Did That Movie Change, or Did I?

From Carrie Rickey's Flickgrrl


In Louis Malle's 1971 Murmur of the Heart (Le Souffle au Coeur), Benoit Ferreux plays a 14-year-old French bourgeois seduced by his shamelessly sensual Italian mother (Lea Massari). In the '70s, at the height of the sexual revolution - my own, and the culture's - I thought it the jazziest of comedies about erotic initiation. Upon its rerelease nearly 20 years later, what struck me as taboo-breaking and liberated in 1971 I would call child abuse in culturally conservative 1989. The movie was no less compelling, but by '89 I was a parent and not a child, and I had a more sober response to this Gallic Oedipus. I walked out struggling with the question of whether a 14-year-old was a consenting adult.

Sometimes a movie seems to change. Sometimes it's the cultural context that changes. And sometimes it's my opinion. Changing your mind about a movie if you're a civilian is victimless. Changing your mind as a professional critic has ramifications. As a point of pride, Pauline Kael saw films only once. She believed her immediate response was most honest. For Manny Farber, viewing and re-viewing movies enabled him to experience them from multiple perspectives, to compensate for the variables of cultural change and intellectual growth.

Sometimes a movie conceived for one generation does not always speak to the next - for instance, Easy Rider. A critic who liked a movie when she saw it on the big screen might wonder a decade later what she saw in it - kind of like an ex-boyfriend.

Are there movies that have improved, disappointed or otherwise changed over time for you? Why do you think that is?

And a correction: Last Wednesday's Blogosphere entry in this space quoted former film critic Joe Baltake on the Disneyfication of Times Square. He quoted Annie Leibovitz as saying, "Parents and kids have the entire country, couldn't they have left this for adults?" It wasn't Annie (the photographer) Leibovitz but Fran (the humorist) Lebowitz who said it.

Branding Berry

From Steven Rea's On Movies Online


Halle Berry, in town a few weeks back to talk up her tricky erotic psychothriller Perfect Stranger, also spoke a bit about her long-running and lucrative contract to promote Revlon products. Work-wise, she said, it requires "very little, if you want to know the truth," saying that at most it involves 10 days out of her year, doing a commercial, a print shoot, or a speaking engagement.

She added: "I do some charity work for them. They're very involved in women's health-care issues. So, I spend time throughout the year working with charities that they belong to, through that association with them. . . .

"When I first got asked to do it, I was getting asked to do lots of things - and I still get asked to endorse certain products. I really have a serious criteria, [namely] that if I don't use the product, then I can't endorse it, I don't want to put my name on it. And Revlon was the first brand of cosmetics that I ever bought when I was a young girl, and I still use their products. So it's something that I feel honestly good about attaching my name to because I really do use it, and that part of it feels good for me. It's not just about having my face out there or getting a paycheck. I do think it matters - our brand, and what we endorse."

Download of the Week

From Dan DeLuca's In the Mix


The Noisettes, "Sister Rosetta (Capture the Spirit)." British garage-rock trio fronted by the fabulous Shingai Shoniwa, who evokes the late great gospel guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe while she tells a paramour that "we compliment each other like Satan and Christ." Off the fast-paced and in-your-face What's the Time Mr. Wolf? The Noisettes were at the Troc on Friday, opening for TV on the Radio, and are on the Web at www.myspace.com/noisettesuk or www.noisettes.com.