Saturday, November 22, 2003

LENNY

If you have a hip friend who you're afraid might one day get into shooting into your arm kind of drugs, sit them down for a double feature of first Sid and Nancy and second Lenny. The former is much more heavy handed, so maybe you should put it second. Dare cops might learn something from this. I've heard many people who went through Dare tell me that it made them much more interested in trying the drugs. I didn't get Dare in my school and I tried the drugs anyway. But I never got into heroin, mainly because nobody every offered it to me, one reason I'm probably here writing this today.
There's a high compliment I can give to director who tackles a subject like this. People like Elvis, Jesus, as we've seen before Picasso, and certainly Lenny Bruce are all stories that are so extreme that very few can tell them without turning the subject into a god, a demon, or some epic hero. Bob Fosse does as good of a job of avoiding this as I've seen in a bio pic. He lets the good times speak for themselves and the bad times he presents and lets you deal with it. He doesn't go in with "This is why it's bad and this is why you should feel this way." And in doing so, he tells a much more touching and real moral tale than we're used to.
Fosse only directed five films. The fact that he made his own film about the meaning of his death about ten years before he died is maybe the one thing that's saved us from a preachy film about the life of Bob Fosse. Much like Zero Mostel, he's a genius who wasn't filmed nearly enough because he lived right on the cusp of the age where every moment of every celebrity's life is filmed. Perhaps part of why I see him as being so brilliant is that he didn't live long enough to make his "Manhattan Murder Mystery." Or even his "Deconstructing Harry" where we leave the theater saying "Well that was okay, but it was no `All That Jazz.'"
I'm mixing metaphors now. Oh well. I've buttered my bread and now I must lie in it.
Dustin Hoffman looks so much like Lenny Bruce it made me want to vomit with delight. One of the most amazing scenes is about 3/4ths of the way through. Lenny is partying with a lot of Horse and has to go onstage. Fosse sets the camera on the balcony and leaves it there while Lenny tries to tie the wet noodles of his thoughts together coherantly. I've had that conversation before. The last time I saw my best friend of ten years from high school he was full of heroin and this is exactly how it went. And it doesn't mean anything other than it really sucks to see somebody you love on heroin.
Lenny's wife is played by Valerie Perrine, who I remember from Superman and was happy to finally see her in something good, even if it was thirty years ago. If you're going to make a character driven film about a charismatic personality, you have to have two strong leads. The two strong leads make this film.
I can't say that this is a hard film to watch because of the downward spiral and the terribly sad ending. Part of the brilliance of this film is that one wants to keep watching even at the hardest moments. That's a great director and a solid cast doing what they're supposed to do.
All the same, I did make sure to watch a Laurel and Hardy short afterwards. I think that I should always retain a strong enough grasp on reality to be able to travel to the darkest regions, but also have a strong enough grasp to come right back into the light when I'm done.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Alright, so the review will come tomorrow. I'm tired and I ain't getting paid to do this, so I'm putting it off until tomorrow. All will be revealed in the greatness of time.
Good night. And may God bless.
Amazing how two hours of sleep, then an hour and a half of driving, then another four hours of sleep can screw with me more than getting a pint of blood removed from my body. There is a part of me that wants to get up at four in the morning to go driving all the time. It's a great feeling to go 90 down the freeway with nobody in sight in front of or behind you. Maybe I should wake up at 4 when I need to go to the grocery store.
It was good to see my mom so happy. Yesterday she got the news that she's going to get a week or so with her grandchildren in Febuary. Today she's in Wisconsin. She was beaming. They also said that they're going to have a major blizzard starting around midnight tonight which for some reason seemed to make my father happy.
I didn't take the rest of the day off work. I got some books.
I'll probably post another film review later.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Three big things about today. The first is that sales are launched beyond my expectations. Way beyond. Like I'm going to have a carrying them all into the post office problem tomorrow.
The second was that Charles and I went to give blood today. I'd never given blood before. Charles went first. Their was some talk between me and the nurse over things I'd done in my wild years. After talking to two nurses we decided that my wild years weren't so wild that I can't give blood. By the time I was in the chair Charles was halfway through recovering.
My strategy, and I assume the only thing that kept me from being the girl who was breathing in the paper bag when I came in, was to avoid looking at anything that was happening with my arm. Afterwards I got an awesome button that says, "It's My First Time." I expected to be more screwed up and high afterwards, but mainly I just felt a little cold.
The third is that I'm going to have an interesting morning. My parents are going to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving to shoot Bambi's mother for the next year's worth of meat. And guess who they asked to drive them? At four in the morning? So, I've got driving tired before sunrise and then waking to a heavy post office morning. Maybe I'll take the rest of the day off.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

It was another one of those days where I catch up on work and laundry around home. It was also another one of those days where I just seem to be angry all day about stupid little things and things that I'm allowing myself to dwell on.
Anyway I got a lot of books inputted.

Many years ago, back in high school, I had a best friend named Ben. I tell you this because he had a certain way of sneezing. He would hold his nose closed with his hands and let it all come out his mouth. Now, growing up I used to sneeze out my nose and have goo go everywhere. I know how disgusting this is getting, but I'm getting to the point and I need this exposition.
So, I started to retrain myself to sneeze like Ben. I found that, after many years of this, when I sneeze I end up sneezing over and over for about fifteen minutes. Nissa told me that was because I wasn't sneezing correctly. So, I've been trying to sneeze like a normal person for many moons, but it'd get caught somewhere in my sinuses. I mean, I was getting better at it, but still hadn't quite relearned it.
Tonight, I don't know if it was because I needed a catharsis or the Santa Ana winds starting, but it all came out me nose. Twas a mighty sneeze. At first it felt like somebody had socked me in the nose from the inside. Then came the blood.
But it all felt really good and really releasing. And for some reason I wasn't angry anymore after that. Like all the frusterations of the recent past flowed out with the post nasal drip. It was awesome.

