by Ryland Walker Knight
Tonight I thought I was going to the PFA, yet again, to see a pair of Barbara Stanwyck films: Baby Face (1933), directed by Alred E Green, and Remember The Night (1940), directed by Mitchell Leisen from a screenplay by Preston Sturges. Instead, after walking up past the theatre and seeing a line across the lobby for tickets, a mysterious force (sometimes called "conscience") pulled me away. That, and I thought about my bank account. From there I thought I would find a place to sit and read in the fading sun as Austin's How To Do Things With Words fits my back pocket precisely. However, sensing the drop in temperature and feeling no sun to soak, a mysterious force (sometimes called "the internet") drew my inside Moffitt. And here I am, with the book in front of me and an empty computer lab around me. I told two upstanding young fellows I would "definitely" be going to the movies tonight and I feel a tad awkward about that but perhaps I simply felt like I'd seen too many movies over the weekend without fully processing any of them.
Thursday saw me travel into San Francisco to see Cassavetes' late, masterful work Love Streams at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' Screening Room. Brian Darr was in attendance and we shared some tired words on our walk to public transportation but really I was elated. I couldn't have expected to have seen such a joyful film. My expectations were to have my heart pummeled, not caressed. Which isn't to say the film is one jolly scene after another. No, it's still tough. But it's also hilarious, and tender. It spurred me on to write this text message, waiting on the BART platform: "U must see some Casavettes [sic]. Talk about joy and the affirmative life. I'm floating, drinking life here, in clouds." The amount of love on display, streaming, in this film is staggering. It made me think I would be willing to risk seeing all of the rest of his oeuvre ASAP, even the ones I have seen, since I think they will all play new, as if viewed for the first time, with different eyes, and a different heart. Then I remembered how I felt after Woman Under The Influence and the project went (rightly) on a back burner. I would like to see Love Streams again before I write any more about it. Suffice it to say, it warrants the praise it has earned, as has its maker.
Friday saw me take in a pair of new-Asian films at the PFA. More on that over at The House. [I can also say Friday also saw me accept a job offer, but that's about it for now.]
Saturday started with a matinée of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in downtown Berkeley. Overall I was impressed. Not as much as Walter Chaw, I don't think, but his review is pretty great. The girl who plays Luna, Evanna Lynch, is remarkable, and oddly adorable. The chemistry she and Harry (a much-improved and only improving Daniel Radcliffe) share is enough to make one wish they would end up together, despite all the obvious foreshadowing that Ginny is The Girl For The Boy Who Lived. Plus, it's always a delight to see all the famous British actors pop up for some fun. I think the set pieces will only be better in the sixth movie since director David Yates will be more familiar with the process. However, the FX still probably won't match those of Cuarón's third film because those were all there to serve the story. The FX here, while mostly stellar, are mostly window dressing. But more on that later, after the seventh book at week's end. [Saturday ended with a ton of dancing, which was fun.]
Sunday was mild, and highlighted by an encore showing of Syndromes and a Century. I would watch that movie again right now.
Monday was a writing day, but it had enough spare time for me to watch this week's episode of John From Cincinnati, which slayed me (as it did Keith). The simultaneity of the final ten minutes was breathtaking. So far, so good: the payoff here was well worth the previous weeks. Austin Nichols has the thankless title role and he's superb but it's really all about how Emily Rose pouts her way through hers that touches me. But, when you hear such a speech as this, it's hard not to go slack-jawed and, in the end, say with certainty, "Well. This was time well spent."
"If my words are yours, can you hear my Father? Can Bill know my Father, keeping his eye on me? Can I bone Kai and Butchie know my Father instead?
"My Father's shy doing his business. Kai helps my Father dump out. Bill takes a shot. Shaunie is much improved.
"Joe is a Doubting Thomas. Joe will save Not-Aleman. Joe will bring his buddies home. This is how Freddy relaxes. Cup-o'joe, and Winchell's variety dozen.
"Mitch catches a good wave. Mitch wipes out. Mitch wipes out Cissy. Cissy shows Butchie how to do that. Cissy wipes Butchie out. Butchie hurts Barry's head. Mister Rollins comes in Barry's face. My Father runs the Mega-Millions.
"Fur is big. Mud is big. The stick is big. The word is big. Fire is huge. The wheel is huge. The line and circle are big. On the wall, the line and circle are huge. On the wall, the man at the wall makes a man from the circle and line. The man at the wall makes a Word on the wall from the circle and line. The Word on the wall hears my Father.
"The zeroes and ones make the Word in Cass's camera. In the Word on the wall that hears my-Father-in-Cass's-camera, the good one Mitch catches doesn't wipe Cissy out. In the-Word-that-hears-my-Father, Cissy shows Butchie something else. In-my-Father's-Word, Cissy shows Butchie in Shaun. In-my-Father's-Word, Tina raises Shaun at lunch. In Cass's-camera, Butchie lays the court out for Barry, and Mister Rollins watches, and he doesn't come on Barry's face. In Cass's-camera, Butchie knows Kai kept the faith. In-my-Father's-Word, the Wave lifts them up.
"In Cass's camera, Bill doesn't bump his head on the stairs. In Cass's-camera, as long as he's being stupid, Bill gives Lois a kiss.
"In His-Word-in-Cass's-camera, the Internet is big. Nine-Eleven is big, but not every towel-head is eradicated. In His-Word, We are coming Nine-Eleven-Fourteen.
"In my-Father's-Word, Bill sees how Freddy relaxes. In Cass's-camera, Ramon wants to know who's hungry, in the courtyard and Room Forty-Five.
"In my-Father's-Word-to-come-in-Cass's-camera, Doctor Smith calls Ocean Properties. In Cass's-camera-to-come, my Father stares Not Aleman down, and Freddy sees Bill much-improved.
"You will not note my-Father's-Word, nor remember Cass's-camera, but you will not forget what we did here."
Tuesday, today, has been pretty good. I want to end it even better. So I'm going to go read, and maybe drink a beer or three. Then tomorrow I may finally write up my real reaction to Deadwood's second season. For now, enjoy that delovely opening credit sequence from Milch's new baby while I skeedaddle on out of here and catch my own point break.