13 February 2013

Lunchtime Reverie and Thoughts on Sunset Blvd.

Lunchtime trip to Ferry Building to buy Valentine's Day gift.

Had  a seared sea bass sandwich as a reward for good deed.

Delicious.

Cane forlorn on the ground at trolley stop. How does one leave a can behind?

Smattering of tourists. Not long before they'll be here in droves. Traveling in a drove not always recommended.

On the trolley back reading Joyce's Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and listening to The Who. Nice.

Heading back to school/work pass a badly diabetic obese woman in a wheelchair. Then a a bearded old mendicant carrying two shopping bags. He reeks to high heaven and to low hell and parts in between.

Sun is out after a foggy morning. No rain to speak of here since New Year's.  Depressingly dry.

San Francisco is prettier in the fog.

Class went well this morning. Had students present on an area of expertise. Heard about Japanese poetry, motorbikes, dogs, nursing, journalism, soup and how awful Hugo Chavez is. All but one of the Venezuelan students I've ever had -- who has ventured an opinion -- detests Chavez. Woman today was the second recently to say that she wished he was dead. Passionate.

Watched Sunset Blvd. (1950) last Saturday. It's in my top ten. Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) reminds me more of my dear old mom in her latter days. The days when dementia was mixing in with bi polar disorder and alcoholism for a spicy mix of eccentric insanity. She was a caution what with her cigarette holder and her 1940's lingo and odd phrasing and paranoid rants and cackling laugh. Was she perhaps channeling her own interpretation of Swanson's Desmond? Was that her? The Cal and Colombia educated woman who was such a lovely woman and caring mother in moments of clarity. (But who's to say? Perhaps the clarity was when she was raging against hangover bugs planted by the mob or the government).  Watching the film I could taste the sickly sweet champagne that Desmond and mom would have served.

Sunset Blvd. is an amazing film for its infinity of layers. The possessed young man who is the unwitting lover confessor companion of a living relic. Unable to escape his own submission to her twisted will. And there lurks the man (Erich von Stroheim) who discovered bedded married and now caters to the faded and fading and utterly mad star. Oedipus meets Frankenstein meets Hemingway meets Lothario meeting Miss Havisham. Ready for your close up indeed as Bill Holden's Joe Gillis floats. Wasn't he always floating? Never really secure on the ground on his own two feet. Course cause no money. The repossession of the car withheld as his soul was taken. His pride.

Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett co write one of the greatest scripts ever and Wilder directed. It is an amazingly timeless film given its plot and setting. And say... who could have had the audacity to come up with that New Year's Eve scene? A band and no guests. The creepiness. The out and out sadness of what is less a seduction and more a rape. The audacity to create such an emotionally chilling scene and the brilliance to pull it off....Well that's cinema at its best.

So lucky.

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