Oct 29, 2015

Breathless (1983)

While I am one of those assumedly many people that hoped that the urban legend that leading man Richard Gere shoved gerbils up his ass for sexual satisfaction was true and find the remaking of popular European arthouse films to be one of Hollywood’s more pernicious culture-distorting practices, I cannot deny that I am a recently converted fan of Breathless (1983) aka A Bout de Souffle Made in USA directed by Jim McBride (The Big Easy, The Wrong Man). A fairly unwanted and seemingly absurd big budget Hollywood remake of La Nouvelle Vague alpha-auteur Jean-Luc Godard’s undeniably groundbreaking black-and-white debut feature À bout de soufflé (1960) aka Breathless co-written by François Truffaut, the fairly unloved cinematic might be one of the greatest examples of the film maudit in cinema history but it ultimately proved to be seemingly infinitely more entertaining and romantic to me than its almost unanimously respected French predecessor. Seeing as I found Godard’s film to be one of the most decidedly disappointing films I have ever seen in terms of its importance in the context of cinema history, I initially had absolutely nil interest in watching a Hollywoodized Breathless remake set in Los Angeles and starring Mr. Gere, but after reading that legendary underground auteur George Kuchar (Hold Me While I’m Naked, The Devil’s Cleavage) modeled his performance as a macho tranny-killing brute in the underrated experimental horror-comedy Screamplay (1985) directed by one-time-auteur Rufus Butler Seder after the lead in McBride’s remake, I found myself somewhat intrigued and decided to give it a watch, thereupon ultimately discovering a somewhat shockingly engrossing and genuinely romantic love story with sex appeal. Somewhat ironically, Godard’s arthouse flick was heavily influenced by less than respectable American B-movies, which is the undeserved status that McBride’s remake would eventually obtain as a quasi-softcore lovers-on-the-run flick featuring a super sassy, sensual, and somewhat stupid yet thankfully oftentimes unclad frog babe with an extra erotic accent that probably millions of teenage boys masturbated to while it was aired on cable TV during the 1980s alongside similarly fun filmic trash like Paul Schrader’s Gere vehicle American Gigolo (1980). Directed by a fellow from a self-described “normal middle-class, half-Jewish, half-Irish upbringing” who first gained attention among cinephiles and cineastes for his experimental docufiction piece David Holzman's Diary (1967) starring screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson (who co-penned Breathless) as a young Godard-quoting filmmaker and who went on to direct everything from X-rated counterculture-themed arthouse dystopian flicks like Glen and Randa (1971) to stupid bawdy Porky's-esque sex-comedies like Hot Times (1974) aka A Hard Day for Archie, McBride’s Breathless is a stylish and sexy ‘true romance’ that is full of love and life and has very little in common with the Godard flick to the point where it would almost be disingenuous to describe it as a remake. Indeed, thankfully McBride did not pull a Gus van Sant and assemble a sterile and pointless shot-for-shot remake, but instead he completely revamped the entire story and aesthetic to the point that the average American viewer would never suspect that it was a reworking of a French art film that completely changed world cinema and highly influenced the proliferation of the auteur theory in Europe and eventually the United States.

