Category Archives: film

Lame Adventure 438: Faking it

Who are they kidding?

A decent neighborhood burger and brew but only the best if this was your first meal out of captivity.

I had been running errands in my neighborhood, the Upper West Side. As I was walking north on Broadway, past the Northface store at the corner of 73rd Street, a middle-aged woman walking south said in an authoritative tone of voice:

Authoritative Woman: This used to be an Urban Outfitters.

My inner eavesdropper itched to interject:

Me: No, before it became Northface, it used to be the Gap. Urban Outfitters is still where it’s always been: on the corner of 72nd and Broadway.

I’ve lived on the Upper West Side for so long, before that space was Urban Outfitters, it was an HMV music store and before that, it was a Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust bank. But, as my late, great father would advise my inner neighborhood historian:

Dad: Don’t be a buttinsky.

So, I didn’t scratch that itch; I kept my pie hole shut and walked on. The woman’s know-it-all tone probably convinced her companion that she knew what she was talking about, assuming he was listening, because what a banal topic of conversation. What is so special about Urban Outfitters? It’s a store that would seem inclined to do reverse carding: if you’re over 21, you’re not allowed entry. If that couple had just had a meal heavy on carbs, he might have been struggling to maintain consciousness. But if he was lucid as they continued walking south, passing Urban Outfitters, he might have asked his mate:

Authoritative Woman’s Companion: Is this the Urban Outfitters store of your recollections, dear?

And today, she’s filing for divorce.

My first memorable encounter of someone speaking fact about fiction in an authoritative tone occurred thirty-seven years ago in my youth in San Francisco. Somehow, my brother Axel and I were selected to work a test screening of a film written by Neil Simon called The Goodbye Girl. The screening was taking place at the Northpoint, a movie theater on Powell Street. Our job was to hand out questionnaires and to collect them from audience members after they had seen the film. The stars, Richard Dreyfuss (who won the Best Actor Academy Award for this picture) and Marsha Mason, attended. Even Neil Simon was there (he was married to Mason then). This was a Big Deal test screening. We got to see the film and we collected a few bucks each. It was a sweet deal for us.

Axel and I, with about ten other people, met with the test screening organizers in an office at the theater. Axel, coincidentally, worked for a company located in the building next door, a business that gave him hunks of Jarlsburg cheese because someone there was cheese-connected. The test screening organizers were not familiar with the turf of the Northpoint. They were struggling to figure out logistics. My brother interjected in an authoritative tone of voice:

Axel: I work next door. Just walk left and then turn right; you’ll be right there.

That’s the plan they decided to follow. My inner skeptic surfaced.

Me: How do you know this? You don’t work here.

Axel: I know. I made it all up, but if you say something with enough conviction, people will believe you.

That is a valid point. If you sound like you know what you’re talking about, odds are good that people will buy what you’re selling. Confidence is key, or in Axel’s case, conning was key. Axel was fed up with the organizers indecision about how to proceed, so he took it upon himself to be their unsolicited advisor. Fortunately for them, my brother did not volunteer to pilot their plane home. As for the woman speaking in an authoritative tone about the location of Urban Outfitters, she might have been surprised to see that she had misremembered the location of that store when she realized that it is still polluting the Upper West Side.

Somehow the screening worked out. I collected autographs from the stars and Neil Simon as they exited. Axel pounced on Richard Dreyfus to tell him how much he enjoyed his performance in Jaws. That memory still makes me die a little. Overall we had fun that night, but come to think of it thirty-seven years later, we were not asked to work another test screening again. Maybe someone caught onto Axel’s bluff, the directions he gave led straight into a parking lot and word spread to avoid hiring that obnoxious sibling act ever again.

Bonus image: autograph hounds bombarding Steve Carrell outside the New York Film Festival.

Bonus image: autograph hounds bombarding Steve Carrell outside the New York Film Festival.

Lame Adventure 437: Back to the Birds

The New York Film Festival’s closing night feature hit another high note, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), is a pitch black comedy directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Michael Keaton plays a Hollywood has-been best known as the comic book hero, Birdman, a character that brought him fame and fortune. He is determined to resurrect his sagging career and gain relevancy by adapting a Raymond Carver story for the Broadway stage, even though he is losing his mind to Birdman who has a stranglehold on his identity.

