Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Movies Seen

Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russell
A friend mentioned this movie is one of her favorites, as well as the book, so I thought I'd check it out. I'd only seen the musical Mame years ago. Mame lives and loves fully, though she can be calculating about it. I don't know, the movie classics don't grab me in the way they did in my twenties. Now that I've seen more theater, I can see more of the theatrical acting in these older movies. It strives for a different kind of authenticity than contemporary movies.

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan A Martin Scorcese Picture
I enjoy music when it's there, but I don't seek it out much. I got out of the habit of music during my early years of zen practice. I was doing that zen thing of just eating when eating, just doing dishes when doing dishes, etc. I still do that quite a bit, but not all the time, like I needed then. You could count the number of live shows I've been to on my two hands, but that doesn't mean much because those particular shows were a bit random, like my first show, during college. My housemate asked me if I wanted to see Ferron with her. I got tipsy on Tequila Sunrises (this was Santa Fe) and we held hands. We were both mostly hetero females at the time, but this was Ferron, and the energy was filling the intimate barroom stage. Almost the only non-random show I sought out was the double-billing of Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. Sadly, the sound was horrible. It was just a bunch of noise, with sort of recognizable cadences that were possibly songs I knew. It wasn't Dylan's fault, it was the venue.

This documentary more than makes up for it. I thought I might watch and listen while I did other things, but this turned out to be a vital piece of American history, and some music I'd never heard before. From the first, I was hooked in by Dylan's account of his musical influences, and his discovery of Woody Guthrie. Dylan "didn't want to give himself away" when he recorded his first album, so he didn't record his own stuff really. He stole his buddy Dave van Ronk's version of "House of the Rising Sun," who couldn't sing it anymore because people would say he stole it from Dylan. Van Ronk got a good laugh when the Animals did the same to Dylan. (They didn't say stole...but told the account of Dylan asking permission after the recording was done.) There's great footage from Dylan's and fans' archives in the 208 minute 2-part documentary, never before released.

This director has a bit of the darker side of the Brothers Grimm in him. It will push buttons for those wary of not-so-secret pedophilic messages. He talks about his use of eight different actors for the part of the 13 year old Aviva who wants to get pregnant in this online interview. I think this movie would have deeper meaning for me if I'd spent more time in my life pondering the structures and implications of palindromes as a symbol. Maybe I need to watch it with someone who likes to delve into symbols and patterns.

Happy Accidents
I have a soft spot for time travel movies. I like to ponder those implications, the life-not-lived, or the life-that-must-be-lived and how that all works when someone goes back to make something happen a different way. Of course it helps to add love to the mix, and "strong emotions" were the key to allowing a change in the time continuum. I've never been pulled one way or another by Vincent D'Onofrio, but there were a couple of scenes in which I so wished I could have been Marisa Tomei. One where he explains time travel with his hand and her leg, and another where his whole body reached for her kiss as though he would melt or disappear or crackle into pieces if he wasn't completed by that kiss. I believed his love.

White Light, Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
(on HBO now)
See it. You will cry. Find someone who has HBO if you don't. I have never been to a talk by a survivor. This one has the stories from many. First-hand witnesses of a nuclear bomb must be heard, must be seen.

I don't remember hearing of this movie when it was released. I would have been entering high school. I do remember a lot of talk of Chariots of Fire winning Best Picture that year, but not this one for Best Directing. I didn't even know Warren Beatty had directed anything. It's long, but a must-see. He brings a hidden history to life through a love story in the midst of American Communists connected to the Russian Revolution. At least I knew of Emma Goldman...not that I knew much. The witnesses were a brilliant touch: Beatty interviewed people (very old already then) who were witnesses to the lives of John Reed and Louise Bryant. I wished they'd had the names, but I understood the explanation in the dvd extras (done in the same style as the witness interviews) that they didn't want to bring some kind of hierarchy to the recognition of names, and for that, it worked well.

Into the West
Two Dublin kids keep a horse their Grandpa gave them. The cops take it away, and sell it illegally. It is a magical horse, according to Grandpa. It certainly can jump, and a rich man buys it for jumping. When the kids see the competition on television, they steal the horse back. Magical horse? What do you think...this is Ireland we're talking about.

Oregon's Covered Bridges
This would be a snooze if I weren't doing something else while I watched. This would be a great travel video for someone who loves covered bridges. I did learn something about the unique structures of covered bridges, and I learned that waysides still exist. I've bemoaned the loss of them in Wisconsin, long-time readers might remember. Many of these covered bridges in Oregon have wayside rest areas next to them. I checked this out, thinking it might be nice to see some bridges. The narrator said they're not all alike, but his somnambulistic voice made them so, reminding me of those educational films from grade school.

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