 Featuring a tastelessly charming rockabilly-fueled lady’s man and super slick car thief that finds inspiration from reading Silver Surfer comics and considers fighting for the body and soul of the woman that he loves to be the most important objective in his life as opposed to a goofy frog petty criminal that lives a pathetic parasitic existence and is more infatuated with an ugly mug like Humphrey Bogart than his blonde dingbat girlfriend like in Godard’s flick, McBride’s Breathless films pays intercultural homage to its predecessor in a couple of ways, most notably in terms of the female lead. Indeed, instead of a boyish American love interest with a blonde dyke haircut like in Godard’s flick, the film features a classically feminine brunette French female lead. Of course, what makes the casting even more interesting is that Richard Gere and his ‘French’ costar Valérie Kaprisky (who is actually of Polish, Argentinean, and Turkish extraction) were actually extremely sexually attracted to one another in real-life and their carnal chemistry is quite obvious onscreen to the point where even when the two are fighting, you can tell that they really want to fuck each other’s brains out (in fact, Kaprisky once went so far as to say that the love scenes were not acting, stating, “It was wonderful working with Richard...He [Gere] gives you everything to react to. We were not acting the love scenes. They were half real. You can't say you act only when they say 'Action!'...I think it shows in the movie. If you don't really feel like doing it, it shows.”).  Not surprisingly, Kaprisky had previously starred in a couple pieces of European cinematic erotica, including alongside swarthy bisexual kraut heartthrob Horst Buchholz in English auteur Robert ‘Dr. Phibes’ Fuest’s fairly disappointing softcore swansong Aphrodite (1982) and she was ultimately discovered by Breathless producer Martin Erlichman (who is probably best remembered today for the quite dubious achievement of discovering singularly vulgar and repellant Jewess Barbra Streisand) after he came upon bootleg nude photographs of the actress, though it was apparently Gere that actually selected her for the role after flying to Paris and picking the most sensually sound frogette (of course, Kaprisky makes Jean Seberg in Godard's film seems like a bratty little boy by comparison). In fact, in a similar sense to Robert De Niro (who incidentally was apparently interested in playing Gere's role) with Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1996), Gere acted as a sort of secondary auteur on the film, or as director McBride once stated himself, the actor “was a collaborator [and] a co-conspirator” who “worked on the final version of the script, was interested in the art direction, [and] sat in on casting.” As someone that typically cannot stand even looking at Gere, let alone seeming him portraying a sort of archetypical alpha-male, Breathless ultimately managed to do the seemingly impossible by inspiring me to root for the man (or at least his character) just as much I rooted for the ice-axe in Joseph Losey's The Assassination of Trotsky (1972). 

 The story of a self-described “all or nothing” kind of car thief who accidentally kills a cop and plans to flee to Mexico yet has fallen in love with a feisty French college student and thus postpones his self-imposed exile until she agrees to do him the grand honor of being his main babe so that they can commence a happy storybook life together, Breathless ultimately not only depicts how society and the world in general oftentimes destroys lovers and their romantic ambitions, but also the perennial relationship plague of female decisiveness as well as how members of the so-called fairer sex oftentimes have the (anti)emotional capacity to betray their true love because he does not fit perfectly into their big idealistic plans for the future.  In that sense, the film is even more relevant today than when it was first released over three decades ago, as we now live in an uniquely ungodly age where the rotten fruits of feminism have reached an all-time high in the United States and especially Europe as reflected by defeatist men's rights movements like MGTOW and the hordes of unhappy childless spinsters in their 30s and 40s who have nothing to show for their lives aside from an intrinsically worthless career that contributes virtually nothing to society aside from more bureaucracy and mindless consumerism (indeed, places like Starbucks would go out of business without these women).  Indeed, McBride’s film might look, feel, and sound like your typical big dumb stupid Hollywood studio film, but it contains a philosophically insightful love story in the tragic spirit of classic works like the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and Tristan and Iseult and thus naturally concludes in a less than happy fashion (though the ending is hardly as cynical as the one featured in Godard’s film). In that sense, Breathless is a pure and unadulterated romance flick for real men who value testicular fortitude and loathe white knight faggots, so-called ‘male feminists,’ hipster homos, autistic tech dorks with yellow fever, and culturally cuckolded wiggers, among other rabble who do not deserve a real woman. 

