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400 Blows & Truffaut

I watched "400 Blows". It definitely is an enjoyable and interesting movie. Truffaut received the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Director for this film. It is also one of Sight & Sound's Top 50 films. And if you check wikipedia (assuming it is correct), " the French title refers to the expression "faire les quatre cents coups", which means "to raise hell"". According to the interviews in the supplemental material there really wasn't a script the actors followed, which seems amazing considering the performance given by Jean-Pierre Léaud. It seems he was given a description of the scene, what was desired and suggestions but the final words were his.

Another thing I found interesting in the supplemental material was Truffaut's mentioning American directors that he liked included Sidney Lumet, Robert Mulligan, Frank Tashlin and Arthur Penn. I find his choice of Frank Tashlin interesting. Frank Tashlin directed "Cinderfella", "The Geisha Boy", "Rock-a-Bye Baby", "It's Only Money", "Who's Minding the Store" and "The Disorderly Orderly", all Jerry Lewis films. Tashlin directed many other films but I think there are a lot of people who might question the greatness of these films. Tashlin was also mentioned by Mark Cousins in "The Story of Film". It seems to me, at least to a certain extent that Tashlin and Lewis are more admired by certain people who live outside of the United States. Interesting. I'll have to go back and watch these films. Tashlin also directed "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?", "The Girl Can't Help It", many other films and a lot of shorts, including a lot of Porky Pig cartoons. Interesting.

Roger Ebert review

New York Times review

400 Blows wikipedia entry



Cold and chilly
Old wet willie
Crying in the rain

Wailing screaming
Writhing reeling
Night please take my pain

In the darkness
Lonely starkness
He knew not what was real

She came to him oh so sweetly
Gave herself so completely
I give you all you need

Eyes were glowing
Bones were showing
Death lingered on her tongue

She held him tightly
Whispered slightly
I take you now my love

-- Gary Mattingly
-- 10/31/13


Retinal tear

A couple of days ago I noticed bright flashes in my left peripheral vision. That lasted most of the latter half of the day. The next morning I didn't have the flashes but did have some extremely defined floaters, more distinct and non-fuzzy than usual. This worried me and I checked the web. I came upon retinal tears and detachments and the suggestion that I quickly contact my doctor. So yesterday I emailed my doctor and he referred me to the ophthalmology department and I went in today at 3:50, less than an hour later the ophthalmology doctor got an appointment for laser eye surgery, as soon as I could get to the laser surgery location. The eye exam was in Pleasanton, California but the laser doctor was in Walnut Creek. Oh what fun I had with my dilated eyes driving in commute traffic between 4:30 to 6 PM today. Yes, they told me to quickly go to this appointment because the other doctor was getting ready to leave. Oh what joy, worrying the whole way there that the doctor would be gone and I would have just wasted, hm, about an hour and a half and then would have another equivalent trip home. Fortunately the doctor was there.

So after another examination and that doctor pressing his finger into my eyes in a number of locations (oh, you know, that can be painful) and then sticking a needle in my left eye to anesthetize the eye (well, he did put a topical (that is what it is called right?) before sticking the needle in my eye. Meanwhile visions of "Un Chien Andalou" danced in my head. He proceed to use his laser to fix the small hole, yes a hole, not just a tear and well, not really fix exactly, more like use the laser to make scar tissue so the tear did not spread. Oh, before he started he said, by the way, this is very near a nerve in your eye and it is possible you will experience excruciating pain. if you do, he could give me another shot. Fortunately it wasn't excruciating, only a small amount of pain, well, occasionally a little more than small but not excruciating. The laser part only took about five minutes. I had to wait a few minutes for the darkness in my left eye to go away. With that really bright light my vision in the left eye saw almost total blackness for at least a minute or two or three. Fortunately a short time later I could see (well, a little blurry) and could drive myself home. Funny thing, a little while ago I read one web page that said that one should not drive home after the laser surgery. However I could actually see better than when I drove there with my eyes dilated on the way there.

The doctor said the redness in the left eye should go away in 10 to 14 days and by the way, no strenuous activity for 10 to 14 days. No weight lifting. No running on the treadmill. This sucks. I was actually up to about 105 or 106 minutes and 11+ miles on my treadmill. Something like 2300 to 2400 calories of exercise supposedly.

I'm supposed to go back in three weeks for a follow up exam.

