Last summer I bought Chantal Akerman in the 1970s from Criterion and I’ve been slowly watching my way through it. La Chambre, Hôtel Monterey and News From Home (which I will also write about soon), are all very interesting films, that I believe lie somewhere between “documentary” and “experimental.” They were all made while Akerman was living in NYC “like a vagabond” – her words. She was 21 and interested in art and life and from these films we see just what aspects of life intrigued her at the time.
Lenny Cantrow: I don’t mind saying, this is one of the finest meals that I’ve ever had.
Mrs. Corcoran: Oh, thank you Leonard. It’s simple, you know. Mr. Corcoran doesn’t really care for fancy food. Though, I imagine you’ve tried just about every exotic dish in New York.
Lenny Cantrow: Exactly. See, that’s the trouble, it’s exotic, but it’s not honest. I mean, it’s fancy, but it’s not real. I mean, this is honest food. There’s no lying in that beef. There’s no insincerity in those potatoes. There’s no deceit in the cauliflower. This is a totally honest meal. You don’t know what a pleasure it in this day and age to sit down and eat a meal you can believe in.
Movie Quote of the Day – Ultimo tango a Parigi (Last Tango in Paris), 1972 (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)
Nancy: I want a new life.I want to go skiing. I want to go dancing. I want to go to the beach. I want to ride through Muir on a motorcycle. All we ever do is see movies.
Allan: Yeah, well I write for a film magazine. They send me. Besides, I happen to like movies.
Nancy: You like movies because you’re one of life’s great watchers. I’m not like that. I’m a doer. I want to live. I want to participate. We never laugh together.
Allan: How can you say that? I don’t know about you, but I am constantly laughing. I chuckle, I giggle, I guffaw, occasionally.
Caesar: Your servant. Your creature. Your animal!
Breck: But I saw you die.
Caesar: The King is dead. Long live the King! Tell me Breck, before you die – how do we differ from the dogs and cats that you and your kind used to love? Why did you turn us from pets into slaves?
Breck: Because your kind were once our ancestors. Because man was born of apes, and there’s still an ape curled up inside of every man. You’re the beast in us that we have to whip into submission. You’re the savage that we need to shackle in chains. You taint us, Caesar. You poison our guts. When we hate you, we’re hating the dark side of ourselves.
The first time I saw this film was during TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar in 2011 and a few days ago I gave it a much deserved re-watch. I think I liked it even more on this second viewing. There is a new Blu-ray edition coming from Warner Brothers, which I will be reviewing later this week. Cabaret holds the record for most Oscar wins (eight!) without winning Best Picture. I would be hard-pressed to choose between this film and The Godfather, too. Pretty much every year in the 70s had too many great, important, monumental and insanely entertaining pieces of cinema. In the end, I think the films’s awards are not as important as the impact of the films themselves. That said, Cabaret‘s ten Academy Award nominations were: Best Song Score or Adaptation Score (this category doesn’t exist anymore, won), Best Cinematography (won), Best Editing (won), Best Sound (won), Best Art Direction (won), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor Joel Grey (won), Best Actress Liza Minnelli (won), Best Director (won) and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Deliverance, The Emigrants, Sounder and winner The Godfather.