 Jesse Lujack (Richard Gere) is a sort proletarian man’s man who refuses to live by anyone’s rules and sees the lyrics of Jerry Lee Lewis and the personal philosophy of fictional Marvel comic hero The Silver Surfer as a passionate and practical Weltanschauung to live by. Indeed, while Jesse highly respects the fact that the Silver Surfer is constantly thinking about his lover even though she is trapped in a totally different galaxy, Lewis’ songs provide him with both the dance moves and prole ‘poetry’ he needs to let a lady know how much he loves her.  Although not actually depicted in the film, while in Las Vegas, Jesse hooked up with a hot young French architecture student named Monica Poiccard (Valérie Kaprisky of Andrzej Zulawski’s La femme publique (1984) aka The Public Woman) and during their couple days of sharing carnal knowledge with one another, the protagonist fell in love with her, or so the viewer soon learns at the beginning of Breathless after he suavely steals a “Little Baby Porsche” in front of a casino and then begins driving through the desert to make his way to Los Angeles so he can reunited with his beloved and make her his outlaw queen.  It is quite apparent that Jesse truly loves Monica because at the very beginning of the film he does not think twice about blowing off a beauteous big bosomed blonde that practically throws herself at him.  While cruising through the desert, Jesse practices ways to ask Monica to come to Mexico with him, stating, “All right. So, first I go get the money, and then I go ask Monica. I say, ‘Monica, you ever been to Mexico, honey?’ I say—I say, ‘Monica, darling, you coming to Mexico with me? Monica, you’re coming to Mexico with me!’ Me and Monica. ‘Cause I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna be. Mon-a, Monica and me. Me and Monica. Yeah, me and Monica go to Mexico.” After ironically declaring, “I know what we need. We need the killer” in regard to listening to a Jerry Lee Lewis song, Jesse discovers a handgun in the glove compartment of the stolen car that will soon get him into some serious trouble in a way that might destroy all his big plans. When Jesse proceeds to drive like a jackass through the desert to impress some young sluts in another car, he soon finds a police car trying to pull him over, so he naturally decides to get away since he’s driving a stolen automobile. Unfortunately, after opting to drive through a roadblock in an attempt to outrun the cop, Jesse crashes his car and in the process causes it to get stuck in a ditch. When the officer finally catches up to him and threatens him by yelling things to him like, “Get away from the car, I’ll blow you away!,” Jesse ‘accidentally’ ends up shooting and killing the cop. Of course, it is not long until the media begins dubbing Jesse the “I-15 Killer” and cops begin hunting for him everywhere, so he must act quick to get both money and Monica so that he can establish a little piece of paradise somewhere south of the border where most sane gringos would never dare go. 

 As a man that is wholly willing to risk his life for love, Jesse naturally refuses to leave without Monica, even when she routinely acts like a fiercely frigid cunt when he comes to see her. Indeed, when Jesse decides to surprise Monica by randomly showing up at her university, she is hardly happy but instead bitches like a cold witch on the rag who would rather see him dead. To Monica’s credit, Jesse shows up in the middle of a college exam where Monica is showing a small model of a building that she has designed and begins both verbally and physically assaulting her seemingly sapless teachers while pretending to be a janitor, so it is only natural that she would be mad at the protagonist, but not really for the reasons that the viewer initially suspects. Indeed, like most modern women, Monica is a self-absorbed social-climber who is geared towards engaging in hypergamy and who seems more interested in having a successful career than having children and a family with the man she loves as demonstrated by the fact that she is fucking her dorky and impotent architect professor Paul (William Tepper, who played the lead in Jack Nicholson’s underrated X-rated quasi-arthouse debut Drive, He Said (1971)), who is the complete opposite of wild gentleman Jesse as a groveling beta-bitch academic who seems like he would auto-ejaculate in his pants if a woman merely touched his leg. Apparently, Monica left Jesse in the middle of the night during their lurid love affair in Las Vegas, thus hinting that she is afraid of love and emotional commitment, so it is no surprise that she gets scared when Jesse passionately declares to her, “…I’m desperate for you, Monica. You know what it’s like blasting along the highway, going like ninety, maybe a hundred miles an hour? All of a sudden there’s this dip in the road. It likes to suck your guts out. Your breath is gone. That’s me around you, sugar. That’s me. BREATHLESS.” In fact, Monica admits so much when she responds to Jesse’s remarks by practically crying, “You scare me, Jesse. You can’t just burst into a person’s life and explode it all up like this [sighs] Las Vegas was a holiday. This is my life.” Of course, Jesse is determined to make himself the most important part of her life, even if he is a petty con turned fugitive who is wanted for the murder of a police officer. 

