Saturday, February 20, 2021

Five Foreign Films, James Cagney

1) Bread

Unrated 112 minutes B&W and Color. French and Portuguese. Dir. Gordon Chamois, Starring: Peugeot Martinique and Antoinette Dubois-Dupris

The oldest son of a poor, sick janitor leaves his family and walks to town to find work. A sympathetic breadmaker employs the boy to sweep his storefront. At the end of the week, the boy is paid with a huge, sparkling quarter. He hands the coin back to the baker and buys a loaf of bread. The boy takes the bread back to his family. They sit around the table. The boy places the loaf in the center of the table. They sit. Baby sister. Baby Brother. Pa. Ma. The Boy. Each face spotted with soot. The mother stands. Wipes her hands along her torn kitchen dress and cuts five slices from the loaf, passing one to each ashen face. Split screen: Five mouths open. Five mouths chew. Five faces weep. Fin.

2) Your Love Has Made Me Suffer

NC-17. 127 minutes. B&W. Slovenian. Directed by Pierre LaPierre. Starring Simone Basquiat, and Jon Eidolon

Shot in one continuous take, the film follows a repressed, middle-aged woman in a white dress and long dark coat who, for one night, goes on an exploration of her sexuality in a neighborhood grocery store. While fingering the papayas, she eyes a 16 year old produce clerk and begins a mating dance. They circle one another while she strokes the cantaloupes. They flirt in frozen foods, they hump in housewares. They write sensual haikus in steamed breath on the ice cream freezer window. The boy leads her to the stockroom and makes passionate love to her on mountains of leafy mustard greens. Naked beneath the shadow of a life-size TV detective holding a roll of paper towels, the boy, his sweaty face seemingly peeled afresh--begins a monologue about his dead father. The woman looks at the boy. They weep. Fin.

3) We Shall Wait

PG-13. 99 minutes. Color. In Dutch with English subtitles. Dir. Mario Ferrogamo. Starring Derek Derragon and Frida Francois

A mature woman opens the gate to a cottage. She leans like a hummingbird over a purple rhododendron blooming at the entrance. She picks it, lifts it to her face. She enters the yard, holding the flower close to her cheek. She approaches the cottage door, turns the doorknob, enters. A mature man is seated on the rooms’ divan. His face is a stern mask. She approaches, sits next to him. Says: “I shall wait until you are dead.” She slips the flower into his breast pocket. She folds her now empty hands in her lap. They weep. Fin.

4) Love is a Bird with Freedom

Unrated. 200 minutes. B&W. In French. Dir. Jean-Luc Kieslowski. With Simone Chateau and Herbert Hermione.

Everyday a young couple stands at a pier overlooking the bay. They are very much in love. They gaze deep into one another's eyes and whisper "j'taime… j'taime..." as if it were the name of the god that brought them together. One day, there is an accident. The young woman-- a former gymnast-- slips from the pier, falls into the black water drowns. The young man is destroyed. Years later, the former young man, now gray haired, creaks slowly along the same pier where he lost his love so many years before. He considers the water which looks the same as it did when he was so very young and so very much in love. Then a seagull lands on the railing next to him and vomits up a fish.

The gull regards the man.

The man regards the gull.

The fish eye reflects them both.

The gull whispers "J'taime" and flies away.

The man regards the fish.

The fish weeps.

The man weeps.


5) Un Autre Homme, Une Autre Femme (Another Man, Another Woman)

NC-17. 100 Minutes. In French. Color. Dir. Spike LeBleu. Starring Isabelle Perotte and Phillipe Droutte

A man holds a silver mailbox beneath his arm while standing on a subway platform. The train approaches. He enters a train car cradling the mailbox as if it were an infant. He sits across from a woman reading a newspaper. She looks up at him briefly, friendly. She returns to her newspaper. But, feeling his unwavering glance she looks up at the man again. He opens the mailbox and reaches inside. He quietly pulls out a huge fish. He humbly lays it across the paper on her lap.

She looks up at him.

He smiles.

She weeps.


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