What’s Screening: Dec 2 – 8

This week we have Elf and Die Hard and Elf and Die Hard and Elf. Also The Front Page, The Life of Brian, and a rare, wonderful, largely forgotten comedy from the 1960s.

Also a full day of silent movies.

Festivals

We’ve got two one-day festivals this weekend. And unless I’ve missed something, these are the last two festival of 2016.

  • A Day of Silents takes over the Castro Saturday with Chaplin shorts and five features–all with live accompaniment.
  • On Sunday, the Roxie celebrates programmer Elliot Lavine (he’s moving to Portland) with Lavine On The Lam.

Promising events

Howard Hughes pre-Code talkies restored, Rafael, Friday and Saturday

The Motion Picture Academy recently restored two comedies, both produced by Howard Hughes, and the Rafael will screen them. On Friday at 7:15, they’re show the first film version of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s classic stage play, The Front Page. I saw this long ago and liked it, although I didn’t like it anywhere near as much as the second film version–Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday. On Saturday, at 2:00, they’re screening Cock of the Air. I’ve never even heard of that one.

Las Vegas gangster double bill: Bugsy & Casino, Castro, Sunday, 5:30

I haven’t seen either of these films in quite a while. I remember liking Barry Levinson’s Bugsy, starring Warren Beatty as the gangster who invented Las Vegas. I also remember liking Martin Scorsese’s Casino, even though part of me felt that he was trying (unsuccessfully) to regain some of the Goodfellas
magic. It is, I believe, the last film he made with Robert De Niro.

Recommended revivals

A Life of Brian, Castro, Friday

Not quite as funny as Holy Grail (but still hilarious), the Pythons’ second (and last) narrative feature digs a little deeper than its predecessor. Its story of a hapless citizen of Roman-occupied Judea, mistaken for the messiah, satirizes faith, fanaticism (both religious and political), and the human tendency to blindly follow leaders. The religious right attacked it viciously when it came out, which is kind of funny since the movie’s strongest satire is aimed at left-wing radicals. On a double bill with History of the World, Part I.

A- Ixcanul, Pacific Film Archive, Friday, 8:30; Sunday, 2:00

Cinema can take you into cultures you would otherwise never experience. This Guatemalan film brings us into the world of Maria, a teenage Mayan living with her family near an active volcano. Poisonous snakes threaten their farmland. The big bosses couldn’t care little. And, as teenage girls often do, she falls for a handsome jerk and must suffer the consequences.

B+ The President’s Analyst, Pacific Film Archive, Thursday, 7:00

This little comedy from 1967 deserves recognition, even if it-s extremely outdated. The White House hires a psychiatrist (James Coburn) to help the president deal with his emotional burden. Soon spies from every country on Earth converge to kidnap the unfortunate doctor (and stop other spies from kidnapping him). Although the movie shows its age in almost every possible way, the film’s surprise ending seems remarkably prescient. Introduced by graphic novelist Daniel Clowes. Archival print.

B+ The Golden Coach, Pacific Film Archive, Sunday, 4:00

Jean Renoir’s 1952 Technicolor comedy deals with arrogant aristocrats, starving artists, and, yes, a horse-drawn coach gilded with gold. Anna Magnani stars as a member of a commedia dell’arte troupe, stranded in a remote outpost of 17th-century South America, where she juggles a dashing soldier, a famous and egotistical matador, and the aristocratic viceroy of the colony. Her life soon reflects her art. A very fun and funny movie. The final screening in the series Anna Magnani: Eternal Soul of Italian Cinema.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)

To Pixar and Beyond: Animating the business end of filmmaking

You’d expect a book on the history of Pixar to include lots of drawings, models, and frame blowups. But you’ll find only words in Lawrence Levy’s To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History.

But then, To Pixar and Beyond is not about animation, design, or storytelling. It’s not even about technology. It’s about money, and its arguably evil twin–the stock market. And yet, if you’re interested in animation, technology, or the movie industry, it’s worth reading.

Levy, a lawyer and a businessman, became the animation company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) early in 1995. Steve Jobs, exiled from Apple and the sole owner of Pixar, picked Levy for the job of making the company profitable. The book doesn’t discuss how Pixar creates movies, but Levy clearly respects what he describes as “a level of creative and technical wizardry that I could never have imagined.”