 Upon arriving in Los Angeles, Jesse wastes no time in breaking into Monica’s apartment building by pretending to be a Mexican pool boy and then making himself at home in her flat after picking the lock on her front-door. When Jesse randomly discovers a photograph of Monica and her professor Paul at Disney world while snooping around his lover's apartment, he tears the romantically hapless teacher out of the photo while calling him a “smuck” and then pockets the pic for himself. Despite the fact that she was willing to have sex with him when they were total strangers, Monica constantly cock-blocks Jesse when he initially arrives in LA because she seems to want to continue her phony love affair with Paul so that she can further her academic career and does not want to emotionally complicate things. Indeed, at one point, Jesse literally asks Monica, “Why are you so afraid to sleep with me again?” and she replies “Because you scare me. I don’t know what you want from me,” thus revealing that she is denial that one can actually have a romance with another person that is based purely on love and not merely personal gain.  Of course, Jesse reveals to Monica the error of her ways when he remarks to her, “you’re like one of those girls who’ll fuck everybody in the whole world…except the guy who loves her.” Like with a lot of women, it is ultimately the small sentimental things that Jesse does for her that makes Monica realize that he truly loves her. Indeed, when Jesse randomly robs a tranny that is taking a dump in a stall in a Hispanic bar restroom, he discovers a blinking light-up heart necklace in the shemale’s pursue and gives it to Monica, who cherishes the completely childish piece of jewelry to the point that she wears it all the time, even though it looks quite preposterous on such a sexually mature woman. 

 When Monica quotes her favorite author William Faulkner’s line, “Between grief and nothing, I will take grief,” and asks Jesse which one he would choose if he had a choice, the protagonist stoically replies “nothing” because, as he extra confidently states, “Like I told you, baby, all or nothing with me.” Although Monica, who certainly has a melancholic essence about her, prefers “grief” over “nothing,” she seems impressed with Jesse’s reply as demonstrated by the fact that she proceeds to make love to him, but her professor Paul interrupts by leaving a would-be-flirty message on the heroine’s answering machine that pisses the protagonist off. Quite irked at the fact that his lady love is sexually servicing an obnoxious academic dork who is probably too big of a pansy to even penetrate a puss, Jesse pushes Monica away, unplugs the answering machine, and then throws it in another room while the heroine, who is completely naked, opts to get out of the awkward situation by going into the bathroom and taking a shower. While Monica is showering, Jesse's anxiety and depression is only worsened when he sees a special news report on TV about how he is a fugitive cop-killer and how the police are currently leading a manhunt to find him, but luckily the protagonist manages to get out of his depression by simply singing Elvis lyrics.  Indeed, Jesse then proceeds to invade the bathroom and loudly sing to his beloved while simultaneously striping his clothes, “I can’t walk out…Because I love you too much baby. Why can’t you see what you’re doing to me when you don’t believe a word I say? We can’t go on together with suspicious minds and we can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds,” which are words that certainly parallel the dubious circumstances of their relationship. Monica is certainly delighted with the protagonist’s solo performance, as Jesse proceeds to penetrate her in the shower and then the two conclude their carnal session in the bedroom. When Monica gets out of bed to get dressed, Jesse passionately states to her without the slightest hint of irony, “Hey. Don’t take a shower. I want us to smell like we’ve been fucking,” which is a sentiment that anyone that has fallen in love can identify with. From there, Jesse begins describing to Monica about the mythos of the Silver Surfer and how the rather romantic superhero is always thinking about his girlfriend despite the fact that the two lovers are, “trapped on two different galaxies.” Jesse’s romantic remarks about the Silver Surfer incite a deep emotional reaction in Monica as she then proceeds to confess to the protagonist in regard to her extremely confused and stereotypical female worries, “I’m afraid because I’d like you to love me. And then – I don’t know. I wish you wouldn’t love me. You don’t fit into my plan for my life.” Indeed, assumedly brainwashed by a lifetime’s worth of frog style feminist brainwashing, Monica is highly idealistic about establishing a career as a successful architect even though her intelligence and fashion sense hints that she does not even have the artistic prowess to compete with a third rate queer fashion designer, let alone design fancy and innovative buildings. When Monica confesses to Jesse that she might me pregnant, he seems shocked at first but soon gets very happy, at least until his lady love abruptly declares, “Why don’t you understand me, Jesse? I have to think about the future,” to which he fittingly replies, “The future is bullshit,” thus causing her to act out like a petulant child who is pissed because her daddy will not buy her a pony.  Indeed, Jesse might be a man with nothing to lose, but his indestructible love for Monica is not something the female protagonist can simply purchase after she has become a successful architect, hence her mixed emotions.

