Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Movies Seen

The L-Word

OK, not a movie, but as good as. I watched the first 2 seasons on DVD. Lesbians. Love. Los Angeles. A Lot of sex, and not just lesbian sex. Shane is the player, everybody sleeps with Shane, Shane doesn't do relationships, and everybody, but everybody, wants to get in her pants. One character finally explains it as that wanting of the unattainable. Somehow, she is the sexiest, most desirable of the characters, my favorite. Perhaps it is also her androgyny. Jennifer Beals is sexier now than her Flashdance days, and she alludes to the bad fashion from that time in the DVD bonus features.

The Mudge Boy

A woman with two full flats of eggs in her basket pedals a bike uphill on a gravel road. She gets off the bike to walk, and flops over dead. Later we find out she is the mother of an odd boy who is just beginning to be sexually aware. Country boys in big trucks rattle through while I as viewer cringe at his vulnerability. The boy finds a way into their circle (money for beer) but the tension of barely contained uncaring violence skirts around the edges. This is a movie about straddling that thin edge where things could go horribly wrong, or things could be all right.

Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Howard Zinn became an historian with the understanding that the people's experience of history in the making would not necessarily be the history in the books. He found this out as a young adult during his experience as a labor organizer in the Brooklyn shipyards. After WWII he got his degrees and went to work at a black college....just when the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum. He was right there with his students.

I was impressed with their civil disobedience in a court in which the judge attempted to retain 'separate but equal'. Howard sat on the black side, his students on the white side. The judge ordered them to move. They did not. Howard stood up and said, "The Supreme Court has ruled that it's illegal to segregate in any courtroom in the United States. Would you mind following the law of the supreme court?" And the judge did.

His wife Roslyn Zinn was there throughout, a wonderful presence. She was always the first to read his books, editing with the eye of a lay person and a reader.

When Howard received an award in France, in his speech he said, "I don't want to invent victories for people's movements but to think that history writing must simply recapitulate the failures that dominate the past is to make historians collaborators in an endless cycle of defeat. Now if history is to be creative, if it is to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I think, emphasize real possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes in the past when even if in brief flashes people showed the ability to resist, occasionally to win. I'm supposing, perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past's fugitive moments of compassion rather than the solid centuries of warfare."

Just like that moment in the courtroom, I would say.

I've been inspired by this documentary to actually read my People's History, a little bit at a time.

(Just a side note: I don't know why I didn't make this connection before...Jon Kabot-Zinn is the son-in-law of Howard. JKZ was instrumental in bringing Buddhist mindfulness meditation to American medicine.)

Van Helsing

Vampire hunter meets Indiana Jones with a little bit of 007 mixed in.

Off the Map

A girl grows up in the sticks of New Mexico. Her parents live simply, while she wants what she hasn't got. I kept seeing my cousin Jo in Mrs. Grodin, the same weathered stretched-back smile, the same hint of expansive internal landscape. Jo lived much of her adult life in that enchanting land of northern New Mexico.

Scene from movie, the jewel through which the whole can be seen:

"It was like the cornerstone of my childhood...the event upon which I built everything else...now was pulled and everything is toppled. The only thing I can hold on to, right now, Mrs. Grodin...the only thing I know to be true...is my love for you."
"Mr. Gibbs."
"New Mexico is a very powerful place. Often when people first get here it's a little overwhelming."
"Oh. Ah. Well. I do feel a little...displaced."
"You're welcome to stay here, with us. As long as you like, until you get your bearings."

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