Friday, December 9, 2011

La Haine and The Vintage Caper

In my post This Is How You Begin to Put the World Back Together, I talk about the mail to be sorted, the books to be finished, and the Netflix movies gathering dust. This week I decided to wipe the dust off a movie and finish at least one of the many books I have in progress. The movie is La Haine and the book is The Vintage Caper, by Peter Mayle.

I think my resistance to finishing the book and the movie was rooted in the simple fact that I had started both of them the weekend before I got laid off. At first, shock and inertia took over and I didn't have the concentration to read the subtitles on a foreign movie. And then the reminder that this is what I was watching when I got laid off was too much to bear. Like a shadow from the hangman's gallows. I couldn't watch the movie. I couldn't read the book. The reminder of the pain of that day kept flooding back.

But now it is time to wipe the dust off, much like I shook the dust off my winter sweaters yesterday. I am reminded of quote, I can't remember if it is from Rumi or Buddha or Feng Shui, You can't make room for the new, with the old taking up space and gathering dust. 

I had earlier this week on my six month anniversary of the layoff watched old Films Noir and went to load up my Netflix queue. I was looking forward to seeing the French version of The Long Night and had placed it next in my queue. But in order to have that movie sent to me, I had to watch La Haine.

I was really looking forward to La Haine--six months ago. I had watched the commentary preview with Jodie Foster. This was a movie that she personally felt was worth championing and she talked about the stylistic techniques used to create the look necessary to capture the angst felt by the unemployed French youths. The film is shot in black and white and employs a number of film noir techniques. But that it was not the only reason why I was drawn to it.

The story. It's all about the story. The film follows three friends for one day, the day after a riot to protest the police brutality of shooting one of their friends. The story. And the way that the story is told. Following a particularly brutal night spent at the hands of interrogating police, the friends engage the most serious of discussions--who was tougher Tom or Jerry, of the Tom and Jerry cartoons. Throughout bleakness and brutality of the film, the story of these three young men trying to find their place in the world and the lengths they go through to protect their friendship is what makes the story. The story is one that can happen anywhere, even though it takes place in the projects of Paris. But in reality, it could take place here, LA, Oakland, New York, anywhere.

I am glad that I took the time to watch it. The story is staying with me. The story is haunting me.  And that is what a good movie is supposed to do.

I am glad that I am able to return the DVD and get the next one on my list. I am glad that I am accomplishing items on my list. Finally. I am glad that I am shaking the dust off.

I am a chapter away from finishing the book, The Vintage Caper.  The criminals have been tracked to Paris and Marseille-- ç'est le vie -- what a coincidence! Must be my week for all things French.

Probably should take my dog Marlowe out for some French Fries...

© pranaknits

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