Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A weekend in SF and BRIEF ENCOUNTER (76)

This is what a weekend in SF looks like I think most times:

1. Friday: I work for the record label in the morning. I dilly-dally about on the interwebs developing kinks in my slouchy back and continuing steadily older contacts with people I've never seen in cities I may never visit. In the afternoon I help Alex take her liege, a precocious young lady named Firefly, to a cooking class at an Urban Playground. Children eat colored pudding and I realize that any child within ten feet of me almost instantly makes me tired. For our efforts in corralling young Firefly we're awarded a car for the evening. We drive to the East Bay (a foreign and exotic place full of steel structures and magical beings) for what Alex refers to as an "East Bay Adventure". We eat gigantic slices of Zachary's pizza and drink Indian lager in a hybrid Honda. We pay ten dollars for all you can play pinball at a hole-in-the-wall joint with over a hundred machines and a "pinball museum". I fall asleep tipsy and outstandingly happy.

2. I work, early. Tourists are beasts, evil, non-tipping beasts that wear dowdy sweatshirts and demand things in tones that make my skin crawl. I fight the urge to throw hot beverages in their faces, on their North Face parkas, in their poorly did hair. Alex suggests we make a "mint-themed" dinner. In the world of cooking titles, we are sous chefs, choppers at best, and our executive chef menu design skills are lacking. We plan a meal rife with veggies and mint and rice and invite over a crowd. Dinner starts cooking at 9:30. At 11:30 we finally eat a meal of crunchy rice-filled peppers, mushrooms and rancid cucumber sauce. Somebody retches at one point.

3. I work, early. Tourists are beasts, and my tip jar, regardless of the volume of customers stays near-empty through out the day. I put on a fake smile and fight the desire to leap across the counter and strangle a wrinkly-faced geriatric. Alex, the roommates and I attend a "Hunky Jesus Contest" in celebration of Jesus Day. It is like a rock concert, a huge gay rock concert, and I am surrounded by half naked Jesusii and strapping men in platform shows and nun make-up. Everyone is drinking, everyone is smoking, everybody must get high. It is unlike any Easter I've ever celebrated. There are no dyed eggs, no chocolate bunnies, just a general celebration of this crazy life we've all been given. It is refreshing.

That was my weekend, and I believe every weekend from this point forward will be a variation on this. This town is amazing, crazy, ridiculous, overwhelming, and I am almost bursting just from being here.

Brief Encounter (76) is at times compared to the sultry foreignness of Casablanca and I think in the sheer brilliance of the film, it deserves that comparison. That and the fact that both films are about ill-fated romances. Aside from that I think I'd compare this film more so to the noirs (I know I said this yesterday, I'm trying to fucking make a point here) of the early 40s. There's a saying that describes film noir, "Anybody can do anything if put in the right situation" and this ably describes the collapsing world of Laura Jesson. She falls in love with a suave doctor in a far off town that she spends hers days in, and when there's even a hint of trouble, Mrs. Jesson, a mother of two, a loving wife, a dutiful housekeeper, turns quite rapidly in to a deceiver of the highest regards. All of sudden she's creating situations, lying to her family and friends, drawing others unwittingly in to her web of deceit. She's forced in to a situation she doesn't want to abandon, and she'll do anything to keep it. If pushed further, I believe Laura Jesson would kill or maim or kidnap, like any good femme fatale, to make this love work.

The films noir underminings continue through out, including the depressing, almost suffocating nature of the ending of the film. Laura Jesson loses her man. He disappears to South Africa and as the camera twists and turns in classic noir dutch angles, Laura Jesson's only respite is suicide. A path she doesn't take. And as she sits in her home with her chattering husband, staring in to the fire, the crushing realization that she's experience truly what life is and that she'll remain on it's exterior forever is heart-breaking. Brief Encounter (76) is the best sort of movie, a film that touches on genres - romance and noir - but doesn't feel trapped within there bindings. Instead it uses them to bolster its story of love and loss and the desperation of living a life you weren't cut out for. Absolutely a must see.

Here's an awesome essay about the film as well, that you should certainly read.

Thursday: And God Created Woman (77)

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