Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Purple Noon (1960)


Billy Kearns as Freddy.

So, just a short time back, I wrote on this thing about being confused by French Canadian movies. I'd watch them and assume they were French. But they drive American cars and lived in what looked pretty much like the United States, and I would wonder if it's a French movie set in America with French actors playing Americans. I sorry I'm not more hip to Canadian cinema.

I just watched Purple Noon (Plein Soleil). I started watching it on Fandor (available from the Criterion Collection). I hadn't read the description very carefully, but I quickly realized it was a French version of The Talented Mr Ripley. Starring Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet and Marie Laforet, all playing Americans. With American Billy Kearns as Freddy. Made in 1960.

Ripley seemed less pitiful than in the Matt Damon version, like more of a psychopath. Still, his first victim was really asking for it, more than in the 1999 version, and Freddy was less obnoxious. Freddy was played by American actor Billy Kearns who spoke French with a strong American accent---I'm not sure what the explanation for that was since French was English for purposes of the film.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Cult of J.T. LeRoy

Laura Albert.

It reminded me of something Pauline Kael said about the movie Love Story. In 1970, it had audiences in tears and Kael sneered at the people who thought that the movie must have been terribly well-made since they were so moved by it.

In the case of J.T. LeRoy, people read "his" books because they thought they were at least partially
autobiographical---the authentic voice of a horribly abused HIV positive teenage boy forced into a life of prostitution. When it turned out that "LeRoy" was a repulsive middle-aged female psychopath from a middle-class family, many of his/her fans argued that the books were still brilliantly written since they had been so moved by them---or had at least been morbidly fascinated by them.

The books were published as novels, not autobiographies. Apologists argued that the real author, Laura Albert, had simply used a pen name.

It's like they thought they were reading J.T. LeRoy and found out it was only J.T. LeRoy fanfiction.

I didn't know much about the case of J.T. LeRoy until I saw this movie. I had read something about "him" before it was exposed as a hoax, so I went to the bookstore and looked at one of his books. It was written in the annoying pseudo-poetic style peculiar to literary frauds. I passed on it.
 
I didn't realize how much work Laura Albert put into it, talking for hours on the phone, sadistically manipulating men she thought could help promote her as a writer. She was a phone sex worker by trade. No one she spoke to spotted her phony West Virginia accent.

Since LeRoy was supposedly an HIV positive prostitute disfigured by sado-masochistic abuse and taking female hormones in preparation for a sex change operation, I don't imagine any of the men Albert talked to were interested in him sexually. They spent hours on the phone talking to a disturbed kid who claimed to be suicidal. There was nothing they could do for him but keep talking and talking.

How many literary frauds have there been pretending to be children with AIDS?

The Cult of J.T. LeRoy is available on Fandor.

Friday, February 12, 2016

French langauge films

Two or three times, I've turned on French movies. There are people speaking French. But they all drive American cars and they live in what looks like the United States. Are American cars that common in France? Are their suburbs that much like ours?

I wonder if it's a French movie with French actors set in the United States. It eventually dawns on me that the movie is Canadian. It's a shame Canada isn't more exotic.