Saturday, April 12, 2008

How Terrible

I just remembered that I used to know a boy in high school who peeled his hands. He was a tall, thick, quiet boy with straight hair like a wet cap. He peeled the skin off his hands to the point that he sat in class with a bloody kleenex wrapped around parts of his hands at all times. Or maybe he had some kind of hand peeling disease that made his hands peel without his intervention. The point is that I sat next to this boy with the bloody rag in his hands and made absolutely no sort of contact ever. His behavior was categorized by me as aberrant and I ignored it. And him.

I don't remember his name, but I'm not surprised about that. It does surprise me that I felt no kind of comradeship with this boy, in fact I had a habit of tearing up my cuticles, at stressful times to the point that my best friend throughout high school and college would sometimes be moved to say, "Look, your fingers are like little Christmas trees!" This is the best friend, best friend for ten years, who revealed in her 2004 memoir that our friendship was based on my being mean and her being self-abusive. Or did she say that she stayed friends with me because if I, vicious troll that I was, could be nice to her, then she must be "cool." I can't remember which explanation she settled on, after offering both, I must admit I read those bits quickly.

Friday, April 11, 2008

There Will Be Wide Expanses of Nothing

We watched this movie on Eleanor's birthday. She selected it. In the afternoon, she called me on my mobile and said, "Can you make this happen? It's all I really want, just 'There Will Be Blood,' okay?" And I said, "Well, there will also be cake," because I wanted to assure her that we would truly be celebrating, not just the usual chinese food and art films. And she said, "Okay, I will be there after 7:30." At 7:00 I called home and said to Dan, "Oh, Dan, please go and trade in whatever girl movie I had on the cabinet for 'There Will Be Blood' because it's Eleanor's special birthday wish." And then he said, "Okay." And then I said, "Can you please also wrap the present that's sitting in the front room?" And he said, "Will there be anything else?" Or something else to show mild loving exasperation with all these tasks, and I said something like "Thank you so much for helping me," because I was really grateful, feeling sort of tired and rushed, and he warmly told me that I was welcome.

If you felt like maybe fast-forwarding through the last paragraph, to get to the pay-off, and you kind of let your eyes wander down the screen to find the point of it all, and then coming to the end of the paragraph you felt like I just nattered on about things that were possibly poignant to me but hardly poignant to anyone else, then you get a small sense of why we watched "There Will Be Blood" on 1.5 speed. You can still hear the talking, okay? It's just that on the long shots where someone is trudging across the badlands, he trudges a little faster. On the endless lingering shots when someone is peering into the distance, or the fire, or the dirt, having complex masculine emotions down deep inside, he peers a little quicker.

Is that a crime?

Well, what if I told you I was making it easy for you in paragraph one? For example, I told you how I was feeling twice, when I could have just described the motion of my eyebrows and expected you to intuit it. I also did not include the 30 minutes I spent listening to my four-year-old daughter's wandering narrative based on the pictures in Peter Rabbit. A time I spent silently listening. I didn't include the time it took to drive home, during which I was almost motionless, staring straight ahead, and the kids were listening to Geggy Tah.

After five minutes, we said, "Maybe this is a movie for men?"

After thirty minutes, we said, "It ain't no 'Boogie Nights'!"

After an hour, we went to 1.5 speed.

We went back to the regular speed for the "I ABANDONED MY CHILD. I ABANDONED MY BOY." part and it was totally not worth it.

In the end, we were unmoved. To be fair, the movie suffered in comparison to the brilliant, amazing, wrenching, hilarious, explosive "No Country for Old Men." Let's face it: Coen > Tarrantino. But Anderson 2008 < Anderson 1998.