Monday, August 16, 2004

salam cinema

Another post long overdue. Again, work has been hellish, but fun. More challenge. More hearings, more trials coming up. It should get more interesting in the next few months. But, enough of work. I saw The Nutty Professor last week. The original one, written, directed by and starring Jerry Lewis. It wasn't that funny. In fact, as a comedy, I think it failed most of the time. Only managed to wring 3 or 4 hard laughs out of me. But strangely, as 'cinema', I think it's pretty good!!

Now why would I say that? One reason why I checked it out was that Jean-Luc Godard put it in his list of the Top 10 films of the year when it came out. And if I'm not mistaken, that list included people like Robert Bresson, Howard Hawks and Alain Resnais. If you check Jonathan Rosenbaum's 100 most important American films list, you'll also find The Nutty Professor there, along with works such as The Wrong Man, Pickup On South Street and The Phenix City Story. Now these are no light company to be with.

So I checked it out, and found that 'the clown', Mr Jerry Lewis, might have had higher aspirations than we think he's capable of. The comedy is of course quite a lot of shots of him pulling faces, and that is definitely NOT funny. But the film has this unexpected dramatic tone which is frankly quite disturbing, especially the whole thing about the split personality. Never mind that, but the most outstanding thing about it is the many moments that a simple little shot, or simply an elaborate one, left my jaw on the floor admiring the care and thought put into achieving them. Like Truffaut once said, normally it's hard to find even one outstanding moment of invention in a whole film. But in The Nutty Professor, you'll find quite a few. Believe me.

My only complaint - after about 2/3 into the film, Mr Lewis seemed to run out of ideas visually and things just looked normal.

However, if you do want to check it out, just remember that it is a 'bad movie'. Only, quite illogically, it somehow turned out to be 'good cinema'. Talk about oxymorons!!
Rating: Movie = 4 out of 10; Cinema = 7 out of 10

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