Sunday, August 03, 2014

le divorce [2003] vs. a love song for bobby long [2004]

normally when i think of lovely, really bad movies, i tend to go for horror and exploitation flicks, natch.  but i am a movie lover in total, sans genre.  some really bad movies were meant to be good movies.  but are not.

hence, the two above films.  i love them both.  they are exceptionally flawed but lovely movies.  i'm sure i've written about these two before.  so i won't go into great detail regarding these pics but instead register a few impressions upon their occasions when i watched them.

first, le divorce is i think the last film helmed by director james ivory before his death.  for arthouse filmgoers of the 1980s/1990s the brand, merchant/ivory, meant a kind of storytelling sometimes based on the works of novelist e.m. forster with wonderful period detail, masterful editing and beautifully shot.  novelist ruth prawer jahbvala wrote the screenplays for their movies.  she co-wrote the screenplay for this film.  ismail merchant produced the movies.  james ivory directed them.  together these three made some brilliant films.

this is not one of those brilliant films.  it is slack, meandering storytelling.  why do i love it?  it stars the gorgeous noami watts as an american poet married to french asshole who initiates divorce proceedings.  the story is incidental to the brilliant scenes of paris as a living thing.  watts is a pleasure to watch.  so is kate hudson who plays her sister as a young woman who is the mistress of a public french intellectual.  the tone of the film is light and playful even when serious while the locations in paris can't be beat.

i've seen this movie several times.  last week i had about an hour before i had to leave for work.  i watched this flick to the end and delighted in its badness.  the acting is great.  the characters are not so great because you really want watts' character to get a backbone.  she does come out on top.  not thru her own actions, but what the hell.

* * *

friday night i got home pleasantly drunk after my monthly writers' meeting.  we shared poems, talk and beers.  i was wide awake.  on-demand allows one to watch movies at the touch of a button.  i watched bits and pieces of a love song for bobby long.  i do not know the director shainee gabel.  this movie is confused.  but it is sweet natured.  john travolta is bobby long, a drunken ex-professor and poet, who lives in the dilapidated house owned by his recently deceased great love with his protege played by gabriel macht.  travolta is a great actor.  bobby long is a great character.  there are some actors who are so charismatic that they could play a rubber band and be fascinating to watch.  travolta is one of those characters.  director gabel moves this film thru its paces.  the action takes place in new orleans.  the plot hinges on the return of long's great love's daughter, played by scarlett johansson, to her mother's house and the men who live there. 

this pic is, like le divorce, a series of scenes that add up to a plot rather than a plot worked thru its conclusion.  are macht's and johansson's characters lovers or family members?  we never now.  tho the plot advances both possibilities.  what does travolta's character die from?  we are given quite a bit of evidence in the movie but we are never told. 

i have a soft spot for poetic drunks.  long quotes poets and prose writers.  he is an open soul with a large mouth.  he is not an asshole.  he is a sensitive soul too much in love with drink and the sound of his own voice.  and there is long's look.  white hair, handsome face, a good body, with a mind that is sharp if sodden.
this was the perfect movie to watch after a night with my poet friends.  one can get too much into one's head and meaning with one's poetry.  i am the voice for all, is the temptation, and if no one agrees with my own assessment of my worth i am a failure.  all bullshit thinking.  this movie brought back the meaning of literature in a life.  long quotes writers because he lives their words.  poetry is not a game, or a career advancement.  poetry is, for those who want it, a way of life.

this is a lovely pic for poetic souls.  i watched this movie until my eyelids began dropping and my waking world turned toward a dreamworld.  i do not remember my dreams that night.  or most nights.  i know i fell asleep thinking that if bobby long was a real person i'd want to know him.  i do.  i know him from this movie.  i know, for both these films, of no higher praise. 


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