Tag Archives: A Streetcar Named Desire

Strange Bedfellows.

Last week, my parents discovered they had bed bugs.  In their bed.  Only their bed.  I wasn’t bitten up and my brother wasn’t bitten up; just Steve and Barbara.  They don’t know how it happened.  They’re both rather fastidious people.

On Monday morning my mom had someone spray the house with all-natural, yet highly allergenic whatnot in order to kill the little bastard bed bugs.  The night before the insurgence, my mom brought a gray suitcase into my room and dropped it on my sofa.

“Ya may wanna pick up the stuff piled next to your bed,” she said.  “They’re gonna be spraying your carpet.”

I took her suggestion.  The suitcase is 3/4 full.  Its contents?  A veritable cornucopia of Dorky.

I shall now list for you the “stuff piled next to my bed” that has now been transferred to a gray suitcase on top of my sofa.

1. The Godfather Trilogy DVD Collection. 

Fully remastered.  The bouquet Johnny Fontaine sends to Don Corleone is so damn COLORFUL.

2. A Bag of Crackers

My mom brought this to me the night I came home from work after spending nearly two hours in the nurse’s office battling dehydration and low blood sugar.  Mom had also brought me soup, but I kept the crackers in case I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.  Rather, still feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.

3. A Burned DVD copy of A Streetcar Named Desire

No one, but NO ONE, is sexier than Marlon Brando in his skin tight t-shirt.  I fell asleep to this movie every night for a good six months.

4. The Complete Works of Arthur Rimbaud

It has the English translations and the original French.  I memorized “Sensation.”  I was determined to memorize it in French, too.  I still haven’t done that.  I bought the book last October.  Damn.

5. An Illustrated Copy of The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle

Some people keep The Bible by their beds.  And so do I.

6. A Green Journal with a Butterfly on the Cover That I Bought at Logos Bookstore in Santa Cruz, CA

Page One:

2-20-11

In Santa Cruz for the weekend.  This paper is incredible.  I can’t tell if the guy next to me is cute. Ya know, this bar isn’t ideal for writing.  Well, the vibe is, but the position I’m in is slightly uncomfortable.  I saw an absolutely beautiful guy downtown.  He was playing guitar and singing his heart out.  He looked and sounded so gorgeous. 

7. The Favorite Game by Leonard Cohen

Picked this up last November.  I found it on eBay.  The last time I picked it up was one day in December when I was sitting in the waiting room of an Urgent Care in Westlake Village waiting to talk to a doctor about a bizarre ailment I was convinced was killing me.  It didn’t kill me, and I never finished this book.

8. Planet News by Allen Ginsberg

I bought this book of poetry in San Francisco.  I was there last February for five or six days.  I spent my first day there walking around North Beach.  After having a few beers at Cafe Vesuvio I wandered over to The Beat Museum to ask if they had copies of the poems I submitted to them for a poetry contest they held back in 2007.  They didn’t have copies, but the guy behind the counter searched the internet archives for a good twenty minutes trying to help me out.  I felt kinda guilty for making him look, so I bought something.

9. A Black, Ringed Journal My Parents Bought for Me at Citylights Books When I Was 19

The opening lines of “HOWL” are printed on the front cover.

Page One:

3-06-06

When I get angry I feel my shoulder blade muscles tense up and form a knot that hurts for days.

I can feel it pinching back there whenever I try to write

or type

or just fucking hold a book.

I once tried to work out the knot by wearing Icy-Hot bandages at night

But they just soothed the area around the hubbub of angst.*

I’d peel the bandage off in the morning and my skin would

smell like chemicals.

God knows what kind of cancer it’ll give me.

Maybe the doctors will prescribe me some pot.

Then I could sell it on the streets and use the money to hire a masseuse. 

(*I feel like kicking my own ass for “hubbub of angst.”)