Tonight I went out and wrote two new poems. I'm also piecing together what I'm doing for the artist's salon on December 14th.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Oh, and there isn't going to be a review of Goddard's Breathless. I tried. Oh how I tried.
A couple of years ago I watched Jules et Jim, the Truffaut film and it made me want to hit things. I think it's one of those love it or hate it things. I found it pretentious as all hell. So, I avoided the French new wave. I finally tried a second time with Goddard's Breathless.
I don't know. I thought the camera work was amazing. I also thought it was cute how they made fun of American accents in a really playful way. The soundtrack was really hip and pleasant. But the film was almost in real time. Like molasses it moved. I just couldn't take it.
Once again, the same question in a different form. Why can't I find Betty Blue anywhere, which is like one of my favorite films of all time, and I can find Goddard and Truffaut all over the place?
Well, I had an interesting day. A lot of fun, but under strange circumstances. I spent most of the day with Phish and a good deal of it with Charles as well. They've got turmoil, but I'm sure everyone who needs to know about that knows already.
So, Phish and I went to a library where I'm very proud to say she got a library card and checked out a Hitchcock film. I got some inventory from a very unpleasant and confrontational lady in the bookstore who I suspect overcharged me because she forced out of me that I'm a book dealer. I'm not going to check and see though because I don't want to get angry. But I probably won't go to that particular library bookstore on Tuesdays.
But I did get three more films.
We went to the Home Depot and then to look for a blood drive that we heard was on. It had ended the day before. I got flirted with by somebody that... well, I wouldn't pursue it. But it was nice to be flirted with again. Finally.
I went home for dinner. Then back to Charles, Phish, Yod and Jessica. We had a really fun evening around the house talking and laughing. Generally filling the house with joy. It was a great social day.
Tomorrow will mainly be putting books online.

Monday, November 17, 2003

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM

I remember when Nissa and I first started out I told her that I hated musicals. As our relationship degenerated I came to realize that I actually love musicals, I just hate what's happened to them (the two events are not related.) I feel the same way about theater in general, but for different reasons. When you love something so much it has all the more power to hurt you deeper. And when you see something with so much potential being frittered away, it makes you want to start a riot.
I'll start by saying this is a very well filmed musical. It's hard to do. There are many mediocre productions of musicals on film. That's mainly because they were written and staged for the live theater. People don't realize that you can't just put a camera in front of a great play and have a great movie. You have to reformat the entire production and, in many cases, rewrite. I'll come back to this later.
Sondheim is a lyrical master. I won't say he's the last great musical composer. I will say that he's the latest great musical composer. Since Sondheim, I've not encountered a great one. This is mainly because financers fear subtlety. The touchstone of the contemporary musical is working, thematically speaking, entirely in major keys. Sondheim has a richer and broader toolbox that he works from. The "Maid" song might very well be the funniest filmed musical song I've ever seen.
It's well directed too. Richard Lester indulged in a few whacked shots, but they didn't distract me and didn't seem superfluous. Unlike many musical directors (I'm looking at you, Luhrmann!) he doesn't feel the need to draw attention to himself, shouting "HEY MAW! I'M DIRECTING A MUSICAL!"
If you haven't seen it, another great Lester film is The Ritz. Mostly non-musical, but a downright loopy sex comedy that takes place in a gay bath house.
We've got a great score, a great director, a great script from the mighty powers of Shevelove and Gelbart, and a skin tight cast. Buster Keaton is in this film. Phil Silvers is in it. And so is, ahem, Michael Crawford. Hey, come on, you've got to admit he's got a great voice.
Now I'll take a deep breath because I've come to the reason I'm so happy to be writing this review.
I grew up listening to Zero Mostel on records. I grew up singing along with him. He puts so much life and immediacy into his roles that he is always the part you'd like to be playing. He has a blast in every role.
We do not have a Zero Mostel today and we're a much poorer world for it. Zero Mostel died the year I was born. This film is one of the best, in way too small of a list, of his films. Much like De Niro in the Godfather II, Mostel is on the screen with some of the greatest living performers alive at the time and he blows all of them off the map. Zero Mostel. Makes me want to take off my hat and hold it to my heart. Pardon me while I do just that.
Sigh.
The story is fun in a sex comedy kind of way, but a good one, not like a Noises Off kind of sloppy farce. I felt that every actor in every scene was focused on what their character wanted and how close they were to getting it. That's the only way a show like this works.
The film's seams start to unravel a bit toward the end when everybody's stunt man ends up riding around in chariots like so many Benny Hills. The first thing that went through my mind was, "I guess the end of the film is different from the play. Cause I never been in no theater what has chariot races!"
But they pull it all back together for the musical thematic resolution in the denoument. I was astounded. Flabbergasted. And recharged.
Yesterday I got a new sweater. I've been interested in sweaters for about a year now, but I didn't have any nice ones. I had one that was dark green and looks like it's been worn by somebody whose bed Richard Simmons came and cried next to. I've also got a black pull over that's got a little too baroque of a knitting method. I doubt it was made for a male to wear.
Yesterday I got a cardigan with a zipper! It's kind of an off black which means it will go with pretty near everything I own. I've got that satisfaction of getting a new article of clothing that I'll probably still be wearing, and looking like I've crossed battlefields in it, ten years hence.
Last night was the Van Nuys artist salon. There were several poets, but not too many. Phish passed out name tags for us to introduce artists to the group. We write a name of an artist on the tag, put the tag on the person next to us and explain. Charles gave a most enlightening lecture. There was some fine, live music. It was a really awesome and energizing evening.