December 4th, 2005

stan and ollie


Another movie night, though unintentional. I watched Sweet Charity, for the first time, though it came out in 1969. It was from the 1966 Broadway musical with book by Neil Simon, which was in turn (loosely) based on Fellini's 1957 movie Nights of Cabiria, which I like very much. The first half of Sweet Charity is just OK, with some amusing bits and some interesting Bob Fosse dance routines, but the second half sinks into sappiness, and is marked by the inexplicable appearance of totally unconvincing Hollywood hippies in several scenes. I doubt that the hippies were in the original Broadway production. Though Shirley MacLaine was credible in the title role (as long as you don't think too much about Giulietta Masina's performance in Fellini's movie), the male lead- John McMartin, who I've never seen in anything else (I don't think his career went anywhere)- was seriously miscast. Jack Lemmon might have been able to redeem that dialogue, but probably not enough to fix this broken movie. See Nights of Cabiria instead.

Then there was the 1944 non-musical version of Kismet, with Ronald Coleman and Marlene Dietrich, which is one of those classic camp faux Arabian Nights movies in which Baghdad is a stylized Hollywood Art-Moderne fantasy as slick as Oz, and there are miles of oiled muscle, and acrobats in pantaloons, and women in improbably sheer and colorful burnooses (well, they probably aren't burnooses, but I like saying "burnooses.") The best thing is that it has that splendidly rich early Technicolor, of the sort that no film process since has ever equaled, and reality never did. Pure fluff, and just the thing to wash a washed-out 1960's musical out of one's head.

I don't know why I'm writing about movies so often these days, though. Maybe I'm getting sick of reality, even though the White House is leaking absurd ass-coverage for W, which ought to amuse me no end. We are not amused. Why can't he just be an outrageous, over-the-top villain like the Grand Vizier in Kismet? One can admire such an entertaining villain, even while reveling in his downfall. A weaselly villain's downfall is just pathetic.

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gericault_raft of the medusa 1


I watched from the Safeway parking lot as the crescent moon emerged in cloudy sky. Then I went shopping. It was the most exciting thing to happen for days. Now that the oaks have shed their leaves, on clear nights I get a view of the moon for an extra hour, but it's too cold to stay out that long. The leaves which had collected on the roof have been removed, and the lawn has been fully raked, so everything is looking very tidy and dull. My brain is feeling very dull, too, though surely not tidy. It may need exercise. I don't feel like providing it. I need to get out more. Then maybe my ambition wouldn't seize up as much as it's been doing.

Here's this: The Grand Avenue Plan. My native city deludes itself yet again. I just wish that planners would learn to masturbate in private.