Thursday, May 15, 2008


Rachel Donadio pleads "enough about 1968" and HERE unpacks the cultural moment of 1958, when changes were afoot just as momentous and that have greater continuity with today.

I'm with her, and would go further to say that sometimes when I hear the "soixante-huitards" of Notting Hill reminisce about '68 it sounds almost as if they're taking pride over a disruptive tantrum. That said, a great filmmaker of that generation, who indeed made a film looking back at it, recently told me a deliciously self-mocking story about being a guest at a dinner party two years ago in Paris's Sixth. He and his former comrades went to balcony high above to cheer on a crowd of youth on the march in protest. Below them, protest turned to mayhem, and cars were set alight, as they were then again. Still the soixante-huitards, glasses of Bordeaux in hand, cheered. On the balcony fists were raised in fraternite, and below the protesting youth raised fists back, shouting up to them in solidarity.

Suddenly, one of the guests shrieked, "Wait, STOP! That's MY car! They're burning my car!!"

Yes, let's instead look back to 1958. Do read Donadio's essay, and alongside the photos of Robert Frank, the novels of Kerouac she mentions, put the first publication of William Burroughs, the continued ascendance of the Actor's Studio, the performances of Marlon Brando, and John Cassavettes's "Shadows," a cheaply-made and improvised film about jazz musicians, shot in 1958.

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