La peau douce

I watched the morning news, and I heard more about Nepal and Baltimore. I went out to work and got a little bit done. Afterwards, I had to go out to Safeway for some groceries. I bought an egg salad sandwich for lunch. I went out to do my laundry. The stain on my black windbreaker didn’t come out completely. I watched a DVD that I had borrowed from the library, Francois Truffaut’s “The Soft Skin.” It was in the vein of his Hitchcock-influenced films like “The Bride Wore Black” and “Mississippi Mermaid.” It had some familiar themes, like the importance of the written word, like Balzac, and the conflict between men and women. Jean Desailly was Pierre, the main character who reminded me of Colin Firth. He begins an affair with a stewardess named Nicole, and he proves clumsy in managing the lies and the plans that go with this relationship. Pierre’s wife Franca surprises him by picking him at the airport, and she says that she got the flight number by making phone calls. Somehow, you know that her nosing around like that will result in some kind of disaster. Pierre is indecisive and sits around thinking and waiting. It’s going to be his undoing. The story seems uncomfortably like Truffaut’s own life. Some moments feel personal. Pierre can talk too much when he gets going, but it’s usually when the topic is academic. He talk can all night about Balzac to Nicole. When he plays the role of teacher, he is confident. When it comes to real life, he is awkward. Why does he venture out of his marriage for this young woman? The people in this film aren’t saying what they really think. It matters who is in the room. There are a lot of things that Pierre doesn’t want to say in front of his daughter Sabine. Pierre goes to a small town to give a talk about a film, and he brings Nicole along. The sequence reminded me a bit of “Stardust Memories.” Some unpleasant truths come out during this stay. You can’t go on with an affair when people you know are nearby. One of the interesting observations in the film is that the people of Lisbon were more polite than the people of Paris. I thought it was rather funny. Another amusing moment was seeing Pierre’s friend grow impatient with his speech, and later hearing him flatter Pierre in a cloying manner. The really stinging moment was hearing Pierre finally get caught in his lie. Pierre seems like he is taking a destructive path. He’s stubborn and stupid, and I suppose his wife is, too. Some scenes brought to my mind “Fatal Attraction” from another life, a few years after Truffaut’s death, in fact. I thought the idea of Franca resorting to taking out her gun was not in keeping with the spirit of Truffaut’s best work. It seems the love ends in death in many of his movies, like “Jules and Jim.” I liked the black and white photography in this movie, too. How many times did Truffaut use the music of Georges Delerue? “The Soft Skin” was released two years after the classic “Jules and Jim.” The earlier movie was a success, but audiences didn’t like the protagonist of “The Soft Skin.” He must have lost a lot of sympathy when he was willing to leave his young daughter for this stewardess who didn’t seem very smart. I liked the use of freeze frame that I saw in “Jules and Jim.” There was also a shot of a kitten that was similar to something we would see in “Day for Night.” I would say that while this movie wasn’t as strong a work as those that preceded it from Truffaut, it was better than pictures like “The Story of Adele H.,” “The Man Who Loved Women,” and “The Woman Next Door.” I was glad to see it because it was one of the two Truffaut films that I’d never seen. The other was “The Green Room.” I think that most people who have enjoyed French films over the years would like “The Soft Skin.” If I had Noah Baumbach’s phone number, I would call him and recommend that he see this movie. It could give him some inspiration if he ever wants to make a sequel to “Frances Ha.” The DVD was a new Criterion Collection disc. The movie looked clean and clear, and probably didn’t look this good since 1964. The movie was booed at the Cannes Film Festival. The ending was based on something that Truffaut had read in a newspaper. I’m looking forward to the release of “The Confession” next month. I would like to live long enough to see the key movies that I own on DVD in Blu-ray editions. In my mail, I didn’t get my Goober and the Ghost Chasers DVDs, but I did get a packet from the life insurance company. Looking through the figures, I calculated that my net worth is 342% of what it was last Tuesday. If I manage this money well, the rest of my life can be pretty good. I’m not rushing to spend it. I’d like to see what my position is at the end of the year. I’m not so eager to go out to my job and work really hard now. I’m not driven to seek a promotion anymore. I would like the time to watch a couple of Saturday morning cartoons as I did as a kid decades ago. I think I stopped watching the Saturday morning shows after Pee-Wee’s Playhouse went off the air. I heard on the news that Jayne Meadows had died on Sunday at the age of 95. She was married to Steve Allen, and her sister was Audrey Meadows of Honeymooners fame. I’m sad to hear about any of these old people dying. I worked on the answer key to one of my tests, and I watched the Billy Wilder film “Five Graves to Cairo.” One of my favorite Billy Wilder films was “Stalag 17.” William Holden had two of his greatest roles in Wilder movies, but “Fedora” wasn’t one of them. Pacific Film Archive had a recent Wilder retrospective, but I didn’t want to pay money to see “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” again. Some of the people who died on April 28 include Rory Calhoun (1999), Penelope Fitzgerald (2000), and Ken Hughes (2001). Today is a birthday for Jay Leno (65), Ann-Margret (74) and Harper Lee (89). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for April 28, “Buck and the Preacher,” starring Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, had its New York premiere in 1972. In 1973, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” was Number One on the album chart. In 1989, “Teen Witch” was released. Carolyn Jones was born 85 years ago today. She died of colon cancer at age 53 on August 3, 1983.

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