Ya, ya. Ya-a, ya-a, ya, ya…

There’s sharp Old World vs. New World edge to Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and Stanley Kubrick’s somewhat compromised adaptation. Nelson Riddle’s inane but catchy “Lolita Ya-Ya” heard throughout the film sort of captures a certain American middle class bubblegum vacuousness at odds with Humbert Humbert’s more cultured and class-centric consciousness.

My first memory of Nelson Riddle is probably in connection with the them from TV’s Batman, though I don’t remember exactly when I put the name to the tune. Only later would I discover all the great work he did in the 1950s and 1960s with Frank Sinatra.

That’s all from me this week. Now it’s your turn. Has anybody seen anything worth talking about since last week? Lay it on me.

14 Responses to “WatercooLolita”

  1. Ah yes, Riddle’s tune here is woven into the fabric of this film, and I much enjoyed listening to it again tonight!

    Congrats to the site’s San Francisco 49ers fans, who must surely be on Cloud Nine tonight. I believe sartre, Alexander and Joel are very happy right now with the assured Super Bowl appearance.

    Standing by my recent promise of movie going moderation, Lucille and I saw just two new movie releases over the past week, though as I sheepishly admitted in a previous post I also took in my fifth viewing of “Les Miserables” with my son Danny and friend Dennis, who had not seen the film previously. I also continued with Mark Cousins’ utterly magnificent “The Story of Film: An Odyssey”, and have now completed the first five installments. There is nothing quite like it, and I’m happy I finally heeded the advice of friends and colleagues.

    Hors Satan *** 1/2 (Friday night) Anthology Film Archives

    Mama ** (Saturday night) Union Square Cinemas

    Minimalist and Bresson advocate Bruno Dumont (Humanite) has again crafted a metaphysical work, HORS SATAN, with little dialogue and some chilling, mystical undercurrents, all negotiated with non-professional actors and the use of natural sounds in place of music. Yves Cape’s saturated landscape compositions are oddly alluring, if physically drab, and the detached story that combines realism and avante garde slowly builds in pictorial intensity, though the spiritual denouement in unconvincing.

    Jessica Chastain is fine in the new horror flick MAMA (a few are saying she is better in the film than she is in “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Tree of Life”, but let’s not even go there) but other than a visually arresting mystical child-mother sequence near that is strangely beautiful the film is mainly a standard shocker that is largely silly and incoherent, and dependent on genre cliches. I did like Fernando Velasquez’s lush and atmospheric score. Velasquez is doing some great work as of late, most notably the alternately mournful and uplifting string dominated music he wrote for “The Impossible.”

  2. I saw Amour finally. A masterfully made film in every way and both leads are terrific. But man, I needed a drink after watching this.

    Today TCM is showing all Danny Kaye movies in honor of his 100th birthday, so I got to revisit one of my absolute favorites of his, The Court Jester.

  3. Alison, yes Amour was hard and I’m general not a Haneke fan. I know the arthouse crowd adores him but I find him to most often be an inhuman smartass, but Amour to me was deeply human. Yes it was depressing, but it also illustrated the strength of love by showing the hardest consequences of it. Just an amazing film and one of my top 10.

    Sam, interesting. I was expecting the worst form Mama because of its release date, but I’ve heard some good responses to it, especially Matthew Zoller Seitz. I was hoping it would work out.

  4. Also, and Sam will get this, but jesus fuck I hate Kyle Smith. Worm dick.

  5. It is an amazing film, Craig, and I’m pretty much on the same page as you regarding Haneke. But this movie really hit home specifically because my mom had a stroke three years ago, January 2010. She (and we) were very very lucky that she came through it okay and is both ambulatory and independent (she still lives on her own and can take care of herself). But this was very close to the bone.

  6. Sam, I’m currently working my way through “The Story of Film” as well, watching an episode every day or so in a fashion that one might savor a rich chocolate truffle. One of the best such projects I’ve ever seen, with original film correlations made throughout. Essential.

  7. This was about as inactive I’ve been during a weekend in quite some time.

    Friday, I went to see Rust and Bone in San Rafael, CA and loved it. Jacques Audiard has sprinted toward the top of worldwide filmmaking prowess between A Prophet and this deeply affecting work.