10. Light Blue Journal I Bought from Paper Source in Santa Cruz, CA

I’m not sharing Page One.  I can’t.  I will, however, reveal that it was written on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 12:54pm.

It was interesting to read Page One of this cute little unfinished journal, because it’s my retelling of the beginning of what turned out to be a very frustrating, rather sad story.  It was all so seemingly innocent at the time, but now that I’m looking at these scribbled words written by the 22-year-old version of myself, it’s obvious that this very frustrating period of my life left a rather sad impression on my ability to trust people.  Perfectly sweet people.

Perfectly sweet male people.

That Fucker.

11. A “One Line A Day: Five Year Memory” Journal from Barnes and Noble

I am so bad at keeping up with this thing.  There is literally just enough space to write one sentence per day.  I thought it seemed interesting.  I haven’t written any memories in it since January 9, 2012.  I wrote, “First unemployed Monday.”  That was a fun day, actually.  Mom and I went to the zoo.

12.  A Tennessee Williams Collection

Includes Summer and Smoke, Orpheus Descending, Suddenly Last Summer, and Period of Adjustment.  It also includes a personal essay by Tennessee that spoke to me so profoundly the first time I read it that I literally threw the book across the room.

So much for the past and present.  The future is called “perhaps,” which is the only possible thing to call the future.  And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.

13. Perfection by Julie Metz

A memoir I had to read for my writing group.  I was intrigued for the first few chapters, but the whole thing became so damn indulgent after a certain point that by the end I found the narrator annoying and stupid.  I must take great care to never become an annoying, stupid narrator.

14. Another Tennessee Williams Collection

This one includes Battle of Angels, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire.  I read this one on a flight from JFK to LAX.  Despite having watched A Streetcar Named Desire a dozen fucking times, I still teared up while I was reading it.  Tennessee may be damn easy to lampoon, but he’s also really fucking hard to beat.

15. The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan

There are sex scenes in books that make you want to have sex, but not often do you come across sex scenes in books that make you want to cry.  Cry for what?  I don’t know.  Nostalgia?  Longing?  Loneliness?  Wishing and hoping that somewhere out there someone remembers you and your body just like Richard Brautigan saw this girl and her body…

It’s a hard decision whether to start at the top or the bottom of a girl.  With Vida I just didn’t know where to begin.  It was really a problem.

After she reached up awkwardly and put my face in a small container which was her hands and kissed me quietly again and again, I had to start somewhere.

She stared up at me all the time, her eyes never leaving me as if they were an airfield.

I changed the container and her face became a flower in my hands.  I slowly let my hands drift down her face while I kissed her and then further down her neck to her shoulders.

I could see the future being moved in her mind while I arrived at the boundaries of her bosom.  Her breasts were so large, so perfectly formed under her sweater that my stomach was standing on a step-ladder when I touched them for the first time.

Her eyes never left me and I could see in her eyes the act of my touching her breasts.  It was like brief blue lightning.

I was almost hesitant in a librarian sort of way.

“I promise,” she said, reaching up and awkwardly pressing my hands harder against her breasts.  She of course had no idea what that did to me.  The step-ladder started swirling.

She kissed me again, but this time with her tongue.  Her tongue slid past my tongue like a piece of hot glass.

16. A Light Blue Guitar Pick from Amoeba Music in Berkely, CA.

I’ve now been to all three Amoebas.  The one in Hollywood is The Best.

17. Jason Webley’s Only Just Beginning

This is his favorite album of his.  This is also my favorite album of his.  It’s just his best album of his.  “Music That Puts Everything Together” brings me to my knees.  Oh Jesus, and “Map.”  And “Icarus.”  And “With.”  And “Coda.”

Of course they’re all better live.  I’m damn lucky that I know that firsthand.  Jason Webley live is more life affirming than…anything, really.  Except maybe Leonard Cohen live.  Speaking of which…

18. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen

This is a Hell of a novel.  There is a scene where two men — The Narrator and his friend, F. — are driving at top speed in F.’s car down a dark highway.  F. is pleasuring himself while he drives.

