Friday, February 22, 2013

Good Morning Jeremy...

Letter to My Son
Friday, 22 February

Ingmar Bergman

Good Morning Jeremy…

I haven’t been saving anything to date.  I’ve spent freely on my interests.  Lately I’ve been engrossed with the films of Ingmar Bergman.  He died maybe five years ago and, for all I know, he may be lost to history.  His movies have nothing of the Hollywood treatment, meaning that he violates rules – Persona has many extreme close-ups with long monologues to the camera – and personal interaction is seldom softened by wit and humor.  People aren’t heroic in an inflated way.  Sentiment is often missing but not wholly absent. 

Artists are bastards and Bergman is no exception.  He recognizes this and presents the artist as ineffectual and weak.  The attraction they have for women on a personal level is depicted as the need of the fearful for the protection of the womb.  I don’t find this depiction appealing but I recognize elements of truth.  I am generally interested in Bergman because he has an obsessive interest in human nature and, in particular, the nature of women. 

I love Bergman but I think you have to either watch him alone or with someone of like mind.  I watch all my movies alone.  These include movies with directors other than Bergman.  Today I’ll again watch Peter Watkins drama on the artist Edvard Munch, which happens to be the movie’s title.  Last night I watched Midnight Cowboy.  I had forgotten Joe Buck actually killed a man.  It was the timing and the nature of the murder that makes it particularly compelling.  It changes the complexion of the film’s ending.  I’m still mulling on it in this light.

I still love Fellini.  8 1/2 remains my standout favorite.  La Dolce Vita and La Strada are very strong.  I have to take another look at Satyricon.  It’s been years since I last saw it.  It’s sitting here but it just keeps getting pushed down the list of priorities. 

I think you might be interested in seeing Beasts of the Southern Wild.  It was released this year and it’s directed by a young man still in his twenties – Benh Zeitlin.  I absolutely hate the depiction of kids in most films and I don’t care for their acting either.  Here’s an exception to this rule – Quvenzhane Wallis, 6 years old.  Her strong performance carried this film.  Remarkable.   

Movies have always been about entertainment – filling the seats and selling popcorn – so I’m not stressed about the films currently in the theatres.  I just don’t go all that often.  Recently I saw Zero Dark Thirty and I liked it.  I know there’s been quite a stink about the depiction of water boarding leading to a key clue in revealing the location of Bin Laden.  The screen writers acknowledge themselves that this wasn’t true but they felt they had to include dramatization of water boarding and this was their rationale.  I’m not disturbed by it.  In fact, the only thing that disturbed my viewing of the movie was the guy sitting behind me.  There’s not much music sound bed with the film so I could hear him crunching his way through a family sized barrel of popcorn.  Here was real inhumane torture.  Finally, he was done.  Thank God!  Then I heard the unwrapping of cellophane and the smack chopping of a candy bar.  Christ!  It was no sooner finished when a second cellophane wrapped candy bar began to uncoil before my ears.  That was all I could take.  I had to immediately move two rows away.  I’m sure he was emitting butter drenched popcorn gas just in time for the film’s exciting conclusion.

Some movies require the big screen experience but, on the whole, I prefer to avoid the Indiana Jones Saturday Matinee crowd.  I prefer to watch my depressing fare with a strong cup of coffee in an isolated room, tenderly nursing my silent, thoroughly satisfying personal sense of despair.


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