Friday, May 4, 2007

Movie Chat: Day for Night

Day for Night

So, one of the things that bugs me even though I do it myself is referring to a movie as a "minor movie" - like, "Oh, Snakes Eyes is really minor De Palma".

I bring this up for two reasons: (1) I deal with film production in my day job and even a small film is a big undertaking, and the folks involved in making it have to spend lots of time, money, effort, passion, etc. to get it made. I know, I know: people are using "minor" in the artistic/historical sense, but still, it's a little condescending. (2) If I wasn't so bugged by the term, I'd probably say that Day for Night was "minor Truffaut".

Of course, what I'd really mean is that if you're only going to see one or two Truffaut movies in your life, you can safely skip it. And, when it comes to movies-about-movies, Day for Night is pretty modest: it doesn't wrestle with Big Themes like 8 1/2, Close-Up, or The Stunt Man and it doesn't make a Big Argument about movie culture like The Player, Barton Fink, or Sunset Boulevard. But that's probably why I liked it so much: it gives a pretty good idea of the kind of work that goes into making a movie and, if it never really gels into a Big Statement, well, so what? It gets a lot of the little details right. I especially like the way it focuses on all the different people and personalities involved.

Also, I like that Truffaut - one of the originators of the auteur theory - shows that the director's decisions and actions are almost always primarily based on of nuts-and-bolts logistical concerns. Concerns of artistic significance are (an important) second. You get the sense that a big part of his talent as a director is his willingness to roll with the punches and his ability to improvise when the original plans go out the window.

It's not an especially deep movie, but I think I'm much more fond of it than the admittedly more impressive 8 1/2.

Also: I've seen Jacqueline Bisset in movies before (like Bullitt), but for some reason this is the first time she really registered with me. I have to say: I'm definitely a fan.

(Also also: La nuit americaine is, I think, a better name than Day for Night.)

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