Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pretend parenting and THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (62)

For circumstances outside of my control, I spent the last three days of my life with Alex taking care of a two year old Guatemalan child through all the ins and outs of the day. This wasn't just wake up in the morning and head on over to a house where you spend the day drinking coffee, and letting the kid roll around in the dirt. Oh no. This was 24-hour care - diaper changing, food getting, snot-wiping, tear-blotting and everything else a nearly two-year old can manage.

What we ended up referring to as "Noah's Ark" contained these things: two lofts (both startling luxurious), two cars (including a behemoth of an truck that made me feel a bit like I was drop kicking the environment in the crotch), a dog named No-Pants, a bird named Thunder (that bit me and then flew in to a wall, furthering my belief that pet birds are worthless), and at one point two children (the aforementioned Guatemalan and the smartest three-year old you've ever laid eyes upon). As you might well think, I've derived a few thoughts about child-care and such, and, well, I'd like to share them with you:

- I can't believe that people do this for 18 years. I spent three days as the coach of the B-team (this meaning I was only there to dance like a muppet and occasionally pick a child up by his feet) and I'm exhausted. Hell, I didn't change diapers or prepare food or bath any snot-covered children and could lay my head down right now and sleep for days.

- To paraphrase JM, kids are great, they really are - bundles of energy and excitement that as we get older we can only wish we could muster. But Jesus, after spending 72 hours with one, a little quiet time where you aren't worrying what they're putting in their mouth, or what steep incline they're running down, or what that smell emanating from their trousers might be, is a sort of serene sublimity only those who take care of kids can enjoy.

- It is amazing how much liquid can flow from a two years old face. It doesn't matter what type of industrial strength face cleaner you're using, these children, sick or not sick, acquire a layer of filth over their entire dome piece, unimaginable. Weirdly enough, after a couple hours of spending time with Marco (my Guatemalan pretend-child) the crust of goo encapsulating his face was more endearing than disgusting and maybe that's just what being a parent is.

- I thought taking care of one child was difficult, but we threw a second kid in to the mix on Monday morning and my head nearly burst. Somewhere near noon I found myself sprawled on a rock, completely drained from hours of sprinkler avoidance and wounded children and the long march of tears and laughter that is every move from car to destination, completely in awe of every parental unit that is able to do this on a continuing daily basis.

- The Backyardagains is one of the most abysmal television shows currently being produced. That said, the sort of comatose state it puts children in certainly allows for a modicum of rest unknown through out the rest of the weekend.

- I do not envy those that have to make the parental journey on their own. I can't speak for Alex, but I'm pretty sure that with out our combined powers, this weekend would've been some sort of hell. I'm not placing any judgment on the hard path of single parents in this world, I'm just saying that I can't imagine taking care of one kid for a mere three days without someone I truly enjoyed by my side. Hats off to those who do though.

So, exhausting weekend in San Francisco taking care of children - anyone else do anything weird?

As I've said before I was not even a bit excited to slog through The Passion of Joan of Arc (62) and I think my incredibly low expectations for this nearly two hour silent film made in the late 1920s actually benefited my viewing of the film. Carl Th. Dreyer, a director whom, sadly, pops up good few more times in this here collection, creates a film that doesn't capture the adventure or the excitement of the more action-oriented Joan of Arc, but rather showcases her final trial, and the, well, passion that this soon-to-be saint carried with her at all times. Joan of Arc (Renee Falconetti) is captured almost entirely in restricted close-ups and Falconetti manages to exude the sort of fervored, probably lunatic emotional state this God-driven martyr lived out her final days in. There's something almost early-90s experimental about the way Dreyers film sucks up the tones of Falconetti, and the slew of skeevy religious figures' faces, almost as if you were watching a slideshow of Richard Avedon's black and white work.

Honestly, I'm not terribly excited by the film, but if anything, I'm interested, I'm captivated, I'm not yearning for it to stutter-stop to an end. The only thing which bothers me is the score the Criterion Collection decided to choose as an optional soundtrack. It's filled with operatic and choral voices and for whatever reason I feel as if it adds a layer of melodrama the film doesn't actually include. A sort of arch-emotional feeling that doesn't jive with how I view the film.

I'll get more in to fascinating history of this print and this film tomorrow after I've finished it.

Wednesday: The Passion of Joan of Arc (62)

No comments: