The Weblog

Home for the heteronomous

Monday Movies Is Big. It’s the Pictures That Got Small.

Monday Movies took in a Sunday brunchtime showing of Sunset Boulevard at the Palace Theater as part of the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats series.

The Historic Palace Theatre

There’s some debate about whether Sunset Boulevard properly counts as noir; I’m not sure what the case against is. The central sin of Double Indemnity is greed, but in Sunset Boulevard it is vanity.

Norma Desmond’s self-image as a beloved idol has driven her mad; she is nothing but the monstrous feminine. Cecil B. DeMille, appearing as himself at one point offers a hook to hang a critique on; “a dozen press agents working overtime can do terrible things to the human spirit.” But it’s hard to call Norma Desmond, whose response to displacement by the talkies has been to create in herself and her surroundings a monument to the lavishness of $18,000/week salaries and equally outsized facial expressions, a monster created so much as unleashed.

It's as if she's wearing prosthetic sclera

Holden’s Joe Gillis is vain, too, a more common vanity in film noir. He thinks he’s smart enough to get through this. He’s not.

What did you see, and what did it look like?


June 27, 2011 - Posted by | Monday Movies | , , , , , ,


  1. I saw Source Code, a movie that offers three endings: the first one is OK, the second one was promising & the third one destroyed all of that promise and looked like a 3-minute remake of the last 3 seasons of Lost. Comparatively speaking it was not too bad.

    Comment by Guido Nius | June 27, 2011

  2. 6/20/11 – Flowing – Naruse 1956 10/10
    6/21/11 – Parado – Yukisada 2009 9/10 recommended
    6/22/11 – A Bloody Spear on Mount Fuji – Uchida 1955 6/10
    6/25/11 – The Sting of Death – Oguri 1990 7/10
    6/26/11 – Bakumatsu – Ito Daisuke 1970 5/10

    Nagareru is a Naruse masterpiece, collecting a half-dozen of the legendary actresses of the Japanese screen:Tanaka, Yamada, Takamine, Okada, Sugimara, and using each screen persona or type perfectly for the story. I especially loved Kurushima Sumiko, who was Shochiko’s first female star in the silent era, starting from 1921, retiring to dance instruction in 1938, coming back for this movie. Strong, tough, wise, compassionate yet a little mischievous maybe cynical, and very funny. Otherwise typical Naruse, women seeking independence running into money troubles.

    Uchida Tomu has a fascinating biography which can be read at Bright Lights Film Journal. Chiyari Fuji, no preposition, no “Mount”, oh well, is politically complicated. Sting is an arthouse move arthouse people walk out on. Bakumatsu is about Sakamoto Ryoma, a leading figure in the Meiji restoration.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | June 27, 2011

  3. I had free HBO and Cinemax over the weekend so naturally, we recorded about a dozen movies to be watched long after the offer has expired. In fact, the only movie I actually watched on HBO while we had the free service was the last 45 minutes of Half Baked. I didn’t realize how much a lot of the jokes in that movie resembled bits from the Dave Chappelle Show.

    I did watch X-Men Origins: Wolverine or whatever it’s called. Whoever is in charge of that X-Men franchise really needs to map out a timeline and an arc of the storylines and stick to it. It’s also funny to me that the title of the movie suggests they were going to do origin stories of some of the other lone characters. I’m running down the list of characters from the first three X-Men movies and I can’t imagine who they thought would carry a movie.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | June 27, 2011

  4. I had a similar hard time with the ending of Source Code. So many lessons to be drawn, and many of them stupid! I was deciding whether I thought the “live for the moment” lesson was somehow redeemable in the movie, and then I decided that it was a very Huis-Clos ending — like, he’s going to have a nice day with this girl, but what happens when he tries to remember this guy’s email passwords? Meets his family? Goes back to his job? Better than death or being a bit of barbecue in a hyperbaric chamber, but still.

    Comment by Josh K-sky | June 27, 2011

  5. Also, to those who saw X-Men First Class: did anyone catch this reference?

    Comment by Josh K-sky | June 27, 2011

  6. Josh, you have an idea for the sequel! A black comefy in which he discovers his new girlfriend is a porn actress or whartnot.

    Comment by Guido Nius | June 27, 2011

  7. I actually saw both movies (First Class and Time Bandits) in pretty close relation to one another, but didn’t even come close to making the connection.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | June 27, 2011

  8. I just finished watching Days of Heaven. I was impressed.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | June 27, 2011

  9. 8: Adam, do you know Jim Emerson, movie reviewer film critic? He and his very good commenters have been all over Malick for a couple weeks. I read a great analysis of Days of Heaven (June 8 2011) over there this weekend, and they are amazed by ToL

    Comment by bob mcmanus | June 27, 2011

  10. I saw Teorema, which I did not enjoy even a little.

    Comment by ben | June 28, 2011

  11. Further 6, maybe he comes back and after the initial night of steaming sex he finds himself in an unpatriotic bunch (with anti-war T-shirts and the whole sha-bang) going to a demonstration he can’t immediately figure out what it’s about. Once there he finally sees it is a gay-marriage thing …

    Comment by Guido Nius | June 28, 2011

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: