I’ve seen, I believe, no more than two brilliant movies: tonight’s The Knack, and 8 1/2. Brilliant in that, for me, they sum up the entire realm of human experience. Economically, by a virtuoso use of of the short cut method (one frame on the screen, lasting but a split second, can evoke and reveal all one has ever thought about and more than one can remember of the mind’s adventure) and totally, I was delighted and overwhelmed by what The Knack presented, and I know that each time I see it it will say more. One considers the film a comedy, which it is, even of the slapstick variety, but as 8 1/2 is so much more than an experimental exercise (or a serious autobiographical or whatever else it may be labeled), The range of The Knack goes far beyond that. I felt perhaps I was viewing a psychoanalysis and found myself profoundly touched by the pathos, exhilarated by the absurdity and vastly amused by the comedy.
I have recently seen another film, again, In The French Style. But its appeal is probably for me more personal than the above two. The quite simple story, sensitively and vividly written by Irwin Shaw, concerns a young American girl, a painting student, who spends a constructive year in Paris and then two or three more. She leads an attractive, aimless life for the years after the first, enjoying herself and rather superficially, sentimentally being employed by and employing those she meets and those who pass through her life like so many names and appointments in an engagement book. How the routine, the gay vapidness and even its hollow reward sounded an echo in me!
This morning I drew from a couple of descriptive passages from Crime and Punishment (now reading it). Lunch withBill, Janice and Ernie at the London Grill, a good bar in 15th Street hung with a variety of stuffed animal heads (like an immense shaggy moose head), lined with two or three rows of Chinese red and ochre lacquered booths. This afternoon I drew a very time consuming study of a young man in black, sweater, tight pants, brown high shoes, on a sepia ink-washed corrugated card board. Face (too handsome, a movie star’s face) and hands (pale against black) painted in with gouache tomorrow. But too academic, I must emerge from these groves!