F., put it back.  Enough is enough.

Never put it back when it gets like this.

My God, I’ve never seen you so big!  What’s going on in your mind?  What are you thinking of?  Please teach me how to do it.  Can I hold it?

No!  This is between me and God.

Who but Leonard Fucking Cohen would come up with “This is between me and God”?

I had Jason Webley sign my copy.  I knew he was a Leonard Cohen fan and I wanted to impress him with my dorkiness.  Because, ya know, traveling to Seattle to catch his 11-11-11 show wasn’t dorky enough.

Stephanie

I’m glad I remember your name.

And I’m glad that you came so far for my concert.

And I’m glad that you like this book.

♥ jason

11-11-11

approximately

18. And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

Nick, I love you with all my heart and soul, but this novel is no Beautiful Losers.

19. Scattered Poems by Jack Kerouac

Gotta love a poem called “Pull My Daisy.”

20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, light of my life.  Fire of my loins.

‘Nuff said.

21. A DVD Copy of the Remake of Alfie Starring Jude Law

I bought this from the Blockbuster in Westlake right before the damn thing closed down for good.  Ya know what?  This is a terrible movie.  It is.  But damn, I really get a kick out of it.  It’s so atrocious it’s funny and Jude Law is just POSING the whole Goddamn time, which is all at once hilarious and fucking hot.  He’s so hot I wanna punch him in the face.

22. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz

An award-winning play my mom read earlier this year that she insisted I read as well.  Still haven’t gotten around to doing that.

23. Writing the Memoir: from Truth to Art by Judith Barrington

I have a lot to say about this book, but right now I am completely distracted by the fact that the author’s last name is Barrington.  I purchased this book before that last name became such a significant part of my life.  Co-workers of mine who are reading this, I’m sorry.

24. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Patti Smith is really into this book.  I found a copy of it on my mom’s bookshelf on a rainy day last November.  I read the first page, and then I decided to go buy a ukulele.

I attempted to make a video for you of me playing the ukulele, but my mom interrupted when she came in to ask me if I wanted anything from Lassen’s.

25. A Blue and Black Leather-bound Journal Given to Me by My High School Journalism Teacher

Page One is humiliating.

Here’s something from Page 12:

12:00am August 10, 2005 Wednesday

I bought a CD today.  I’m listening to it now.  It feels great.  Not as great as kissing.  Music makes me think of kissing — probably because I sometimes kiss to music.

26. A DVD Copy of The Graduate

Two nights before I moved back to my parents’s house after living in Santa Cruz for five years, I downloaded this movie and bought a bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon.  At this point, I had already moved 99% of my furniture out of my apartment.  All I had was my twin-sized mattress, which was, at that point, pathetically sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  I sat on my pathetic mattress, drank my pathetic cheap wine, and watched Benjamin Braddock try his best not to be pathetic.  I cried a lot.

27. A DVD Copy of The Road to God Knows Where

Behind the scenes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds touring the United States after Tender Prey was released.  They’re all so young and beautiful.  I fall asleep to this one a lot.  Nick is such a jerk to journalists, but not in a Bob Dylan in Don’t Look Back kind of way.  All the journalists that appear in this movie are such idiots that it really isn’t Nick’s fault that he comes off as so smart and so snide.  The people interviewing him really have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.

28.  A DVD Copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I will defend this movie until the end of time.  If, someday, I find myself with some spare time and some spare money (by the way, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), I plan on writing an in-depth analysis of all four (or, by then, 15) Pirates films.  No one will publish it and no one will read it, so I’ll probably just send the manusctipt to Johnny Depp and wait for his reaction.  Maybe I’ll get to become one of his various best friends and I’ll start getting invitations to parties at Keith Richards’s house.

29. A DVD Copy of The Ruling Class

Just watch it.

