Thursday, January 24, 2008
Snow Drifts (Updated)
Holy Christ, it's cold here. In case that link's temp changes by the time your fair eyes read this, it is a balmy 12 degrees and falling (I came back to the north...why?). It's cold. Cold, cold, cold. Colder than Dick Cheney's heart. Colder than Eli Manning's Super Bowl chances (you know how I know the Pats will win in 10 days? Because professional idiot Skip Bayless blared out on ESPN today that the Giants have narrowed the point spread, and he wouldn't be surprised to see it narrow further. And he is, always, reliably wrong. Let me tell you, there's no finer experience than hearing Skip Bayless yelling to you from airport televisions). Colder than the sixth season of Gilmore Girls. Cold, I tell you.
The flip side of such a chilly return was the visual pleasure of seeing snow from overhead as we landed in Cleveland, the city's muddy orange light creating an almost sepia tone on the ground. There's actually more snow here now than there was when I got back from Christmas break. Speaking of sepia tones, I came home to discover that Cineville's one local theater is showing No Country For Old Men for the last time tonight. I know Jonathan will never forgive me, but I can't imagine venturing out into the snow this evening, not with a long day of little sleep finally catching up on me. It's a shame, too, as the Coens' epic is right at the top of my must-see list, and the film replacing it in the Apollo's old-school theater space is Rob Reiner's atrocious-looking The Bucket List (Notes on Running A Theater: Your student population has been gone for a month, but will start returning for spring semester next week. Do you a) wait until they return to show an Oscar-nominated, buzzworthy drama by a popular directing team or b) show it while they are gone, then bring in a treacly film that wouldn't pass muster on Lifetime? Discuss). Actually, if you replace the "B" in The Bucket List with an "F," you pretty much have Reiner's entire post-American President career. Which is odd, and a little sad, given what a strong start he had, and that a new, near-20th anniversary (!) DVD of When Harry Met Sally just came out, reminding us of what a enjoyable, character-driven filmmaker he was back in the day.
Would seeing No Country in my exhausted, loopy, vaugely hallucinatory state enhance or detract from its pleasures? Would the violence and humor seem richer, more delightfully crazed, or just freakish, nihilistic and annoying? Could I deal with Javier Bardem's hair in such a state? I tend to recoil against thinking of cinema as a church, but I think I'm avoiding the film tonight as a kind of tribute to the filmmakers (despite my decidedly mixed feelings about them), and everything I've heard about the film. There was an interesting piece on the Persepolis film adaptation in the Film Comment I read at the airport (an issue which had-- well, look!-- No Country For Old Men on its cover (in this state of mind, everything's not just loopy-- it's looped), a piece which spoke of how the cartoon honored Satrapi's wonderful comics while avoiding what it called the pifalls of servile translation from one medium to another-- the film looks like the books, it said, but also finds its own cinematic language to express, enhance and expand upon the tones and themes of the novels. This came up with The Girl while we briefly perused some of the new PBS adaptations of Austen last week-- when we say a film is/isn't "faithful" to the book, whose version of that book do we mean? The images in my head, or the images in yours? And why is fidelity (which the great Roland Barthes listed as one of his "dislikes") always the primary goal, anyway? I somehow think insomnia would be another kind of translation, and while I often feel a sense of disconnect and drift from the Coens' work (as in Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, and their version of The Ladykillers), I want such a drift to feel like an honest reaction, not a sleep-deprived one.
No, tonight is about staying in and chilling out, perhaps while warming up with episodes of Crime Story on DVD. Michael Mann's vision of Chicago doesn't resemble the one I lived in for two years, but it doesn't want to: he knows that his brilliant epic (which I am happy to report has aged very well over the last 20 years) is not a documentary or even a genre pastiche so much as it is a fever dream; nominally set in 1963 Chicago, but really taking place in a kind of stylistically and temporally unstable netherworld that feels both 60s and 80s, it's a hallucination of cops and robbers whose day-glo hipster violence feels like the perfect glass of milk before bed.
UPDATED (1/25): Ok, it turns out the Fandango page I read in the airport was wrong: walking past the marquee today, I saw that the Apollo replaced No Country with Charlie Wilson's War instead. Well-played, Apollo-- my faith in you is restored.