Enjoying 50 orhow I learned to stop moping and love being in exile
So last Monday, in my halfhearted quest to find a gym to workout at, I stopped into a local for a pint and got into a conversation with a gentleman around my age. We chatted about this and that,what brings me to this bit of southeast London, all very pleasant. But when we said goodbye he told me, "Enjoy your 50th year!"
And it got me to thinking...I haven't been enjoying it very much. I haven't been enjoying this exile, even though I know that there are people who would give their eye teeth (and more) to be 'stranded' in London with nothing but time on their hands.My mother is probably spinning in her grave as I write this, for she would have been in her glory here, a museum or gallery each day, enjoying every pint, the greasy fish & chips, the way the air tastes and smells, walks through all the lovely parks and commons with the conkers and leaves falling,not to mention the spectacular weather. She would most likely berate me for my lack of enthusiasm for all these things.And she would be correct in doing so.
When I turned 50 around a month ago, it was not a good day.I'd only been here a few weeks and was still hoping that this stay would be only a couple of months, but even that seemed awful and egregious.I felt old, and uninspired.My body doesn't appear in the mirror as I imagine it should, my roots are greyer than ever before and the wrinkles and lines and middle age spread leave me feeling as if this bag of bones and skin has betrayed me.My darling Big G assures me that I am as lovely to him as ever, which is, of course, the most important thing really, but I'm tired of this constant feeling of dissatisfaction.So, am I dissatisfied because I'm middle aged, or because I can't be where I want to be RIGHT NOW? Or both? Either way I have to make an effort to stop this destructive, whingy, state of mind and take the gentleman's advice.
I will put my frustration with the Swiss bureaucracy aside.I will accept the fact that I will not be with Big G, Max and the kittehs for Xmas and not snivel about it.I will accept that aging is the alternative to being dead. I will banish my anger at the unfairness of it all.And I will start being truly thankful, not just begrudgingly grateful.For this year, my 50th year on this little blue planet, Iwill finally marry the man I love, I will get to go home,I will get to work in my garden and cuddle with my kittehs.And maybe with this change of heart I will enjoy being in exile.
The Limits Of Control "Reality is arbitrary" I have never seen a Jim Jarmusch movie before, although apparently he is known to "create difficult and beard-scratching movies".But this movie was just so freaking beautiful it somehow doesn't matter that it has little or no dialogue, a very sketchy plot and an ending that is akin to waking up from a dream after a night of too much curry and beer. Most people will express boredom at the very least and more often, extreme annoyance when subjected to the retelling of 'that wild dream I had last night', but for myself, I found Jarmusch's reverie compelling and fascinating. The opening scene, shot from above, is of a man doing minimalist tai chi in a bathroom stall at an airport.This man (Lone Man played seamlessly by Isaach De Bankolé) meets with two men in a waiting lounge where he is given a number of instructions, one of which is to use his imagination.I suspect this is Jarmusch's gentle suggestion to the audience, you need to let your imagination run during this movie, the hints are subtle and delicate.It's important to listen to the dialogue, there is no excess or repetition and if you miss something you may find yourself quite lost. The Lone Man travels to Madrid, Seville and Almeria, sitting in cafes where he drinks two espressos in two cups and meets his 'contacts'; Violin, Blonde, Molecules, Guitar, all the while dressed in immaculate silk suits and an aura of calm expectation.He lays on beds in apartments and watches the sun rise, listens to the street sounds and refuses sex with the luscious Nude.He hates guns and mobile phones, and spends time not just looking, but somehow absorbing certain paintings. The contacts (a stellar cast that includes TIlda Swinton, John Hurt and Gael Garcia Bernal) trade red or blue colored matchboxes with him, and casually offer up bits of philosophy or personal observations about movies,molecules, and the origin and nature of la boheme. Visually this movie is lush.Each new location is rich and slightly grainy in texture, the Lone Man's suits iridescent in the Spanish sun, the oblique and changing angles of the tai chi routine all kept me entranced when so little seemed to be happening to further the plot. The gritty and sometimes discordant soundtrack (by Boris) reinforced the chimera-like quality of the whole experience, although Jarmusch is much more linear than, let's say, David Lynch. I walked out of the theater into a dull, grey afternoon in Leicester Square, bustling with tourists and the babble of at least ten different foreign tongues, feeling as if I had been rudely awakened from one of those deeply mysterious and potent dreams you have during a midday nap.And perhaps that was the case.