 When Jesse drops off Monica to meet with a famous French architect named Dr. Boudreaux (played by Ukrainian-born French producer designer and director Eugène Lourié, who got his start working with Jean Renoir and later went on to directed Hollywood sci-fi flicks like The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)), he is identified as the fugitive cop-killer by an old Jewish man that is sitting in front of the ancient Mishkon Tephilo Synagogue located where Venice meets Santa Monica in West LA, but luckily he manages to get away and then goes to a junkyard to sell a stolen convertible to an obscenely sleazy Hebraic con named Birnbaum (played by Art Metrano of Police Academy 2 (1985) and Police Academy 3 (1985), who incidentally currently has a one-man comedy tour called “Jews Don't Belong On Ladders...An Accidental Comedy”). Birnbaum dresses like a dipsomaniac slob that jerks off to Beach Boys music videos and grotesquely sucks on a Popsicle like it is a cock while he is conducing business with Jesse, who soon realizes that he is doing business with an unscrupulous scumbag. To make a long story short, Jesse beats and robs Birnbaum and his Mexican underling after the gutter grade kosher conman refuses to pay him for the convertible that he stole him by threatening to call the cops on him since he is a fugitive. Meanwhile, Monica is harassed by two completely humorless and absurdly anally retentive cops who threaten to arrest her if she does not tell them where Jesse is, so she lies to them and tells them he is headed to San Francisco. When Jesse subsequently happens upon one of the cops harassing Monica, he immediately steals a car, runs over the officer, and then coerces his lady love into getting into the automobile, thus ushering in their sex-filled outlaw road trip. 

 Considering she is actively evading the police while on the run with a fugitive cop-killer and thus has probably already completely ruined both her academic career and personal life, among other things, one would assume that Monica has finally become completely dedicated to Jesse and is happy to live an outlaw lifestyle and start a family with her bad boy toy in rural Mexico, but of course it is only a matter of time before her stereotypical female anxiety comes into play and threatens to completely ruin everything, most especially the man she loves most. When she and Jesse manage to escape from a virtual army of armed cops that raid an underground New Wave club, Monica seems to practically have an orgasm as a result of the experience even though she badly cuts her hand in the process. In fact, the two lovers subsequently week shelter in an antiquated movie theater that is screening Gun Crazy (1950) aka Deadly Is the Female directed by Joseph H. Lewis and starring Peggy Cummins and John Dall and while the movie is playing they make love with one another even though the screening room is full of people. While making passionate love, Monica quotes a line from the film where lead actress Cummins declares, “I don’t want to be afraid of life or anything else,” but of course fear and anxiety will eventually get the best of her. After wantonly watching the movie, Jesse lets Monica pick out a car to steal, so she chooses a red El Dorado convertible and then the two head to a place called ‘The Pines,’ which is at the ruins of “famous crazy fucker” Errol Flynn’s mansion, for the night until they can meet the protagonist’s suave Guido criminal friend Tony Berrutti (Garry Goodrow) the next morning to get money so that they can finally make their way to Mexico. That night while parked at the “Honeymoon Suite” (aka an old swimming pool) of the Pines, Monica unwittingly reveals that she is having second thoughts about going with Jesse to Mexico by asking her beau a series of questions about what they will do for money in the future. Of course, when Jesse acts somewhat aggravated with Monica the next morning when she attempts to flirt with him while he is tuning up the El Dorado, the female heroine begins to panic. 

