There are times when helpful hints about turning off the gas when not in use are foolish, because the gas has been turned off permanently, or until you can pay the bill. And you don’t care about knowing the trick of keeping bread fresh by putting a cut apple in the box because you don’t have any bread and certainly not an apple, cut or uncut. And there is no point in planning to save the juice from canned vegetables because they, and therefore their juices, do not exist.
— M.F.K. Fisher
Which is to say: this broad could use some extra gigs.
Changes have been a-brewing in My Own Private Idaho this summer — breakups, births (not from this broad’s womb, nay), funerals. New people I never would have expected and people I never, ever wished to bid goodbye. That is to say: life.
And though I’ve not been in the, uh, state, to talk much, I’ve surely done what I’ve always done when the going gets tough: This semi-tough broad has lost it at the movies.
Yeth, it was an inarguably dour summer at both the cineplex and the art house; how else to explain the hoo-ha generated by the nothing-to-write-home-about Little Miss Sunshine, even given its admittedly winning cast? But just as contemporary film proved too bracing for my frazzled nerves, I finally fell, limbs akimbo, appropriately enough, for the silents. It’s hard to believe I resisted their charms as long as I did, given my oft-professed disdain for the overall volume of contemporary film—the too-Klever prattle; the soundtrack over-reliance — not to mention how much I dig the physical comedy and tic-y melodrama (o Spanish film; how I love thee). Chalk it up to my stubborn resistance to black-and-whites, which, I am pleased to report, I also have finally conquered. The trick: see’em all on the big screen. Much more so than technicolors, black-and-whities require a big screen to enliven their particular geometry of contrasts. No doubt there exist cinephiles far loftier than I who could relish Grapes of Wrath’s sour pleasures on a video IPod but, sisters and brothers, count me out.
So it’s been Retrospective summer — anything screening in NYC, from the early Hitchcocks (his style-over-substance works best nonverbally anyway) to the Frank Borzages to anything starring Our Miss Louise Brooks. The gorgeous staginess, the eyebrow waggling when I least expected it, the unmitigated emotionality that animals more than humans typically exhibit (true!): herein lie this summer’s only sweet relief.
Also of note: Film Forum’s Billy Wilder series sealed the deal for me: His Royal Filmic Puck was the greatest comedic director that ever danced down the world’s aisles. I may not officially be a listmaker, but The Apartment dwells forever in my Top Ten In The Sky.
And: After enduring the bulk of the Museum of Moving Image’s Kubrick retrospective — as well as a bona-fide StanleyK lecture (talk about earning my m-fing Hoodsie points) — I’ve concluded once and for all that his chilly disdain for humanity, especially for women with their messy biology and demands, limited the value of his work. I feel about him the way I suspect he felt about beautiful women: nice to look at but not so much upstairs. Especially taken in bulk, however, his films proved so much wryer than I ever would have guessed.
God love such details. The older I get, the more heartily I believe they really are what keeps us keep-on-keepin’ on.
The body speaks unearned melodies and the heart keeps score. — Carol Shields