I asked the doctor if there was something I might have done to cause the tear. No, just aging, he replied. Oh great. I just love this aging thing. Well, no, I don't.

Currently vision in my left eye is a little fuzzier than usual and there is some pain but not a lot. I think I'll take an advil or aleve or something like that.



We picked up a new dog on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, from Tail Waggin All Breed Rescue, Gustine, CA He was listed with a name of Tracker but we believe he will now be named Cosmo. He is believed to be a Catahoula plus various and sundry other breeds. They gave him an birthdate of 02/20/12 although that's moderately uncertain since he was picked up by the shelter down there as abandoned, I guess. On June 1, at the vets he weighed 21.7 pounds.


Design For Living & If I Had a Million

I watched Design for Living, directed by Ernst Lubitsch with Fredric March, Gary Cooper & Miriam Hopkins. This was in the "pre-Code" era. It is an entertaining film and this is a new digital restoration released in the blu-ray format by Criterion last year. This contains a number of things that you would not see after the Code was effectively in place. This film is very loosely based on the Noel Coward play of the same name. Little really remains of the original play. Fortunately the play is in the supplemental material and I look forward to watching it.

Here is a NY Times review from 1933 when it was released and this dvdtalk review is both a review about the film and about the Criterion DVD

One item in the supplemental material is a short sequence by Lubitsch which was one of a number of vignettes in another film called If I Had a Million. Fortunately The Clerk is on youtube.

Where is my million?



This morning I finished reading Zona by Geoff Dyer. It is an interesting book about "Stalker" by Tarkovsky but also about Dyer himself, what he reads, what he watches, what he likes and quite definitely what he dislikes, his hopes and wishes, were he granted access to the Room. I enjoyed reading this. The references are fascinating. His side excursions at times amusing, sometimes a bit too much about him. I also found the New York Times Review of Zona interesting.

Many of his references I found interesting having read the books he mentions, watched the movies, or familiar with some of the musicians, such as Bjork. I cannot say that I agree with all of Dyer's preferences. I'm obviously a bigger fan of Lars von Trier than he is. Actually I think he isn't a fan. Some might see his mentions as pretentious and I can understand that. However I like his wandering and those other books, movies and such that he mentions and discusses. Occasionally he wanders into the TMI (too much information) area concerning his own history, desires and excursions, but I don't really mind that much.


The Mirror

I watched The Mirror, directed by Tarkovsky, last night. This is a rather strange, interesting and at times difficult to understand film. I enjoyed it. Based upon the NY Times review, if one were Russian and had lived during some of the times in the film, it probably would have been more easily or more quickly understood. I think it would be a good movie to watched a second or third or . . . time. Again, I see the wind through the grass, the leaves, the trees with no particular source or origin and usually only momentary and with a certain strangeness attached. Also Tarkovsky seems to like running, dripping water. Interesting.
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La Roue (The Wheel)

Tonight I finished up watching La Roue, directed by Abel Gance I started watching it last night and went though Section 1. This is a 4.5 hour film. This is also marvelously depressing. There are certainly sweet, cheerful moments but overall this has many, many miserable and sad moments. Quite fitting. Wonderful scenes, great silhouettes, fantastic shadow scenes, many scenes wonderfully tinted, also a number of quick cut scenes. He also uses a number of superimpositions of images. Really a lovely movie. I love the train shots, the gears, the yard, the rails, the switching tracks. The mountain scenes, the snow, the views of the countryside are also wonderful and there is such a difference in the perspectives, the close scenes versus the great open expanses between the first part of the film and the last part. You know this is going to be a fun movie when it starts out with a train wreck and dying people. This makes me think of Unterm Rad (Beneath the Wheel) by Hermann Hesse, which is probably one of the more depressing books I've read. Loved it. The only real similarity between these two is how the wheel of life can crush you. What joy.

Abel Gance directed 52 films and was a writer on 71 films. I have seen but three. I am very curious about the others, very curious.



On Sunday, at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, I saw the restored 5.5 hour version of "Napoleon" by Abel Gance. This restoration was completed around 2000 according to the New York Times. It was excellent. The score, composed by Carl Davis, was performed by the Oakland East Bay Symphony. Carl Davis conducted. It also, in my opinion, was very good. It went along with the movie and kept quite in sync with the action and with instruments played in the film. It was quite rousing in many scenes but also had its quiet moments. The quick cuts were fascinating. The snowball fight in the beginning with a young Napoleon was a theme that ran through the movie. I loved the wonderful tints used in various and appropriate parts of the movie. There was a lot of superimposition that was fascinating. Also there were numerous scenes where filming was obviously not done from a static location but rather on the move. The NY Times indicates "images shot from a pendulum, a sled, a bicycle and a galloping horse."