30. The Complete Fawlty Towers

This show never got boring or bad because the British know when it’s time for a television show to end.  There are only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers, but they are all perfect.

31. A DVD Copy of Blue Velvet

I watched this not too long ago.  I had a 103 degree fever and I was sitting on the couch in my empty house shivering and sniffling and coughing.

A video is worth 1,000 words:

32. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live DVD: God Is in the House

It’s pretty good, but Warren Ellis had joined the band by this point, and it’s upsetting to watch Nick try to divvy up his affection between Warren and Blixa.  And Blixa just looks BORED out of his mind, even during “The Carny.”  It saddens me.

33. A DVD Copy of The Darjeeling Limited

I can’t listen to people criticize Wes Andseron.  It’s a sin.

34. A DVD Copy of If….

My Malcolm McDowell obsession was one of the best things to ever happen to me.  He made a lot of crap movies, but it doesn’t matter, because he also made If….

This movie should be shown to everyone everywhere.  Politicians should watch and be warned.

35.  The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

I read two chapters of this self-help book in May right before the training period for my new job began.  I had been diagnosing myself with various terminal illnesses every day for two weeks and I was losing my Goddamn mind.  I had been unemployed since January and I was at my absolute wit’s end.  Two chapters of this thing had me back to normal.  (As in, I was suddenly cured of my lung cancer, throat cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease.)

36. A DVD Copy of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live at Brixton Academy, London Thursday, November 11 2004

As long as I can shut my bedroom door, sit down by myself and watch this shit, then I can never really lose sight of the fact that my life is rather good.  And that I’m a bad motherfucker.

So, yeah.  I’m thinkin’ I’ll just put all this stuff back where I found it — piled up next to my bed.

 

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L’Amour.

                                                                                                          

It physically pains me to know that I’ll never get to sleep with Marlon Brando. I’ve lusted after many unattainable celebrities in my life, but Brando isn’t just any unattainable celebrity — he’s Brando. And he’s dead.


The most painful aspect of my predicament is that I know he would have taken me to his bed if I had been around to make advances. He was a self-proclaimed sex addict — if you made him an offer, he wouldn’t refuse. Of course, he’d only allow a woman to stay for two, maybe three nights in a row before he asked her to leave so he could “be alone,” IE: call another broad. This sort of bargain does not typically appeal to me, but a fling with Brando would be anything but typical. In fact, those two or three days would be the best damn days ever, especially if they took place before Brando reached 200+ pounds. We’d stay in bed eating ice-cream and popping Valium. He’d entertain me by playing his bongo drums or reciting Shakespeare. We’d hang out with Tim, his pet ocelot who knew how to use the toilet. We’d sing old songs at the top of our lungs. We’d dance. We’d talk about global issues and about how corporate fat cats were destroying the environment. We’d make love. We’d eat more ice- cream.


I find it interesting that despite being considered one of the greatest actors of all time (if not TheGreatest, until Meryl Streep kicks the bucket), Brando is only associated with a handful of classic films. Because this is my blog, I am going to go ahead and say that those films are (a) The Godfather, (b) On The Waterfront, and (c) A Streetcar Named Desire.


Only three films? Well, yeah, actually. Now, I’m not saying that these are the only films in which Brando is brilliant, because he’s brilliant in everything. I’ve simply listed his most iconic films. For example,just because his role in Mutiny on the Bounty isn’t as famous as his role in The Godfather, that does not mean it was not an astounding performance. Apocalypse Now, anyone?I first saw that movie in my film appreciation class in 12th grade. We watched it on a huge projector screen in a very dark room. George W. Bush had been re-elected six months earlier, and the terror (rather, “The Horror,”) of the Iraq War rarely left my mind. After watching this scene, it took me several minutes before I could formulate sentences:









Furthermore, Brando wasn’t exactly Lawrence Olivier when it came to performing Shakespeare, but did you seeJulius Caesar? Not only was Brando a huge Hollywood star at that point, he was a Hollywood hottie. Ya think the hottest hottie in Hollywood today could play Mark Antony? Leo’s great, but remember his Romeo?Brad’s hunky, but remember his Achilles? Robert Downey Jr would just be Tony Stark in a toga; Johnny Depp would insist on painting himself blue.










