DVD Reviews 

Murmur of the Heart and Analyzing White America

Murmur of the Heart


Packaged as part of the box set along with Au Revoir Les Enfants and what Malle in one audio interview calls his most accomplished film, Lacombe, Lucien. No Wave director Louis Malle, by then most known for Elevator to the Gallows (1959), scandalized and enthralled audiences with this story of incest set in Indochina war-era Dijon.
On its surface Malle’s coming-of-age story could be mistaken for Truffaut. There’s the mischievous boy lead, remote, clueless parental figure, and it being France, the specter of corrupted, hypocritical clergy. But within a few minutes of Murmur, we realize that we aren’t in Calais anymore, Dorothé. Laurent is a schoolboy, who’s 14 going on 50.  He reads tracts on suicide, is an expert on Charlie Parker’s rhythm section and likes older women — specifically his mom. It’s the festering incestuousness with his old lady that propels, arrests and skews Laurent’s entrance into the world of adulthood. Malle plays it straight-up-no-chaser with a mise-en-scene that cramps the viewer’s sensibilities. It’s an unforgivingly noir view of childhood precisely because it’s so plausible.
Contains the usually excellent and scholarly fulfilling bonuses including a highly enlightening audio interview, and biographer Pierre Billard’s take.
Essential element in French postwar cinematic history. Will put New Waver Truffaut in a new light.

Jason Bogdaneris

Analyzing White America
Shout Factory

Chappelle’s Show fans will recognize Paul Mooney as Negrodamus, the seer who famously explained why white people love Wayne Brady (“he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcom X”). Mooney’s been in the comedy business since the 70s, writing for shows like Pryor’s Place and In Living Color.  Before he landed the Chappelle’s Show gig he put his life-long fascination with white people on film with 2002’s Analyzing White America.  
Analyzing White America is a pretty typical stand-up DVD: a monologue filmed before a responsive (if modest) audience and broken up by vignettes — Mooney playing a therapist to white archetypes who wind up on his couch. Analyzing White America makes good on the ominous threat of its title, rarely straying from the topic of white people and the myriad ways in which they suck.
An interview with Mooney shot at a pier.  The pier represents White America for him because, he explains, “all my white friends have boats.” All white people own yachts, by the way. I own three.
Mooney doesn’t handle race as well as his contemporaries.  He can’t match Dave Chappelle for inventiveness or Chris Rock for wit, but he has them both beat for vitriol: his white people are generally sniveling cowards and pathological racists.  Besides white people, he has a fair amount to say about the O.J. trial.  With Analyzing White America, Mooney proves it’s possible to be offensive and boring simultaneously. If this guy would retire in exchange for 40 acres and a mule, I’d sell one of my yachts to finance the transaction.

Elias Ravin


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