Frances Ha

I got ready to go out for grading papers for my class. I still had to write some lecture notes for my early class. I got a lot done, but I also got tired. I returned home to have my lunch and to look around the record store. I decided to buy the Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of “8 ½.” I went back to the office to grade a lot of papers before going to the classroom. I gave out an exam and graded homework while the students finished up. I heard the news that Joan Leslie of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” died on her 90th birthday. Also, the Mets won their game with the Dodgers. I returned home to eat strawberries and yogurt, and then I brought out the Blu-ray of “Frances Ha.” Two of the moments that made me think of “Manhattan” were Frances eating Chinese food out of the carton while watching television, and then she had to move out of her apartment because of financial difficulties. I liked those moments when Frances had to deal with little things, like having to leave the chair outside the storage place. Her friend Sophie had a job with Random House, which liked like another detail out of “Manhattan.” The film looked very good in high definition, though maybe slightly less than magical. We like Frances because she’s struggling with life, and she is quirky but good-natured. I’m not sure if I liked the fact that she was involved with dancing. It seems hard to believe that she could find any real future in dance. Some younger women were right there to take the prominent parts. Frances isn’t meant for real fame. I thought I couldn’t accept one of her friends writing for Saturday Night Live, but then I thought about how crappy the show has been for years, and so any jackass could actually work for the show. I miss the black and white movies of years past. “Frances Ha” has a refreshing feeling to it, away from all the CGI that we see in movies of today. When Frances runs down the street to David Bowie’s “Modern Love,” she’s joyous, just as the Beatles were in “A Hard Day’s Night.” I thought it was funny that Frances went all the way to Paris to see “Puss in Boots.” I am sleeping through everything just as she did. I liked seeing the Sacramento montage again, and the shot in the bathtub disturbed me because Frances let some of the bathwater go into her mouth. I really wouldn’t want to do that knowing that some of that water touched my ass, my genitals, and my underarms. She couldn’t even relax in the bath. The shot of her riding the bicycle through town was reminiscent of “Jules and Jim,” although it didn’t inspire me to make plans to visit Sacramento. For Frances, it was a bit of relief from the harshness of New York and money problems and sadness. She was paying $950 a month at one point, and I didn’t see how see could go on with the money from dancing. Where was she getting the money? I think this is the one film that both Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach will be remembered for. I’d place it in my Top 10 black and white films since 1970, along with “The Last Picture Show,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “Manhattan.” Perhaps I’d also put “The Artist” in that category. “Frances Ha” isn’t on the same level as “Modern Times” or “The Seventh Seal” or “The Lady from Shanghai” as far as your all-time black and white films go. One of the interesting things I read about “Frances Ha” was that Greta Gerwig is in every scene in the movie. I couldn’t help thinking about Francois Truffaut as I watched it, partly because of that big “Small Change” poster on that apartment wall. How could either of those guys be fans of Truffaut, anyway? I also read that improvisation was minimal, as they followed the script closely. I actually think that is a good idea, because most of the ideas that actors come up with are terrible. They think they’re contributing something when they’re just being lame. If they knew anything about life, they wouldn’t be actors in the first place. I did not notice the Paul McCartney song “Blue Sway” on the soundtrack, and I’ve already seen this movie three times. I can’t say that it makes me want to see “Mistress America” again, though. I watched a bit of Jimmy Kimmel and This Week in Unnecessary Censorship. I couldn’t stand to watch the Stephen Colbert show with Oprah Winfrey. A McCloud episode called “Sharks!” was on Me TV. Lynda Day George was a guest on the program. The title does not refer to the kind of sharks that were in the Jaws movies, but loan sharks. The 1970s television shows don’t look so sharp on this channel. I stayed up to watch some sports highlights. The question is whether there is a team that can stop the Cubs. The news anchors joked that Don Mattingly would get fired. The Saints managed to win one against the Falcons. The Warriors won an exhibition game. When I saw George Kennedy on this morning’s Match Game episodes, he couldn’t hold his card still. Well, he is 90 years old now, so he has managed to keep going for a long time past those days of 1978. Some of the people who died on October 16 include Gene Krupa (1973), Dan Dailey (1978), Art Blakely (1990), Shirley Booth (1992), James A. Michener (1997), Jean Shepherd (1999), Deborah Kerr (2007), and Barbara Billingsley (2010). Today is a birthday for Tim Robbins (57), Bob Weir (68), Suzanne Somers (69), and Angela Lansbury (90). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for October 16, the members of Creedence Clearwater Revival announced their breakup in 1972. In 1976, Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” reached Number One on the album chart. In 2003, Simon and Garfunkel opened their Old Friends concert tour in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In 2010, Barbara Billingsley, who played June Cleaver in the Leave It to Beaver television series, died at age 94 in Los Angeles.

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