Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Picasso Summer (1969)

There's a story behind my watching of this movie-The Picasso Summer. It caught my eyes in the TV guide, where it was given 1-and-a-half stars, and called a 'turgid arthouse mess'. I thought to myself, uh, that must be crap, and didn't give it a second thought. But later, I did give it a second thought, and for a reason I've now forgotten, I looked the movie up online and found that by most accounts, this is a good movie. Couple that with the fact that the local TV guide has either been very mindnumbingly stupid (it called JCVD a sweetly comic movie, wherein Jean-Claude Van Dame lightly pokes fun at himself), or just had reviews that I've very much disagreed with (it hates Casino Royale '67 and only gives Rambo: First Blood Part II 2 stars), and I was incensed to give this movie a watch.

...But it didn't start 'till 4:30 in the morning (it was also on earlier in the day, but I only looked it up come nightfall). I stayed up 'till 2:00 in the morning to set my DVD player up to tape the movie. And in recording the channel for six hours, I unknowingly taped the entirety of Casablanca as well!

So, onto the movie itself...
The Picasso Summer is about George (Albert Finney) and Alice (Yvette Mimieux), a married couple. George is having a bit of a mid-life crisis, and when he sees some Picasso paintings of his, he gets the idea to use his week off from work to an advantage and go to the South of France with Alice, to try and find Picasso and tell him what an amazing artist, and inspiration he is...

This is an entertaining little film. It's simple, just focusing on two characters as they journey* through France looking for the famed artist, but somewhat effective, although the story doesn't have quite enough meat on its bones. The film has some funny dialogue here. My favourite line is at the start, when Alice sees George looking glum and says, "You look like the end of the world".

*They journey through the French countryside, on bycicles. I got serious And Soon the Darkness flashbacks!

The two main characters are fine, but you'll want to engrave the word 'dickhead' into George's skull when he leaves the reluctant Alice in France, and goes to Spain.

The Picasso Summer is adapted from a short story by Ray Bradbury, and is probably better than it. I say that because this is a story that's definitely more suited for the silver screen rather than literature, because it's difficult to have a story talking about how awesome art is, because you can't see the art it's talking about*.

*Well, unless it's illustrated, that is.

The music is nice, but the main theme is a bit repetitive throughout.

Shot on location in France, the movie looks beautiful! It's shot wonderfully, from the city of San Franscisco, to the countryside of Southern France.

At times, the movie drops acid, and in a bout of "Aaahh, freak out! Le freak, c'est chic", the movie shows lengthy Picasso style animation sequences. The animation is good,and the events therein creative, but I think they should have been shorter, because they do drag. It probably would have been better if there were a few smaller interludes, rather than three long ones. By the way, if you're epileptic, don't watch the animation sequences. They include lots of strobe flashing.

There is one really boring part of the movie. It's when the Spanish friend of Picasso starts regaling a story. Not only does he waffle on about nothing, but the scene really makes you think "Bullfighting is annoying!" All it's doing is agitating the bull, and giving the matador an adrenaline hard-on (and possibly a nasty goring). I'm really plum surprised that Spain as a whole hasn't gotten completely sick of seeing guys in funny hats do nothing but wave a red sheet in front of a bull, then dodge it. Also, at the end of the scene, the bull is murdered by the Spanish guy! (That is, the bull in the movie, not in real life...err, as far as I know).

In fact, the whole Spain portion is boring. I'd almost lost hope in the movie, but it returns to form once the action goes to Alice in France. If you want a complete viewing experience of The Picasso Summer, it's imperative that you fast-forward through the whole Spain section.

Unfortunately enough, the Spain section of the film has even more wrong with it than I originally thought! The friend of Picasso's was playing himself. He really was a good friend of Picasso's. Was. He was persona non grata the moment he banged Yul Brynner's wife. Apparently Brynner was also a friend of Picasso, and the artist furiously burned bridges with this guy, even going so far as to not have any part with The Picasso Summer because of the dick's involvement in the film! So as you can tell, the Spain section of The Picasso Summer is the absolute worst thing about it in every way imaginely possible!

The Picasso Summer is a somewhat entertaining little movie to start, but once it temporarily shifts locations, things get interminable for nearly half-an-hour, and the overlong animation sequences make things worse. I do, however, recommend this movie, especially if you're a fan of art, and/or Picasso...

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