You Feel Cold

John and Mary - (1969) Directed by Peter Yates

Starring Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow

As a month passes by; one that began with a birthday and a girlfriend has ended with a developing beard and a heart that isn't as broken as it is loosened, I have gone through a flash flood of thoughts. Merciless thoughts, un-silenced thoughts, restless, questioning, oppressing thoughts. Endlessly haunting, staring at a reflection that stares at you as if you were the one in the mirror, displaced, unsure, identity as thin as your patience, as thin as your nerve endings and what suddenly makes them spark and sizzle like cooking oil.

As a month passes by and Scott Walker sings, and Beach House fits me like a glove, and everything is a living code of itself. And instead of seeing things as they are, I only see the code. I spend my days deciphering, cross-referencing, running the answers in my head, vividly observing as they, like a subtle metamorphosis, become questions. The period stretching into a line and curling into a question mark as a new period parks underneath it.

What good does a film like John and Mary to this tenuous condition? The impressions absorbed through this ripe fidelity towards romantic melancholy. Almost like a mirror played as moving pictures, with a story that stands there like a body, showing you yourself. But its one of those funhouse mirrors, it has to be--Because everything looks slightly nicer and works out better, its memory the way a memory is usually kept, with bias. If its a bad memory, you focus on the bad; if the opposite then the opposite. John and Mary took all the good and made me a body song. Something to look at and hum along because I don't know the words but the melody is so familiar.

The Joke on Prince Street

Chronicles of a Fuck-up

I Think an Unwritten Smiths' Song Just Happened to Me

So I'm walking down Prince Street on my lunch break and this girl who's too attractive to smile at me, smiles at me. I smile back very surprised. But then again, she smiled with her mouth open and a nod, so really...an attractive girl on Prince Street laughed at me. I have no idea why. She had some funny looking dog and shades. She walked normal so I couldn't see anything that she or her dog may be doing that she'd laugh at when being noticed by another person in the act. Maybe I gave her dog a funny look, I won't rule that out. I did take a small hop-step from the sidewalk to the street, which I didn't think resembled a misstep or trip. Maybe she was laughing at that. Maybe she was just a crazy person. Typical. Maybe I knew her and just didn't recognize her and she was delivering one of those, funny-running-into-you-here-of all-places sort of laugh greets. Or maybe its the most obvious, me walking down Prince Street on my lunch break is very quite a laughing matter. Comedy.


If You See Something Say Something

Doctor Zhivago - (1963) Directed by David Lean

Starring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin

Rod Steiger

I saw Doctor Zhivago today. On a big screen, digitally restored and for the first time, viewed at the Tribeca Film Festival. Should I talk about it? Tell you about how great the story was, or spin sentence after sentence about David Lean and all the beautiful shots he gives you. Omar Sharif or Julie Christie? Better yet, Tom Courtenay and Rod Steiger?

I'm not going to talk about it. "Please watch Doctor Zhivago if you get the chance", is all I'll say.

I, instead, am going to tell you about the episode I witnessed today just before entering the Clearview Cinema. As I cued along with others, an older gentleman spoke to me and others about films, music, history, many subjects, each in which he held some sort of worthy insight to share. He wasn't really bothering anyone. He made silly jokes and teased some of the Cinema staff. Whenever one of these ushers in bright yellow windbreaker TFF jackets and sunglasses would approach he'd ask if they were bringing him his ticket. It was a harmless joke and I couldn't imagine that it got to any of their nerves. As the line grew, I'd say about after maybe a good 15 people cued, the older man's younger wife showed up. He, by the way, was the first person on line; and when she showed up, everyone noticed. She was cool too, both really nice, friendly people. He told me about an film essay he has been working on for 2 weeks now, he told me about Hedy Lamarr and how she pretty much invented the technology responsible for the cellphone and internet with any due credit. Seriously. If you heard the story yourself it would not sound as crazy as it does when I write it.

Oh, I think I smell a rat!

It appeared that someone on line did not agree with his wife showing up late and taking a spot in the front. "It wasn't fair." Anonymously, word was slipped into one of the usher's ears and they approached the older man. "Its been brought to our attention that in all fairness, she (his wife) should go to the back of the line since its ticket per body, first come - first serve." Paraphrase, whatever...They split up the old man and his younger wife, the first 10 people are escorted to the ticket vendor, I'm glad to be moving as I had been shaking from a chill that echoed through me. He buys his ticket then explains his case to the vendor. I smile inside and think to myself he's a slick bastard, smooth operator because he had complied without much of complaint when the ushers linearly divorced him from his lady. He knew who to talk to. The vendor was ready to sell him the ticket or at least have one of the managers hear his story. I paid my tickets and then three people after me handed the vendor their ticket vouchers. The three people behind me were together and they were speaking with the old man earlier, everything seemed cool. But as we all headed towards the Cinemas entrance we passed on of the ushers who spoke with the old man earlier. One of the three people behind says to the usher, "hey, the old man is trying to game the box office." To this, the usher says, "good call," as he directs his energy on heading towards the box office where the old man probably was about to get his wife a ticket.

You ratted me out!

What business is it of yours if he gets his wife a ticket? Really, you ratted out another person, for what? What did it get you, doing "right", you got your ticket, what was the point in interfering? I don't get it.

A Marked Man

I'm not sure what it is about Richard Widmark that draws me into any role he's playing. He's got just as much intensity as Kirk Douglas yet it doesn't come across as it does for Douglas as Desperate Mania (which I love about Douglas). His voice, as distinct as Henry Fonda or John Wayne, as well as the grit of Charlton Heston. Widmark is just great to watch! My first film with Widmark was Judgement at Nuremberg, though at the time I didn't know who he was nor Burt Lancaster. Little did I expect that both names would soon become friendly assurances on my film viewing selections. Here are my latest Widmarks...

The Cobweb - (1955) Directed by Vincente Minnelli

Starring Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer

I really enjoyed the characters in this film and felt the weaving of the story to be almost a thriller in that the audience held a vital piece of information or understanding that most of the characters didn't. The plot was thick and the performances solid, Gloria Grahame and John Kerr in secondary, however essential roles provided just as much punch as Widmark and Lillian Gish, even the minor characters such as Sue and Mr. Capp were very well-rounded. Minnelli sure knows how to deliver a widescreen film.

I sure hope the day arrives when I could see his films on a large screen.

Don't Bother to Knock - (1952) Directed by Roy Ward Baker

Starring Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Bancroft

Marilyn Monroe as a crazy woman, and surprisingly she's pretty effective as such. Maybe its not surprising. I myself was surprised, I was just about ready to never give a chance, ever. Perhaps this role meant something to her, perhaps she was under some pills and that did the trick, or maybe she just tried so hard to be bad in this role that it worked against her and the result was a sad character that one could help feel sympathy for.

This film is full of surprises; in its content, I found it too be very adult, the situations were mature and some of the violence perhaps, ahead of its time. Honestly, in one scene I cringed when a character received a blow to the head from an angrily desperate Monroe.


All Sorts of Intimate Acts, Oral and Whatnot

The Firm - (1993) Directed by Sydney Pollack

Starring Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman

I don't know if it was John Grisham, David Rabe, Sydney Pollack, or Tom Cruise himself that produced such a great performance out of Mitch McDeere. I have said many a word against Dr. Scientology but he really packed all his pros into this role without any of the cons that would later surface in many of the characters he plays. It must be that Tom Cruise became too used and we started to see that he was doing sort of the same thing in most of his films and we got bored. But today I say this, "let Tom be Tom, you be yourself, and I'll do likewise." After that, wherever we land is our business and no one else's concern.

The soundtrack to this film won a well deserved Oscar, the keys and chords worked on my nerves like a spider on a web, and what a tangled web we weave...There's something about the music when combined with the suits and the very straightforward way of presenting the story that seems typically 1990s, however I am not sure if this is one of the films that indeed set the glossary to that vocabulary. If nothing else, its definitely the deal sealer, the closer of the lid that solidifies Wilfred Brimley as the ultimate badass with a handle bar mustache. That was until this episode of Seinfeld air:

I Want to See the Big Picture, I Do!


As many of you know, we are amidst The Tribeca Film Festival until sometime next week. Act accordingly! I have to admit that I don't really care. As much as I love films; as much time as I spend juggling TCM and Netflix; as much as I'm always tempted to feed my paycheck to Amazon.com's open mouth in exchange for some classics-- I can't seem to be moved by any film festival really. Actually, I wish I could be over on the pacific, at the 1st ever TCM film festival, but even then I'm sure its a load of hype and ridiculous packages for limited unlimited access.

However, my Grouch tendencies aside, I am excited about one part of the Tribeca Film Festival which sort of ties in TCM. On Wednesday, 28-April/21010 the Clearview Cinema on Chelsea will be showing David Lean's epic film adaptation of Boris Pasternak's epic novel, Doctor Zhivago. Viewing this film, that carries with it a magnanimous reputation of being a masterpiece achievement in cinema; viewing this film which, mind you, I've never seen on a big screen or any screen for that matter; viewing this film for the first time in this manner makes me feel...I don't know what exactly but I feel...everything, at the same time, I feel everything!