Milton and I doubt that Birdman will come anywhere near the crowd pleasing popularity of Gone Girl, which opened the festival, at the US box office. But Birdman is a beautifully shot and edited film with a great jazz drum score. Michael Keaton, whose own career hit its high mark when he started playing Batman twenty-five years ago (a role he quit before acting in the third film of the series), is terrific as a man who is losing his grip on reality as he directs and stars in a play that is hemorrhaging his life savings. It nails the New York theatrical community with falling props, insecure, egotistical actors and nasty, snobby critics. Adding to the authenticity, much of it is shot at the Saint James theater, where Milton and I have seen many Broadway plays through the years. It’s very entertaining with an ending that’s open to interpretation.

Birdman played eight times on closing night at the festival. Milton and I could not afford to pay the king’s ransom to attend the star-studded gala screening. Our screening at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade theater did not rate an appearance by any of the stars. It was a venue with first come, first serve seating so loitering outside the press tent was not an option. Therefore, the closest we got to rubbernecking the likes of Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts or Zach Galifianakis was this guy vacuuming the red carpet in anticipation of their arrival.

Vacuum-man.

Vacuum-man.

So, how does one follow up sixteen days of intensive film going in Lincoln Center? The first option is to enter withdrawal. The second it to head downtown, specifically to Greenwich Village to indulge in street theater.

Birdboy.

Birdboy.

As a longtime fan of pigeons, I was very excited to read last week in The New Yorker, that Tina Trachtenburg, also known as Mother Pigeon, an animal activist and artist, was conducting a pigeon “flashflock outstallation” in Washington Square Park on Saturday with a rain date on Sunday. Milton and I had tickets to two screenings on Saturday, so I was elated to see rain.

I was even more elated to see Mother Pigeon’s acrylic felt flock on Sunday.

Mother Pigeon's pigeon outstellation.

Mother Pigeon’s pigeon outstallation.

"Why aren't we in MoMA, Mother Pigeon?"

“Why aren’t we in MoMA, Mother Pigeon?”

Flock of feathered felt.

Flock of feathered felt.

She creates these whimsical creatures and gives each unique markings. She explains on her web site, “I like to make them all different because all pigeons are different.” As someone who is quite familiar with the many pigeons in my own midst, that is very true.

Mother Pigeon.

Mother Pigeon with the pigeons in her midst.

Yes, she even created one pecking at a slice of felt pizza.

Mother Pigeon pigeon pecking at pizza.

Mother Pigeon pigeon pecking at pizza.

As I was heading back uptown, I encountered life imitating art.

Mother Nature pigeon enjoying lunch.

Mother Nature pigeon pecking at pizza crust.

Lame Adventure 436: Notes from the New York Film Festival

Milton and I are continuing to attend the New York Film Festival. It concludes next Sunday, October 12. Thus far, we’ve seen a dozen films. Some have impressed us immensely, but even those that did not, we don’t regret seeing.

The Wonders, the second film directed by Italian filmmaker, Alice Rohrwacher, won the Grand Prix earlier this year at the Cannes film festival. Here in New York, getting your film screened is the award.

Alice Rohrwacher mingling after her screening.

Alice Rohrwacher mingling after her screening.

Even though I was well rested when we saw The Wonders, so little happens in this story about a family of rural beekeepers, I nodded out. When I woke, they had added a German boy to their family of four girls. I wondered how that happened? I had barely been comatose for a minute. Milton was fully conscious for the entirety of the film.

Me: Where did that German kid come from?

Milton: I have no idea.

Alice Rohrwacher had great enthusiasm during the q&a, but I agree with Milton:

Milton: I just hope that she’ll next make a film I like.

French film star Mathieu Amalric did a commendable job adapting a Georges Simenon novel, The Blue Room. It is a film noir that is a jigsaw puzzle of pieces but it’s major flaw is that we still were not entirely sure who did what at the end. But, it was entertaining and there was plenty of nudity. He gives spirited q&a.

Fully clothed Mathieu Amalric outside Alice Tully Hall.

Fully clothed Mathieu Amalric outside Alice Tully Hall.

We have seen several untraditional biopics at this year’s festival including Pasolini, written and directed by Abel Ferrara and starring Willem Dafoe, who Milton considered miscast, in the title role. Although the film was flawed, it was an imaginative telling about the final weeks in the life of the Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini who was murdered under mysterious circumstances in 1975. I liked how Ferrara depicted Pasolini as a guy who was so alive and full of creative energy as he grew closer to his untimely death. I also liked that Ferrara created the film that Pasolini intended to shoot next. During the q&a Ferrara got embroiled in a heated debate with an audience member who claimed that Pasolini had been assassinated. Ferrara didn’t subscribe to that idea and casually stuck his foot in his mouth when he referred to Pasolini as “a fucking filmmaker” further incensing the audience member.

Q&A with Abel Ferrara and Willem Dafoe.

Q&A with Abel Ferrara (l) and Willem Dafoe (r).

Filmmaker Mike Leigh returned to the festival for the tenth time with his 149 minute biopic about the 19th Century British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, Mr. Turner. Timothy Spall grunts his way through the title role. When he spoke, his British accent was often so garbled; I had no idea what he was saying. I told Milton that I found that film as interesting as watching paint dry. Milton said that there was not enough story to merit almost two and a half hours.

Sneaking a shot of Mike Leigh in-between press people.

Sneaking a shot of Mike Leigh in-between press people.

Our favorite biopic was Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent about the fashion visionary Yves Saint Laurent, featuring a superb Gaspard Ulliel in the title role and Helmet Berger as Saint Laurent at the end of his life. It focused on Saint Laurent’s most creative decade, 1967-1977, and his relationship with his business and life partner, Pierre Bergé. Its 146-minute length flew. The lush tale was full of hedonistic excess, passion, romance, gay sex, drugs, anxiety, torment, beautiful clothes, people and pets; a succession of French bulldogs always named Moujik. That film completely held my attention from start to finish.

Three other films that impressed us very much were thought provoking: Timbuktu by Abderrahmane Sissako, a true story beautifully filmed about the occupation of this city in Mali by jihadists. Music is banned, absurd rules are enforced without explanation, women are pressured into marriages against their will, children are quickly orphaned, and people are tortured and terrified. During the q&a the filmmaker aptly called Timbuktu “a society in crisis.” Audience members were left wondering what we could do to help? A start is to suggest getting word out about this film. If Timbuktu appears in a theater by you: see it. Then, feel lousy like us about what’s going on over there.

Timbukto director Abderrahmane Sissako post-screening.

Timbukto director Abderrahmane Sissako post-screening.

Former NYFF Program Director Richard Pena talking to Kessen Tall, Timbukto co-writer.

Former NYFF Program Director Richard Pena talking to Kessen Tall, Timbukto co-writer.

Two Days, One Night is a wrenching drama by the Dardenne Brothers starring Marion Cotillard as Sandra, a factory worker out on disability, who learns that management has decided to lay her off just when she is ready to return to work. If she can persuade her sixteen colleagues to forgo their 1000-euro bonus (about $1250), she will be allowed to keep her job. Cotillard is riveting. It’s a performance that’s Academy Award nomination-worthy.

Dardenne Brothers, Marion Cotillard and Kent Jones, NYFF Program Director.

Dardenne Brothers, Marion Cotillard and Kent Jones, NYFF Program Director (who our friend, Enchilada, calls Lurch).

Oren Moverman’s Time Out of Mind starring Richard Gere as a homeless man named George living on the street in New York City was a film with a gimmick that works. Much of this film was shot with hidden cameras as a disheveled Gere panhandles, sleeps on park benches and rides the subway. As longtime residents of New York, Milton and I are very familiar with seeing people like George who are on the fringes of society . We thought Richard Gere was terrific and his performance is Academy Award nomination-worthy.

Kyra Segewick, Richard Gere and Oren Moverman.

Ben Vereen, Kyra Sedgwick, Richard Gere, Oren Moverman and Kent Jones.

We also attended the centerpiece screening, the world premier of Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly anticipated adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Inherent Vice. I asked Milton if he ever read any Pynchon novels.

Milton: They’re about a thousand pages long with no punctuation.

Translation: no. This film is 148 minutes long and the plot is a convoluted detective story that is  impossible to follow featuring a fun pothead private investigator played by Joaquin Phoenix (who is excellent). It’s not a comedy, it’s not a drama, it’s not a thriller, but what it is most is tedious. If we had been stoned, or at least subject to a contact high, this plotless pile would have been far more entertaining and far less pointless.

