“Frank, we don’t amount to much. I don’t know we go to the trouble of having opinions, Henry says. “It puts off the empty moment. That’s what I think.” -- From The Sportswriter by Richard FordWhere have I been and what have I been doing and why haven't I kept up this blog? Working, for one thing and starting tomorrow I'm teaching an extra class so time is going to become even more precious. (I teach English as a second language at a school in San Francisco. My students are mostly between ages 18-30. They represent countries from all over the world and are in the U.S. for anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year. Also they are, virtually without exception, absolutely delightful people. The same can be said of my co-workers.)
I've also been kept busy by a long term writing project (guess) that is now done. This leaves me in the uncomfortable position of trying to market the damn thing so others may enjoy the fruits of my creative labors. I also feel compelled to start on another such project soonest. Meanwhile I want to resume my studies of French. All this has left me with little time to blog though I've squeezed in some time recently for watching films which, as my legion of readers know (both of us), is the primary subject of my posts.
I've been thinking of just declaring that I'm on hiatus from blogging, but aside from the fact that no on would care I'm not sure what it would actually mean. I'm liable to pop in at any time and write about a new release I've recently enjoyed or an old one I've discovered or re-visited. I've had a few ideas for those list type posts that some people have enjoyed in the past but I generally feel that they're more in the manner of work than they are products of my fertile (fecund?) imagination. So we'll see. I'm just letting people who are interested know why I've been posted so sporadically of late and why prospects are for more of the same in the months to come.
I suppose it would be good and proper to employ some of the time I've set aside to be here to discuss a few of the films I've enjoyed of late. So here goes. I once wrote that I didn't think I could like anyone who didn't care for The Big Sleep (1946). I could just about say the same thing about Band of Outsiders (1964). So yes I love it. It's of course from Jean Luc-Godard who has shown an amazing capacity to make both great and terrible films. This is clearly in the former category. What exuberant, quirky fun. How utterly senseless and sensible. You can watch the film while in any mood or to create any mood. It's overcast Sixties Paris with a trio of young anti heroes planning or not so much planning a heist. And doing a dance together, out of nowhere, mind you, that is one of my favorite film scenes ever.
La Dolce Vita (1960). Federico Fellini made several of my favorite films of all time including this. There are maybe two or three other directors ever who would have dared make such a rich, sumptutious, potpurri of a film. You put Marcello Mastroianni as the lead, as cool as anyone this side of Steve McQueen has ever been and surround him with the good, the bad and the beautiful. Swedish film stars, kids seeing the Virgin Mary, the goddammned paparazzi, whores and pimps, the filthy rich and Steiner. What a mystery are Steiner and the cause of his fate. Bravo, Federico, bravo!
Saturday Night Fever (1977). Confession: I used to love going to discos. Here's why: I had fun. The music was awful if you sat down and listened to it ("do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight") but when you'd had a few and were with a pretty young thing on the dance floor, it was one helluva a good time. To tell you the truth SNF only touches on it. Anyone who revisits the film after a long time or sees it for the first time, seems to say the same thing: I was suprised at how dark it is. Really. While you get John Travolta and partner boogying to the strains of the Bee Gees (and the dancing really is top notch), you've also got same damn depressing "real life" type of scenarios playing out. A slightly better script and a few improvements in casting could have made this one of the great films of all time. As it is, SNF is a film that ages quite well and is worth repeat viewings -- and not just for the dancing.
I'm running out of time. The second season series premier of Boardwalk Empire is starting soon. Oldest daughter and I finally caught up to the first season on On Demand last month and were both enthralled.
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) from the master himself, Woody Allen. Here is a film that is deadly serious and quite funny. It has the cheek to be about a lot of things and of enough depth that college philosophy classes show it. Jules et Jim (1962) from Francois Truffuat is important enough to me to be in my DVD library. My impulse after my most recent viewing was to start it all over again. Melvin and Howard (1980) I saw for the first time since its initial release and can recommend as a kind of slice of Americana. It's the mostly true story of the man who claimed to be in a will Howard Hughes' trustees mysteriously left him. Hughes had left him a bundle for a random act of kindness. Jonathan Demme directed in one of his earlier efforts, Jason Robards had a memorable cameo as Hughes, and Mary Steenburgen's then 26 year old bare and perfect caboose is on display for a few seconds and I've remembered those seconds fondly lo these three decades. I also watched another Fellini film, I Vitelloni (1953) that I only liked a lot the first time I saw it and loved this time. Also I recently breezed through the novel The Sportswriter by Richard Ford and can't recommed it enough. I'm now reading the Pultizer Prize winning sequel, Independence Day. Yes, I always have time to read.
See ya on the flip side.