So, yeah I said I wasn't going to post any reviews...well I'm a bit of liar, so fuck you. First film that I got to see at this festival: From Time To Time. And I only have three words: Dame Maggie Smith. I have always had a sweet affection for those plots that revolve around the the mutability of time. You know, the movies (and novels) where the young protagonist is drawn into the past by ghosts that he/she can see and subsequently discover the plot devices that solve whatever dilemma is currently inflicted on said protagonist. This movie is no different from the many, many like it that came before. Predictable plot arc, sweet and on the brink of adulthood adolescent, curmudgeonly but wise household retainers, cheap but not entirely ineffective flashbacks to past events, and a sour/sweet beset upon relative that requires age old mysteries to be solved.Nothing new here kids, but it wasn't an entire waste of time and money, simply because Dame Maggie Smith is the shizz!This Grande Dame of the stage and screen has somehow avoided becoming a caricature of herself, despite the numerous roles where she trots out the wise, mildly embittered but clear headed spinster persona and takes what is a pedestrian movie,plot and all, and runs away with it.She is helped by the understated performances of Timothy Spall and Pauline Collins (Gawd I love her!) to make a film, that although being somewhat mawkish, is sweet and worth and hour or so of your day. So out of the paddock.. From Time to Time rates a 3 outta 5.
PS. When I left the theater in Leicester Square wandering around looking for a place to have a bite, I got caught up in a LOT of hoopla as the class act George Clooney worked his way around the crowd signing autographs.So I've been 2 feet from celebristardom and all I can say is it looks like ole George has had a bit of 'work' done.Still, he was very cool and if all celebs took the time to do the 'routine' with as much aplomb as he does, maybe some of the hoopla would be well deserved.
Exile In the UK It's on now! I procrastinated buying tickets and so won't get to see the films I really wanted to, but the glory of film festivals is that you usually end up seeing great films that weren't your first picks. Starting tomorrow: From Time to Time Cold Souls The Limits of Control The Last Days of Emma Blank Metropia There are soooooo many films that I was too late (or slow) to buy tickets for, like The Road, A Serious Man or Up In The Air,but these big movies will make it to local theaters and eventually onto dvd.I may have to stand in a queue to catch the short and animated short compiliations (which were sold out in a blink) because to me the short films are often the most compelling and rarely seen. Just in case you're expecting reviews or something, unless the wonderlords over at Pajiba express an interest in the droolings and ramblings from this knobbly corner of the interwebs, or a film simply knocks me so far off my block that I have to rant about it, I won't be posting any. As if I don't have enough angst already just thinking about writing reviews for the upcoming Cannonball Read.
Press Leak I, like so many many other, have nothing but the highest hopes for Barack Obama.There was (and still is) great joy in my heart that this man (and not GWB or any other one of the minions of Cheney & Co.) is currently sitting in the White House.And I'm patient..I am willing to give the man more than 10 months to bring about the phenomenal changes he promised.But...I just scratch my head over this Nobel Peace Prize thing. Now, the Nobel Committee has been known to make some er...unusual choices for this honour in the past, Henry Kissinger certainly LEAPS to mind, but I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a carrot for Obama or some other strange prescient pick on the part of the august members of the Nobel panel. Christopher Cooper is also struggling with the oddity of this choice....
They Oughta Give Me The Wurlitzer Prize
by Christopher Cooper
Members of the Committee, Distinguished guests, Fellow honorees, Friends, and Family Members not too embarrassed to attend:
I humbly and gratefully accept the Nobel Prize in Physics, the recognition, the honor, the plaque, the trophy, the discount coupons, the windbreaker, the keychain, the bumper sticker, the Alfred Nobel bobblehead and the generous cash award which, if I may, I would like to receive in twenties and fifties.
I am as surprised at this as many of you must be, not least those who know me and are all too aware of how far short of my grandiose pronouncements my actual accomplishments have fallen. But do any of us today know that I may not yet, someday, wake up, wise up, get up and get going? That I might not, while sleeping some night, grow a great and sturdy backbone that, upon my waking will support my new found commitment to honoring the dreams and hopes and plans and promises of which I have so often and so eloquently spoken? We do not. For all we know I may even pay off my credit card debt and quit the gin bottle. I believe this high honor may be just the lever that will lift me up and set me again upon the course I have so long advocated for myself and for us all.
But I will tell you that I feel today already on the cusp of great accomplishment. While it is true that as long ago as nineteen sixty-seven opinion held that I would not do great work in the field of physics, there is not an inescapable descent from a grade of sixty-five on the New York State Regents Physics Examination to a life devoid of discovery and productivity in that discipline.
So I'm a little bored these days...but this was certainly an hour or so well spent.
It took about an hour to make this over at xtranormal.com...not too shabby for my first movie.Speaking of movies, I will be getting out of the flat next week to go see some of the offerings at the 53rd BFI London Film Festival.