Sunset Boulevard ★★★★★

even the title sequence of "sunset boulevard" is genius, landing us right on the eponymous boulevard and tracking along the pavement before the camera zooms up and our gaze shifts to the speeding homicide squad, while joe's sardonic voiceover cuts in to set the scene past tense, of course.

this film is a compendium of genres and forms, borrowing elements from german expressionism (just compare norma desmond's hands with nosferatu's claws); film noir (our ambivalent male protagonist); the gothic (that decaying, opulent mansion, or max's atonal organ); even romantic comedy (betty and joe's subplot).

that sunset boulevard hits more than one note makes it all the more fascinating to watch, lending it wider appeal and, perhaps ironically, longevity.

the meta-film elements add yet another layer, as wilder masterfully shows us the exploitative nature of hollywood (then, as now), where people are cast off for the latest thing, to match technological change and audience demand. people like keaton and warner - or the imposing norma desmond - are labelled "waxworks" by joe and considered all but dead-to-the-world by the studios.

but i could write a sprawling manuscript (much like norma's script for "salome") about why this film is a timeless masterpiece.

the wisest thing to do is to become enfolded in the "dream" of norma desmond's final "close-up", lost in the sharp-tongued wit of dead joe gillis, and entertained by the canny direction and words of billy wilder.

"yes, this is sunset boulevard, los angeles, california," home to the stars ... and "stars are ageless, aren't they?"

certainly this one still shines bright.

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