And have you seen THIS? This is, as young kids say today, full of win.









I’m not rambling. This is all very important.


All right. So even if you haven’t seen The Godfather, hearing the movie title most likely inspires you to think of a puffy old dude holding a cat. You may even be able to do a botched Don Corleone impression.










Haven’t seen On the Waterfront? You really should. At any rate, you’ve still heard someone say, “I coulda been a contender” (pronounced con-ten-deh).










No Streetcar? No problem. Does, “STELLAAAAAAA!!!” ring any bells?












“Steff, what are your favorite Brando films?” Gee. My favorites? I’d have to say The Godfather (funny accent), On the Waterfront (“contendeh”), A Streetcar Named Desire (“STELLA!”), and one more film which, in my personal opinion, is one of the best films of the 1970’s (and if it’s one of the best of the 1970’s, it’s one of the best ever made), Last Tango in Paris. What image does that movie usually conjure in a person’s mind? The scene that Last Tango is infamous for may be only half as well known as the “I coulda been a contender” monologue, but to the people who have seen the film, the words “Go get the butter” are quite significant.


Before I proceed, I have to say that while I LOVE this film, and while I believe that it is a work of art and not pornography, I must clarify that I would never show Last Tango to anyone who hasn’t seen worse. For example, while browsing through a Barnes and Noble with my Yia-yia (Greek grandma) last month, I picked up a copy of Last Tango on DVD so I could examine the price. My Yia-yia spent the next several minutes trying to convince me that we should watch it together. I let her know that that was not going to happen. “Is it too risqué?” she asked, grinning deviously. “It’s beyond risqué,” I said. My Yia-yia didn’t grow up during a time when you could type “tits” in to Google and get 45,600,000 results in 0.19 seconds. (Examine that sentence for a moment.) She has definitely not “seen worse.” I would also never show Last Tango to someone who wasn’t at least somewhat of a film enthusiast, or to someone who had zero interest in acting. If a person were to name Transformers, Eat, Pray, Love, or Talladega Nights as his or her favorite movie, the next words out of my mouth would not be, “Then you have to see Last Tango.” While I, Stephanie Callas, may possess the ability to watch the infamous Butter Scene and only focus on how great Brando’s dialogue is, I absolutely understand how other people could find the scene repulsive and upsetting. That being said, I am about to tell you why I, personally, think Last Tango is one of the most romantic films I have ever seen. If my writing inspires you to go out and find a copy of the film, that’s great. If you do a little research on your own and determine that you’d rather skip it, that’s fine, too. I get it.


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, allow me to be frank: the romantic movies of today totally suck. They suck, and they’re all the same. There’s a formula out there that’s been used so many times that I don’t even have to see these Goddamn movies to know exactly what happens in them: there’s a young woman who is on her cell phone all the time who meets a young man who likes beer and boobs and they bicker until they finally kiss at the one hour mark and then the girl goes to visit him the next day and he’s being whipped with a dead fish by a beautiful blonde woman but he can “explain everything” but the young woman runs away crying and then in the last ten minutes the young man charters a plane and jumps out of it and lands on the young woman’s roof and his parachute says “I LOVE YOU” and he sings “The Way You Look Tonight” with the Count Basie Orchestra in the background and all is right with the fucking world.


Did I miss anything?


I’m tired of female protagonists who are all supposed to be tight-assed workaholics who only learn how to enjoy life after meeting happy-go-lucky Matthew McConaughey. I’m tired of male love interests who have no redeeming qualities whatsoever until they start to show tenderness during some bullshit Now-They’re-In-Love-Montage. I’m tired of flawless hair and supernatural abs. I’m tired of bleached teeth and fake tans. I’m tired of bad soundtracks. I’m even tired of happy endings. Thankfully, Last Tango features none of these things.