1995 was an important year for Pixar, then a 16-year-old company breaking down barriers but losing money. They were busy finishing their first feature, Toy Story, due for release Thanksgiving week. But their contract with Disney, which financed the film, made future profits almost impossible. Levy’s job was to learn Hollywood’s financial structure, re-negotiate Disney’s contract, and set up an initial public offering (IPO).

Most of the book covers that important year. While Toy Story director John Lasseter and his team struggle to get the movie ready, Levy prepares the IPO. Neither task was easy. Toy Story was the first feature-length computer-animated picture; no one knew if audiences would accept a new type of movie.

Jobs pushed Levy to make the IPO happen as soon as possible. The book paints a surprisingly positive portrait of Jobs, with whom Levy developed a close friendship. Levy acknowledges the sociopathic Jobs that other employees knew; it just wasn’t his experience. On his first day at the studio, an employee told him that “Pixar lives in fear of Steve.”

Steve Jobs, from Alex Gibney’s documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Levy may be a lawyer, but he doesn’t write like one. His clear, easy-to-read prose help explain a lot about how money works. He describes IPOs, stock options, contract details, and the market in general in ways that make it clear to people who can barely balance a checkbook. He has an entertaining gift for metaphor, telling us that a Disney executive “was handing me a lifeline, and apologizing because it wasn’t in my favorite color.”

Toy Story made its Thanksgiving deadline, and the IPO happened the same week. That was fortuitous. The movie was an immediate hit of huge proportions, and everyone wanted a piece of Pixar. It was that IPO, and not Apple, that made Steve Jobs a billionaire.

Toy Story

The simultaneous premiere and IPO also gives the book a spectacular happy ending–only two thirds of the way through. Then we follow Levy as he helps Pixar mature. He arranges a new contract with Disney, gives Lasseter and the rest of the creative team artistic freedom, and eventually sells Pixar in a way that makes everybody happy.

Yes, it’s definitely Levy’s version of the story.

Levy goes off the deep end in the last three chapters, telling us about his discovery of Eastern spiritual practices. I have nothing against his religion, but it seemed out of place in this book.

I write about technology and cinema, and To Pixar and Beyond didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about either of these subjects. But it taught me a considerable amount about the finances that make technology and cinema possible. I enjoyed the book. And yet…as I read about IPOs and contract negotiations, I kept wanting to sneak into another room and watch Lasseter finish the final touches to Toy Story.

What’s Screening: Nov 25 – Dec 1

Warren Beatty, Eddie Murphy, the Marx Brothers, and some great musicians (but no film festivals) in this week’s Bay Area screenings.

New films opening

B+ Rules Don’t Apply, Shattuck, opened Wednesday

Warren Beatty returns to the director’s chair for the first time this century, wringing laughs out of billionaire recluse Howard Hughes. Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins play the young couple with a bumpy path to love. Well-made entertainment, set in the Hollywood of the 1950s and early 60s, and managing to poke some fun with puritan ethics and the extremes of capitalism. Read my full review.

Promising events

Roxie Mixtape #3, Roxie, Thursday, 7:00

Not all films are feature length. These short comedies, dramas, documentaries, and visual poems–all from Bay Area filmmakers–look at garbage, nature, love, technology, crime, and dogs.

Trading Places, Balboa, Thursday, 7:30

it’s been a third of a century since I’ve seen John Landis’ comedy about race and class. Two filthy-rich and utterly evil brothers, on a bet, ruin the life of an up-and-coming executive (Dan Aykroyd) and replace him with a homeless huckster (Eddie Murphy). I remember liking it when I saw it. The opening show of the Balboa’s Christmas-themed December Classics series.

Recommended revivals

A+ The Last Waltz, New Mission, Thursday, 7:00

The Band played their final concert on Thanksgiving night, 1976. Among their performing guests were Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, and Joni Mitchell. Martin Scorsese brought a crew of talented filmmakers to record the show, and created the greatest rock concert movie ever made. Scorsese and company ignored the audience and focused on the musicians, creating an intimate look at great artists who understood that this was a once-in-a-lifetime event. Read my A+ appreciation.

