Model Shop + Play It As It Lays -
It was only a matter of time before the call of Hollywood's dream factory ensnared French director Jacques Demy, that lover of old musicals and stylized fantasies. What Columbia Studios may not have know, is that Demy's other great love was Robert Bresson, and when he wasn't making glorious Technicolor romances like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, he was delivering coolly detached, 2 A.M.-of-the-soul art films. Guess which kind of film his stay in Los Angeles inspired?
Turning his camera on the sun-bleached, pop culture-drenched local andscape and playing down his usual style, Demy gives us a 24-hour period as experienced by George, a layabout soon-to-be Vietnam draftee whose girl, car and Venice pad are about to become a memory. Enter a mysterious French woman (Anouk Aimée) he spies driving down a Hollywood boulevard that captures his imagination; entranced, he trails her from Malibu to Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and back again, in the blind hope of some kind of real human connection.
Long considered a "lost" Demy project, Model Shop's camerawork and art direction are never less than faultless, its soundtrack (courtesy of local band Spirit) is a total jewel of the period -- and its generous footage of L.A. circa '69 is now a treasure trove unto itself. Dir. Jacques Demy, 1969, 35mm, 97 min.
Play It As It Lays - 10p
The killer quote in this killer 1972 adaptation of the Joan Didion classic of American existentialism is this: “We’ve been out there where nothing is.” Spoken by a closeted, suicidal, kept-man movie producer played by Anthony Perkins, is Didion (via Mommie Dearest and The Swimmer director Frank Perry) talking about Hollywood? Bleak California deserts? Bleaker California souls? The real answer can be found in the eyes of a ragingly beautiful Tuesday Weld as her acting career, marriage and sanity are stripped away by the force of the meaninglessness swirling all around her. Photographed by Blade Runner cameraman Jordan Cronenweth in exhilarating early 70’s experimental mode, the film is a sun-shot, shattered mirror held up to exactly the place, in the heart of American society, where the nothing lies. Dir. Frank Perry, 1972, 35mm, 99 min.