September 28, 2008

Hurts

This year marks the fifth anniversary of my dad’s death – and the fifth year that I haven’t properly mourned him. No time, no time, no time cries that little white rabbit in my head and it’s to the point now that it’s physical – something lodged in my existential craw. After Dark Knight, I physically could not write a thing for a couple of days; something I couldn’t squeeze around anymore. It’s when I realized that I wasn’t writing to journal anymore. That my shit had gotten impersonal. So I made a decision to get personal again. It’s taken a bit to get gears used to static on the go again and if you can feel the creaking, there’s the reason, but I’m back, bitches, hope I’m not gone long again.

Paul Newman’s death is shaking. I was more personally traumatized by the death of Roy Scheider, though, and I think that it has a lot to do with my not understanding Newman until I got a little older and got ahold of Hud and The Hustler and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - all those movies where he played fags and rapists and long-time losers that facilitate their girlfriend’s rape and suicide. Hardly matinee idol stuff, but that was Newman, right? One of the two or three most beautiful people to ever flicker on that luminous scrim and choosing to play assholes and miscreants (Cool Hand Luke, Hombre, and his Lew Archer and on and on and on) – that’s integrity. His films are the tumult and displacement of the sixties; he’s the sixties. Forget about bullshit like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting - Newman was fucking steel, man, the s’truth unfiltered.

Anyway, I didn’t get Newman until I was well on my way to becoming an old guy. I got Scheider right away. Jaws, French Connection, 52 Pick-Up, Sorcerer, I understand Scheider – even Romeo is Bleeding, right? But Newman? Newman had to wait until I got smarter so what I feel now is intellectual. Still hurts, though.

Here’s a hypothetical. If you could have had the chance to ask Newman five questions in an intimate sit-down. No follow-ups, no groundwork, you’re in a terminus station and that guy’s waxing the floor and half the lights are off and holy crap, it’s Paul Newman in the overstuffed opposite. Five questions. Make ‘em count because it looks like he’s waiting for that eternal coachman to offer him a leg up into the coach.

Now here’s the other hypothetical – same situation with, say, Charlie Kaufman, what the hell.

Anyone here read Joe Lansdale’s The Drive-In? Movie prospects?

Suffered goddamn Nights in Rodanthe the other night – I swear to god that in between stuff like that I fool myself into believing that the world isn’t packed to groaning with assholes that like Nicholas Sparks. I really wish Lane would be in more stuff like Unfaithful and not stuff like Under the Tuscan Sun. Am I alone, too, in really liking Richard Gere? Best Gere film? That Ed Norton thing where he really, seriously, hits it out of the park without stealing the hog Ed’s carrying off to the truck.

Listening now to Loose Fur and these Radiohead b-sides that I found floating around the ephemera – anyone tried out that “Reckoner” thing on iTunes that lets you mix the song to your own tastes? Crazy.

30 comments:

jacksommersby said...

Truly, truly a loss. I still think his Oscar-nominated work as the alcoholic lawyer in The Verdict is one of the 5-best performances of all-time. Just look at how extraordinary he is in this one brief scene:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goNVHG7qDn0&feature=related

(Oh, and Jonathan Rosenbaum, go fuck your psuedo-intellectual windbag self -- Newman never for so much as a second was guilty of "Oscar-pandering" in that role. It was a performance of technique and imagination that was jaw-droppingly brilliant without ever calling undue attention to itself.)

And how about this from Slap Shot...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HurEm5gb5NE

...where watching the usually-gentile Newman spout something like that as opposed to someone like, say, Harvey Keitel makes it truly sing!

And his Absence of Malice co-star Sally Field truly sums it up with this:

"Sometimes God makes perfect people, and Paul Newman was one of them."

RIP. Man you were fucking one-of-a-kind.

jacksommersby said...

Oh, and you're not alone in liking Gere -- I always have, with his best performance still his quintessentially-corrupt cop in "Internal Affairs". I can't think of a film he hasn't helped simply by showing up.