A Fruitvale Station, Pacific Film Archive, Thursday, 7:00

The experience of seeing this independent feature is very much like waiting for a time bomb. You watch Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) go through the last day of 2008, knowing that he will be fatally shot by a BART cop in the early hours of the new year. Writer/director Ryan Coogler wisely avoids turning Grant into a saint, but makes us care very much for him. The last moments of the film–not including some documentary footage and the closing credits–will break your heart. Read my longer report. The closing screening for the series Three Lives: Classics of Contemporary African American Cinema.

A Diary of a Teenage Girl, New Mission, Tuesday, 7:30

Minnie (Bel Powley in an amazing breakthrough performance) isn’t just any teenage girl. She’s an aspiring cartoonist with an irresponsible hippie mother in 1977 San Francisco–and she’s just lost her virginity to her mother’s boyfriend. The movie bursts with conflict, absurdities, and underground-comic-style animation as it captures San Francisco in the late 70s flawlessly (I know; i was there). But even better, it captures the rocky emotions of a young woman overwhelmed with hormones and not sure what to do with them.

Double bill: Horse Feathers & Follow the Fleet, Stanford, Friday through Sunday

The A goes
to Horse Feathers, where the Marx Brothers go to college and major in puns, pranks, and chasing Thelma Todd. Each brother gets to perform their own version of the same romantic song–each sillier than the last. See my Blu-ray review. Follow the Fleet gives us Fred Astaire as sailor on shore leave teaming up with Ginger Rogers. The Irving Berlin songs include “We Saw the Sea,” “I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket,” and the transcendent “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.” I give it a B+.

B+ The Red Shoes, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 3:00

This 1948 Technicolor fable about sacrificing oneself for art makes a slight story. Luckily, the characters, all fanatically devoted to their work, and all very British, make up for it—at least in the first half. Unfortunately, the final hour weighs down with more melodrama than even a well-acted film can bear. On the other hand—and this is why The Red Shoes holds on to its classic status—the 20-minute ballet sequence is a masterpiece of filmed dance and a great example of three-strip Technicolor at its best. I’ve discussed The Red Shoes in more detail. Part of the series Arrows of Desire: the Films of Powell & Pressburger.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)

Warren Beatty plays Howard Hughes for laughs in Rules Don’t Apply

B+ Romantic comedy
Written and directed by Warren Beatty
Story by Beatty and Bo Goldman

Don’t be fooled by the posters. Rules Don’t Apply isn’t a thriller. It’s a romantic comedy.

Warren Beatty returns to the director’s chair for the first time this century, wringing laughs out of billionaire recluse Howard Hughes. (He also returns to the producer and writer chairs.) Pushing 80, Beatty wisely let a much younger man, Alden Ehrenreich, do the chore of falling in love.

But that doesn’t mean you’ll miss Beatty’s on-screen presence in Rules Don’t Apply. While Ehrenreich and Lily Collins carry the love story, Beatty gets most of the laughs as the aging Hughes. Demanding and oblivious, his eccentricities drive his employees crazy.

The film is set in in 1950s and early 1960s, with digitally-enhanced old footage to place us in the time. The movie tells us right up front that it’s more myth than history.

The young lovers, for instance, are entirely fictitious characters. Collins plays a would-be movie star who comes to Hollywood on Hughes’ dime; she’s been promised a screen test. (Hughes ran RKO–very badly–at that point in the time.) Ehrenreich plays a Hughes employee whose jobs include chauffeuring this young would-be actress.

Neither of them are typical Hollywood folk. Both are small-town religious Christians, with little or no experience with sex or alcohol. As they spend time together, they build a friendship that turns slowly but inevitably in the direction of romance. But that’s not going to be easy. He’s already engaged, and their contracts with Hughes explicitly ban sexual or romantic entanglements with other company employees.

Their doubly-forbidden love and shared discomfort with tinsel town’s free ways provide warm, human-level comedy. Beatty’s performance as Hughes produce the broader laughs. He dines with an actress on frozen dinners. He hates kids and watches old movies constantly. He still loves to fly airplanes, but his passengers don’t enjoy the experience.

