If middle-brow non-lipstick lesbians are your bag, see this film. Actually, this is a wonderfully observed melodrama with many terrific scenes and very indicative of the fantastic films Sayles was about to create. There are moments where it feels a little like regional theater, but given the setting I’m not sure this is a detriment.
Summer was made official this weekend with the first official BBQ. Burgers, dogs, saurkraut, baked beans (I refused to let Ann buy Bush’s beans on account of the name — we stuck with Stop & Shop brand and save 33 cents), macaroni salad, mustard, ketchup, relish, pickles, potato chips and root beer floats for desert. Then we played Connect Four and complained of gas.
You ever seen an interview with a newlywed Christian couple who talk about how glad they are that they “waited” until their wedding night? That’s me and waiting to see Persona in a movie house. I attempted to see this at the NYU film library freshman year (perhaps it was former film librarian John Schmit who queued it up for me?) but the VHS copy was so washed that I hap to stopp after 10 minutes — I couldn’t read the white-on-white subtitles. Perusing reviews of Persona online it is remarkable how many people compare its experience to one of a novel. I don’t diagree that its visceral, empathetic effect is similar to kind usually reserved for literature, but what’s neat is how the technique used to achieve this is 100% cinema. Persona is the high watermark of mid–60s modernism, in its psychology, its fashion, its music, its editing, its hairstyles, its title design, you name it. Yet, strangely, it doesn’t look dated (So long as Calvin Klein advertises, that is.) Some moments in the film may make you wince with a knowing “WTF?” but those (few) moments only seem indulgent because an innovator like Bergman used them spariningly in 1966 only to be copied again and again throughout the rest of cinema’s history. Anyway, if Film Forum was showing Persona again this week, I’d be going.
Had a great day today. Went to the awesome new, awesome Latino Fusion place for brunch (the unfortunately titled Fatty’s Cafe) which had the best plantains I’ve ever had and really reminded me of L.A.; visited Battery Park; went to the Museum of the Native American; took the Staten Island Ferry; watched Persona at the Film Forum; went to Henrietta & Jen’s bar “The Dove” (so brand new it doesn’t even have a website); went to Suzie’s; went back to The Dove to meet up with Kim, Rob and later John (not John Schmit, the other John) and Tim. And the WHOLE FREAKING TIME I neglected to get batteries for my camera, which was in my bag the all the while. Oh well.
Right on Ditmars a new Sushi place opened. It’s called Go Wasabi. There’s a sushi place down 31st called Tokio (not Tokyo) about 10 mins away on foot. Tokio is pretty good, but is very utiliterean on the inside. I was psyched when the new one opened. It’s really beautiful on the inside, the design could fit into any of the nicer Manhattan neighborhoods — nice artwork, cool furniture, jazz music, cute waitresses. I figured it’d be a good place to take the chick. But isn’t this an awful lot like life? The food tasted like shit. I ate a piece of salmon and nearly had to spit it into my napkin. And I’ll eat anything. Tokio may even be a hair less expensive; I can use the extra excersize. Think I’ll keep walking.
I am a little schizo on Antonioni. I adore two of his well-known films (“Blow-Up” and “Zabriske Point”) and loathe two others (“Red Desert” and “L’Aventurra.”) This one, “La Notte,” did it for me. What can I say? Dig Netflix’s stunning blurb: Michelangelo Antonioni’s study of alienation and moral decay chronicles a day in the life of a middle-class couple whose marriage has been destroyed by mutual indifference and impenetrable lonliness. Huah!!
Something we all do is make exceptions for bad art by artists whose other work we like. I admit, I’ve done this. But no amount of rationalization can save this piece of dreck by one of my favorite filmmakers. I kept waiting for this movie to get weird, and when I realized that wouldn’t happen I just waited for it to get interesting. Then I just waited for it to end. Laughable dialogue, horrendous acting, plot devices straight out of “Laugh Olympics,” and, best of all, ridiculous balls-out faux-Springsteen rock anthems. I have no interest in drag racing but then again I have no interest in disco dancing — this doesn’t keep Saturday Night Fever from being great. What’s fascinating about this whole endeavor is that Cronenberg still seems really proud of it. Maybe it reminds him of his youth. This rates a “D” and not an “F” because much of the documentary-style shooting is quite nice as is the inadvertent time capsule aspect vis-a-vis haircuts and pants.
The Diggs tore it up last night, as they are wont to do.
They sounded great, again. Don’t take my word for it; see them live on theLower East Side or in Brooklyn this summer.
Tim Lannen (l) and Rob Haussmann (r) bringeth forth the rock.
Friends and associates included. . .
Brian Sendrowitz and his bride Liz.
Ann Marie Farrell and Kim Adele Tabatt.
