Malle Moreau Miles
Belcourt is showing an early Louis Malle movie, Ascenceur pour l’Echaufaud, Elevator to the Gallows, for a couple of more nights. This is a sort of Postman Always Rings Twice/Body Heat story of lovers getting together to murder bothersome husband who is getting in their way. I heard about it first because it has some original Miles Davis music on the soundtrack, recorded with a French rhythm section and tenor player (that includes Kenny Clarke, an American who was living in
The film is all displacements. The male lead, Julien, gets caught in an elevator for most of the film, setting in motion much of the plot by being taken out of the action. A young couple steal his car and his identity, and go on a joy ride that takes them out of
Moreau is fascinating to watch in this movie. She is not beautiful in a conventional way, and her appearance changes in Malle’s hands. She has a hard appearance at first, but then softens as the film goes on. I’m reading Cavell’s World Viewed these days, and she is a good example of what he says about stars being a singularity, representing not a type or the world but a particular, specific entity that becomes known as “Jeanne Moreau” or Bogart or whatever.
Miles’ music comes in at just a few points. It is effective enough, especially the section in the opening. Last weekend the Belcourt was also showing some completely unrelated footage of Miles from the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, a group that consisted of Gary Bartz, Jack DeJohnette, Airto, Corea, Jarrett, and Dave Holland, close to the group on the Live at Filmore recordings (with Grossman instead of Bartz). The sets that band did had a very similar structure, and this was the first time I’ve seen how they put it together. Corea and Bartz are doing very interesting things in their contributions to the whole. Bartz vocalizing on alto, Corea working in some very crunching synthesizer sounds.