Empty Inherent Vice press tent.

Empty Inherent Vice press tent.

Lame Adventure 435: Celebrity Stalking and the New York Film Festival

One of my former companions, Rockets Redglare, insisted that the older a woman grew, the more she disappeared. What a huge advantage that cloak of invisibility was for wily me on the opening night of the 52nd New York Film Festival where David Fincher’s latest film, Gone Girl, received its world premier.

Outside Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, eight posters promoting Gone Girl, rubbing it into the eyeballs for anyone without tickets.

Outside Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, eight Gone Girl posters rubbing it in to anyone without tickets.

I scurried around the press tent virtually unnoticed.

Press tent.

Press tent.

The area had heavy police presence.

Police barricades be damned!

Police barricades be damned! I am woman, I am invisible, hear my camera roar!

The cops ordered rubber necking pedestrians eager to glimpse the stars to keep moving. One cop thought he was hilariously funny when he barked:

Barking Cop: C’mon people, move it! That’s only Ben Affleck — not Matt Damon.

"Matt's here?"

“Matt’s here?”

But I was able to exploit my ability to impersonate air to photograph the stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.

Rosamund Pike

Rosamund Pike

Ben again.

Ben again.

My luck ran out every time I tried to snap a shot of Tyler Perry, who was obscured by camera crews.

If only I was that tree!

I envy that tree’s view of Tyler Perry!

Milton and I have tickets to about half of the festival’s thirty-three main slate screenings.

Nice haul of tickets.

Nice haul of tickets.

Gone Girl screened nine times on opening night. We scored tickets to one of the cheap seat screenings at the Francesca Beale Theater, located across the street from Alice Tully Hall,  where David Fincher and the cast were in attendance.

Prized Gone Girl ducat.

Prized Gone Girl ducat.

Prized opening night playbill.

Prized opening night playbill.

I did put the camera away while watching the film.

I did put the camera away while watching the film.

The film was highly entertaining. The movie web site IMDB identifies it as a “Drama Mystery Thriller” but I prefer Milton’s succinct classification:

Milton: It’s a modern day film noir.

David Fincher has directed a riveting film about a couple hit hard by the recession. The husband (Affleck) finds his living room ransacked and his wife (Pike) missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. The plot is a wild ride full of many twists and turns about marriage, money and the media. Gillian Flynn, who wrote the novel that was the source material, adapted her book into a very impressive first screenplay. Come awards time, this film will likely receive multiple nominations.

Over the weekend, we attended screenings at Alice Tully Hall, and were promptly plummeted back to earth. On Saturday, we saw the North American premier of Italian filmmaker Asia Argento’s Misunderstood. In her introductory remarks, Amy Taubin, a member of the NYFF’s selection committee and a veteran film critic, gushed about seeing that film earlier this year at Cannes. She claimed that it was about “girlhood”.

Asia Argento, holding microphone; Amy Taubin sitting at her right.

Asia Argento, holding microphone; Amy Taubin sitting at her right.

The film, set in Rome in 1984, is about a nine-year-old named, Aria, whose megalomaniac showbiz parents hate each other’s guts, divorce and treat their youngest daughter with varying degrees of anger, indifference and rare affection. Throughout the entirety of the film Aria shuttles from one parent’s home to the other’s after she inevitably steps on a landmine pissing off these insufferable clods. Twice this kid attempts suicide. As the ending credits rolled I said:

Me: I feel like I’ve been bludgeoned.

Milton: I didn’t believe a single word of it.

During the q&a, Taubin asked Argento that considering that her name is Asia, one letter different than Aria, she is the daughter of famous parents (the filmmaker Dario Argento and the actress, Daria Nicolodi), and she was nine in 1984, was any of it autobiographical? Argento looked baffled, but volunteered that her name is Aria on her passport. She also revealed that the film was a comedy. That took us by surprise. But, we appreciated that she showed school spirit and attended her screening.

Asia Argento outside Alice Tully Hall following her screening that compelled us to eat pasta for lunch.

Asia Argento following her screening that compelled us to eat pasta for lunch.

The next day, we saw David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, which had its US premier the night before. It is based on the novel written and adapted for the screen by Bruce Wagner. He was the only member of the production to attend the Sunday afternoon screening. He delivered a brief, but memorable, introduction. Possibly, he was quoting a fortune cookie:

Bruce Wagner: The road to hell is paved with laughter.