Zero Summer said...

Best Gere film, thats easy, Days of Heaven. Must be one of his first films, no?

About what you said about Nicholas Sparks, I just started a new white collar job, not bad work and pays good monies. Anyways, building on my attempt that I initiated in last year or so to melt into the fucking wallpaper, I sat down for lunch with my new colleagues at work, fooling myself into believing that I would fit right in. That is until the conversation moved to films and the neanderthals started going on and on about how everyone loved The Notebook, one cretin going as far as saying that she accepted her boyfriend's proposal for marriage once she saw him bawling his eyes out during the movie, recipe for divorce based on latent homosexuality that is I tell you. So in a moment of uncaught sarcasm I mentioned how I LOVED A Walk to Remember, to which everyone heaved a sigh of stupidity, one dude saying that's the only film he had cried during. The conversation moved to how much everyone hated critics, and oh boy was I in on it, but just when I was starting to derive some kind of covert pleasure out of this "fitting in" op, one monkey-man brought up how much he hated NCfOM and TWBB, everyone nodded in agreement. A few seconds of it and I could've stayed undercover, but no, they had to go on and on and on about it, until something in my brain popped and I went on to calmly deride everyone for their lack of taste or intelligence, that is until I brought the conversation back to Nicholas Sparks and everyone ganged up on me saying one needs to have "real" emotions to enjoy films like this, to which I responded that on the contrary it is "easy" emotions, and you know where it went from there. So, now I have my lunch at my desk and folks treat me like I have flu. Mission Accomplished.

Seattle Jeff said...

There are times I like Gere...but a movie he hasn't helped? Chicago for one.

What would I say to Newman? I'd be speechless. My only inquiry would be the obvious, "How did you know not to take the easy movie-star, glamor role path?"

There must have been some part of him that was not impressed with mere Hollywood success...as commented on in the recent PBS feature on the Warner Bros. studio, Newman flourished when the role was gritty as he was himself.

And Walter, thanks for the Medium Cool reference again. That book helped me discover more Paul Newman.

Ogami Itto said...

One of my all-time favorite movie endings:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cF1Jjyvec2E

--Ogami Itto

Alex Jackson said...

In other news...

Chapter 27, and new editions of Mosquito Coast and The Last Laugh drop Tuesday. All three are must-owns for me. Also Pia Zadora's Butterfly and Bigger, Stronger, Faster; two I wanna see. Quite the windfall.

Walter_Chaw said...

Butterfly is really interesting, man. Be interested in your take on it. I;m moved by the idea that the question to Newman would be the existential "Why". I'd ask the same of a Kaufman. A lot of this is spurred by the death of David Foster Wallace in my mind - the feeling, as I had with Spaulding Gray back in the day, that I wish I'd thought to ask while they were alive the things I want to know now that they're dead.

Have to say that the more affecting, emotional, death recently to me has been Wallace's and not Newman's. I recognize the seismic quality of the latter's passing - I just feel the other more personally.

Saw APPALOOSA tonight and boy, it's a fucking stinker. I'd like to take that idiot that said that it was like UNFORGIVEN and kick him right in the baby-makers.

Bill C said...

In the interest of correcting a gaffe I made a few threads back, that PARENTS DVD *is* anamorphically-enhanced after all. I was playing it in the wrong machine, the one I have set up specifically for 4:3 material. (It is ludicrous and probably seems decadent, yes, but I have 3 players hooked up to one set, each serving a different purpose.)

theoldboy said...

Agreed with Walter on DWF's death being more deeply affecting than Newman's. We had a heads up on the latter's passing long before it happened, and coupled with the inevitability of it (it's all inevitable, but you know what I mean) there was the fact that he'd already given us most if not all he had to give.

I'd only gotten into Wallace recently and it's his abrupt check-out that's motivated me to really sit down and read more things by him to their conclusion. Been reading his essays the past two days, utterly rapt the whole time; midway into the godly one about TV and postmodernism.