 When Monica discovers that the heart necklace that Jesse gave her is cracked after she drops it on the ground, she completely succumbs to female superstition and sees it as a serious sign that their relationship is ruined. Ultimately, Monica betrays Jesse by calling the cops from a payphone after the protagonist makes the stupid mistake of telling her to go to a nearby convenience store to buy imperative things like, “a carton of milk, some ding dongs, [and a] newspaper.” After betraying her beau, Monica then goes back to him and attempts to rationalize her treachery by stating to him in a fairly hysterical fashion, “I don’t wanna love you. I don’t want to go with you. Just now when I went down the hill, I wanted to keep going on. I was not gonna come back. I was not going to come back! But I knew you would come after me, and I knew you wouldn’t stop coming after me […]That’s why I called the polices…so that you would have to go.” Of course, Jesse refuses to leave and instead goes to meet Berrutti as planned to get the money, but the only thing that his friend, who is naturally afraid of getting busted by the cops, gives him is a handgun. Just as Berrutti abruptly drives away and Jesse tosses the gun on the ground, a number of police cars show up and a cop demands that the protagonist put his hands in the air. While Jesse initially follows the cop’s orders and raises his arms air, he soon begins dancing and singing the lyrics from the eponymous Jerry Lee Lewis song, “If you’re gonna love me, lover please don’t tease. If I can hold you, honey let me squeeze” while lovingly staring at Monica. Naturally, Monica is totally moved by Jesse’s inordinately romantic performance and proceeds to run up to him while crying, “Jesse! I love you, Jesse!,” thus inspiring the protagonist to grab the gun and point it at the cops in a true demonstration that he is really an “all or nothing” kind of guy.  One can only assume that the cops unleash a storm of bullets on Jesse after he puts his gun on them, but the viewer never finds out as Breathless concludes with a still shot of the protagonist aiming his weapon at the police in what is indubtably auteur McBride's (pseudo)Godardian equivalent to a Hollywood ending.

 While one of the main reasons I loathe alpha-fan-boy filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is because I think that he has absolutely horrendous taste in cinema despite being such an obsessive cinephile, I can at least respect him to a marginal degree for acknowledging that McBride’s Breathless is an underrated classic of sorts. In fact, Tarantino is such a huge fan of the film that he not only featured a poster of it in his partially lost black-and-white debut film My Best Friend's Birthday (1987), but also included a Silver Surfer poster in Reservoir Dogs (1992) in tribute to protagonist Jesse's love of the superhero. Of course, the script Tarantino penned for True Romance (1993) was also obviously heavily influenced by Breathless. Additionally, both Serbian auteur Emir Kusturica’s Time of the Gypsies (1988) aka Dom za vesanje and avant-garde auteur Thom Andersen’s experimental documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) pay tribute to the flick, with the latter cinematic work featuring excerpts of McBride’s film spliced in throughout. Speaking of Andersen’s film, Breathless features the most ambitious use of Los Angeles and its landscapes that I have ever seen in a film aside from sadomasochistic experimental gay pornographer Fred Halsted’s masterpiece LA Plays Itself (1972), which portrays the city as a sort of concrete jungle that is being perpetually being consumed by industrialization. Indeed, watching the LA depicted in big budget Hollywood blockbusters oftentimes makes me feel completely nauseated due to the seeming outstanding superficiality and singular soullessness of the city in these films, yet Breathless gives the West Coast metropolis a sort of truly magical feel that has not been seen since the great cinematic works of Hollywood's Golden Age. Certainly McBride’s film could not be any further away from Godard’s static and fairly prosaic film in terms of both spirit and aesthetics. Notably, when interviewed by Film Comment in 2013 about his film and its relation to Godard’s original work, auteur McBride remarked, “I would call it an exploitation of the Godard movie [laughs]. Look, I was a huge fan of the original film. If it was only one thing, then Breathless was the thing that made me want to make movies. But in reality, the chance to make a remake of this film that I loved so much came up rather accidentally, and once it was going to actually happen it seemed to me ludicrous. I felt terribly embarrassed! I was really just taking advantage of an opportunity that gave me a chance to direct a movie. Of course, as Kit Carson and I were writing it, it grew into its own thing […] by the end it was something very different from the original, for better or worse.”  Arguably, if Breathless was not a remake of a classic French arthouse film, it would probably be more revered and respected today instead of simply being regarded as a curious footnote of cinema history.