This film began as a clever satire about Hollywood: the egomania, desperation and how people invent themselves. Many of the jokes are hilarious. A secondary storyline features Julianne Moore as a middle age actress in a career slump obsessed with landing a particular part. Her performance was outstanding. But, the film derails in the last third. Even though it is not at all in the running for the worst film we’ve ever seen, it is one that we could not recommend to approximately 98 percent of the people we know.

My snack of choice this NYFF has been an organic dark chocolate bar I get at Trader Joe’s. Naturally I offer to share my bar with Milton but he prefers milk chocolate. He told me that the next time he eats a piece of my candy bar:

Milton: I’ll bring my own sugar to sweeten it.

Yum to me. Yuck to Milton.

Yum to me. Yuck to Milton.

Lame Adventure 421: My First Love

This isn’t the tale about the fetching ten-year-old blue-eyed blonde haired Latina vixen waiting to kick my ass in the schoolyard, encouraged by a devious sixth grader who claimed that I was sweet on her boyfriend, a guy with as much appeal to me as a dented hubcap. Vixen perched on the flagpole’s concrete base eating her breakfast: Fritos. When I entered the playground she called me over by my last name. I sensed danger; she was the type that reeked attitude. She also didn’t talk to innocuous kids like me. Even though I was a year older, she towered over me, a whippet thin and pasty white comic-bookworm. I kept my cool, walked over and groused, “Yeah, what?” My lack of intimidation threw her off her tough girl game. I might have been small but I was feisty, confident that I could talk my way out of this predicament. She got nervous and stammered, “You, you, you like Richie! I don’t like that!” I looked her straight in the eyes and said in a definitive tone, “You’re mistaken. I don’t like him.” Even though her complexion was dark olive, her face flushed crimson. I thought she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen in my eleven years. She was flummoxed, unsure of what to do next. It was a standoff. I wondered if I was about to say ‘adios’ to my teeth. Instead, she offered me her Fritos. We also shared chemistry and she ditched Richie. Decades later, I’m still finding same sex love in the most unlikely places, but to reiterate, this tale is not about that, it’s about another of my life long passions: animation.

When I was a kid growing up in San Francisco, I had a steady diet of Saturday morning cartoons with my favorites being any fare pumped out by Warner Brothers — Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes. When I reached my teens in the Seventies I caught a screening of Disney’s Fantasia at the Larkin, a movie house that seemed determined to play the re-release of this masterpiece in perpetuity. It featured the early work of the animator John Hubley. He participated on “The Rite of Spring” segment. At that time I was enrolled in the Teenage Animation Workshop at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Not only did kids get hands on experience animating their own films, the instructors enlightened us about the pioneers of the craft, including Hubley, whose frequent collaborator was his wife, Faith.

Hubley left Disney in 1941 during the animators’ strike. Next, he joined United Productions of America where he created Mr. Magoo, based on an uncle. Due to the blacklist, he was forced to leave UPA because he refused to name names before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Next, he founded his own company, Storyboard Studios. There, he made animated TV commercials, including the Maypo cereal ads.

With Faith, he continued to direct his own independent animated films, films that resonated with me. They often featured soundtracks with jazz greats. My favorite Hubley film is a timeless six-minute impressionistic love story made in 1958 called The Tender Game. The soundtrack features the Oscar Peterson Trio with Ella Fitzgerald delivering a satin smooth vocal on the song, Tenderly.

When I first saw this film about forty years ago, I was certain I wanted to be an animator. When I informed my mother about my goal, her reaction was comparable to what a mom of today might think if her daughter announced that she aspired to be a pole dancer. 1974 was decades before the arrival of Pixar. Animation, particularly the independent style of animation, was a guaranteed one-way ticket to the poorhouse. My mother feared that she and my father would be stuck supporting me forever. In college, I shifted gears and earned my degree in live action filmmaking. I worked for almost ten years in TV commercial film production. Eventually, I lost interest in making films on my own, preferring to write unmarketable screenplays.

In honor of the centennial of John Hubley’s birth, Manhattan’s Film Forum is holding two tribute screenings of his work. The first screening, this past Tuesday, included The Tender Game.

