Cousin Cousine

Yesterday I kept thinking about how my students aren’t showing much disciplined or careful thought.  What are they learning in high school – nothing, apparently.  I went grocery shopping in the rain.  When I got home, I discovered my Paul Simon DVD in the mail.  I was wondering when it would finally arrive.

I played too much Super Mario Galaxy.  I made no progress in the game.  I find it difficult to control Mario as he’s walking on top of a ball with a star in it.

I found a VHS copy of “Cousin Cousine” in one of the stores for six dollars and bought it.  It was far superior to the copy I bought through Amazon, which was dubbed in English.  It’s one of best French comedies of the 1970’s.

The star is Marie-Christine Barrault, who looks very pretty and is charming, for the most part, in this role of Marthe.  She meets her cousin Ludovic at a wedding, where her husband Pascal and Ludovic’s wife Karine carry on an affair rather indiscreetly.  It seems that what Marthe and Ludovic have in common are spouses who are immature and selfish and unfit for marriage.

Marthe is a secretary with an insurance company, and Ludovic is a dance teacher, although he makes it a point to change jobs every three years.  The two become friends through a series of conversations they have.

The only movie I can remember seeing Marie-Christine Barrault in was Woody Allen’s “Stardust Memories.  It’s good to see her in color in this film.

I didn’t find Victor Lamoux, who played Ludovic, all that charismatic on the screen.  Thus, I’m not too sure why Marthe is so crazy about him.  We get only a brief glimpse of him teaching his dancers.  This is a film in which no one seems to work.

There are some pretty funny scenes, such as the slide show of the wedding, and a bit with a tattoo marker, and a magician’s trick of sawing a woman in half at the end.

The film shows some of the hypocrisies of the middle class.  Pascal admits that he has had affairs, but rationalizes that it’s OK because he keeps everything quiet.

If I have a criticism of this film, it’s that its light touch is perhaps too light.  It doesn’t cut too deep.  You have to wonder what it supposed to happen to the children in this story.  We see one death of a father, and an attempted suicide, and these elements actually reminded me, oddly enough, of Frank Capra.  He always seemed to want to balance the comedy and the drama in his films like “Meet John Doe” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

This is a movie that you watch not just for the characters and the humorous moments, but also for its feel of a place and time.  I liked the scene in which Marthe and Ludovic buy a lot of pastries, and later go swimming in a pool.  I also liked seeing the city streets, the shops, and even the site where a building was demolished.

The theme music reminds me of Carole Bayer Sager, probably a song called “You’re Moving Out Today.”  I got a little sick of hearing it, to be honest.  It’s a little too upbeat for my mood most of the time.

I was pretty pleased with the quality of the print and the tape, which seemed quite good for VHS.  It would still be great if this film could be released in a Criterion Collection edition, though.

Jean-Charles Tacchella was asked to write and direct the American remake, which was called “Cousins” and starred Ted Danson and Isabella Rosselini.  Yes, I did see that movie years ago, but I don’t remember much about it.  I guess it didn’t really have the vivid quality of the original.  Ted Danson is not my idea of an actor I really want to go out and see in a movie.

I have good memories of watching “Cousin Cousine,” perhaps two or three times during the past twenty years.  It’s a reminder of what I like best in foreign language films.

I see in this morning’s news that Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards are dropping out of the presidential race.  It’s seemed pretty apparent for a while that it’s come down to two candidates for both the Republican and Democratic Parties, and it looks as though McCain is threatening to steamroll over Romney.  What kind of a name is Mitt, anyway?  I always thought that’s what you call a baseball glove.

Another report was about a couple who faked having sextuplets, which I found incredible.  How did they expect to get away with it?  You can’t even fake having ONE baby, much less SIX.  This is a ridiculous story of true stupidity.

I listened to the special edition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” while the news was on.  I still can’t get over how he uses the word “doggone” in “The Girl is Mine.”  That word was outdated in 1982.  I wonder if Michael will change the lyrics when he re-records with track after erasing Paul McCartney’s vocals.  Maybe he’s out to revise his entire history.  Maybe he’s going to go back to the Jackson Five records and erase everything Marlon, Tito, and Jermaine did and re-record it all with younger, hipper, more talented, and more famous people.  He’s probably ashamed that nobody else in his family has achieved any real fame, outside of Janet.  I notice that Michael doesn’t seem to associate with Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross anymore.  Michael, I know you’re heartlessly dumping all your old friends, now just own up to it.

The best part of the bonus material was the demo for “Billie Jean.”  Quincy Jones said Michael wrote the song after an encounter with a girl who claimed he was the father of ONE of her twins.  Amazing.  This girl must have been as dumb as the woman with the fake sextuplets.

There was also Vincent Price reading an extra verse of the Thriller Rap.  That was amusing.  Quincy Jones said that the song “Carousel” was left off the album in favor of “Human Nature.”  That was clearly the right choice.  I think “Carousel” is pretty forgettable.

I caught a glimpse of Diane Lane on Rachael Ray’s show.  She sure looks different now, obviously very different from the girl in “The Outsiders” and “Rumble Fish.”  From the commercials I’ve seen, I’m suspecting that Kate Hudson is in another crappy Kate Hudson movie.

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