Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The slow turn and BLACK NARCISSUS (93)

I am not a driver. There is a laundry of reasons for this, but it can be best explained by this story: after failing my drivers test four times, I only got my driving license two days before I graduated from college, some five months after my 22nd birthday. Yes, I am not one for a four-wheeled vehicle and the open road.

Yet, even with a limited knowledge of the asphalt rivers that flow through our towns and cities and countrysides, I know I hate one thing:

The slow turn.

You my friends who are eloquent behind the wheel know what I'm talking about, the open road in front of you, an intersection drawing near, and the gentle poke of a interceding cars nose in to the middle. There might be a exaggerated looksie from side to side, as this invader of your future space peruses the distance and time they might have to turn left or right. And then it happens, you barreling along assured that this shining vehicle will turn in front of you with plenty of quickness and you will have just the perfect amount of time not to brake or slow or be forced to quickly change lanes. But this bumbling driver is not a regular driver, yes they might be cruising, but more likely it is speed they fear, and they slowly creep in to the intersection, miles below the speed limit. All at once the line of bullet like cars shooting towards the space beyond this light or sign is skidding to halts, children are screaming, exhaust is pluming in to the atmosphere, and this slow turning sum'bitch just continues along their merry way.

Again, I am not a driver, I am a biker, but the slow turn anger still burns within me.

Are you a slow turner? Check your .mph next time your turn signal is blinking, and if so, please think about changing. It is for the betterment of all.

Black Naricissus (93) is a film, ostenisible about nuns in India. I had no idea about this going in to it. I've taken a sort of "I don't want to know" tact towards the Criterion films of late, and when I flipped this strange flick on and realized it was about women of the cloth, I was worried. Nuns, aside from Whoopi in Sister Act (not a Criterion film) are snooze-worthy most of the time, and a classic British era film about nuns helping to build a convent in the high, high ups of India tapped my boredom-reflex a bit.

I wasn't thinking though that any film in the hands of the English creative duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger has the potential to be beyond interesting, to actually be fascinating, and indeed this nuns-in-India flick sort of knocked me on my ass. The story goes a little something like this: nuns go to India, the winds and barren nature of the Himalayas drives them crazy, a drunken Englishmen woos them, one of them kills a baby, another dresses in all black and obsesses over the sultry Englishmen, another dreams of her past - all in all the Himalayas and it's calvacade of wacky characters turns these ladies of the Lord on to their completely covered asses.

In the essays about the film, there was talk about this film exploring the notion of Britain and WWII. This might be true, but I believe instead it's about the role of religion outside of church and urban settings. Keep the five nuns in a church where they can be watched and groomed and pushed towards the love of Jesus, and nothing goes wrong. Put them to pasture and just about everything falls apart. It is a vast, undulating world of culture and emotion out there, and sometimes, religion just can't stand up.

As I've been wowed by a film about nuns in India, I forever and ever and ever fully recommend any film every by Powell and Pressburger. Without viewing or knowledge, I know this much is clear.

Wednesday: I Know Where I'm Going (94)

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