It seems as if everyone in Hollywood wanted to be in Beatty’s new movie. Paul Sorvino, Candice Bergen, Ed Harris, and others turn up in small, thankless roles that fail to show off their talents. On the other hand, Oliver Platt manages a very funny turn as a frustrated banker. Beatty’s wife, Annette Bening, plays the ingénue’s watchful but supportive mother.

Rules Don’t Apply lacks the political punch of such Beatty-created films as Reds and Bulworth, although it finds some fun with puritan ethics and the extremes of capitalism. But overall, it’s just well-made escapist entertainment. And that’s not something to look down on.

I saw Rules Don’t Apply at a special screening at the Castro, presented by the San Francisco Film Society. After the film, Director or Programming Rachel Rosen conducted a Q&A session with Beatty and Collins.

Beatty proved to be a witty, amiable, and fun interview subject–keeping the audience laughing through most of the session. Collins was also funny, but Beatty did most of the talking (after all, he wrote, produced, and directed the movie).

Here are a few highlights, edited for length and clarity:

  • Beatty on his career: You know you’ve got the right job if you don’t know if you’re working or playing.
  • On directing a movie for the first time in 18 years: Making a movie is like vomiting…I thought I’d just go ahead and throw up.
  • On casting Collins and Ehrenreich: I thought they had the intelligence and wit. They are not ugly. But I don’t want to diminish the guy who played Howard Hughes.
  • On Hughes: He stood for a level of power and capital in that time. I never met him. I like to say I’ve met everyone who met him. Everything we do in this movie about Hughes was based on something I was told.
  • On how the screenplay came together: I don’t know. Things happen. And you go back and forth and back and forth. and then you cast.
  • On Hughes: Everybody thought he was a nice guy.

Rules Don’t Apply opens Wednesday.

Brando, Magnini, Powell, Pressburger, the deep South, England & India: Saturday night at the PFA

My wife and I attended two screenings at the Pacific Film Archive Saturday night. This was not a double bill.

The Fugitive Kind

The PFA series Anna Magnani: Eternal Soul of Italian Cinema just keeps rolling along, and now it’s getting into the great Italian actress’ American films. This 1960 drama co-starring Marlon Brando was directed by Sidney Lumet.

Brando plays a drifter and washed-out musician, nicknamed Snakeskin, trying to turn over a new leaf in a small southern town. He’s tired of uneven work, police trouble, and with women throwing themselves at him.

Magnini’s character runs a store owned by her vile, vengeful, and invalid husband. She hires Snakeskin, and her motives aren’t entirely mercantile. Their romance won’t be easy.

Tennessee Williams and Meade Roberts wrote the screenplay, based on Williams’ play Orpheus Descending. Occasional monologs remind you of the story’s theatrical past. Brando starts the film with a near monolog as he answers an unseen judge’s voice. Joanne Woodward, playing a very wild young woman, has an exciting monolog about bar hopping and dancing to juke boxes.

Despite the almost entirely white cast, The Fugitive Kind deals indirectly with the racism one would expect in a small southern town at the beginning of the 1960s (and unfortunately, bubbling up again today). A store that served both black and white customers was burned down years before. And the sheriff makes it clear that to Snakeskin isn’t much better than a…you know the word.

I give The Fugitive Kind an A-.

According to Associate Film Curator Kate MacKay, they screened a 35mm preservation print. When a film is preserved, a brand new negative and print are created from whatever source is available–without the extensive repair work done on a full restoration. The print was certainly workable, but it had more than its share of scratches–probably left over from the source print used to create the preservation.

After the screening, those willing to pay $40 were treated to “a special Anna Magnani–inspired dinner” at Babette. My wife and I chose to skip the dinner and see the next movie.

Black Narcissus

I failed to give this tale of nuns in India its due in the past, giving it only a B when it turned up in my weekly newsletter. I described it as “Not much more than a well-done but silly melodrama.” My previous experience with the movie came from watching it alone on DVD. Theatrically, it’s a whole other experience.

Yes, it’s a melodrama, but so is CasablancaBlack Narcissus tells an intriguing story about a clash of cultures, contrasting the austere life of a convent with the exciting, sensually-rich world of the Himalayas. And it only gets truly silly in the last act, when one of the nuns goes completely bonkers.

