TCMFF - Part 1

April 29, 2016

I'm at the TCM Film Festival! In my hotel room listening to music and writing a blog post while everyone is watching movies but... I'm here! haha!

I arrived Tuesday afternoon (three days ago??? how is that possible?!) and kind of just took it easy for the first two days. There was some eating, some shopping, some realizing that my clothes and shoes were all too uncomfortable,  so then more shopping...

One of the first tourist stops was, of course, the Chinese theater where I got to see the handprints and footprints of some of my favorite people. I visited last time I was here as well, but I think it's the kind of thing that never, ever gets old. And this time I found Marcello Mastroianni, who had somehow eluded me during my 2014 visit. I love Marcello! I love typing the name Marcello! Marcello!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in a walking tour of Hollywood Forever cemetery. Morbid Curiosity is my middle name, so this was right up my alley. The tour guide, Karie, was beyond amazing and told so many fascinating stories that I'd never heard before! A lot of tour guides do it because it's their job, Karie does it because it's her passion and that made the tour particularly enjoyable. And I finally got to see Rudolph Valentino's grave -- I was a little gaga for him in high school so my inner 15 year old was [internally, trying to look totally cool and collected on the outside while definitely choking back a few tears] geeking out quite a bit.

Then we trekked up to the Hollyhock House, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright around 1920, and did some shopping in Los Angeles. Then we watched the red carpet arrivals for the TCMFF red carpet. I got to see the backs of a lot of awesome people (Carl Bernstein, Alec Baldwin, and Gina Lollobrigida to name a few) but my heart dropped out of my body and hasn't been seen since Anna Karina made her arrival in one of her signature hats, with her trademark black hair and bangs. I'm still in disbelief that she was standing in the same street as me, I can't even begin to fathom how I'll handle seeing her right in front of me on stage tomorrow night. My stomach legitimately just flipped in my stomach when I typed that. I'm out of control.

One of my favorite parts of my 2014 trip was visiting Larry Edmunds book store on Hollywood Blvd. They have an insane amount of movie books, and maybe even more exciting is their collection of 8x10s. Last time I was shocked by how many of my relatively obscure requests were met with a manila folder bursting with relevant photos. I came with a list this time (namely Alain Delon, Emmanuelle Riva, Monica Vitti, Truffaut and Maurice Ronet) and didn't have quite as much luck (apparently other girls buy a lot of Alain Delon pictures as well -- I can't even imagine WHY) but I still walked away with, I think,  at least 10 photos including the most perfect portrait of Monica Vitti. I'll need to scan it and post it when I get home. She's everything I aspire to be.

Last night I saw my first (and only, so far) film of the festival - Los tallos amargos, a rare Argentinian film noir that was recently restored. Film noir isn't my favorite genre but, as anyone who knows me probably already guessed, it's not in English so I was immediately on board. It was really well done, although slightly over-dramatic which resulted in some unnecessary laughter from the audience. I expected more of TCMFF attendees, but hopefully it was a freak occurrence and the rest of the movies will be shown more respect. Anyway, I thought the movie was great and the ending was superb! Is there anything as satisfying as a totally, completely, 100% perfect ending?

I better go hop in the shower if I want to be in line for The Way We Were soon. I need to get a good seat for this one (last night I was one of the last people to be seated and ended up watching Los tallos amargos from the front row, with my neck crooked at such an angle that I'm surprised my spinal cord didn't go numb)

Really my only complaint so far is that I totally forgot that nobody else eats during this thing. I mean, snacks and stuff, yes, but meals? no. At least not once the movies are going. It makes me feel like I'm a bad movie fan or something, but it's tough being the only person at the festival who needs a real dinner to survive. I feel like TCMFF is actually kind of like practice for the apocalypse. Everyone around me could survive anything, making do without food or water for days while they plot out a plan to get movie projectors to work in a world without electricity. Meanwhile I'd be chewing on a stray banana peel laying in the street murmuring "food... water... food..." until I lost consciousness and then promptly died after missing one single meal.

TCMFF 2016 printable schedule + my top picks

April 11, 2016

The 2016 TCM Film Festival schedule was released today! Like everyone else, I found it practically impossible to print without all of the text becoming so tiny you couldn't make it out, so I broke it up into four PDF files that should be much easier to read. You can download them all here:

Page 1 / Page 2 / Page 3 / Page 4

I'll have a more concrete idea of what movies I'll be seeing after I compare schedules with my friends, but right now these are the films that I'm most excited about:

- Band of Outsiders: This is an absolute, definite, 100% must for me, even if my friends don't attend. There's nothing in the schedule that interests me in the 3 hours preceding the screening so I am planning on grabbing a snack and plopping myself in line for 180 minutes. Anna Karina will actually also be attending a screening of Band of Outsiders at the Film Forum in NYC in May and I already bought tickets for that, too.

- Cinema Paradiso: I'm so excited about this one! I think it's the best movie for people who love movies. And Salvatore Cascio will be there! He's all grown up now, but his has to be my favorite performance by a child in any movie EVER.

