Movie Quote of the Day – Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, 1975 (dir. Chantal Akerman)
Jeanne: You’re always reading, just like your father.
Sylvain: I know. You already told me. How did you meet my father?
Jeanne: Why do you ask that now?
Sylvain: I just read the word, “miracle,” and Aunt Fernande always said it was a miracle she met Jack.
Jeanne: Yes, he came in ’44 to liberate us. They tossed chewing gum and chocolates at us, and we threw flowers to them. I met your father after the Americans had left. I was living with my aunts, because my parents were dead. I went to the Bois de la Cambre with a girlfriend one Saturday. I don’t remember the weather. She knew him. You know who I mean. I’ve shown you her picture. So we began seeing each other. I was working as a billing clerk for horrible pay. Life with my aunts was dull. I didn’t feel like getting married, but it seemed to be “the thing to do,” as they say. My aunts kept saying, “He’s nice. He’s got money. He’ll make you happy.” But I still couldn’t decide. But I really wanted a life of my own, and a child. Then his business suddenly hit the rocks, so I married him. Things like that happened after the war. My aunts had changed their minds. They said a pretty girl like me could do better and find a man who’d give me a good life. They said he was ugly and so on, but I didn’t listen.
Sylvain: If he was ugly, did you want to make love with him?
Jeanne: Ugly or not, it wasn’t all that important. Besides, “making love,” as you call it, is merely a detail. And I had you. And he wasn’t as ugly as all that.
Sylvain: Would you want to remarry?
Jeanne: No. Get used to someone else?
Sylvain: I mean someone you love.
Jeanne: Oh, you know. . .
Sylvain: Well, if I were a woman, I could never make love with someone I wasn’t deeply in love with.
Jeanne: How could you know? You’re not a woman.
Pasqualino: I appeal to the ladies. I used to appeal to them. The fact is without any exaggeration I haven’t looked at the mirror in years. And since I know from the beginning that I’ve always been an ugly man I’ll admit it’s been bothering me. How have I turned out? My teeth have become loose. I can’t keep my eyes open. My ass has dropped. Look at me and tell me honestly. How do I look?
Francesco: Awful, to be quite honest.
Gitl: Goodbye. Go in good health.
Bernstein: Goodbye to the boy.
Gitl: May you have a boy of your own one day.
Bernstein: From your mouth to God’s ear. To have a son, a man must have a wife.
Gitl: A wife you can get.
Bernstein: To whom would that I ask? What if she would say no?
Gitl: What if she would say yes?
Firstly, apologies for the unintended hiatus of this feature. It should be back in full force for the rest of the year. This week I’m going to take a brief look at Joan Micklin Silver’s Hester Street, which earned Carol Kane a Best Actress Oscar nomination in 1975.
Kathy: You. . .you have a lot of very fine qualities. But. . .
Joe Turner: What fine qualities?
Kathy: You have good eyes. Not kind, but they don’t lie, and they don’t look away much, and they don’t miss anything. I could use eyes like that.
Joe Turner: But you’re overdue in Vermont. Is he a tough guy?
Kathy: He’s pretty tough.
Joe Turner: What will he do?
Kathy: Understand, probably.
Joe Turner: Boy. That is tough.
I think the first time I saw this film was on a hot August afternoon. I do know it was sometime in 2008 because it was the summer I moved to San Francisco the first time and I did a lot of Netflixing that summer. It was right around the same time I saw Sunset Blvd. for the first time. It was a good summer. This is a film just chock full of talent and energy and heart and soul and gravity and gaiety. It’s got everything. If you Google around, you can read about the events on which it was based; I won’t be discussing them here. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning one: Best Film Editing (for Dede Allen, who was nominated for threes Oscars, though she never won and was in and of herself a ig player in the Hollywood New Wave), Best Supporting Actor Chris Sarandon, Best Actor Al Pacino, Best Original Screenplay Frank Pierson (won; more on this in a bit), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Barry Lyndon, Jaws, Nashville and winner One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There will be many spoilers after the cut.
Wade: What’s the matter with you? Ain’t you gonna talk to me? Did it go all right?
