At Home in the World

Gettin' it Done and Then Some

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mortification Twin Bill; "Mother Joan of the Angels" and "Therese"

Mother Joan of the Angels: Nuns are or are not possessed by Devils. Father Joseph (and other priests) comes to excorcise them and/or get to the bottom of the nuns' moral dissolution. (Spare, Black and White, 1961. )
Therese: telling of the short life of St. Therese who cheerfully works through weakness and tuberculosis in a Carmelite convent. (Shots set up like dutch paintings, 1986)
Both films include self-flagellation as a means of up-ing the suffering-purifying ante to exact results from god -> get rid of devils. get Therese well. But in both cases the flagellations come after failings -> not getting rid of the devils. (cranky nun) being scornful of ultra-loveable Therese. They are beating themselves to be better. (How different is that from working out? Both have noble goals. Both might involve pride.)
Common in both movies is that complaining would be the most irrelevant thing to the nuns. They have fallen in love with god and his world and that is an explicator and comfort. In "Joan" god's love is a treasure lost for wordly delites (or the devil) in "Therese" life is a true love affair. Should our lives be so different? Everybody has beliefs. The nuns and us have desires. Ours are no more complex because theirs are proscribed. Choosing can be a religion. Complaining a blasphemy?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sea People - 27 Drydock, Boston Marine Industrial Park

2 guys approached the bus stop from a direction in Marine Industrial Park id never seen anyone come from; the dock area. They asked me some direction questions. Turns out they work on the current huge ship docked here; in for repairs. They had just shipped up from Jacksonville. One of them needed to get to T-Mobile to get his phone fixed. The other was doing most of the talking. He said that they had both been around the world a few times. He said this in a matter-of-fact way. Soon 2 more guys working on the ship came up and they all started talking about how bad their cell-phones had been working and how the signal was so poor out at sea. Then there was talk of going to Faneuil Hall for beers. On the bus to South Station they were whooping and laughing. Much of the Financial District/Courthouse crowd loaded on and gave them a wide berth.
Related Note: I just read in an insurance claim brief how a "70-80 foot wood piling fell on claimant causing multiple injuries."

Monday, August 08, 2005

"Broken Flowers" and "Godzilla: Final Wars" or Don't Count Out Mothra

"Broken Flowers" --> Pepless and Glum Don Johnston (Bill Murray Checkmark) drives around The County (Rockland) and Westchester (Shelbyville) and environs to old flames' to see who he fathered Mystery Kid with.

"Godzilla: Final Wars" --> Aliens responsible for seeding earth with monsters (not Zilla but his foes) arrive to harvest their human cattle for eating - Human Mutant Posse Fight Aliens and Loose Zilla from South Pole Grave to Take on all sorts of Monsters and Save Civilization.

Half the fun of Jarmusch is checking out the places he wants to put on film - Usually not highly filmed places. No different here (Non-standard-movie-shorthand-version-of-Suburbia) but it was odd to look at since I knew very well a lot of the roads and Parkway/Highway he filmed on. The best Jarmusch Shot comes at the start of the movie during the slow (Jarmusch-Pan) roll from the neighbors' lawn busy with kids, toys, and running over to the pale silence of Juanston's Lawn and home. (There is variability in the suburbs -> Too long 'Suburbs' has been a crass Codeword for conformity and uniformity, like it is implicitly this great neutralizer of the spirit of those dull and stupid enough to live there. There is nice work here to undermine that...I think.]