- The Manchurian Candidate: I'm a little bummed that this is scheduled against three other movies that I'd like to see, but you can't beat a Frank Sinatra film at the Chinese Theater introduced by Angela Lansbury (and with Alec Baldwin -- be still my 30 Rock loving heart!)

- Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back: Ronald Colman's face on the big screen. Enough said.

- 6 Hours to Live: I hadn't even heard of this one until I saw the schedule but it sounds so ridiculous and fantastic! Part of the agony of deciding what movies to see and which ones to skip comes from deciding to gamble with a new-to-me movie or choosing to see a beloved favorite on the big screen. I really want to try to include a lot more new-to-me movies at this festival than I usually would.

- Brief Encounter: This has been one of my favorites for ages. I was actually planning on seeing it as part of the Noel Coward series at The Film Forum this summer but I'm going to opt to see it at the festival instead.

Since I've mentioned it twice now, I should add -- if you're in the NY area and are unable to attend the TCM Film Festival, definitely take a look at some of The Film Forum's offerings this summer. They just released their May - August schedule and it knocked my socks off! I'm going to miss a bunch of French films while I'm in Paris in July (oh, irony!) but other than that I think I'll be taking a train into the city at least once a week, if possible.

Beyond the Cover blogathon: Jules and Jim (Part 1)

April 10, 2016

For the Beyond the Cover blogathon, I decided to read Jules and Jim by Henri-Pierre Roché. Unfortunately, like pretty much everything in my entire life, I was very well-intentioned but planned very poorly. As of this post, I only managed to finish the book's introduction by François Truffaut and the first few pages of the story. So, in an effort to still get a post up in time for the blogathon, I decided to break this up into two parts. Today I will be covering Truffaut's relationship with the book and its author. My second post will be a more detailed review of the book and how it stacks up against its cinematic counterpart.

François Truffaut happened upon the book in 1955 while perusing second-hand books at Le Palais Royal in Paris. The title "Jules et Jim" initially caught his attention, but upon reading on the back of the book that this was the debut novel from a 76 year old author he was especially intrigued: "What can a first novel written by a septuagenarian be like?"

By the first page, Truffaut had already "[fallen] in love" with Roche's writing. And this admiration is evident in the fact that Truffaut's film opens with a voice-over lifted practically word-for-word from the book:

A few months after reading Jules and Jim, Truffaut mentioned the novel in a review of The Naked Dawn, writing "One of the most beautiful modern novels I know is Jules et Jim by Henri-Pierre Roché, which gives us the lifetime of two friends and their companion in common, who love each other tenderly and with almost no clashes, thanks to a new and aesthetic moral ethic which is constantly under review. The Naked Dawn is the first film to give me the impression that a cinematographic Jules et Jim is possible."

Roché saw the review and responded, striking up a correspondence that would last until Roché's death in 1959. Before Truffaut had even begun work on his first movie, The 400 Blows, he mentioned in one of his letters that he would love to make a film version of Jules and Jim, and Roché approved of the idea -- they planned for Truffaut to eventually write the treatment & Roché the dialogue.

Unfortunately, Roché passed away before they had a chance to begin working on a script. But in the days before his death, he did get to see, and approve of, Truffaut's choice of actress for the role of his heroine, Kate (referred to as "Kathe" in Roché's letter and changed to "Catherine" in the film.) In his last letter to Truffaut he writes, "Dear young friend, your wonderful letter! ... Many thanks for the photos of Jeanne Moreau. I like her. I am happy that she likes Kathe! I hope to meet her some day, yes, come and see me when you like, I'll wait for you." Truffaut received the letter on April 5, 1959. Roché passed away four days later.

Truffaut began work on the film in 1961, but he was haunted and restless -- feeling guilty that he had put off the project for so long that Roché was no longer there to oversee production and constantly turning to the book for guidance, he "often found [himself] pushing the screenplay to one side and opening [his] copy of the novel again, making a note of several splendid phrases to 'preserve intact' and integrate into the soundtrack of the film."

Despite all of the praise and accolades Truffaut received when the film was finally released in 1962, he was still wracked with guilt, writing, "Henri-Pierre Roché was no longer there to harvest the fruits of his tree, and that was beginning to torment me. I was convinced that I was too young to make with the camera what Roché had drawn with his [pen.] The exact thing which I had most admired on reading the book was the fifty years of retirement between the living of the events and the author's narration of them... I was less than thirty years old when I made Jules et Jim, and I had forced myself to make not a young film, but quite the opposite -- an old man's film, and I wasn't sure I'd pulled it off!"

Writing this introduction in 1980, almost 20 years after the making of the film, it's clear that Truffaut's relationship with the author, and the sadness attached to making the movie after Roché had died, had plagued him for most of his life.

I can't speak to the authenticity of Truffaut's adaptation, since I have yet to finish the book, but from their correspondence it would seem to me that although Roché died without ever getting the chance to see his characters come to life on screen, he must have left this world thinking that if the movie version ever came to pass, it would be in good hands with Truffaut. And based on Truffaut's devotion to the author and his sensitivity to making sure that his film truly captured everything that he loved about the book, I have no doubt that all of his torment was for nought.