Storylines In Review

Vacation Viewing series: The Away-Break Crisis Storyline
Below are suggestions for summer vacation viewing from our 'away-break crisis' storyline. (For background context, see our intro page. And for current examples of the storyline - a roundup of recent and upcoming releases - see here, and here.)
#1 Le mépris / Contempt (1963)
Jean Luc Godard's influential film, set and shot in Rome and on Capri, has the protagonists staying there for a film adaptation of Homer's Odyssey. The scriptwriter's wife comes to despise him when he ushers her towards the film's lecherous American producer, and their marriage winds up on the rocks. Though nominally based on a Moravia novel, the film may have an autobiographical angle: French New Wave directors had a reputation for handing their female companions around when they tired of them.
Its playful Godardian trailer lists the building-bloc scene elements as attractions.
 


#2:
L'Avventura (dir M. Antonioni, 1960)
On a holiday cruise aboard a private yacht among the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily, one of the well-to-do group, a young woman, goes missing. Two of the remaining group travel around Sicily following various sightings and clues, but she is never found, and their sense of purpose soon falters. Antonioni used landscape and architecture in this ground-breaking 1960 film to show the characters dwarfed by their surroundings.


#3: Le feu follet (dir Louis Malle, 1963)
The protagonist, formerly a hard-drinking playboy type, now staying at a rehab clinic in Versailles, is pronounced cured of his alcoholism but finds the world has now gone grey, and life seems pointless. (The film was released in America as The Fire Within, though the French title phrase refers to the will-of-the-wisp, an elusive dancing flame sometimes seen in swamps caused by flammable marsh gas.) He spends a last day in Paris, visiting friends in the hope of finding some inspiration, some reason to go on living. (This not being a Hollywood film, there are no happy endings.)
 
#4:
Otto e Mezzo / 8½ [dir F. Fellini 1963]
Maestro film director Guido retreats to a health spa outside Rome as he prepares his 9th film, which is to be autobiographical. ('Everything happens in my film, I'm going to put everything in'.) But his producer and production company and actors follow him there and he cannot find the peace he needs to get his film straight in his head, and this escalates into a creative crisis. 'It's about the confusion a man feels inside himself,' his producer defensively tells the press, but Guido only wants to flee - into fantasy.

#5:
Moonrise Kingdom [2012]
Co-written by Roman Coppola and director Wes Anderson, the crisis in this charming live-action-cartoon satire is not so much between the two preteens who run off into the woods for an innocent but illicit camping weekend in early-1960s America, but among the so-called adults, whose inadequacies and hypocrisies are soon exposed.

#6:
The Missing Postman (1997)
In this two-part BBC comedy drama adapted by Mark Wallington from his novel, a postman in a seaside town is made to take early retirement by the 'modernised' postal service as he cannot drive. He decides to hand-deliver his final outgoing postbag on his bike to addresses around Britain, which makes him both a wanted man and a national hero in the press.

#7:
Genevieve [1953]
Two competitors on the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Rally decide to turn it into a race out of ego, wagering their vehicles. Their female companions are less than impressed and become increasingly scathing about the idea as the rivals encounter one difficulty after another on their overnight excursion. The charm of this comedy written by William Rose lies in the underlying absurdity of the situation - a race between cars built in the 1900s that can barely do 20mph.

#8:
Last Holiday [1950]
An exercise in irony set in a still class-bound postwar society, this original JB Priestley script has the protagonist, a farm implements salesman mistakenly diagnosed as terminally ill, going off to stay at an exclusive spa hotel on England's south coast ("Pinebourne") to live his last few weeks in style.

#9: Nuts In May [1974]

This improvised Mike Leigh film has an out-of-touch do-gooding, folk-singing couple of social workers, the Pratts, on a weekend camping break in deepest Dorset, antagonising everyone with their patronising London attitudes. It was filmed entirely on location in the Purbecks, from Corfe Castle to Lulworth Cove.

#10:
The Third Man [1950]
A writer of American pulp westerns arrives in postwar Vienna only to find that the friend who invited him has apparently been killed. He determines to hunt down those responsible, pulp-western-style, unaware he is totally out of his depth, a pawn in a murderous black-market intrigue and emerging Cold War politics. The film, largely shot in Vienna from a script by Graham Greene, was one of the first to deal with the issue of culture shock where the visitor creates problems for himself by imposing his own cultural assumptions.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
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[c] Storylines In Review 2019