Lola

I had a long day of dealing with students.  I heard the news that Rashaan Salaam had died.  One of my friends from years ago went to high school with him in La Jolla.  After I was done with my work, I went home and watched Jacques Demy’s “Lola.”  The star was Anouk Aimée, known also for “A Man and a Woman,” “La Dolce Vita,” and “8 ½.”  She also appeared in movies by George Cukor, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Robert Altman.  She was once married to Albert Finney.  “Lola” is a tribute to Max Ophuls.  Demy said that it was a musical without music, although it did have a catchy tune and uses Beethoven and Bach on the soundtrack.  The setting is a familiar Demy setting, Nantes, with its seaside images.  The film is something of a prequel to “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” because of the character of Roland.  He talks of being bored with life, which reminded me of a character in a Truffaut film who said that he was never bored.  There were things in his character that made me not root for him.  Another sight we’ve seen in other Demy films is the American sailor walking through the streets.  The focus is on one of them named Frankie.  He didn’t seem to speak English too well even though he was supposed to be from Chicago.  He buys a comic book called “Meteor.”  Roland gets involved with a smuggling plot.  Another character is a young girl named Cécile, who tries to buy the comic book, but Frankie is there to grab the last copy.  She goes to the fair with Frankie, and the rides, including the bumper car, reminded me of “The Young Girls of Rochefort” with a little bit of “Annie Hall.”  Roland runs into Lola by chance, and the encounter brings back memories and awakens feelings of love in Roland.  It seems apparent to us that it is the wrong direction, though.  A human being should not be a solution to boredom.  Besides, Lola is waiting for a man named Michel, who is the father of her seven-year-old son.  What I kept thinking about was that the sun never seemed to set in this town, because characters were meeting each other at seven or eight o’clock with a lot of sunlight outside.  It seemed unlikely that Michel would turn up at a critical moment towards the end, or that he would have made something of himself after abandoning Lola, but this is definitely not reality.  It is the movies.  It looks like none of the relationships in the story should work out, but chance affects everything in this world.  Lola had her heart set on something.  Roland is passive, and seems like he’ll never find that happiness.  He might find it and get bored with it.  Frankie is only there in France temporarily.  He reminded me of the soldiers in John Schlesinger’s “Yanks.”  With each Demy film I’ve seen, I’ve come to appreciate him a little bit more.  He put life and emotion into his films.  “Lola” had a lively quality that I really liked, compared to something from Antonioni.  Anouk Aimée is 84 years old now.  Marc Michel, who was Roland, died on November 3, 2016.  The original negative of “Lola” was destroyed in a fire, and it looks like there were problems with the restoration.  The disc came with several short films as special features.  It would be interesting to watch “Lola” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” back to back because of the similarities.  “Lola” was part of a great time for French cinema, and it is worth watching more than once.  I got tired after watching the movie and so didn’t view any of the extras on the disc.  I sat around wondered what else besides the negative for “Lola” that fire destroyed.  The weather forecast called for rain to come our way later in the day.  I picked up a copy of the East Bay Express and saw that the movie about Toshiro Mifune is opening, and “Rogue One” and “La La Land” are coming, too.  Some of the people who died on December 7 include Rube Goldberg (1970), Thornton Wilder (1975), Robert Graves (1985), Christopher Connelly (1988), Joan Bennett (1990), and Harry Morgan (2011).  Today is a birthday for Tom Waits (67).

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