The Sendrowitzes again.
John in an authorized photo.
John in an unauthorized photo.
Jordan Hoffman is amazed at the melodies and harmonies of The Diggs.
Julie Haussmann makes it to the gig on time.
Bassist and co-songwriter Rob celebrates his successful performance in the arms of a good woman.
Now — don’t get all crazy. I like this movie, I like Nick Ray, I like James Dean. But this is not as good as it gets credit for. For one, the dialogue is awful pretty much from top to bottom. Also, there are some very lame plot holes (why in the hell does Sal Mineo’s absent mother keep a loaded gun under her pillow? And why would the loving maid, so worried about the confused, violent boy allow it to stay there?) The star of this movie is James Dean fighting against the pussification of the American male, and those chamber scenes with his father are, indeed, terrific (even if the dialogue is awfully on the nose.) But for a movie with so much over the top drama and obvious confict, there is plenty of ooky subtext. Does Natalie Wood’s father ignore her because he is angry at himself for lusting after her budding 16 yr old body? The subtlety of this (and other similar) shades is one of the chief benefits of a 1955 production date. That and a bright red jacket.
A full-force hurricaine of entertainment. Big actors, big laughs, big plot twists, big sets. I think this is Hitchcock at his most fun and when he channels all his talents at fun, much like Spielberg with “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” it is just remarkable. It was great to see this in a theater, not only from the visual perspective (wow! The U.N.! Rushmore! Matte paintings!) but to gasp with the audience when Martin Landau picks up Cary Grant’s matchbook, titter when the cropduster seems to be coming right at us, and to giggle when the train drills into a tunnel. There is some method to the madness (to pun on the title) of this romp, of course. Many of the scenes are meant in a way to subvert the expectations created by the Cary Grant persona and from various “wrong man” movies in Hitchcock’s book. I read an important-seeming essay once about NXNW’s relevance as Cold War parable, especially vis-a-vis the Mount Rushmore scenes. And I say, sure, go for it.
I like preservatives. I like chemical agents. I have a lovely aloe plant, one branch of it needed to be plucked. I did so, cracked it open and, since I had the remnants of a sunburn on my cheeks, rubbed some of the goo on my face. As I did this Ann said, “doesn’t pure aloe smell like B.O.?” And that’s when it hit me! My cheeks, my face, my entire head was suddenly enveloped in the most horrendous, dirty funk I’ve smelled since the last time I was trapped on the subway with a group of Pakistani Grateful Dead fans. Seriously, I smelled like an ass. I smelled like Smarty Jones’ ass. I smelled like Smarty Jones’ aged grandmother’s ass. From now on, everything I buy has to come in a bottle, approved by the good people at CVS.
Israeli Prime Minister Sharon appears to be doing the right thing with demanding a withdrawal from Gaza. Some members of his parliament won’t sign off on it, so in order to get a majority he’s fired them. But here is where it gets wierd. One of the members has “disappeared” figuring if no one can find him he can’t be fired and then there’ll be no majority. More on this entertaining bit o’ Parliamantary folly here.
This is what Trey Anastasio wants so desperately to avoid. But let’s wait a decade for the Ophishal reunion tour.
Here is the young Jordan Hoffman rockin’ out to John Williams and thinkin’ TURN IT UP!!!!!!
Jarmusch’s love letter to bullshitting. This “omnibus film” made over decades gets better as it goes on. Like his earlier Night on Earth there are some vignettes more memorable than others. My top three were the two old Italian Americans making crazy hand gestures and eating wasabi peas, The White Stripes playing with a Tesla coil, and New York underground denizens Taylor Mead and Bill Rice acting wonderfully melancholy. There are a few lesser pieces (oddly, the one with Tom Waits and Iggy Pop kinda falls flat) but the good news is you know the next vignette is just around the bend. Fun.
Very effective chamber drama, if you can accept the fact that one of the four characters is, I believe the medical term is, cuckoo. I’m sick to death of stories with characters who are vaguely and eloquently nuts. But Bergman didn’t know this in 1961 just like Tennesee Williams didn’t know this when he wrote Glass Menagerie or Streetcar. The movie is beautiful to look at and very evocative even if my mind wandered a bit during the midde a little. What is key is that when I wandered I wasn’t thinking about my laundry, I was thinking about the little house they were staying at, the clothes they wore, their faces, what was really going on with the brother and sister, etc.
That’s it. I’m purging all documentaries about filmmakers from my Netflix queue. They are all horribly boring. Unless the movie has a unique point-of-view or story to tell, like, say, “Hearts of Darkness” or “Crumb,” then you are basically looking at someone’s resume. I like Sven Nykvist plenty, but I learned absolutely nothing about his art in this boring talking head filled puff piece.