I also enjoyed the acting, the scenes, the story. Abel Gance appeared as Louis Saint-Just for some scenes in the latter half of the film. Marguerite Gance appeared as Charlotte Corday. Napoleon was played by Albert Dieudonné, who played in many films from 1908 up to 1941. I thought Edmond Van Daële was very good playing Maximilien Robespierre. Antonin Artaud played Marat. You can see the cast list at imdb.com

The film was in four sections. There were two twenty minutes breaks and one 1 hour and 45 minutes lunch break. The first three sections were all on one relatively normal size screen. About 5 minutes into the final 50 minute scene, two other screens of equal size appeared to the left and right of the central screen and the rest of the film was projected (I assume using three projectors) on these three screens. It was fantastic. The large scenes of his forces arrayed and officers riding their horses basically from one screen to the next was fascinating. The edges were not always perfectly aligned and I could see them occasionally raising or lowering the angle of projection in order to more perfectly match a screen next to it.

It really was quite an event. There are two more showings this coming weekend. I suppose my only qualm was that possibly those twenty minute breaks should have been thirty minutes. The lines to the restrooms were incredibly long and a number of people did not come back until after the next section started. Of course, even if the intermissions were 30 minutes probably someone would come back late. Restaurants in the area were full. I just wandered to a bar a few blocks away and had a sandwich. Regulars came in wondering what in the world was going on and were disappointed that their quiet Sunday afternoon drink was not so quiet.

The theater was very full although I don't think they sold out. I did not immediately notice any empty seats. A person next to me had driven up from Riverside. I'm sure others in the theater were from even greater distances. For the entire film the audience, for the most part, was very quiet. Unfortunately one fellow a few seats away did feel it necessary to make a
few comments several times during the film to his companion. Fortunately they were short and there weren't really many. I know it was silent but I came to hear the orchestra and the silence of the film, not an audience member talking.

The Paramount Theater is marvelous by itself. If you ever get a chance to see something there I would recommend it, simply to see the inside of a very lovely theater.

There were articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal about the movie.

And Buku was on mind my throughout the movie. . .



We took Buku in for his last vet visit today. He would have been about 8 next month. Not sure about his exact birth since he and his siblings had been found on the street and gone through several rescue agencies before he found us. He'd had a heart condition since birth but the vet figured out it was a lot worse about a year and a half ago. The vets didn't expect him to live through March or April of 2011 so I guess we had an extra year or so with him. However we were giving him about 7 different medications which he didn't really like and the last one probably started kidney failure, I guess. It stopped his stomach from bloating since his body was filling up his lungs and abdomen with excess fluids and that helped him feel like eating a bit longer. However over the last few weeks or so he stopped eating except what we were able to coax him to eat which wasn't much This last week he was refusing even treats for the most part. Fortunately he didn't really seem to be in pain. The vets (regular and cardiologist vet) said that neither the heart condition nor the kidney problem would cause pain, it would just make him feel not well, like the flu or something. However he'd lost a lot of weight and I didn't think I'd like starving to death personally, nor being force fed for that matter. Since his condition wouldn't get better, force feeding wouldn't lead to something better really.

A few memories cross my mind about Buku. He liked to walk under my legs when I was sitting on the couch. It reminded me of Temple Grandin's squeeze-box (hug machine). He'd stay there awhile, my legs on one side and the couch on the other. I would scratch and pet him and he'd have a fine time until he decided he'd had enough and move on. Usually he stayed there for a while. Then he'd walk on and shake it all off.

He liked getting new toys. When he would get one he would prance around the house with that toy in his mouth. He liked to be chased with the new toy but it was his toy and he did not want to give it up. KD, our other dog, must have been a puppy in a strange household. She has no desire for any type of a toy. She won't play with them or pick them up. She also won't chase balls and has no desires for a ball. This seems a little strange for a labrador retriever. Buku usually has various toys strewn around the house. Frequently he'd lay his head on one of them and go to sleep.