Black Narcissus starts the PFA’s series Arrows of Desire: The Films of Powell & Pressburger. With their company named The Archers, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger collaborated as producers, screenwriters, and directors on 17 films from 1942 through 1956. Their work includes
The Red Shoes
, Stairway to Heaven, and one of my all-time favorites, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.

In Black Narcissus, the nuns live in an abandoned fortress high on a cliff–a castle originally built to hold a harem. They intend to bring healthcare and education to the peasants living in the valley below. Sabu plays a young and haughty local ruler. The handsome David Farrar plays the only white man in the film–helpful but cynical about religion. His presence produces problems with two nuns trying to hang onto their vows (Deborah Kerr and Kathleen Byron). A not-yet-famous Jean Simmons, in brown face, plays an exceptionally sexy but non-speaking native.

You’ve probably already guessed that Black Narcissus has a race problem. Made the same year that India won its independence, it portrays pleasant but immature natives. When Farrar’s character describes them as children, neither the nuns nor the filmmakers object. The Indians represent a simple and yet sexual innocence, without even trying–as the nuns do–to keep their desires in check.

Story wise, the film’s greatest strength comes from the uneasy relationship between the nuns and the secular man who tries to help them. But story was never Powell and Pressburger’s strength; visuals were. Cinematographer Jack Cardiff could work magic with Technicolor’s clumsy but beautiful three-strip process. His lighting and lens choices creates a semi-realistic world where riotous colors fight with repressed grays. Production designer Alfred Junge and costume designer Hein Heckroth helped considerably, as well.

Black Narcissus, set entirely in India, was actually shot in England. And yet you believe every frame (well, almost).

The PFA screened a mouth-wateringly beautiful imported 35mm print. I don’t know if it was IB dye transfer, but I wouldn’t be surprised. With deep colors and almost scratch free, it was the sort of print that reminds one how wonderful physical film projection can be–even while digital projection gets better and better.

What’s Screening: Nov 18 – 24

Sex, comedy, Harlem, and John Wayne–along with three film festivals–light up this week’s Bay Area screenings.

Festivals

New films opening

B- Elle, Embarcadero, opens Friday

As you’d expect from Paul Verhoeven, Elle is silly, tasteless, and unbelievable, and yet it somehow succeeds as entertainment. Isabelle Huppert gives a strong, gutsy, courageous performance as a strangely matter-of-fact rape victim. Perhaps she likes it? But then, her father was a mass murderer, her mother is addicted to botox, and her son can’t possibly be her grandchild’s biological parent. Like I said, silly, tasteless, and unbelievable. But fun. Read my full review.

Promising events

Sheetlejuice, Castro, Saturday
A live, all-drag parody of Beetlejuice, followed by a 35mm screening of the original movie, which I have never seen.

Riffer’s Delight: MYSTERY MOVIE, New Mission, Wednesday, 8:00

In the tradition of Mystery Science Theater 3000, local comedians Nato Green, Natasha Muse, and Kaseem Bentley will provide irreverent commentary to an as-yet-unnamed bad movie. Think of it as pulling apart a turkey the day before Thanksgiving.

The Cool World, Pacific Film Archive, Friday, 7:00

I haven’t seen this 1963 drama—shot to look like a cinema verité documentary–about Harlem youth, gangs, and Jazz. The PFA is promising a restored 35mm print, and a discussion with assistant director/editor Madeline Anderson and Orlando Bagwell, Director of the documentary program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Part of the series Afterimage: Madeline Anderson.

Those Good Old Matinees, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Sunday, 4:00

This talkie (as opposed to silent) matinee includes a screening of The Hurricane Express, a 12-chapter serial starring John Wayne, cut down to feature length. Serial expert Larry Telles will host and provide additional short films.

Recommended revivals

A The World of Apu, Pacific Film Archive, Friday, 4:00; Sunday, 1:30

In the final chapter of Satyajit Ray’s great trilogy, the adult Apu leaves college, but seems reluctant to grow up. Like his father, he’s a dreamer, and assumes that good things will come his way. His best friend from college does much better, but then, he came from a rich family. One good thing does come his way: He marries, almost by accident, and finds happiness and true love. But tragedy is never far away in Apu’s world. See my discussion of the entire trilogy. Part of the series World Trilogies: Ray’s Apu Trilogy.

