Chocolate in My Pocket and The Fucking French

I hate French movies.

Well, not Truffaut–I find him humanist–but other French movies.

Godard and Company and those endlessly stream of oh-so-french youths on screen trying to separate their multiple lovers from their existensial ennui.

Of course, my principal qualm in all of this is not really the ennui, as that’s something I sometimes in engage in, or the filmmaking, which varies, but the situation:

Here are these froggy fucks complaining over how they can’t decide between la blonde and la brunette, while I’m sitting at a bar in the East Village hoping that girl across the room won’t notice the caked snot on my sweater sleeve.

I should really dry clean it anyway.

It was for this reason that I was initially hesitant to watch Two Lovers.

Sure, it wasn’t French, but the title itself implied the sort of movie that a studly sort-of fellow (Joaquin Phoenix) has to decide between the bangin’ Jewish chick (Vinessa Shaw) and the indie party-girl (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Subtract Paris, add Brooklyn and you’ve got A Bout De Hipster.

Friend and DP/Director/Watcher of Pretentious Films Chadd Harbold was ultimately the one who convinced me.

Chadd’s the sort of guy it’s fun to argue about movies with, not only because he doesn’t precisely have your same tastes, but mainly because he sees and engages with films. Emphasis really on the “sees” part, but Chadd is that rare-particular human specimen like myself that obsessively attempts to see everything, anything that is supposed to be “good”. He is constantly on a quest to see good movies which is very refreshing for a film nerd like myself.

To give some sort of broad analogy, in real life, talking about movies in a general audience is like talking about March Madness to the guys throwing beanbags at each other down on the lawn and calling them “+4 fireballs”.

Not that I know anything about March Madness.

Other than that it’s in March.

And that people are mad.

For some reason.

Anyway, Chadd’s refreshing as a movie-watching ally, someone to watch with, someone to argue with; the sort of sparring partner necessary in order to hone one’s movie-watching skills and also, of course, let’s be honest here, to reinforce one’s own pretentiousness and one’s sense of geeky film-cool.

Unlike myself, Chadd aspires to a more “Jean-Paul Belmondo” life style–while I trudge more toward “Harold Lloyd”–and so he is a fan generally of that type of French movie previously discussed. Still, he pointed out to me the rave reviews for Two Lovers, nearly unanimous and the down-home-jewy setting of it all and finally, through much texting, I was convinced.

And impressed. Two Lovers is as much a movie about the titular females as it is about the world of the main character, Leonard. Leonard’s a melancholic and a prisoner of the benign-seeming machinations of his parents and of the Brighton Beach Jewish community around him. Even the initial situation of the film, a suicide attempt preempted by a separation, is the act of parents splitting young ones apart. At its best the film functions as a meditation on Jewish identity and the self, balancing past and present, assimilation and dudty to one’s elders, finding an inescapability in the hierarchical chains of identity; that is, there is no escape from who you are.

Even though I called the story out as specifically Jewish, it’s really something anyone, college student, New Yorker, young person, could feel for. And an excellent performance by Phoenix, with an appendix.

For those interested, this is an interview with James Gray, the filmmaker. The appendix comes here in the form of a story.

Apparently, Mr. Gray was trying to give Joaquin Phoenix a note, talking to him about his character.

Mr. Phoenix, perturbed, closed his eyes and self-consciously interrupted him, saying: “Eight.”

Mr. Gray, who had been working with Mr. Phoenix for some time now, was confused.

Mr. Phoenix explained: “I’ve been doing this, I’ve been acting since I was eight, I know, I know.”

With that out, the filming resumed.

Still, however bizarre, it’s a fanatastic performance and worthy of a praise and an interesting movie that balances comedy with serious matters, romance and family.

Chadd, I suppose I owe you a beer.

But Vincent Gallo still sucks.

***

When I went to see the film, quintessential beardo Rob Malone asked me why I no longer had chocolate in my jacket, a policy I had upheld for a while.

You see, as a fan of dark chocolate, in my freshman and sophomore years, I pitied the poor film students who might not know the joys  of such confectionary pleasure, assuming their needs filled by a Snickers or some such abomination.

Thus, every 2 weeks or so, I would purchase two different chocolate bars and put them in my jacket pocket of my beat-torn paint-smeared leather jacket and hand them out to students and faculty with the pleasant offer:

“Do you want some chocolate?”

As summers came though, the chocolate would either melt or I would eat it, neither one of which was helpful to my cause and I eventually, over time, abandoned my chocolate crusade.

But now, what with this inclement weather, with the prompting of a beardo, I have decided to resume my chocolate-giving ways, like a red-jewy-Santa-Claus or a Willy-Wonka-Yid. I purchased recently a small, burlap sack full of bulk 72% dark Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven chocolate and have decided to make room for it in my winter coat.

So now, brave Nickolyphytes, readers of this blog, I invite you, if you see me on the streets with a shock or a slump, or in the hallways of the school pretending I have three more years there, feel free to ask a chocolate.

Upon askance, I will produce my burlap sack and yum-liciousness will begin.

Avast!

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One Response to Chocolate in My Pocket and The Fucking French

  1. Charlotte says:

    I loved this movie. It was fantastic. And I loved the opera music. 🙂

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