Turns out Zach
was already here.
For so many reasons, El is a wonderful movie, a dry-run for Buñuel’s masterpiece of on-again off-again passion and sense (Buñuel, like Lubitsch, is always wondering which one is worse), That Obscure Object of Desire. The problem, probably the greatest a film could have, is that Vertigo does it better. Two films by the surrealist masters of suspense/Catholic guilt: stories of women who are temptations to sin and redemptions from it (Jesus—Nietzsche says it—provides a similar role for Christians, as an eternal, guilty reminder of the sins he’s saved us from, and of the debt we owe him that just increases every sinful day; if Jesus doesn’t remind us, Fritz Lang will). It makes perfect sense to see Vertigo’s museum as Hitchcock’s church, and Scottie’s embrace as a kiss of death; El, at least, can help indicate why.
A few months ago, Kasman and I were getting hot dogs in Needle Park—I think we were talking about Hitchcock. “Yo, you guys talking about Hitchcock?” said a skater, in clothes tattered well beyond fashion (I've learnt the feeling), who was eyeing our hot dogs a few feet away. “I love Hitchcock!” One of us asked him if he had seen Vertigo. “Aw no,” he said, “but I’ve heard that movie—isn’t it, like, about everything?” I think I said yes. I hope so.
Some shots from Vertigo and El—one of the many things Vertigo, I think, is “about”: