Monsieur Hulot's Holiday,
and a few more films

The Doom Generation (1995)

#237  [archive]
DEC. 15, 2023

"In order to obtain an 'R' rating, approximately 11 minutes have been cut from the original version of this film. The director of this motion picture did not authorize and was not involved with this editing…. If you would like to view The Doom Generation in its entirety, please obtain the unrated version. Have a nice day."

Those were the first words on screen as the film started, so I shut it off, and found the full 1:23 cut instead. Movies should be seen as intended, so I appreciate the heads up (and wonder about the shouting that must've gone on before that warning was added).

Also, thanks for telling me to have a nice day. You, too.

Gregg Araki makes gay movies, and I'm 75% sure I saw one of his in the late '80s, though I remember nothing about it. This one's credited as "a heterosexual movie by Gregg Araki," and that's worth a giggle.

There aren't many more.

Amy Blue (Rose McGowan) and baby-faced innocent Jordan White (James Duval) are druggies on a date, and for reasons unfathomable they latch on to Xavier Red, a snarling nihilist played by Johnathon Schaech. 

Did you catch that they're red, white, and blue? Oh, the symbolism.

Red hates everything because that's what nihilists do, and he's happy to kill anyone who annoys him. The bloodshed is portrayed as comedic, with a head that talks after it's been severed, but the movie is done being funny long before it's done.

Red teaches Blue and White to go beyond their bland sexual proclivities and ordinary drug addict lives, but when 'beyond' is killing people, is that a lesson worth learning?

None of the movie's dozen or so sex scenes are sexy, and there are always more people to kill for no particular reason. It ends with an unimaginative strobe-lit murder sequence, intended to be sad or outrageous or in some way of interest, but it's a yawn. 

Verdict: NO.

♦ ♦ ♦

Her Composition (2015)

Malorie is a student at a Julliard-like college, and for her thesis she's supposed to turn in an original symphonic piece. Her professor is a sexist prick, so's the school's dean, and Malorie has a very feminist friend, so there's a 'tough chick' aura to all this.

I settled in for an artsy-fartsy movie about a plucky young woman writing a musical thesis, and that's what it is, but it also wasn't what I expected. 

Malorie's rent is going up substantially, her live-in boyfriend is moving out, and her student loans are maxed. She's either gotta drop out, or find a source of money in a hurry, so she becomes a prostitute.

With each client she services, she listens closely and hears a sound that she adds to her composition, and the musical piece comes together, in pieces, with her customers as her muse. To my ear, it's good music, too.

I'm skeptical that prostitution works so well, so quickly. Malorie's immediately working as a call girl, with no pimp in the mix, for mostly upscale customers who are sometimes skeevy, sometimes suave. It adds tension, because at any moment any one of them could be a monster. 

You're thinking the movie might be hot, or depressing, or funny, or 'message-ey', but it's not particularly any of those things. It's an odd but watchable combination of classical music & PG-rated sex scenes & woke feminism.

It's written and directed by a man, though — Stephan Littger — which perhaps adds another layer of complexity.

Verdict: YES. And if you see it, please explain to me the symbolism of the shoes, because I don't understand.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (1953)
Streaming free

Monsieur Hulot takes a vacation to the beach, where everything goes delightfully wrong, in a comedy that needs to be seen with the lights out. There is no looking away for even a moment, for if you do you'll miss something clever.

Built around sight gags, sound effect jokes, and simply the way Monsieur Hulot (the director, Jacques Tati) presents himself, here's a comedy that's clever all the way through, meticulously put together, and fun even in the moments when it's not funny.

There's occasional dialogue, but rarely or never from any one person. It's all background conversation, but what's said is unimportant, and there really isn't a plot. It's French, but you don't even need subtitles.

The only music is a Muzac-quality ditty that lasts about a minute and a half, and plays again every five minutes or so, which in any other movie would've driven me mad, but it's somehow perfect here. As is everything else.

Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis must've watched Monsieur Hulot's Holiday as they were dreaming up Mr Bean, as Bean and Hulot seem to share some of the same genetics.

Verdict: BIG YES.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Wanton Want (2021)

Nicolas Brendan plays a middle-aged scriptwriter, but he's come to a block in the story and he's stuck. Also, he's run into a stretch of impotence with his wife. Symbolism much?

They invite another couple to dinner and a weekend, but all four of them only talk about Nicolas, his writer's block, and his impotence. The conversations are all inappropriate and might be in Nicolas's imagination, but nothing here rings remotely real, and the movie is quite bad in ways too numerous to list.

Verdict: BIG NO.


• • • Coming attractions • • •

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)
The Lawyer (1970)
Not of This Earth (1957)
The Saint in New York (1938)
Same Kind of Different as Me (2017)
The Shooting (1966)
The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973)
The Train (1964)
Welcome to New Orleans (2006)
Winter Soldier (1972)

... plus occasional 
schlock and surprises 

There are so many good movies out there — old movies, odd or artsy, foreign or forgotten movies, or do-it-yourself movies made just for the joy of making them — that if you only watch whatever's on Netflix or playing at the twenty-plex, you're missing out.

To get beyond the ordinary, I recommend:

AlterCineverseCriterionCultCinema ClassicsDocsVilleDustFandorFilms for ActionHooplaIHaveNoTVIndieFlixInternet ArchiveKanopyKinoCultKino LorberKorean Classic FilmChristopher R MihmMosfilmMubiNational Film Board of CanadaNew Yorker Screening RoomDamon PackardMark PirroPizzaFlixPopcornFlixPublic Domain MoviesRareFilmmScarecrow VideoShudderThoughtMaybeTimeless Classic MoviesVoleFlixWatchDocumentaries • or your local library

Some people even access films through shady methods, though of course, that would be wrong.

— — —

Illustration by Jeff Meyer. Reviews are spoiler-free, or at least spoiler-warned. Click any image to enlarge. Arguments & recommendations are welcome, but no talking once the lights dim, and only real butter on the popcorn, not that fake yellow stuff. 
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  1. Tati is one of my favorites. His next two films are even better. Play Time is my number 3 film of all time. It's like Kubrick's 2001 set on the ground in 1960s Paris. Trafic is also great, though many think it was a step down. I loved it, and given your relationship with cars, I bet you'd like it too.

    1. I fear I didn't rave about it enough. It's just about the most charming and wholesome thing ever, but I loved it. And the sequels get better? I'll be there, man, thanks.

  2. So cool you're covering "Her Composition". I saw it at a big festival a few years ago and couldn't get it out of my mind. Unfortunately nobody I met ever heard of it...

    1. Wow, someone who's not only heard of Her Composition but saw it. It *was* quite good and it's still in my mind sometimes, too. It's so unknown I'm not sure it was ever even released. Still the first, last, and only feature film Stephan Littger has made.

      There were 2-3 shots that lingered on tennis shoes tied together and looped over telephone wires. Any chance you remember than and have a theory what the shoes meant?


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