Ray Hubley delivering an introduction about his father before the screening.

Ray Hubley delivering an introduction about his father before the screening.

I attended with my colleague, Godsend. It was a delight to see this classic short in a pristine 35 mm color print.

When an event is shown for one screening it doesn't make the marquee.

Film Forum under blue skies.

Considering that this weekend starts summer, and all the promises that come during the warm weather months, embedded below is a crummy quality YouTube video of The Tender Game. The story is set in the fall, but falling in love is not seasonal, unless I missed that memo. Even though the characters are abstract the emotion is familiar, and the overall effect is quite charming.

 

Lame Adventure 420: Springtime Spewing

Three months ago I looked down my block and it looked like this.

Cold and snowy February.

Cold and snowy February night.

On Sunday it looked liked that.

Warm and sunny May.

Warm and sunny May afternoon.

When the weather is warm, sunny and the humidity is low, it’s the perfect time to go outside and take a hike in the hood, which is exactly what I did.

Stop raising plows!

Stop raising snow plows!

Toss that snow shovel away!

Toss that snow shovel away!

Sit the flowers on the sill.

Sit the flowers on the sill.

Upper West Side water towers looking good against a clear blue sky.

Ogle a water tower or two.

Last week, on a lovely spring day, my friend, Coco, noticed this magnificent tree that is growing on the West Side Highway at Canal Street.

Coco's magnificent tree.

Coco’s magnificent tree.

This prompted yet another in our ongoing series of philosophical text exchanges.

Exchange of deep thoughts.

Exchange of deep thoughts.

For those of you who read this site for its vast educational component, Coco accessed her inner dendrologist and has since learned that it is a Redbud tree.

I’ll admit it: I have some quirks. I fantasized about eating cigars as a small-fry thinking that tobacco tasted like chocolate. I started reading the obits at age ten. Whenever I see a ticket stub on the sidewalk I try to see what event it is for — but I don’t flip the stub over.

Frustrating.

Frustrating.

I also pay fairly close attention to my small change.

Recently, when I was purchasing carrots, kale and bananas in my market’s organic department, I needed a penny to complete the transaction. As I was digging through my coin purse, I noticed that I had a wheat penny. No way was I going to part with that special cent, even though the clerk insisted I do so.

Me: No, I can’t spend that one. It’s from 1920.

I pulled the year 1920 out of thin air. I had no idea of that penny’s vintage. The clerk gave me a look that screamed:

Clerk’s look: Nerd!

It takes more than a hairy eyeball to intimidate me. If she wielded a bat, knife, or surface to air missile, then I would have handed her the entire contents of my wallet and a kidney. But, the transaction reached a peaceful conclusion. It so happened that my wheat penny was not from 1920. It was from 1918. Woodrow Wilson was president. The most popular film that year was Tarzan of the Apes starring Elmo Lincoln. (Who?) The second most popular film was the infinitely more intriguing sounding I Don’t Want to Be a Man directed by Ernst Lubitsch about a crossdressing teenage girl who thinks she can have more fun being a guy.

My 1918 penny.

My 1918 penny.

How often does one have a 96-year-old penny in one’s change? Apparently I have one in the 288,104,000 that were minted in 1918. Hold the smelling salts.

I realize that this one one-hundredth of a dollar is showing its 96 years and would never be mistaken with being US mint factory fresh. But it’s been out on the front lines of the world for nearly a century, except maybe when it sat neglected in Hubert’s sock drawer for three years starting in 1936 and then it was stuck in Ida and Ralph’s couch cushions for a decade that began in 1954. Those periods of isolationism aside, it’s been kicked around proving that it’s a coin that can withstand the test of time, it’s a sliver of copper with character. How admirable. Can we say that about the nickels, dimes and pennies in our usual change?

Therefore, it was disheartening to learn that its value is only somewhere between four and forty-five cents today. How can that be? If only this heavily battered and bruised cent, tattooed with nine decades and six years of wear and tear could enter a time machine that reveals all the pockets, change purses, sidewalks, fountains, cash registers, piggy banks and occasional loafer (leather and human) it’s been in. Its many encounters with the rich, the famous, the notorious, the historical, the obscure, and now me, the hysterically insignificant, then it could come full circle and reap the respect this common but rather rare vintage of coin still floating around Manhattan island in 2014 deserves. Then, it could skyrocket in value, merit being displayed under glass and finance my retirement … or possibly just some organic carrots, kale and bananas. I’ll settle for free groceries.

