Monday, May 29, 2017

Cold Fish

La Truite (1982) - Losey
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From what I've read, Joseph Losey planned adaptation of Roger Vailland's book of the same name with Brigitte Bardot in mind. He got to make it much later with the one and only, Isabelle Huppert. The choice of Bardot makes a lot of sense to play a sexpot who can't be controlled by surrounding men and like a trout, would slip away from their grasp. But she would've been too obvious of a choice and the movie would've been less interesting. La Truite, instead, is a much more nuanced film about sexual power play, finding love in the cold society and fraternity of women.

Frederique (Huppert) works at a trout farm in the rural area. She is young and married to an effeminate young man, Galuchat, who grapples with his sexuality and has suicidal tendencies. Frederique is also disgusted by her father and his friend's behavior among village girls- 'taking them to his chalet' has an ugly connotation in her mind. It is revealed in constant flashbacks that she belongs to 'carefree girls club' where they perform rituals and swear to each other never give men what they want. It's maybe or never. Galuchat and Frederique meet an old couple, Rambert (Jean-Pierre Cassell) and Lou (Jeanne Moreau) and their friend St. Genis (Daniel Olbrychski), a rich business man while bowling. Rambert and St. Genis are immediately smitten by Fred. St. Genis offhandedly suggests to take Fred to his business trip to Japan. Rambert is mad jealous and Lou is pissed at Rambert. Fred rummages through high society and wreck a havoc.

Off they go to Japan. Fred soaks in her first plane ride and exotic culture and all the luxury St. Genis provides for her. But she never gives him what he wants. Because Galuchat's suicide attempt, Fred and St.Genis come back to France. Rambert and Lou are in the fritz because of Fred. Lou and Fred bond over their mutual understanding of men's folly.

It's all Huppert though. Her mixed naivete and nonchalance makes a hell of a complex, beguiling character. She can be brutal in kicking old pervert's balls several times but also can be remorseful after throwing the man's stuffed trophies out the window and seeing him cry. Another strong film that demonstrates Huppert's talent and charm.

Death by Bad Art

Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) - Argento
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The serial killer is on the loose and an American man (Tony Musante) witnesses a near murder of a beautiful woman (Eva Renzi) in an empty gallery from outside the glass window at night. The incident leaves a great impression on him and he decides to postpone his return to the US and start his own investigation. As usual in a giallo, there are plenty of red herrings and pretty girls getting murdered along the way.

The use of architecture and art Bird with colors and framing, the Crystal Plumage is perhaps one of the most accomplished, stylish debut feature of all time. It contains all of the Dario Argento signature of his later classics and can still be counted as one of his very best. Renzi is appropriately freaky. A great giallo.