 1962 Jules and Jim was part of a creative explosion that was trying to get away from previous ways of shooting a film. Cleo from 5 to 7 was another example of this and I adored that film, mainly because of the very interesting central character. Catherine, on the other hand, is a character that really bothered me.
We are all agreed that the modern trope of the “manic pixie dream girl” needs to stop because she is not a realistic character. I would lump in Catherine is a rather cruel representation of a woman. Or maybe she is just meant to have some sort of mental troubles. It is hard to deny that possibility by the time the film reaches its conclusion.
I just felt rather sorry for Jules in all of this. He himself knows that no matter how badly Catherine treats him he will never leave her. I mean, he was happy to get divorced from Catherine and let her marry his best friend just so that she could still be in his life. I want to say it’s pathetic, but she lets him live in hope. It’s cruel.
I guess I just expected a whole lot more from this film. Especially how it ended as that did not feel like a logical course of action for the characters to take.
When you take spaghetti westerns out of the equation Red River is one of those names that you see amongst the best westerns. Now, thanks to the 1001 list I have changed my mind about the western genre. Films like The Ox Bow Incident and Rio Bravo rank amongst some of my top films. However, western is a genre like any other meaning that you can’t like them all (hell, I would rate animation is my favourite type of film but I have sure seen some awful animated movies).
Red River has a lot to live up to seeing that it is directed by Howard Hawks (Rio Bravo, Bringing Up Baby, Only Angels Have Wings and His Girl Friday”) and stars John Wayne, Walter Brennan (always adorable) and a stunning Montgomery Clift. I know that there’s a lot about this film that I should like, but it actually found it rather dull.
It’s one those films that I would expect Hank Hill from King of the Hill to rank highly on his list of favourites. It is a true man’s film with cowboys, guns, native Americans, aggression and the stupid posturing that can take place between a father and his adopted son. Considering all the crap everyone has to go through to finish the cattle drive that ending just felt a little bit weak. Scratch that, incredibly weak.
Like with Jules and Jim I think that I have missed the point somewhere along the line of watching this film. Or it was very possible that my own issues have clouded my view (like how I have no sympathy for Mickey Rourke’s character in The Wrestler). Then again cinema allows for this subjectivity and that is what I love about it. I know that there’ll be people who think the idea of Red River being boring is akin to blasphemy, but I feel the same way about anyone who downplays the majesty of Sunset Boulevard.
Oh well at least it wasn’t harrowing in any way… that poor chicken in Pink Flamingos still haunts me.