The Inevitable Let Down:

I just hope its not a rip-off. I mean, its cool that they're showing Doctor Zhivago, granted I'd appreciate it in some way. But I want a big screen, David Lean's wide frame will find no justice or peace in some cozy little theatre with a chalk board screen. No offense to IFC or Sunshine Cinemas, and much love for showing older films but the rooms they're shown in gives one the impression of sitting in a weird living room with strangers watching a big TV set.

I remember when I saw There Will Be Blood at BAM. That was special. I knew something good was happening as this larger than life character was presented in the center of this beautiful theatre. most films don't feel like that. Like I said, a room with strangers watching a large TV. I'd love to see Lawrence of Arabia at Kips Bay, or Once Upon a Time in the West at the AMC in Times Square, both on the biggest screen the respective theatre has to offer.

One classic film a month, every theatre in NYC, every last week of the month in just one theatre...it doesn't even have to be all day, maybe just one or two showings per day...on the biggest screen. Really, New York City? It a little embarrassing that I have to ask for this.


All I Need is an Umbrella called Understanding

I will never complain about the rain again. The craziest part of this video or film is that it takes place here on earth, its the small world that owns a far larger planet than we do. Imagine cannonballs of rain descending from the sky on us, its so violent and beautiful and frightening, it kills just as much as it feeds and helps create. I love how this planet knows what its doing. The Greeks had Gaia, among others and she was the Earth, the kind of woman Chino from The Deftones writes about.

The thought that a quick rain can fall and at most only drench my clothes, but in a smaller context leave a similar scene to the one in this video gives me a strange sense of perspective. It makes me think of humanity's worst, crimes, wars, plagues, famine, all the things we see as ultimate states of discomfort. All these things are as micro to the milky way as rain onto the small world of bugs is to us. The Macrocosm though never directly affected by the Microcosm, is of the same design and what happens on one has its corresponding happening on the other. "On Earth as it is in Heaven" Forget religion, this line always has been an reference to a ratio for me, you might as well be saying "on 2 as it is in 4", or "on 4 as it is in 16". What happens on Earth has its rationally scaled equivalent happening in the Universe.


The Buzz

Let the Honey Be Your Guide

I love Honey Nut Cheerios. I mean that the way a man would love a woman enough to stand before friends, relatives, and strangers and say "I do." Possibly beyond, I love Honey Nut Cheerios to the point that its perverse. Thats right, loving a cereal as one would a woman isn't perverse enough. I could have sex in a tub full of milk and buckets of Honey Nut Cheerios falling over us like water from the shower-head. I would buy an edible blow-up doll if it was made from Honey Nut Cheerio grain. I don't even want to get into how much I love honey, that's another matter completely.

Its a pretty good cereal and I've been faithful since I was a child to these sandy rings that come alive in milk, soak up and vibrantly excite any breakfast with that first dripping spoonful. And how can you go wrong with Honey and Nuts? Its a pretty good cereal!

I don't know about that bee...the lovable honey bee with that stupid face and cheery attitude...smiling and talking. I can't remember a time when I saw a real bee and my first thought wasn't to slap the air or move out of the way; compromising my cool to whoever happens to see from a distance a grown man twisting and jerking like an apoplectic idiot. Bees don't smile and they certainly don't look like BuzzBee. And furthermore, they would never pour honey over cereal. Because Bees make honey only for themselves. BuzzBee, in real life, would not be as cooperative as the cereal box implies about sharing his/her Honey.

Bee aside, Honey Nut Cheerios is awesome. What about squirrels? Honey and bees, squirrels and nuts; I think Honey Nut Cheerios should have dual mascots. The box should show a bee on one corner making Honey, a squirrel on the opposite corner gathering nuts and then John D. Rockefeller in-between stealing from both!

I love Honey Nut Cheerios!

Remember Honey I Shrunk the Kids? Chilling on a Cheerio Lifesaver, if I were stranded out in a milk sea on a Honey Nut Cheerio, I'd drown but I'd be one full, satisfied corpse.


Confessions of a Crap Artist: I Just Wanna Say...

