O.K., so I’m a bit of a film snob. I’ll just put it out there; it’s not as if my pretension is intentional as I, say, swirl my martini in my East Village loft and carry on sotto voce about Ritwik Ghatak’s erroneous claims concerning Bengali cinema while I peruse, ever so subtlety, some early issues of Cahiers du Cinéma. My voice, incidentally, is a swooping adagio perfect for off-hand critical statements with my syllabic emphasis of distinct European leanings—that is, I often substitute a trochee when the proletariat would use an iamb.
As of late, some have claimed my knowledge of cinema to be superficial, cursory, puerile, and thus as a large dialectical, not to mention epistemological (and, if I may, hermeneutical), slap in the face of my mofo critics, I said, with my smoky, gravelly voice emanating with sophistication, “Pick five films, dear brethren, any films. I’ll name their directors and explain to you their plots with terse trim and peerless heuristic insight.”
But those I formerly considered friends or vague acquaintances serving as mere bourgeois stepping stones to my career as a consultant chose some toughies. Unwilling to concede status as a film dilettante, I rose to the challenge, with what I believe to be sparkling success. Here are the results of my summaries, explained through puffs of my Gauloises:
The 400 Blows
This film by Francois Truffle pioneered the emergence of aestheticism within the porn industry; I mean, the protagonist gets 400 artistically-shot bj’s throughout the marathon-length tour de force. The schoolboyish misbehavior of protagonist Antoine Doinel elucidates Parisian misanthropy, and the juvenile stamina during the process of dome copage that makes this flick a cl-ay-ssic.
The Seventh Seal
I suppose, dear peasant, you mean Det sjunde inseglet, the best film from Swedish director Ingrid Bergman. The movie explores the difficulties of an Antarctic Fur Seal (Arctocephalus gazella) named Frederick, the youngest of seven children who befriends Antonius Block and his squire Jöns during the Swedish Middle Ages. It’s an existential journey that reminds me of my youth spent with Cavendish-tobacco-stuffed pipes, Turkish baths, and evening vin rosé.
Triumph of the Will
Largely regarded as Leni Riefenstahl’s finest work, the propaganda film promotes the kibbutz lifestyle in Israel during Golda Meir’s tenure as Prime Minister. The film follows Esther, an aging Jewish woman, as she prepares her last will and testament. The Wagner soundtrack seems a strange juxtaposition, but it’s something you philistines wouldn’t understand.
This is Michelangelo Antonioni’s best film chronicling the search for some damsel who disappears in the Mediterranean during a yachting holiday. It turns out she’s duped authorities in order live the Venetian high-life while working at a famous Murano glassblowing factory. The perpetual whimsy of Antonioni’s films has always struck me as somewhat superfluous, but the fascist hints compensate in charm.
By this I suppose you are referring to the 1963 film by Federico Fellino that explores the struggles of a man with an 8 ½ inch phallus through the episodic carnivelesque delusions of the filmmaker’s youth. This is a tale of a youth spent not unlike mine in the heart of Provence or during my rambunctious teenage years spent sailing the Adriatic.
Crime and Punishment
A poor St. Petersburgher wants to kill someone, anyone, so he kills his landlady, who is not a Jew but looks suggestively like a Jew. When he kills her, he enjoys it and later feels bad. Authorities investigate the case, but do not give it much attention because bureaucracy crushes the individual. The poor guy feels guilty and this feeling of guilt is his punishment. He feels existential.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Lady Chatterley is wealthy, bored. Everything around here is very grey and modernist. She has sex with a man who is not her husband, and this sex is very, very good. The sex makes her want to turn conventions on their head. This is a foundational text of modernism.
Mankind, all of mankind, wants to kill a white whale, and so we all go and hunt for it and this is life. On the ship are a man named Ishmael and a minority named Queequeg. Queequeg is wise, his death sad. Captain Ahab (King Lear on a boat), has a peg leg and can hear a ticking clock in the heart of the whale and is scared of it. There is a chapter on whale zoology, which is not normal, making Moby Dick a foundational text of modernism.
Elizabeth Bennet, played by Keira Knightley, does not want to love but does love Mr. Darcy, played with devastating aplomb by Colin Firth. They have endearing fights in the rain-swept gardens of rich-as-hell England, search their respective souls, and end it all without any scenes of sex or even low-level feelage. It’s nice, though, and a foundational text of Victorianism.
Insufferable priss Vladimir Nabokov thrills us with yet another meta-pansy wordfest, this time waxing unbearable about hermeneutics and poesie. The frightful image of a scabrous, chapped-lipped European running his claws across nubile flesh appears again and again, until we put give up on the thing and download an essay off NabokovEssays.com, where most of the essays are secretly written by Nabokov himself.