Arthur Penn's "Night Moves" (1975) is one of the great movies of the '70s. As a detective picture about a private eye with flawed vision -- in this case, a small-time independent dick and former football player named Harry Moseby (Gene Hackman), who'd like to think he's Sam Spade -- it would make a great double bill with "Chinatown," released the previous year. Yesterday, when the news came of French director Eric Rohmer's death, a lot of people who apparently hadn't even seen "Night Moves" (or, perhaps, a Rohmer movie) were freely quoting Moseby's famous wisecrack in pieces about Rohmer without providing any context for it:
"I saw a Rohmer film once. It was kind of like watching paint dry."
It wasn't long before it even became a Twitter meme: #nightmoves. (See examples below, after jump.)
What some (not all) of the quoters didn't seem to realize or remember is that Harry's remark, as scripted by Alan Sharp, is a brittle homophobic jab at a gay friend of his wife's. (Watch the clip above.) Ellen (Susan Clark) invites Harry to join her and Charles (Ben Archibek -- that's him at the end of the clip) for a movie: Eric Rohmer's classic "My Night at Maud's" (1970), about an engaged man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who spends a long, memorable night in conversation with a divorcee (Françoise Fabian). Moseby is asserting his macho credentials, and ends the scene by teasing Charles about going bowling again sometime. "You seem to get some weird kind of satisfaction from this sort of thing, don't you?" Charles replies. Later that night, Harry drives by the theater as the movie is letting out and sees something indicating that his wife may be having an affair.
Manny Farber has died. The great iconoclast of American film criticism was 91. He coined the term "underground film," contrasted "termite art" with "white elephant art" in a way that started you thinking about movies in such terms, and once described the auteur theory thusly (I quote from memory): "A bunch of guys standing around trying to catch some director pushing art up into the crevices of dreck."
CANNES - It is one of the unwritten rituals of the Cannes Film Festival that there must be a starlet of the year. Some years she is just that - an unknown starlet, dashing up and down the beaches in a bikini, pursued by the sex-mad paparazzi and their lusting Leicas. Sometimes, however, she happens to be an intelligent young actress like Carole Laure, who doesn't find it so much fun to play the sexpot starlet game.
Michael Kutza's year began with a January trip to California to look at the American Film Institute's new stuff. Then he was off to Colombia to help judge the Cartagena film festival, new movies from Latin and South America. He was back in Chicago in March for board meetings of his Chicago International Film Festival.