Author Archive

“Tristana” Blues

After her mother’s death, Tristana (Catherine Deneuve) in 1970’s Tristana, becomes the ward of a much older man, Don Lope (Fernando Rey).  Innocent because of her youth, Tristana is eventually propositioned by Don Lope, agreeing to go to bed with him.  Hereafter she hates the man for his sexual proclivity and decides to take up with a young painter (Franco Neri), living with him for two years.  Subsequently Tristana develops a tumor and has to have her leg amputated—and is again in the care of her guardian.  Now, however, the woman is plainly bitter and cruel.

On the one hand, in this Luis Bunuel film, there is Don Lupe’s humane, religion-rejecting 1920s leftism (approved by Bunuel?); and on the other, Don Lope’s imperious attitude and unwise behavior because of sex.  In light of this and Tristana’s corruption, the opus must be considered basically misanthropic.  The themes here, however, have already been explored in Bunuel’s Viridiana, a film with more verve than Tristana.  Why did Bunuel want to make the picture?

Deneuve’s part is dubbed in Spanish by another speaker (the film is set in Spain).  A beautiful Spanish actress would have been preferable to a beautiful French one.

Tristana

Tristana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t Love “Shane” But I Like It

Shane (film)

Shane (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Directed by George Stevens, Shane (1953) is a Western—interestingly, one in which everything points to America still being a relatively young country.  Men try to make a living in a spacious land where deer approach farms and a muddy ground fronts a needed dry goods store-cum-tavern.

Here and there the script by A.B. Guthrie Jr., based on a novel, is laughably weak.  (Why does Joe Starrett [Van Heflin] show himself to be naïve about the angry Ryker?)  But the film’s violent action—everything from the shooting of Torrey to the final showdown—is sobering and riveting, and there are exquisite epic images in a non-epic movie.  I am prompted also to observe that, what with all the doings of Brandon De Wilde‘s Joey, Shane is practically a children’s film.

The Anointed Jamie: On Quatro’s Fiction

I’m unable to tell how valuable are the stories of Jamie Quatro that are heavily influenced by the literary avant garde.

But it’s different with a story like “Better to Lose An Eye,” whose conventional narrative shows, I believe, artistic merit.  Quatro’s fiction is set in the American South and has its share of Southern Christians.  The characters in “Eye” are a young girl, her quadriplegic mother and her grandmother, Nona; and we learn that the mother once lived a pretty fast life until a former boyfriend caused her paralysis by shooting her.  The one born-again person in the story, the industrious Nona, nevertheless proves insensitive to the mother’s condition—to me, a rather cheap shot from Quatro.  It is an otherwise effective story.

More satisfying is another non-avant garde tale called “The Anointing” (which, like the story above, is found in the 2013 collection, I Want to Show You More).  Mitch, the suburban husband of Diane, falls into a deep depression, refusing to leave his bed.  Diane is incessantly concerned.  It can’t be helped that her Christian faith begins “waning,” yet she freely allows her pastor and five church elders to come to the house and anoint Mitch with oil in the name of the Lord.  But there is no healing, and a problem with trust involving one of Diane’s two children crops up as well.  A possible truth in the story is that Diane is anointed to love her family, which she does fiercely.  Part of the last sentence reads, “She would do anything to save them,” and she loves them even as she suffers.  In point of fact, she loves them in a Christ-like manner.

“The Anointing” is a smoothly, unerringly written 12-page gem—and not the only good short story Jamie Quatro has purveyed.  Read “Georgia the Whole Time” too.

 

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