WORTHLESS: For those of you who are still cringing from Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosting the Oscars, the Academy made an even worse decision a few months prior -- they gave a lifetime achievement award to a certain French art-film director. If you dislike this guy as much as I do, check out Jean-Luc Godard, a 2009 essay by Dan Schneider on his website, cinemension.com. It begins with quotes by Orson Welles, Werner Herzog, and Ingmar Bergman knocking Godard’s work. Then Schneider calls Godard’s heralded debut film, Breathless, “simply a bad film noir wannabe” that’s technically sloppy. He prefers Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space to Godard’s Breathless as Wood’s technically sloppy film is at least entertaining and doesn’t possess a smugly superior attitude.
Schneider calls Contempt OK, as it’s “technically magnificent” - but has dull characters the audience never cares about, and the only reasons to watch it are: “Fritz Lang, some gorgeous scenery, and Brigitte Bardot’s tush.”
Here’s an excerpt from Schneider’s essay:
Two or Three Things I Know About Her continues this unfortunate trend. Technically, it’s OK, but again it’s larded with naïve and preachy politics, and cardboard characters that the viewer simply cannot force him or herself to care about. It’s quite a bad film, although as an interesting side note, there is one particularly (unintentionally) funny scene where Godard has a voiceover pondering the meaning of the universe during a close-up of someone stirring coffee. Martin Scorsese claims that this scene influenced the scene in Taxi Driver where Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) looks into a cup after dropping a couple of Alka-Seltzer tablets into it. The difference is that Scorsese engaged his audience prior to that scene, and the shot illuminates Travis’s obsession with all sorts of minor things and details that most people wouldn’t even notice- a key point for this character. Godard’s shot serves no such purpose. In fact, I only remembered it because of the claimed influence on the later masterpiece.
In addition to calling Godard “the most egotistical blowhard to ever direct films”, Schneider also claims he’s “probably the most overrated director of all time.” Schneider muses this might be “that Academia is laden with Leftists who see Godard as some sort of hero, and worship him for his naïve politics (which later dismissed the atrocities committed by Stalin, Mao, and the later Khmer Rouge), rather than for his actual art”, which Schneider calls “mediocre at best.”
Schneider has also posted on his website an appreciation of my all-time favorite sitcom, The Odd Couple.
Hey, if you want to see great French cinema, forget all this depressing Godard crap and check out a 1970s comedy called A Pain in the Ass (or however you say “A Pain in the Ass” in French, I guess.) I didn’t see the recent remake but I’ll bet it doesn’t compare to the original. (Billy Wilder’s last film was an unsuccessful remake of it starring cinema’s odd couple, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.)
Save “Save Alternative”: I guess it was around the same time I started the Herald, in the late nineties, that this Silicon Valley “Modern Rock” station which went by the moniker “Channel 104.9” started. It pretty much sounded like Live 105, which pretty much all Modern Rock stations do. Then, sometime around 2003 I guess (I’m too lazy to look it up) it was sold and became a Spanish language station. The same thing happened to WDRE, the Modern Rock station I grew up with on Long Island. The last song WDRE played before the Spanish takeover was “Forever Young” by Alphaville. But Channel 104.9’s farewell song was more appropriate – “Mexican Radio” by Wall of Voodoo. Then in 2009 I think (I’m too lazy to look it up) Channel 104.9 returned their Modern Rock format down the dial, this time as Channel 92.3. Then in early March of this year the station was sold and it started a new format called “Save Alternative”, which played slightly different modern rock mixed in with older modern rock like The Jam and Sisters of Mercy. There were no DJs, the mixes were awful, and there were no commercials --the whole thing sounded like a college radio station. Every few songs you’d hear a girl who sounded like she was from those old Calvin Klein Obsession commercials smugly say, “Save Alternative.” About the second week of March I heard a DJ talking about how the station is hosting a concert by Cake and that there’s a Save Alternative playlist being distributed to clubs around the Bay Area. Slowly this is getting there, I thought. So on the Ides of March (or maybe it was March 16th, I forget and I’m too lazy to look it up) I decided to call the station to see if they wanted to do some sort of cross promotion with San Francisco Herald Media. A generic voicemail answered the phone, put me on hold, and hung up. Later that day I turned 92.3 on and heard this sappy pop music being sung in some Asian language. I wondered if the station was paying their respects to the Japanese earthquake victims by playing their versions of Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus. I surfed the web and found that the station had been sold and the new format was Chinese pop (too bad it wasn’t Japanese pop, the swan song could have been “Turning Japanese” by the Vapors.) However, “Save Alternative” will continue on Internet radio.
By the way, I know it’s pathetic that a 45 year old man would even notice this, but why does Live 105 play old Guns and Roses songs? As I recall, they never played them in the late eighties and early nineties. They were metal, man – the enemies. What gives? Actually, forget I mentioned it.
Cal-List: I’m trying to change the official domain of this site to SanFranciscoHerald.Net instead of Cal-List.com. Cal-List is the online-only version of the Herald that bombed in 2008. More recently it was a semi-successful direct marketing flyer in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties that I’m debating whether to continue or not (I don’t know if it’s worth my time.) Yes, folks – the San Francisco Herald/Cal-List merger. It’s just like the much talked-about, recent Newsweek/Daily Beast merger. Except I own both the SF Herald and Cal-List and that nobody cares about either one. But aside from that it’s just like the Newsweek/Daily Beast merger. Maybe I should start a paywall like the New York Times. No?
Taxi Driver: Our own column-writing cabbie, Lee Vilensky, has a new CD out. It’s called Dirty Dealings on a Latin Moon and you can read about it at http://www.leevilensky.com/index
The Children’s Story: It was about 1998 that I was at my friend’s apartment and started reading this book that I saw on her floor. After the first few paragraphs I remembered how, about 16 years earlier, my mother and sister told me about something they had seen on television that was obviously based on what I was reading. We left her place and I never finished reading it. A couple of years ago I thought of it again but couldn’t find it after typing certain words into Google. A few days ago I Googled it again and discovered that it’s called “The Children’s Story” by James Clavell. Here’s the PBS presentation my mother and sister saw. Highly recommended. And disturbing.