Why It Often Rains in the Movies
By Lawrence Raab
Because so much consequential thinking
happens in the rain. A steady mist
to recall departures, a bitter downpour
for betrayal. As if the first thing
a man wants to do when he learns his wife
is sleeping with his best friend, and has been
for years, the very first thing
is not to make a drink, and drink it,
and make another, but to walk outside
into bad weather. It's true
that the way we look doesn't always
reveal our feelings. Which is a problem
for the movies. And why somebody has to smash
a mirror, for example, to show he's angry
and full of self-hate, whereas actual people
rarely do this. And rarely sit on benches
in the pouring rain to weep. Is he wondering
why he didn't see it long ago? Is he wondering
if in fact he did, and lied to himself?
And perhaps she also saw the many ways
he'd allowed himself to be deceived. In this city
it will rain all night. So the three of them
return to their houses, and the wife
and her lover go upstairs to bed
while the husband takes a small black pistol
from a drawer, turns it over in his hands,
then puts it back. Thus demonstrating
his inability to respond to passion
with passion. But we don't want him
to shoot his wife, or his friend, or himself.
And we've begun to suspect
that none of this is going to work out,
that we'll leave the theater feeling
vaguely cheated, just as the movie,
turning away from the husband's sorrow,
leaves him to be a man who must continue,
day after day, to walk outside into the rain,
outside and back again, since now there can be
nowhere in this world for him to rest.
Speaking of the movies, I have been told by much of my friends list that it is International Recommend-A-Movie Day. This means everyone should go to their LJ right now and tell their friends to watch a really good movie which most of them probably have not seen. And then tell more people to do it. Hopefully, we'll all have lots and lots of recommendations by the end of the day. My first reaction was that my must-see list isn't all that original or interesting, but then I remembered that compared to lots of people on my friends list I am an old lady. Have left off Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest because best picture Oscar winners should not need recommendations, but these two are inarguable must-sees anyway.
So, some must-sees that don't get talked about much anymore: Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen's masterpiece, a film I used to teach, plus it has Anjelica Huston, Alan Alda and Martin Landau giving fabulous performances); Days of Wine and Roses (Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon in a heavy-handed but still moving and relevant film about the dangers of drinking too much); House of Games (Joe Mantegna fucks with Lindsay Crouse's mind somewhat sweetly in this stylish neo-noir), Kiss of the Spider Woman (this film is not out on DVD, for which someone somewhere should be soundly thwapped; I saw it five times in five days when it opened and cried at each of them); The Miracle (Neil Jordan is going to be remembered for Mona Lisa and The Crying Game but this Irish dream is my favorite of his films); Opening Night (a wild, rambling John Cassavetes film starring Gena Rowlands about theater and reality, which starts with an actress' mid-life crisis precipitated when a hysterical fan races in front of a car to try to see her and is killed); Tempest (Paul Mazursky's version, also with Cassavetes and Rowlands as well as Susan Sarandon and a very young Molly Ringwald, with too many highlights to mention here but one of the finest is Raul Julia as Caliban singing "New York, New York" to his goats).
Every year on Rosh Hashanah I swear right before services that I am never going back to Washington Hebrew -- the crowds are enormous, not one of the four rabbis knows my name even though both my kids are in Hebrew school there and my mother teaches Hebrew school there, I feel like I'm at a fashion show rather than a religious service and the displays of affluence infuriate me. But the service itself is always very nice. We go to the family services in the afternoon, where my kids know lots of people and we know lots of people and where there's a story instead of a sermon. This year it featured a "Tashlich Bread Sale," making a joking reference to the ceremony where Jews symbolically toss their sins of the past year away in the form of bits of bread in a body of water. The moral of the story was about trying to take shortcuts to repentance, but the story featured my favorite of the rabbis playing an unscrupulous baker who baked bread to symbolize every possible sin, including white bread for ordinary sins, French bread for exotic sins, pumpernickel bagels for dark sins, milk toast for wimpy little sins, fudge for lying, nut bread for silly sins and pretzels for twisted sins. This was very amusing. They also for the first time had a woman blowing a shofar (one of three, there are always multiple shofar-blowers) which pleased me.
1. If you came upon a time machine, where would you go? Would you alter anything? Why?
Jerusalem at the time of Christ. I want to know what he actually said. And I don't think I'd dare alter anything, too much of human history has been influenced for better or worse.
2. If you managed to capture the Questing Beast, an odd combination of animal forms that is said to know the answers to all questions, what one question would you ask it? Would the answer change anything?
Whether the universe was created for a purpose or just randomly came into being through a vicissitude of physics, I suppose. Or maybe whether it's finite or infinite or renewing -- though I like the first one better. The answer wouldn't distress me either way, but being told that this is the one and only universe and when it ends, that's the end of space-time...that would depress me.
3. You've found yourself a rather obedient genie in a bottle. Make your three wishes. Why, out of everything you could ask for, do these three win out?
I learned several important genie rules from Edgar Allan Poe and The X-Files, namely don't wish for world peace, don't wish for money, and above all don't wish for love. Even with birthday candles I tend to wish for really trite generic things like remembering what's really important, living up to my potential and not losing faith.
4. Someone presents you with a working voodoo doll. Do you use it? On who, why, and to what purpose?
I'd like to say I'd use it on George Bush or Antonin Scalia or John Ashcroft, but I believe in karmic law too strongly. They'll get what's coming to them anyway, and I don't need to bring retribution down on my own head and those of the people I'd prefer to help.
5. Pick a superpower, any superpower. What and why? How would this change your life?
I've always said that the superpower I want is the ability to see the good in everyone.
Happy birhday, aesc! Am spending thrilling afternoon with spouse and bank papers, so must go work on articles. And, gacked from beeej, must be cautious of said spouse because he's a psycho clown: