Sunday, March 3, 2013
L'AVVENTURA (1960, ITALY)
Rod and Chip Go To the Movies Part 1: Beginnings
(The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The events depicted are real…sort of)
Schoolmates, Rod (age 15) and Chip (age 14), have just gone to see a presentation of Michaelangelo Antonioni’s film L’Avventura at an Emory University Lecture Hall. They have stopped for a cheeseburger at a nearby Burger Chef.
Rod: Glad you were able to go with me this afternoon. It’s about time you and I finally went to see a movie together.
Chip: Oh, no problem. It was…interesting.
Rod: I sense that it wasn’t what you were expecting.
Chip: I just always thought there was a little more…sex in those 60’s European movies.
Rod: This wasn’t an Emmanuelle movie! This was an art film.
Chip: Emmanuelle? You’ve seen an actual X-rated movie?
Rod: No, I’ve read about plenty, though. And my brother has told me all about them.
Chip:Ah, the all knowing, all wise Nick.
Rod: Nick’s been around. He’s twenty-three you know.
Chip: Huh. I didn’t realize he was that old.
Rod: Anyway, the sexuality in L’Avventura was all there-you just had to read between the lines and use your mind.
Chip: Except in that art scene. All those Picasso-type nude paintings.
Rod: There you go, Chip! There were some nude scenes, after all.
Chip: I was looking more for actual giant breasts spilling out into a close-up!
Rod: You disappoint me, Chip. I have to remind myself sometimes that you’re only fourteen. Besides, this isn’t a Russ Meyer movie! At least I’ve heard Russ Meyer movies are the way you described. You know…maybe you just haven’t starved enough yet to appreciate a movie like this. (Rod uses this as a segue to eat of couple of Chip’s fries)
Chip: Order your own next time!
Rod: (Waiving off Chip’s complaint) So… What did you think of Monica Vitti?
Chip: Oh, the blonde? I liked her, I just wanted to see a little more of her. That reminds me, did I tell you about the time a couple of years ago when my dad took me to see The Reincarnation of Peter Proud?
Rod: No. Go on.
Chip: I didn’t realize before that you could show breasts in an R rated movie! Margot Kidder, that was who it was. They actually showed her boobs in the bathtub! And the blonde in that movie! When she took her top off...I felt my breath leave me for a moment. I remember looking for everyone else’s reaction in the theater. I wanted to shout aloud “Oh, me God, mateys! There be tits on the screen!”
Rod: (Laughing) Oh, a twelve-year old seeing his first set of ‘moving bosoms.’ What a sweet story.
Chip: Knock it off. If you continue to mock, I won’t share.
Rod: Okay. Okay. Speaking of stories. Did I ever tell you about the time my brother took a date to see the movie O Lucky Man!?
Chip: Ah, the great Nick again.
Rod: Anyway. After the movie ended, the two of them left the theater and she began pounding him with her umbrella, all the time cursing at him about how dare he take her to see such a weird movie.
Chip: I like that story. But do you have a point here?
Rod: The point is…people don’t want anything at the movies that are too different. They want Rocky. They want Star Wars. They want the music from Saturday Night Fever. My God, the next time I hear You Should Be Dancing, somebody is liable to get hurt!
Chip: Then what about movies like L’Avventura?
Rod: Probably a relic of the past, my friend. Think about some of the movies we’ve talked about over the past few years that were our favorites. The Godfather, The Last Detail, Papillion, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…
Chip: The Towering Inferno
Rod: Let’s leave that one out of the discussion for now so I can make my point.
Chip: If you do have a point to make, let’s try to get there soon.
Rod: I know a bit about movie history. Movies like the ones I just mentioned are the exception to the historical rule. We have been lucky enough to have grown up during a time when American movies actually began to be pretty good. But a quality movie can’t compete with something that appeals to the masses like a story about a fish that eats people.
Chip: I liked Jaws!
Rod: I liked Jaws, too. 1975 will always be the summer of Jaws, but I just have a bad feeling about the way movies are going.
Chip: Is that what Nick says?
Rod: You know I can have opinions independent from Nick. And what was the name of that big movie from this past summer?
Chip: You know it was Star Wars.
Rod: Right. It seems like every dumbass in our whole damn school can’t shut up about Star Wars. Good versus Evil boiled down to the basics for the simple-minded.
Chip: Don’t you think that’s a bit harsh?
Rod: Let me give you a quote from your typical Star Wars fan, Brice. This is Brice’s critique of Star Wars. Ahem ‘It was good. I like Star Wars because you don’t have to think about it. It’s just good!”
Chip: Pretty good Brice impersonation. But do you really think Brice is typical? Besides, he is the one with the cute girlfriend.
Rod: (angrily) Let me tell you something, Chip! Girls are just as stupid as most boys despite the power over us they possess. They are shallow. Brice plays on the football team. He can punt, or whatever the hell it is you do in football. That’s why Mary Margaret likes him. I used to think she had more depth. Guess I was the one who was naïve on that one.
Chip: Calm, down man! Let’s get back to your point. What you are saying is that you don’t think any movie with something subtle and profound to say can possibly compete with an intergalactic battle between good and evil with cute, fuzzy aliens and robots.
Rod: And with blinding special effects that makes moviegoers salivate as if they were a kitten following the path of a shining flashlight.
Chip: Special effects. You know, my favorite special effect is still how in the world they got the horse to speak on Mr. Ed.
Rod: Yeah. I’m still convinced Mr. Ed really talked.
Chip: I like simple special effects sometimes. Like that split screen scene from Pillow Talk.
Rod: Pillow Talk? You mean that Rock Hudson/Doris Day movie? Oh, Chip!
Chip: Yeah, I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal to have a simple split screen.
Rod: I don’t care about the split screen. The bigger issue is that you’re watching Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies during your spare time.
Chip: Let’s just drop it. Besides, Mr.Night of the Living Dead. At least my favorite movies aren’t about zombies.
Rod: Night of the Living Dead is not to be taken literally. It isn't really about zombies. It's a metaphor. It's about...it's about...life! You know, we’ve had this discussion before. And don’t start comparing something as simpleminded as Star Wars or as 'frou frou' as Pilow Talk to Night of the Living Dead!
Chip: Whatever you say, Rod. I think my ride's here.
Rod: All right, Chip. Oh, I see that next week Emory is going to be showing The 400 Blows. Interested?
Chip: But isn’t Close Encounters opening next weekend?
Rod: Yeah, that’s right. I admit I did want to see that one. I'll go. But if the aliens are too cuddly, I promise you I’m taking a walk! I'm going to march right out of that damn theater!
(Chip waves as he departs before Rod helps himself to Chip’s leftover French Fries.)
IN OUR NEXT EPISODE, CHIP AND ROD ATTEND A SCREENING OF NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD!