July 3, 2006

A Holiday At Film Forum


Cinecultist is in a total cheese coma. No, we haven't rewatched some Molly Ringwald/John Hughes movie but trying to recover from dinner at Freeman's with our friends Kristi and Ilana where we consumed Freeman's infamous mac & cheese, the sublime artichoke dip AND a plate of camembert with apricots and honey. Plus there was wine, of course. Ugh, our happy stomach is completely overwhelmed.

To keep from having dreams where we're attacked by a giant plate of artichoke dip, we thought we'd tell you about the movie we three caught at Film Forum before our cheese-tastic meal. The rep house is running a great series of Billy Wilder movies this month in honor of his centennial and today we watched A Foreign Affair with Jean Arthur and Marlene Dietrich. Arthur plays an uptight congresswoman post-World War II who visits Berlin with her congressional committee to check up on the reconstruction troops' moral. She begins investigating a former Nazi lounge singer (Dietrich) who seems to be getting special treatment from the army. John Lund as Dietrich's officer boyfriend wants to throw Arthur off the scent and starts wooing Arthur with great comedic effect. There's one spectacular scene where he's going in for the kiss and she keeps opening file cabinets and reciting the poem Paul Revere's Ride to distract him. The rest of the film is full of great Wilder sexual puns and Dietrich sex-pot musical numbers. It's not to the level of Wilder sublimity as The Apartment or Sunset Boulevard but it was certainly diverting and at time intriguing with the corrupt post-war Germany setting.

At dinner afterwards during our wine-fueled discussion of the movie, CC offered to go to our trusty Conversations with Wilder by Cameron Crowe book when we got home to see what pithy comments the writer/director had about his movie. CC argued that Dietrich, though this performance doesn't compare to Blue Angel or Morocco, is still h-o-t. Wilder the pragmatic dirty old man agrees, to a point.

Cameron: "...Comparing the close-ups in the film, you did seem to put special care into Dietrich's close shots. Maybe that was her knowledge of the lighting and the camera, but it seems that it would be hard in a way not to fall in love with Dietrich, looking through the lens?
Billy: I was not. I do not fuck a star. That's a primary rule of mine. Because I was so busy with the picture. Because I'm so worried about the picture. If I did have real yen for that thing...then I fuck the stand-in. I go to the Valley where the stand-in lives."
Posted by karen at July 3, 2006 11:28 PM