Rohmer’s Moral Flirtations

DRKnight66: Inception comes out today!

RollinWitNolan40: Oh man, it’s gonna be so sweet.

DRKnight66: It’s gonna be like The Dark Knight meets Memento meets awesome!

RollinWitNolan40: Are you taking your girlfriend?

DRKnight66: What girlfriend?

RollinWitNolan40: Oh yeah I forgot. Jenni dumped you after you bought that fully-outfitted Batman morotcycle.

DRKnight66: Still don’t regret the purchase.

RollinWitNolan40: Yeah, screw girls. Emily doesn’t even wanna see Inception. I mean, come on…

Sure, Inception does look cool. But let’s face it: if you’re looking to really impress a girl (or guy), get to know them on an intimate level, there’s better date movies out there than some half-cocked, Joseph Campbell-ian, Matrix mash-up with a stoner philosophy major’s view of the world. In fact, if you’re trying to instill that subtle sense of intellectual, yet sexy flirtation into a budding relationship, that essential, fuckable French-ness, you can’t do much better than Eric Rohmer.

The one-time critic and writer for the French New Wave became best known for his series of films known at the “Six Moral Tales.” But these movies are, at their core, anything but moral. They instead dissect the sub-textual and sub-sexual complexities inherent in male-female relationships—often allowing two actors to discuss mathematical theories at great length—until the primal, erotic tension bubbles to the immediate surface. Rohmer is more than partly influential in the emergence of the “mumblecore” movement, but where many of those movies tend to float in a likable though detached uncertainty, his films are like finely cut incisions into the layers of romantic attraction.

Two of Rohmer’s most famous “Moral Tales,” My Night At Maud’s and Claire’s Knee, as well as a short-film of the series, “The Bakery Girl of Monceau,” are playing for a one-time-only triple-feature at the Aero Theatre this Friday, July 16th at 7:30 PM. My Night at Maud’s, absolutely one of the sexiest movies I’ve ever seen, tells the story of Jean-Louis and his enveloping fascination with a divorcee named Maud, a seductive though prudish woman he spent a night with in deep conversation. Claire’s Knee also explores quiet male obsession, but goes the Lolita route, and follows newly-engaged Jean-Claude as he fixates upon the sight of a young girl’s bare knee. Both films restrain themselves from any graphic sexuality, but opt instead for the Kundera-version of flirtation: “…a behavior leading another to believe that sexual intimacy is possible, while preventing that possibility from becoming a certainty. In other words, flirting is a promise of sexual intercourse without a guarantee.”

I suppose what I’m saying is that if you want to see a movie to g-chat about with your nerdy friend, then see Inception. But if you want to get laid, see some Eric Rohmer, and catch up with the Christopher Nolan piss-contest next weekend.

- By Joshua Morrison

Note: If you do score off of the first two “Moral Tales,” make sure to see the rest at the next night’s triple-feature, Rohmer’s La Collectionneuse and Chloe in the Afternoon, along with the short, “Suzzane’s Career.” All at the Aero Theatre, Saturday, July 7th starting at 7:30 PM. For more information, please visit www.americancinematheque.com.

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