    Saturday, I simply sat around and watched Turner Classic Movies. From 12:00 noon on the west coast to midnight, they featured John Huston’s powerful, and to my mind, underrated, if not flawless Moby Dick; the high-calorie oversized meal of Quo Vadis, which despite its shortcomings remains a definitive example of “Old Hollywood” classical filmmaking in many regards; Stanley Kubrick’s much-discussed-above Lolita as this week’s “Essential” (and I largely agree with Craig’s remarks: it’s an unwieldy but nevertheless mostly satisfying fusion of two distinct and disparate perspectives); Robert Aldrich’s intensely evocative adaptation of Clifford Odets’s play The Big Knife, which boasts highly charged performances from the likes of Jack Palance and Ida Lupino (Rod Steiger is as hammy and over-the-top as ever but somehow it felt correct for this megalomaniacal movie producer he played); and finally the at-the-time unseen-by-me The Chapman Report by George Cukor, it’s a terribly dated melange of four women being interviewed about their sexual lives ala the Kinsey reports and studies, with the tales following a tragic woman played by Claire Bloom at her most guileless and sensuous and a familiar extramarital affair storyline spearheaded by Shelley Winters (she was the tie that bound the films beginning with Lolita together on TCM) being at least solid excursions into this subject matter, while the Jane Fonda and Glynis Johns yarns are far less durable–reportedly, Cukor was furious with the studio’s trimming and editing of the film, which rendered it in his view a puerile soap opera.

    Sunday was dominated by the NFL… Go, 49ers!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I did, however, watch Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds once again and relished it just about as thoroughly as ever before. Late last night, I took a look at Along Came a Spider, a Lee Tamahori movie starring Morgan Freeman as “Dr. Alex Cross” and Monica Potter as the Secret Service agent he allows to remain in his orbit, investigating the abduction of a U.S. Senator’s daughter… All very schlocky, for the most part, with Tamahori’s oddly recurring poor special effects matched to an underwhelming, fairly quite predictable and derivative screenplay. I hope Clint Eastwood saw this, though, because the “homage” (ahem) to Dirty Harry about halfway through is kind of funny, though perhaps not in the best of ways. Popular character actors of the time like Dylan Baker and Michael Wincott populate the cast to lend it some sense of propriety.

  8. I got to see 8 1/2 last Thursday evening in 35 mm on the big screen. Nothing else I saw this weekend comes close to comparing to that, so I’ll leave it at that.

  9. Craig: Yep I know precisely where you are coming from on Smith! Ha! The man is pathetic.

    Chuck: I am thrilled to hear about your regard for THE STORY OF FILM! I just minutes ago finished the fifth episode! Great stuff!

  10. Alison, knowing what I think I know about Haneke, it would be easy to interpret Amour as being anti-human, but somehow I found it ennobling and invigorating. To stare into the truth of “the end” is to raise up the significance of what came before it. I think by ignoring death we cheapen life. Or something like that. I don’t know. Hard to clarify my thoughts on that.

    I the Story of Film in my netflix streaming queue a month or so back but haven’t cracked it open yet. Maybe this weekend.

    Alexander “Saturday, I simply sat around and watched Turner Classic Movies. From 12:00 noon” You make that sound like a bad thing.

    Joel, glad you went out of your way to catch 8 1/2 on the big screen. Was it worth the trouble? I’m guessing it was.

  11. Sam, I don’t understand much about American Football but I love seeing any Bay Area team succeed. Besides the SF Giants (which of course won it all), I’m a huge Golden State Warriors fan and being rewarded with an outstanding season by the team.

    Thanks Sam and Chuck for alerting me to The Story of Film. I’ve put my order in and it will be a birthday present this year from my wife.

  12. What a wonderful wife!

    Also, I hope the Niners get CREAMED in the Superbowl :)
    I don’t think they will though.

  13. Just now saw your comment sartre.

    I have an alternate idea on THE STORY OF FILM! I’ll send it on to you by e mail.

  14. Mmm, I’m in the dark on The Story of Film as well…

    Hush, Craig! Seahawks suck! Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!

    The Warriors have been a lot of fun this season, Sartre, indeed. Who will ever forget that dramatic victory over the Heat in Miami on December 12th? And finally a Warrior All-Star since Latrell Sprewell!

    But between the Giants and 49ers alone, it’s our time to be insufferable in our bragging, haha.

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