First off, a big, belated thank you to allthekindfolks who weighed in with film recommendations for my madcap Manhattan adventure last week. Almost immediately after I had posted that plea, I was sucked into a terrifying, "do NOT go into the light, Carol Anne" no-Internet-access vortex until Sunday. Shudder.
So you can imagine the cinetrix's delight once she discovered that, even coaxial-free, she was still connected to the zeitgeist. Wong Kar-Wai it was. Based on the post title, you should have tumbled to my choice. But first, let me back up a little, to Tuesday night. [Cue slow dissolve. Or perhaps a wipe. Your call.]
The Fesser and I drove from our undisclosed mountain hideaway to Manhattan late Tuesday afternoon. Our goal? Rendezvous with the Pickler and the Jazz Drummer for dinner at a little place the cinetrix had read about several times, including earlier that day: Freeman's. [She laughed bitterly when she saw the Styles writeup last Sunday.]
There is no quicker way to remember the upside of one's current rural, red-state, country-mouse existence than to be smeared cheek by visible asscheek by jowl against a cuntish, braying British hairdresser, wearing a poncho, mind, and sporting perhaps the worst coiffure in captivity, all while waiting for a table in a restaurant too small to create veal in. The pelts of the various mouldering taxidermic specimens affixed to the walls looked downright bouncing and behaving by comparison to this lovely's locks. Of course, that sort of harridan always travels in a pack of likeminded gym-armed females, the type who mistake originality for ordering a variant of the Martini the bartender doesn't know so they can announce portentously to no one, "That's not a good sign."
Perhaps you do not quite have a handle on this fishwife's sheer awfulness yet. Apparently, the Pickler, while placing our order at the bar, invaded Brit bitch's personal space in this janitor's-closet-sized boite merely by continuing to exist.
She called him a redneck.
I missed the actual pronouncement, which saved the cinetrix from explaining to this shrill, grasping shrew that generally, if one does not want one's dead body going undiscovered for days until the smell--you get the idea--calling a scruffily-dressed, straight, single, Ivy-educated man in Manhattan a redneck is the same as signing up for a life membership with It's Just Lunch. It's deevolution, sweetheart. And if she wanted to see what a redneck looked like, I'd arrange to have her airlifted to the Twisted Spoke bikers' bar back in my red state.
Oh, yeah, and the food was uneven. The devils on horseback were delish; the venison stew, not so much.
But we weren't just dining with the Pickler. Oh, no. See, on Wednesdays, he's at the Union Square Greenmarket, shilling pickles. So last Wednesday, our meal barely digested, we rose at 4:22 a.m., went back to the LES, loaded the car, and headed north to set up. Before Starbucks had even opened. The next eight hours or so were a cold, drizzly blur, but I'm pretty sure the erstwhile TMFTML stopped by. So did she, which was an unexpected treat. The cinetrix met the nice controller from Gramercy Tavern [Hi, Adam], admired Peter Hoffman's purpose-driven bike, marveled at the glorious mosaic of scurrying Thanksgiving feast shoppers, and even sold a few jars of pickles [in this she suspects her faux-naif pigtails helped push sales a smidge].
Come 2 p.m., though, the cinetrix was antsy. Also, slap-happy. Matinee showtimes were quickly slipping through her fingers, so she and the Fesser bolted downtown to Film Forum, which in addition to boasting an excellent rep schedule, had the further advantages of being indoors, warm, and dry. We sank into our seats for the 3:30 show and let the gorgeous, elliptical celluloid spill all over us. I can't even promise that eyelids didn't flutter shut for more than a few seconds, but if ever there was a movie that could leap into your up-too-many-hours dreams, it's Days of Being Wild. On the screen, the constantly falling rain we'd left outside became beautiful. The reframing of clocks made a mockery of the jumbled narrative trajectory, never giving the game away. The actors to the last were impossibly young [OK, not the foster mother] and achingly beautiful. And the Cugat music--all brushed cymbals--slunk into my brain, curled around three times, and settled into my subconscious.
When it ended, the cinetrix drifted into the lobby, still rapt by the slumberland sensuousness that only the best movies can immerse you in, and saw a dearoldfriend she hadn't seen in years. [Dana, you may have walked right by us.] Even though it made perfect sense to find Jennifer there, waiting to meet a friend for the 5:30 screening of Days of Being Wild [it was her birthday, no less], after a few months of lonely anonymity in a new place, the sheer transporting delight of a happy accidental meeting defies description. What a jump-cut. This is the same woman who cast me in her first film, years ago. We were impossibly young then, too. And sometimes even beautiful.
***************************** My languorous Wong Kar-Wai hangover lasted all the way back to the Greenmarket, where the cinetrix's yowl of "FUUUUUCK!" split the night as she slipped on the produce-slick pavement and landed--hard--on her hands and knees in the wet and cold.
My bruises are coming along nicely, thanks for asking.
The cinetrix owes Wesley Morris for explicating Lisa Lisa in the paper of record so soon after she subjected her lit students to Colson Whitehead's excellent celebration of 1980s trash culture, Sag Harbor. Look, kids! Relevance!
True, by the early 1990s, the group was virtually no more. But it happened. So did its early sound: slinky prehouse, bass-heavy, danceably percussive synth music that found a tributary to the Billboard Top 40. Key-wise, the music went down; the singing went up. Your head kept losing to your hips, heels and heinie.
Speaking of which, there are worse moves on a Monday morning of a short week than cuing up the accompanying Spotify playlist. I like the idea that Wesley is using his bully pulpit to make us mixtapes. Can't wait for the Aussie pop.
Anyway, I was surprised to learn today that the British Board of Film Certification, established in 1912, continues to review motion pictures released in the UK, and that movies effectively cannot be shown in British theaters without a certificate, which costs about £1000 for a feature film. Now, that's a typically drop in the bucket for even the lowest-budget feature film or documentary, but many artists make films and videos with a total production budget lower than the cost of certification. And then of course, there is the principle of the thing.
In response to continued certification/censorship in the UK, British artist Charlie Lyne has created a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to obtain certification for his new movie, "Paint Drying." The cost of certification depends on the length of film, so the length of the film that Lyne submits for certification will depend on how much money he raises. He shot fourteen hours of footage, but promises to reshoot if he raises enough money to submit an even longer film. The British Board of Film Certification's censors are legally obligated to watch every film submitted for certification, in it's entirety, in a theater-like setting. So, why not chip in a few quid to ensure that the censors have to spend as much time as humanly possible watching "Paint Drying"?
How do you start a piece? How do you know when a piece is finished?
I look for things or places that terrify or upset me. I zero in on that. I try to come to terms with the subject, get close to it, to the point of absorption. For example, I filmed at a sewage treatment plant, at a morgue where an autopsy was taking place, and at a pig farm.
I keep editing the piece, reviewing the video and making changes, until there is nothing more to change.