The movie is about 20 year old Jeanne, a beautiful Parisienne, who has a passionate love affair with Paul, an American ex-patriot whose wife has just committed suicide. Paul and Jeanne promise each other that their affair will remain completely anonymous — they won’t even tell each other their names. This arrangement works out fine in the beginning, but soon their feelings for each other grow strong. As Jeanne falls in love with Paul, she yearns to tell him more and more about herself, as well as learn more about him. At the same time, Paul’s behavior spirals out of control as he struggles not only to make sense of his love for Jeanne, but also to cope with his wife’s suicide. There are many ups and downs as Jeanne realizes she is in love with a man who does not want to know her at all. Meanwhile, Paul makes every attempt to push Jeanne away, but what he really wants is to be close to her. (Raise your hand if you’ve experienced THAT.) The sadness is believable, the frustration is palpable, the sex is truthful, and the pillow talk is hauntingly familiar. The last ten minutes of the movie, while not at all happy, are absolutely beautiful. Mind-blowingly beautiful.


The sex is “truthful,” eh?


Jeanne and Paul’s first sexual encounter takes place while the two of them are looking at an apartment for rent. After an unremarkable conversation (“So, do you like the apartment?” “I don’t know. Are you going to rent it?” and so on), Paul shuts the door, walks over to Jeanne, throws her hat across the room, takes her in his arms, and lovingly carries her to the…wall. They make love like maniacs. Paul doesn’t bother removing any of Jeanne’s clothes — he simply rips the crotch of her tights. He remains fully clothed as well — his long, camel-colored coat hides everything. Jeanne wraps her legs around Paul’s waist, and they make love standing up. This first encounter, while romantically fantastic (a chance meeting with a stranger you proceed to screw against a wall of an apartment in PARIS), is actually quite realistic. While Maria Schneider, the actress who plays Jeanne, is rather petite in the film, Brando has a difficult time physically supporting her in this particular position. (Stanley Kowalski may have been able to maneuver this scene with a bit more sensual flair, but Last Tango Brando was 48 years old at the time.) As Paul makes love to Jeanne, he hunches forward, struggling to hold her upright. This doesn’t ruin everything, however, because there is still a fair amount of gasping and moaning. The sounds Paul and Jeanne make, however, aren’t the sensationalized screams of pleasure typically featured on Boardwalk Empire — they’re the sounds two people make when they are trying their best to keep the noise level down. They eventually fall to the floor, and after they climax, Jeanne breaks free from Paul and rolls to the other side of the room. They each lie on the floor gasping for air, neither of them aware of each other’s presence. There is no cuddling, not even nods of recognition — just two people trying to regain their composure before going about their day.

Paul moves in to the apartment, and he and Jeanne continue their affair when Jeanne arrives at his door to return the key she initially borrowed from the concierge. Paul then establishes the ground rules for their relationship: “I don’t want to know your name. You don’t have a name, and I don’t have a name either [. . .] I don’t want to know where you live or where you come from, I want to know nothing, nothing, nothing!” For whatever reason, rather than run back to her boyfriend (yes, her boyfriend, Tom, a filmmaker), Jeanne chooses to commit to the anonymous affair. Of course, Jeanne does not know that Paul’s desire to remain so distant from her stems from his newfound isolation brought on by his wife’s death. He has to control something. However, the next time Paul and Jeanne make love, they begin to establish a sense of intimacy:









Some people may think this scene is just weird, but I think that while it is unusual, it is also very sweet. No, Paul and Jeanne are not lying side by side gazing into each other’s eyes spouting out “Goo-goo gah-gah” bullshit. Instead, they’re acting silly. They’re daring to appear unattractive. They’re being themselves. They may not know each other’s names, but they do know that, for some reason, they are comfortable.