 If Breathless is a shameless Hollywoodization of Godard’s film, contemporary French auteur Bruno Dumont’s fairly brutal arthouse horror flick Twentynine Palms (2003) seems almost like a ruthless rape and murder of McBride’s film, as if the frog auteur was committing a sort of cinematic revenge against a mainstream American filmmaker who dared to defile one of his nation's most respected films. Indeed, while I have no clue if Dumont had the Gere vehicle in mind when he created his film, I could not help but notice the similarities between it and McBride's flick in terms of its depiction of a sex-heavy relationship between a stupid American philistine who drives fancy cars and his strikingly beautiful yet emotionally erratic French girlfriend. Quite unlike McBride’s film, the male protagonist of Twentynine Palms is a conniving weakling and capitalist whore who has no real love for his girlfriend and seems to only see her as nothing more than an imported carnal delicacy that he goes to a great pains to erotically exploit while denying her true love and affection, among other things. While largely seen as big budget erotic kitsch nowadays, Breathless is, at least in my less than humble opinion, a shockingly enthralling work that probably can be regarded to heterosexual males what Gone with the Wind (1939) has been to countless generations of American women, as a truly epic romance flick with passion and pathos that at least semi-successfully expresses the emotional ups and downs of a great romance relationship in 100-minutes.

 In its depiction of a man risking everything and putting all his time and energy into a romance that seems completely impractical and doomed to fail, Breathless features a scenario that many men who have fallen in love can completely relate to, which certainly cannot be said of Woody Allen flicks and the countless other Hollywood films where a neurotic Hebraic wuss is all lovelorn over a statuesque Shiksa that could probably kick his ass.  Not surprisingly, McBride later went on to direct a Jerry Lee Lewis biopic entitled Great Balls of Fire! (1989) starring Dennis Quaid and Winona Ryder, but his filmmaking career essentially fizzled out after that and he has spent most of his career since the early 1990s directing TV movies and episodes for TV shows ranging from The Wonder Years (1990-1991) to Six Feet Under (2001).  Directed by a man whose legendary debut David Holzman's Diary was shot under the Godardian cinephile philosophy that “cinema is truth twenty-four times per second,Breathless is probably my all-time favorite ‘sellout’ film an underground auteur turned Hollywood hack, even though I only saw it for the first time about two weeks ago.  Showing no evidence that it was directed by a man that once was part of the underground (though the comic book sequences did remind me of Paul Morrissey's obscure pre-Warhol short The Origin of Captain America (1965)), McBride's shamelessly Hollywood-esque flick might not be a masterpiece but it is a quintessentially American movie in the best sort of way a flagrantly flashy, stupidly entertaining, and seductively stylish work that features an obscenely arrogant and hopelessly naive outlaw go-getter who is symbolic of the sort of people that once made American a great place.  If there is anything you can learn from Breathless aside from that there is no way that a man that manhandles a hot French chick like Gere does in the film could have a fetish for shoving furry rodents up his manhole, it is that it is better to risk everything for love than to waste your most fertile and sexually virile years going to college so that you can eventually become a cold cunt career or bourgeois automaton.

-Ty E

1 comment:

Tony Brubaker said...

I want to bugger Valerie Kaprisky (as the bird was in 1980 when the bird was 18, not as the bird is now obviously).