1918-ish looking street lamp and flag displaying a Bill Cunningham photography exhibit at the New York Historical Society.

1918-ish looking street lamp with banner for a Bill Cunningham photography exhibit at the New York Historical Society.

Lame Adventure 391: Blue is the Longest Color

Au revoir 51st New York Film Festival.

Au revoir 51st New York Film Festival.

Milton and I have attended our last screening at the New York Film Festival, the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed 2 hour and 59 minute lesbian opus from France, Blue is the Warmest Color. Adapted from a graphic novel written by Julie Maroh and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, it stars Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. It won the prestigious Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and the jury gaveExarchopoulos and Seydoux an Honorary Palme d’Or of their own. I had originally thought they shared a Best Actress award.

This is a coming of age story about the sexual awakening of a teenage girl named Adèle who experiences love at first sight when she sees Emma, an art student with blue hair, walking arm in arm with her girlfriend on the street. The hype surrounding it is a ten minute graphic sex scene that Kechiche shot with a handheld camera. I had hoped that this film would be on par with Brokeback Mountain in depth and quality, but  now that I have seen it, I declare it a straight guy’s wet dream about pretty girls who are the Energizer Bunnies of the boudoir.

Milton’s two-word review:

Milton: Major disappointment.

Thus far, critics have been praising this film all out of proportion which is baffling. This is certainly not the lesbian Citizen Kane. Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln ran 2 hours and 30 minutes, 29 minutes shorter than Blue. Is a slender tear-drenched and snot-soaked ode to first love on the same level as an historic epic about the man who freed the slaves Milton?

Milton: I hated most of the film. It was boring.

There just was not enough story to merit that length. A family dinner sequence showing the character, Adèle, ravenously eating spaghetti with her parents while all three are watching TV seemed shot in real time. I got the point that they were not members of the French aristocracy when Adèle licked her knife, but did I need to watch her scarf seconds to hammer home that she’s a girl with a voracious appetite?

Length aside, Kechiche took many liberties with Maroh’s story. He has used her characters as a springboard for his own version of who lesbians are, and that offended me so much. At a party sequence that made my skin crawl, men, undoubtedly representing Kechiche’s warped viewpoint about gay women, are opining about lesbianism and female orgasm. If only I had a mute button.

Sitting at left moderator Kent Jones with director Abdellatif Kechiche and actress Adèle Exarchopoulos.

Sitting at left moderator Kent Jones with director Abdellatif Kechiche and actress Adèle Exarchopoulos.

Maroh has expressed her dismay that she was excluded from the filmmaking process, but she has not condemned the film. I suspect she was paid well, so she is not going to kick a gift horse in the teeth. If the Koch Brothers want to buy my book for a chunk of change and turn it into a Tea Party manual, sold! Maroh might be anticipating a backlash from lesbians and anyone else that can see through this sham no matter their gender or which way their pendulums swing.

Maroh has spoken out about the notorious sex scene that occurs about halfway into the film. She has called that scene “unrealistic”. It was the Cirque du Soleil of scissoring and ass slapping set on a mattress. The sighs and groans the characters emitted were ear piercing. I emailed Milton:

Me: I enjoyed it voyeuristically while watching it, but at the same time, I have never in my life had sex like that. A lot of what they were doing was in these strange positions that my partners and I never do.

Milton: I’m glad you said that because, although I found the scene steamy, at times I didn’t know what the hell they were doing. That penetration without penetration thing? What the fuck was that?

As for our audience, men, presumably straight, exceeded the number of women in attendance. Milton said never before did he have to wait in a line of 500 guys to use the bathroom. He is going to monitor how this film does at the box office. It enters general release in the US, but not in Idaho where it is already banned, on October 25th. It is being released uncut and rated NC-17. I am sure that by showing it uncut that will guarantee increased box office revenue. Kechiche has announced that he wants to release a director’s cut that is forty minutes longer, presumably that will be the DVD. More go-to viewing for the undeclared target audience: drooling straight guys. Milton wonders if lesbian orgasms merit ten or fifteen million dollars at the box office over here in the land of the free, home of the bored. I anticipate that it will sell even better.