Friday, September 2, 2011

"La Vie En Rose" & The Art House...

I finally popped a DVD in the player that I got awhile ago from Netflix, but kept forgetting about.  "La Vie En Rose" is a 2007 bio-pic about Edith Piaf.  I added it to my "must watch" list after Marion Cotillard won an Oscar for portraying the famous french singer.

(Edith Piaf)

Going into the film, I knew who Piaf was with a familiarity with a bit of her work.  Aside from that, I knew nothing about her life story.  True I forgot that I had the movie lying around, but I WAS interested in seeing the film.  Interested in learning more about her.  It is a subtitled picture, but subtitles don't bother me.  I actually prefer subtitles on a foreign film.  In most cases dubbed voices take so much of the heart and soul away from a film.  Having the actors actual voice keeps the energy and emotion intact.

(Cotillard as Piaf)

The film was beautifully shot, and quite dark.  Yes, the subject matter had it's dark elements...being abandoned by a father and mother to be raised by a grandmother who is the madam of a brothel...but it was also dark from a lighting angle.  Trying to concentrate and keep up with what was happening on the dark screen in addition to reading subtitles that I was feeling jipped by (the french dialogue was pouring off the screen and the subtitles seemed edited down) got pretty old rather quickly.  The directing/editing style also kept things jumping around from her childhood to her adulthood, and it felt very choppy and continuity was lost for me.  I like to sit back and experience a film, to be drawn in.  "La Vie En Rose" just turned into too much work to watch.  Very disappointing.  I so wanted to immerse myself in a good film about a woman I wanted to learn more about, and I ended up only sticking it out through the first thirty minutes or so.

Guess it's time to turn to the page and look for a good biography about Ms. Piaf.

It was after watching (what I could of) "La Vie En Rose" that I started thinking...thinking about foreign and independent film.  

(Closed many years ago, the "Peachtree Art Theater" was located on Peachtree Street.)

These days, the world of the Indie film is bigger in that it has more of a voice and a popularity than it once did.  Yes, that is my opinion, but it is based on the obvious. There are channels devoted to it.  Festivals devoted to it.  Indie film has become more mainstream.  It has a bigger voice than it ever did, and the major studios are constantly being given a run for their money by lower budget films.  Lower budget doesn't mean lower standards or less story, and well known actors seem to be gravitating to these projects for more challenge and risk.  Movie makers don't necessarily have to go through a major studio to get their film made.  Cable television seems to have knocked down the wall that obscured that section of film making from the eyes of a lot of movie watchers.  The 'small' film maker has power now.

("The 10th Street Theater" was opened in the early 1960's; it started as an art house theater, but at some point started showing porn did gain renown for showing the films of Russ Myer; it closed it's doors in 1971.)

Thinking about the subject of independent and foreign films made me think of my teenage years in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was the 1970's and early 1980's.  A time of the art house theater.  My mother was a painter.  She enjoyed going to art festivals, and had worked in a couple of art galleries/shops.  She knew quite a few artists, and had quite an eclectic group of friends.  In many ways her life shaped mine, and an interest in checking out films at the local art house theater is something I picked up.  Usually much smaller than mainstream theaters, art house theaters always introduced me to films that were...different.  I have memories of seeing the french film "Subway" (1985) starring Isabelle Adjani, and Christopher Lambert;  my first John Sayles experience, "The Brother From Another Planet" (1984), starring Joe Morton; the film that introduced me to Colin Firth and Rupert Everett, "Another Country" (1984) list could go on, and further back in time...I think you get the picture.  Art house theaters were my only real opportunity to see a lot of the films I saw.  Classic film was included, as well.  In those days, cable television was far from what it is today.  I didn't have access to IFC.  I had art house theaters.

("Lowe's Tara Theater" - an art house theater on Cheshirebridge Road in Atlanta, 
it's still going strong.)

Over the years I have discovered the occasional small, art house variety theater.  There was one around the corner from an entertainment company I worked for in Los Angeles called the NuArt.  They not only showed more obscure films there, they had midnight movies, as well (to this day they have midnight showings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"... another thing I love about the smaller theaters).  Directors like David Lynch and Roger Waters got their start by getting their movies shown at midnight movies.  Both popular directors now, but back then they were known for midnight movie/art house films.

I still enjoy watching the lesser known films out there.  Theater going has pretty much become a thing of the past for me as it's just gotten too expensive, and most of the movies that come out I just wait to see on DVD.  There is just so much garbage produced that it's the only way I won't end up feeling like I have been ripped off.  Is there an art house variety theater left in Savannah (if there ever was one)?  Don't know, but this post is inspiring me to check.  That is really the only thing that would get me back into a theater seat...

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