I try and try to fit all my thoughts into words. I try to make speech a conduit to brain, a channel from where one is able to express itself through the other. I don't know how to talk out loud...I stop sentences short...I trail off and change topics awkwardly and...its all bullshit anyway. I can't make sense of how anyone can do it...I premeditate the words and it sounds so good, so exact and confident...it makes sense and I'm definitely in control but then its like the words aren't really words; like liquid and solid, the same but not the same. Better yet gas and solid. My thoughts are like some gas that floats and lightly obscures but one could walk through...words on my tongue are solid blocks with weight, height and mass, texture and density. You can't walk through it, you can't make it float and reshape it like clouds at the slight inspiration of wind, once its spoken a word is a word. A thing jumping out of you and you can't have it back...but you can add more words to direct a thought. I'm no good at directing spoken words. Maybe on paper or text/edit when the words are not quite solid, writing is the liquid phase of communicative matter.


Film Logue

A Little Bit of Plague Makes the People Come Together

Panic in the Streets - (1950) Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes

2 or 3 years back I read The Plague by Albert Camus and I've been meaning to read it again. There is something about Plague that fascinates me, any contagious disease in fact, if it groups a number of people together its everything short of uninteresting to observe human solidarity.

Panic in the Streets is a story that follows a thinning clock, a race against time, as the threat of an epidemic deepens in a New Orleans town when a man with pneumonic plague is murdered and his infected attackers unknown. Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas play the unlikely pair of doctor and policeman in charge of finding the contaminated murderers. The doctor, Lt. Cmdr. Clinton Reed M.D. just as Dr. Bernard Rieux in The Plague or even Dr. Steven Monks in Val Guest's 1963 plague film, 80,000 suspects; all dealt with the tremendous strain of stress, every life that pass, passed through their hands and every action they took was met with immediate response. Under such restraint of time during plague, one must act fast, truthfully, and with little or no regard for ego. I guess this is why plague stories interest me. Only when the threat of death is made a real solid fact, only when it looms about not as a spontaneous thief but as an invited guest who makes you uncomfortable nonetheless, only then do we shed the material layers of life. It brings out of people, that which they are at their essential make up. Heroes can become cowards, beggars can ascend to aristocracy; plague has no class division. During a plague, everyone is in the same position, death may come and carry anyone away. This is true even without plague, Death most certainly can never be called prejudice or predictable but without such an experience like plague, Death can be ignored, a person may distract their attention to other things. And as I would agree a preoccupied obsession with Death isn't healthy nor is the fear of Death that stunts one's experience of life. Plague sheds our costumes and what we are becomes known to us and others.

I'm surprised I haven't heard about Panic in the Streets before. Perhaps because its not based on a Tennessee Williams play and it doesn't star Brando, he isn't in it at all, actually. There are some great performances nonetheless, Richard Widmark is intense and practically blew a few capillaries as Clint Reed and then there's Jack Palance (then billed Walter Jack Palance) as Blackie, the lead assailant who's unknowingly carrier to the pneumonic lung candy that's got the city officials all hot and bothered. Barbara Bel Geddes plays Clinton Reed's wife, Nancy. It took me a moment to realize she played Midge Wood, Jimmy Stewart's friend in Vertigo, I'm very fond of her. I wonder if she was part of Kazan's method class? I'd like to see more of her.


Film Logue

Tengoku to Jigoku "High and Low" - (1963) Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Makadai, Kyoko Kagawa,

Tatsuya Mihashi

Location, Location

This crime-action suspense film plays against type from its opening scene right down to the literal closing. A wealthy businessman in the shoe making industry faces conflict when he realizes that the kidnapper who kidnapped his song has made a mistake. The kidnapper, has in fact abducted the child of his driver. Kingo Gondo must now decide if he should pay the ransom as he most certainly would've when he believed it was his own son who was taken.

Most of the action and investigation happens off screen, us, the viewers are then briefed by report updates or information exchanged between characters. Similarly some of the more dramatic dialogue and exchange of words in the first half happen behind a group of people who are not involved in the argument. A living room full of embarrassed detectives stand forefront, awkwardly lowering their heads, as behind them Mr. and Mrs. Gondo argue about whether to pay the ransom or not.

Akira Kurosawa's plot to High and Low is full of moments like the aforementioned. And even when we see the kidnapper he doesn't speak until the final scenes. In fact, unlike most action films involving a kidnapping, there is no suspense directly involving the kidnapper himself. Instead, the suspense lies in the thrill of the hunt and tracking down the identity of the kidnapper, Ginjiro Takeuchi.

If I had more time today I would watch both Heat and The Dark Knight. A similar sense of intense search and a long postponed meeting between hero and villain is found in all three of these films. High and Low or Tengoku to Jigoku is also location rich, as the name implies from High to Low, we get a sense of a city from its wealthiest to its vulnerably dependent poor.