There are several scenes where we see Jeanne and Paul’s bond grow stronger during their post-coital interactions. Sadly, Paul is not always on board for more emotional intimacy. During one scene, Jeanne tells Paul a good deal about her childhood, blatantly ignoring Paul’s explicit conditions. Surprisingly, Paul does not protest. He only says, “I don’t mind if you tell the truth, but don’t give me the names. I can’t handle that. But go on, tell the truth.” He, too, talks about his childhood (his monologue being one of many moments in the film that make you want to raise a glass to Stella Adler). After Paul realizes that he has broken his own rules, however, he tries to distract Jeanne by asking her a rather unorthodox question: “When did you first come? How old were you?” She answers him, and when she finishes her story, Paul walks away from her without commenting. The camera remains on Jeanne for awhile, but when we see Paul again, he has tears in his eyes. He struggles to breath. His chin trembles. He is overwhelmed. How can he possibly have feelings for this half naked hot young thing? Why did he let her tell him about her past? Why did he listen? Why did he do the same? Walk away. Be very quiet. Cry.


Oh, Brando. How were you always so damn BELIEVABLE? How did you nail it every time? (By the way, there’s a scene where he talks to the body of his dead wife after she’s been all made-up for her wake…it’s astounding. The first lines of his monologue are, “You look ridiculous in that makeup. Like a caricature of a whore.” WHO SAYS THAT? Bravo!)


Jeanne does not know about Paul’s wife’s suicide until the end of the film. Therefore, she has no idea why Paul is acting so, well, so damn weird all the time. Still, she falls in love with him (like ya do), and she keeps coming back for more despite his unpredictable behavior. Every time Paul makes Jeanne cry, I want to cry, too. Every time she goes against her better judgment and ditches her fiancé to visit Paul, I can feel the burden of her desire. She’s stuck on a miserable old bastard who treats her like crap, and she comes back to him again and again. Oddly and refreshingly, despite her sub-par decisions, she doesn’t seem like a moron — she seems human.


Finally, while this movie is jam-packed with moments that make me sigh with cinephilia, I need to say, once again, that the last ten minutes of this film are too good to miss. I will not describe them here, partly because I do not want to give anything away, but mostly because I don’t think I could do the sequence justice with my words. All I will say is that the first time I watched the film, the last ten minutes — the only part of the film where Jeanne and Paul venture outside of the apartment together — took my breath away. I was literally on the edge of my seat, and I wasn’t sure why. I felt nervous, excited, and giddy. I was overwhelmed by how beautiful everything looked. Brando was hilarious and charming. I smiled at everything anyone said, and yet I felt like crying. It’s a perfect depiction of terrible timing. Don’t expect me to explain any further.


Movies that deal with romance need to be more than superficial puff pieces if they’re going to be any damn good. I don’t want to sit there thinking, “This woman is an idiot” or “This man isn’t worth a damn.” I want to think, “This poor woman is trapped” or, “I wish this man would get it together!” To me, Last Tango is one of the most romantic movies out there. Does Last Tango scream “FOREIGN FILM”? Yes. Is Last Tango a bit retro-looking? Yes. (All of Schneider’s outfits are kick ass, and her bush is epic.) Is some of the dialogue a bit too, “Hey, look at me”? Yes. Is Last Tango absolutely gorgeous? Does it make me want to cry for the past? Does it make me want to fall in love? Yes, yes, and yes. This film dares to show us its characters’ flaws. This film dares to suggest that sex isn’t always cinematic. This film dares to explore what happens in that moment when a person realizes that what he feels in his heart has changed from lust to love, and he knows he’s completely fucked…


It’s a Hell of a flick.


Bon nuit, mes amis. Bon nuit, Brando. You’re still the greatest leading man we’ve ever known. Je t’aime.




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