I couldnt tell if it was shot to a) look dull to highlight the strong characters b)was dull because it was so familiar or C) was unintentionally dull looking.
The fortunate result it that the landscape and houses and roads kinda blend into each other and dont become a Jarmusch Site. They arent being slighted or glamorized. They are just there. Like Murray is much of the time - Only with us laughing at him while his hosts do seemingly odd and funny things -> Laugh affectionately, not ironically. Most of the people we meet are complex and likeable. Remarkable and dull at the same time. Like most human beings.
This movie is more affectionate towards people than any of his others. I really liked the husband of the nervous, former-hippy wife. Liked as in liked him as a person. Are we supposed to laugh AT him? I hope not. I hope we are supposed to feel warm about how genuine and understanding he was. But to laugh at what a 'conventional square of a suburbanite in real estate' he is is to get it wrong. Murray's sitting their nervous and stunned could translate/cue audience to think "wow, this is too much. what a situation. these guys are squares." but that's wrong i hope. It's hard to be sure since Murray is so good at being uncomfortable. It's a fault of the direction that we don't know what Johnston thinks. To say we are supposed to decide OURSELVES would be generous.

It was totally touching that the biker guy in the house off the road (build-your-associations-and-be-wrong formulaica) is angry and HURT that Johnston has upset his wife. But the laughter at the payoff/punch-out gets in the way of this.
Maybe this is a Content Over Form movie? Take away the trappings and assumptions (and Murray mannerisms) and just think about what is said and happens. Like a soap opera?
Unresolved: It's either absurd or awesome or both that we are supposed to believe that Julie Delpy was currently involved with the Ghostly Johnston.
Note: tried forgetting it was Bill Murray while watching. impossible.
Note: take away the soundtrack and the movie'd be dark as hell. AND a better movie.
Note: Laughing aint always listening.
Note: I laughed a lot.

Godzilla. 10 Monsters. Doing Battle. Good affects. Propulsive soundtrack. Most of Alls: Badass Armadillo and The Ineffectual Swamp Monster. Homage to The Micro-Sets of Destructed Cities. Bring King-Size Junior Mints.
Note: Do not ever, ever count out Mothra

The Seat Next to Me

Reading on the T this morning. nice and focused. Girl sits next to me and is peripherally registered as tall, blondish, and as is often the case, sitting half off the seat so as not to touch the person next to them. She's plunging into her bag to find things, put them away, check things, put them away. Finally, she finds a book and starts reading and in the next 20-25 minutes she runs her hand through her hair or twirls it, scratches, poofs, everything, I would say about 400-450 times. Im not going to look at her because it might make someone who must be pretty self-conscious (? is that the diagnoses?) or real young or nuts or on drugs to be as manic about the hair as that - No good could come of it. Periodically, she looks at me and flat on stares. These are the only sustained moments of her not going to work on the hair.
We both get off at Park St. and I finally look at her and she has the most serene, measured air about her. Maybe she just hadnt had a chance to do her hair that morning.

Monday, August 01, 2005

"I Confess" -> Hitchcock

A priest (Montgomery Clift) takes the confession of a sweaty and sympathetic immigrant murderer but cannot divulge such during investigation. Priest nearly goes to gallows for such. The inspector (Karl Malden) has very average evidence against the priest but takes it to trial because a) he has some weak supporting evidence and (much moreso) b) really likes the idea of exploring the (apparently) surprising idea that a priest could have been a murderer.
Karl Malden once again demonstrates how to be sweaty and singularly focused and uninterested in being liked. That sort of slightly maniacal commitment to task that makes you wonder if he is slightly insane or just reflexively hellbent. Like he would stare down his own coffee with suspicion/bemusement.
Montgomery Clift again manages to be tough and effete at the same time.
Anne Baxter is disappointingly dull as a love-swooned defender of her past-love Father Logan (Clift) and wife of convenience to a defacto cuckold of a soldiering husband who nobles it up by supporting Baxter and making sure she eats a full breakfast.
Either Montreal or Quebec City really looms in the b/w, 80 degree-angle-Hitchcock-shots-from-ground-up-(things) to gothic heights of churches and courthouses. and also down old-french looking stone alleys.
Malden's initial investigatory interview of Father Clift pushes film to 2.75 stars out of 5. Comfortably better than Hitchcock averageness. Definitely worth a go.