A- Comedy Short Subjects Night, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30

Buster Keaton’s Neighbors and the Max Davidson vehicle Pass the Gravy stand out among the funniest two-reelers of the 1920s–although Neighbors has some unfortunately racist humor. Charlie Chaplin’s Work isn’t one of his best, but it’s still quite funny. I haven’t seen the early Laurel and Hardy Duck Soup (not to be confused with the Marx Brothers movie of the same name), but since it was released in 1926, I assume it was made before their personas solidified. Greg Pane accompanies the shorts on piano.

B Black Narcissus, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 8:00

Not much more than a well-done but silly melodrama, Black Narcissus is nevertheless a must if you love old-fashioned three-strip Technicolor. No one could work emotional magic with that clumsy but beautiful system like cinematographer Jack Cardiff, and this just might be his best work. The PFA will screen an imported print.

B Donnie Darko, Castro, Friday, 7:00

How many alienated-teenager-in-suburbia-time-travel-science-fantasy comedies can you name? Okay, there’s Back to the Future and its sequels, but add the adjectives horrific and surreal to that description, and Donnie Darko stands alone. And how many alienated movie teenagers must deal with a slick self-help guru and a six-foot rabbit named Frank (think Harvey, only vicious). It’s not entirely clear what’s going on in this strange movie, but that just adds to the fun. On a double bill with Prisoners.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)

Elle: Very much a Paul Verhoeven movie

B- Mystery/drama
Written by David Birke; from the novel by Philippe Djian
Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Paul Verhoeven’s new film, Elle, is silly, tasteless, and unbelievable. And kind of fun to watch. But then, that’s what you should expect from the man who made Basic Instinct, Total Recall, and Showgirls. Paul Verhoeven makes strange, violent, disturbingly sexual films that can’t really be taken seriously–even when he probably wants you to take them seriously.

And that’s true whether the Dutch director is making a big-budget Hollywood movie or, as in this case, a medium-budget French art film. Elle stars the great Isabelle Huppert, who also has a reputation for making films that go over the edge.

Elle offers two main pleasures. First, Huppert gives a strong, gutsy, courageous performance. I don’t think she’s capable of anything else. Second, it’s fun to see how ridiculous the movie can get. And it gets very ridiculous.

It begins with a brutal rape. A man in a ski mask is having his way with the title character on her expensive living room floor, now scattered with broken wine glasses.

Once he leaves, does she call the police? No. She takes a bubble bath. A small patch of blood rises from her groin region to surface in the suds. She doesn’t seem particularly upset.

And the rapist keeps coming back. At least two other times (not including flashbacks and fantasies) he breaks into her house and rapes her again. He also harasses her over the Internet. She tells her friends and co-workers about it, and they’re shocked that she’s so mater-of-fact about it.

In a normal film, one would assume she was suffering from PTSD. But in this one…who knows? Perhaps she likes it.

But then, Elle has a pretty strange history with violence. Her father is a mass murderer in prison for life. People still recognize her as the murderer’s daughter, and treat her as guilty by association. (Her severely botoxed mother, ugly through countless plastic surgeries, has a young hunk of a lover.)

Elle’s job also deals in violence. She runs a video game company specializing in extremely violent games–and rape is a common theme. Soon after her own experience, she tells her employees that a rape scene has to be more graphic, more violent, and sexier.

She’s one of two women running the company, filled almost entirely with male employees. Most of them hate her.

Elle has a klutzy grown son with a pregnant girlfriend. When the baby is born, the son refuses to see that he can’t possibly be the biological father.

Meanwhile, Elle’s having an affair with her business partner’s husband. She also sets her sights on a neighbor with a very religious wife and children.

To some extent, Elle works as a mystery. She tries to find the man who’s continually attacking her. (I guessed who it was early, but I was wrong. My wife guessed right.) I’m not sure if she wants his identity so she can turn him in, or so she can start an affair.

If you like weird, amoral, but well-made sleaze, you’ll probably enjoy Elle. I did. But I wouldn’t want a constant diet of this sort of thing.