Sueleen Gay: Oh, Wade.
Sueleen Gay: I had to do me a striptease tonight in front of all those men. . .in order to get to sing at the Parthenon with Barbara Jean.
Wade: Oh, shit, Sueleen, I. . .That’s dreadful! That’s terrible, girl! I mean. . .I don’t know how to tell you this, but I been meanin’ to. . .you can’t sing. You may as well face the fact you cannot sing. You ain’t never gon’ be no star. I wish you’d give it up. They gon’ kill ya. They gon’ tear your heart out if you keep on. They gon’ walk on your soul, girl.
Sueleen Gay: What are you talkin’ about?
Wade: You can’t sing. Do you understand that?
Sueleen Gay: Yeah? You wanna make a bet? You wanna come to the Parthenon and watch me sing with Barbara Jean?
Wade: I am leavin’ for Detroit Wednesday.
Sueleen Gay: You just come and watch, Wade.
Wade: I’m leavin’ for Detroit, and if you wanna go you just come on. They gonna kill you in this town.
Sueleen Gay: Well, you come and see.
Wade: They gon’ use you. You know that.
Sueleen Gay: Bye, Wade.
Wade: Dumb bitch. I don’t know why I stick around. She just makes me so goddamn mad I could spit.
Lord Bullingdon: Don’t you think he fits my shoes very well Your Ladyship? Dear child, what a pity it is I am not dead, for your sake. The Lyndons would then have a worthy representative and enjoy all the benefits of the illustrious blood of the Barrys of Barryville. Would they not… Mr. Redmond Barry?
Lady Lyndon: From the way I love this child my lord, you ought to know how I would have loved his elder brother had he proved worthy of any mother’s affection.
Lord Bullingdon: Madam! I have born as long as mortal could endure the ill-treatment of the insolent Irish upstart whom you’ve taken into your bed. It is not only the lowness of his birth and the general brutality of his manners which disgusts me, but the shameful nature of his conduct towards Your Ladyship. His brutal and un-gentleman-like behavior, his open infidelity, his shameless robberies and swindling of my property, and yours. And as I cannot personally chastise this low-bred ruffian, and as I cannot bear to witness his treatment of you and loathe his horrible society as if it were the plague; I have decided to leave my home and never return, at least during his detested life or during my own.
Boris: The question is: have I learned anything about life? Only that… only that human beings are divided into mind and body. The mind embraces all the nobler aspirations, like poetry and philosophy, but the body has all the fun. The important thing, I think, is not to be bitter. You know, if it turns out that there IS a God, I don’t think that He’s evil. I think that the worst you can say about Him is that, basically, He’s an underachiever. After all, you know, there are worse things in life than death. I mean, if you’ve ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman, you know exactly what I mean. The key here, I think, is to… to not think of death as an end, but think of it more as a very effective way of cutting down on your expenses. Regarding love, heh, you know, what can you say? It’s not the quantity of your sexual relations that count. It’s the quality. On the other hand, if the quantity drops below once every eight months, I would definitely look into it. Well, that’s about it for me folks. Goodbye.
Joanna Eberhart: Am I crazy? Aren’t they good? Please say something. I don’t care. No, I do care. Don’t say anything bad.
Mr. Atkinson: These are, um, really quite good.
Joanna Eberhart: You’re not just saying that be cause you’re frightened I, I might be a crazy lady?
Mr. Atkinson: Clearly you are a crazy lady, but clearly again, these are nice.
Joanna Eberhart: Wait a minute. You said ‘Good’. ‘Really quite good’ you said. ‘Good’ is better than ‘nice’. You’re not changing your mind, are you?
Mr. Atkinson: No, the results are lovely. Don’t get upset again. ‘Lovely’ is better than ‘good’. But, um, what fascinates me is: What is it you want from it all? Do you know?
Joanna Eberhart: I want – somewhere, someday, someone to look at something and say ‘Hey, that reminds me of an Ingalls’. ‘Ingalls’ was my maiden name. I guess I want to be remembered.
Mr. Atkinson: Yes, don’t we all?