Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An American in Paris, Or Why I Currently have a Headache

Other working titles:

Or First Dates Real Women Shouldn't Go On
Or Toulouse Lautrec Was a Painter! In France! Too!
Or Capote Hasn't Written "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Yet
What the Fuck, Oscar? This movie is NOT better than A Place in the Sun OR A Streetcar Named Desire

Ok, so let's address these points.

1. I have a headache because this movie is damned loud. The dialogue is low but the music numbers are LOUD. I have great hearing but I had to have the volume up to hear and understand the more French accents.

2. So, ladies, would you go out on a date with this guy: He stares at you like a hungry cannibalistic serial killer in a smoky club, lies to get you to dance with him, and fools your companion into giving him your number. Then he stalks you at your work and shows up there after you, in no uncertain terms, tell him not to bother you again. Yes? Then you're a damned fool. If you are a damned fool, don't then agree to "walk along the river" which just happens to be completely empty all the time when it's late-ish and dark.

3. Musicals of this era loved loved loved Technicolor. I know! We need a dance number and we have to use EVERY color we can find! Yay! Spend money on LOADS of costumes and sets that make not a damned bit of sense!! But TECHNICOLOR is HAPPY, damn it. And, if there is something we need after the war, it's HAPPY! Lost generation be damned--we're not moody--we sing and dance in the streets! In color!

4. Why, exactly, does Gene Kelly need to dance around "in" a Toulouse Lautrec painting in skin tight pants and a skin tight turtleneck, both of which are also skin-colored? What does that have to do with anything at all? Why do we need a ballet that has sets reminiscent of French art?

5. YAY! ARTS!! I agree, the arts rock. But, what I don't agree with is the absurdly long, completely indulgent composer intermission in the middle of the film. I don't care about that character. He's not interesting. He doesn't actually matter to the film's plot. He's not even funny when he's the one who knows that Gene Kelly and the French guy like the same girl. I also don't need to see the French singer guy's wholly narcissistic night club act. We already know how I feel about the ballet.

6. Husky voiced rich, blonde "patroness" of the "up-and-coming artist" buys artist a "studio" she's decorated and is interested in the artist but, lo and behold, the artist is in love with a tiny, gamine, dark-haired girl who has a secret.

7. This relates to the Toulouse Lautrec comment but why do we need a FOREVER long (eighteen minutes) ballet number that does not advance the plot? I'll admit that some contemporary dance movies are bad and the "but they just burst into song and dance randomly" can be a legitimate critique but at least most contemporary dance numbers pertain to the plot if not advance the plot. Almost NONE of the dance numbers here have anything to do with anything other than ART! TECHNICOLOR! And, that 18 minute ballet is supposed to fill in the blanks for why French nightclub dude just hands his fiancĂ©e over to starving painter guy with a smile? Um . . . no.

8. THIS movie won best picture against A Place in the Sun and A Streetcar Named Desire? I have no words.   None.

Despite all of that, I don't exactly dislike the movie. I just don't know what to do with it and I definitely don't need to see it again and I wouldn't call it "good." Most of the movie, I was mentally revising it to make it a good movie.

So, why did the book have us watch this? Other than winning 6 Oscars--I have no clue. Have a clue, brainmate?


  1. SO true about the creepy stalker vibe Gene Kelly was giving off. Apparently, I like stalking only when the dude is brooding.

    I'm really not sure why this was so lauded. The acting, eh. The music was amazing, but a good score does not a Best Picture make. Do you think it had something to do with the time period? That the Academy wanted to endorse this cartoony version of life rather than the darkness of Streetcar?

  2. Yeah, happy stalkers are creepier than brooding stalkers any day of the week.

    I just looked around and here are other winners that make AiP an interesting Best Pic:
    Director: A Place in the Sun
    Actor: Bogart for African Queen
    Actress: Leigh for Streetcar
    Supportings: Malden and Hunter for Streetcar
    Original Screenplay: A Place in the Sun
    Adapted Screenplay: AiP
    Editing: A Place in the Sun
    Dramatic Score: A Place in the Sun
    Comedy/Musical Score: AiP

    Then they had 3 categories split between color and B&W--Art Direction, Cinematography, and Costume. Those awards were split between AiP and A Place in the Sun.

    So, when color was the issue: AiP won. Out of all of the Best Pic nominees, only one other (Quo Valdis) was in color and it was also nominated for all of the "color" awards.

    What's also interesting to me is that even though Gone with the Wind won in 1939--making it the first color film to win an Oscar--AiP is the second. 11 years later.

    So, it's like the Academy is saying move on already, we have color now so let the "real" actors play in the color sandbox, too(the Oscar for 52 went to a color film and then it pinged back and forth for a few years). And we're going to endorse this happy but not really because, while we'll nod to Minnelli for director, we're not going to endorse any of those actors (Kelly would get an honorary Oscar the next year but his only nod was in 45 (and that may be attributed to him dancing with Jerry of Tom & Jerry fame)--Caron would be nominated in 1953 and 63 but would lose to Audrey Hepburn and Patricia Neal).

    So, there's all that info. I'm not sure that tells us too much more but I thought it was interesting.