Buku seemed a little afraid on walks at times but he wanted to go on the walk, particularly if KD was going. KD likes walks a lot. Buku seemed to like to back up to or over plants or bushes to take care of business. I'm not sure why. It did make picking up what he left behind a little difficult when it was on or in the branches and stems of the plant. Also after a while Buku began to recognize the sounds the light made when it indicated Walking was allowed. He'd immediately leap forward to cross the street. Once in a while there was a little confusion if the light 90 degrees to the left or right of our forward direction started beeping. I had to stop taking Buku on walks over a year ago because the cardiologist vet said taking him on walks was a bad idea. If Buku ran, particularly before his medications, he would sometimes just drop and pass out. All the blood would have gone to the rest of his body but would have left his brain. He would just faint and frequently make a loud, almost blood-curdling scream or whine. He would always get up okay from these events after a few minutes. It certainly worried us. I guess the vet thought that on a walk one day he just might not get up. It was a little worrisome also that he really loved to chase squirrels in the back yard. Over the last few months I think he figured out he really couldn't do that. He might walk fast but he rarely took off like a sprint runner which is what he used to do.

Buku also liked car rides. He'd almost always run to the door, hopeful and rush out to the car if I opened the door for him. He didn't really do anything in the car, just lay down, but he was happy to go along with us.

We tried to get him to settle or sleep on a dog bed or dog mattress but he never really wanted to do that. He usually either slept on the floor next to our bed or on the bed.

He liked MarroBones and I would usually give him a couple every morning. Then he would go to see if KD had dropped any of hers. He would sniff all over where she had just been . . . just in case. The last few days he just turned away from them.

He also had very good hearing. he could hear someone cutting a slice of cheese in the kitchen even if he were on the opposite side of the house. He would race to the kitchen for the possibility of a handout. He could also tell if the dog drawer where all the treats and chewy things were stored. He would be there in an instant if he heard it open. This actually went away a number of months ago when his appetite decreased and eventually he seemed to pay no attention to it at all.

He loved various and sundry dog chews. Every time I got on the tread mill I'd give him one. He'd finish that and come back, sit down and stare at me while I ran, always waiting, always hopeful. When I looked over to him he'd usually start wagging his tail.

He was smart too. We have these Nina Ottosson Dog Brick - Wooden Puzzles. And he could always figure them out and get the treat. Sometimes he would have a problem pushing instead of pulling but he would just change sides. KD is clueless about these games but Buku got really good with them.

He also liked to come to where my head was when I laid down on the couch to watch TV. I'm not sure why he went there. He usually positioned himself to a place where it was awkward for me to bend my arm backward to scratch him. He usually would eventually move just enough for me to be able to pet him properly.

In the morning when I was getting up, when he heard my belt, buckling, he would almost always either immediately jump off the bed, ready, or come running from another room, full of energy, ready for whatever I was ready for. He liked to go out into the front yard with me when I went to get the morning newspapers. He'd sniff around and mark his territory occasionally but always come back inside when I headed inside.

As he walked by things during the day he liked to nudge things with his nose and watch it rock back and forth. There was one vase on a lower shelf in the dining room which he would nudge. It would rock back and forth. He would never nudge it hard enough to knock it over though. One wastebasket in the family room was also one of his favorites. He'd nudge it, watch it rock back and forth until it stopped and then walk on. He did this with a few other things but those two were his favorites. There were just at or under his height. We never taught him to do this. He just figured out the right amount to rock it but not tip it over.

If I went out to the back yard he wanted to go along. He didn't want to miss anything, I guess. He'd walk around the yard and every once in a while he'd come over to me and make it obvious that he wanted some attention. He'd get some and then he'd wander off again. When he was inside in the daytime if we were in the family room and sometimes when we weren't he liked to sit or lay at the back door and watch the back yard. Sometimes he'd take a nap at the door but if he heard anything he'd be wide awake in an instant.

When I would come home from work occasionally Patty would let him out the garage door. He'd run right up to the driver side door, stand there looking at me but also sniffing the floor to see if I might have dropped something interesting.

In the evening he would usually like to sit next to a chair or an ottoman. He seemed to like to have one side safe, secure. He liked to sit next to a chair in the living room. I think from there he could see down the halls to the bedrooms but also into the kitchen and family room. He liked to know what was going on and where people were.

He was a good dog. . . . and a good friend.

He looked at me, "What going on? I don't know what's going on. I'm afraid." He pushed his head into me. "Protect me." I could not. I feel as if I have failed him.