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Thursday, June 23, 2011

262. Last Year in Marienbad

    Tonight a grim memory was evoked .
    For two years I studied French A level. I put my disappointing performance down to my utter loathing of French poetry.
    Specifically I didn't get Paul Verlaine. Let's face facts, he was probably a bit too cultured for me.  But I can remember clearly looking out of the window in a trance as our young teacher tried her best to explain Verlaine's take on lurve..
    Verlaine has nothing to do with Last Year in Marienbad but I couldn't help thinking this sentimental claptrap came from the same place.
    And, of course, like Verlaine, Alain Resnais' film is very highly acclaimed.
    "What was it all about in the end?'' asked Mrs W after falling asleep, having watched the first 20 minutes.
    I must admit I did slip into slumberland myself but recovered my composure, span the DVD back to the relevant point and kept to my own unwritten rule that I must see out everyfilmin2011 to the end.
    "I haven't got a Scooby Doo,'' came my reply.
    Even internet movie database sums up the movie by stating it is a tale of a man and a woman who may or may not have met last year at Marienbad.
    Not one character has a name but the bloke in question seems to have wished that he had met the tasty brunette who, I think, was married to someone else.
    He makes up a dramatic story of their tryst but we are never clear whether this is just a figment of his imagination.
    The movie was made in 1961 at an enormous chateau. Sure enough, it's pretty but pretty alone isn't good enough.
    Astonishingly it was Oscar nominated for its story and screenplay.
    This is where I enter the French poets' society again.
    Oscar nominated? Why? Because it repeats the same lines over and over?
    Or maybe because other people in the house are regularly turned, for no obvious reason, into statues?
    I'm a plain guy as you can see from my 262 reviews this year so far. That said, a few experimental movies have hit a chord.
    But the 50th anniversary re-release of Last Year in Marienbad didn't wash it with me. Its overdone melodrama (the music made me think that it had been scored by a mad church organist) reminded me of a bad theatre piece.
    So, I am going against the crowd big time. I say pah to Total Film's five stars and imdb's 7.9/10.
    I'm giving it just 3.5/10 and wait for the howls of disapproval.
    Nevertheless, thanks to the BFI for the screener and if you want to ignore my words and see this re-release, it's out in the UK on July 8.

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262. Last Year in Marienbad

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