Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An American In Paris--NOT the Internet Sex Tape

This movie is very odd. It's like a fever dream--everything is very bright and very frenetic and people act in extreme ways and no one mentions it. It doesn't take place Paris so much as a cartoon version of Paris. I mean, Ratatouille was darker. There's a semblance of a plot--a love quadrangle--that gets abruptly resolved after the fifteen-minute sequence towards the end where the movie sort of gives up and becomes the ballet it probably should have been all along. It's not that I didn't like this movie, it's more like it didn't feel to me like a movie at all.

The one thing I found interesting was the way, at times, it seemed like in some ways this was meant to be a corrective to the war. For a lot of people in 1951, their most recent and most cognizant image of Paris was Nazis goose-stepping down the Champs-Elysees. The war is crucial to the movie--Jerry (!) was a soldier, Lisa and Harry fell in love because he cared for her during the Occupation (which means her parents probably died in the Resistance)--but this violent and traumatic history is all transformed into something bright and beautiful. The best encapsulation of this is probably during the interminable concluding dance sequence when Jerry, along with four other men in uniform, dance into a Parisian boutique and come out in dapper new duds. I also liked Adam, the tortured and frustrated pianist. I thought his fantasy of a concert in which he plays all the instruments and conducts was a spot-on distillation of the ego artists need to be successful. Hello director Vincente Minelli, and your little daughter too!

We should go to Paris, Nat, and contextualize this blog further!


  1. I'll pack a bag asap. But let's not do anything other than eat bread, butter, and cheese in a cafe. I don't wanna be in a ballet :)

    I'll concede the composer/artist's ego intricacies--I still don't like it but I'll give it more credit for having a purpose that I missed entirely. One certainly cannot wonder why Liza is who Liza is.

    What did you think of Caron?

  2. Yeah, guess it says something about me that I wanted SOMEONE to be bitter and frustrated.

    Caron sort of made me wish that it was more of a ballet movie, like Center Stage. I wish that about most movies. Her smile was a little freaky at first, but she did grow on me.

    What about that bizarre "art school party"/orgy?

  3. Ha! It NEEDED someone to be bitter and frustrated to temper the HAPPY!! and to give that happy some context.

    Me, too re: Caron. I think she looks better with long hair--like in Gigi--as as she aged a tad--like in Father Goose.

    Um. Yeah. At first I thought "Cool! I want to go to a costume ball that's all black and white!" And then I thought "I don't want to be anywhere near a party where a girl just jumps off a balcony every ten seconds for the hell of it and everyone runs around screaming." Because that sounds more like a pre-school to me. And I don't quite get who these art students are--are they the Americans on a break who are "studying" art or are they actual students in France?