Walter_Chaw said...

His essays are amazing. You've read the one on Lynch?

Bill C said...

The Lynch essay's essential. I also gotta give it up for "Everything and More", Wallace's textbook on the concept of infinity. (He sees the irony.) It starts getting pretty face-melting once Wallace discovers there's a number higher than infinity--a concept that he learns has driven mathematicians to insanity and suicide, not that there's necessarily any connection there.

theoldboy said...

I've read the Lynch one. First one I read, matter of fact. I had to do a presentation about Lynch in a film class a while back and his definition of Lynchian helped immensely to ground my diseased ramblings.

Anonymous said...

Not surprised on Appaloosa sucking; Harris's Pollock revealed him as having absolutely nothing interesting to say and no interesting way to say it.

--Kim

Richard said...

Are these DFW essays available on the web somewhere? Would someone mind posting links? All I've found is the Lynch one (which is excellent).

Bill C said...

Well, there's also this excellent profile of talk-radio personality John Ziegler. Most of his essays are collected in the worth-a-purchase "Consider the Lobster", but they're generally his pre-publication drafts, which some see as proof that he needed an editor but others cherish for being unfiltered Wallace.

rachel said...

richard:

Here ya go.

Jefferson said...

DFW's David Lynch piece fell apart for me the moment he accused Quentin Tarantino of appropriating/stealing Lynch's "tone," on the evidence that bothBlue Velvet and Reservoir Dogs involve a severed ear.

Seattle Jeff said...

Suprised that Alex hasn't chimed in yet on Wallace's essay about the AVN awards.

theoldboy said...

Jefferson, that's not really what he said.

"The Band-Aid on the neck of Pulp Fiction's Marcellus Wallace-unexplained, visually incongruous, and featured prominently in three separate setups-is textbook Lynch. As are the long, self-consciously mundane dialogues on foot massages, pork bellies, TV pilots, etc. that punctuate Pulp Fiction's violence, a violence whose creepy-comic stylization is also Lynchian. The peculiar narrative tone of Tarantino's films-the thing that makes them seem at once strident and obscure, not-quite-clear in a haunting way-is Lynch's; Lynch invented this tone. It seems to me fair to say that the commercial Hollywood phenomenon that is Mr. Quentin Tarantino would not exist without David Lynch as a touchstone, a set of allusive codes and contexts in the viewers midbrain. In a way, what Tarantino has done with the French New Wave and with Lynch is what Pat Boone did with rhythm and blues: He's found (ingeniously) a way to take what is ragged and distinctive and menacing about their work and homogenize it, churn it until it's smooth and cool and hygienic enough for mass consumption. Reservoir Dogs, for example, with its comically banal lunch chatter, creepily otiose code names, and intrusive soundtrack of campy pop from decades past, is a Lynch movie made commercial, i.e., fast, linear, and with what was idiosyncratically surreal now made fashionably (i.e., "hiply") surreal."

Which is kind of dead-on.

Walter_Chaw said...

Just in from a screening of Synecdoche, New York. Holy fucking shit.

Anonymous said...

Even as a liberal, I can't see W. being that good. But I also can't imagine it being a waste of ten bucks. Every time I see a trailer I get the same shit-eating smirk that I despise seeing Bush wear.

-yiyer

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of JFK and Nixon, but I'm very worried that W. is going to turn out to be just a long cheap-shot SNL skit.
-Kim

Berandor said...

Where's the review of the box-office hit "Beverly Hills Chihuahua"?

"Chihuahua Flick Tops US Box Office":
http://www.empireonline.com/news/feed.asp?NID=23371

Berandor said...

Lucas's proposed title for Indy IV was "Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men"? Really? Man, that's *awful*

Bill C said...

Yup.

I gotta say, I kinda dig the original idea to do WAR OF THE WORLDS but with Indy in the lead. Not sure how they would've grounded it in archaeology, but...

Nate said...

Yay for Loose Fur. I'm a huge fan of Jim O'Rourke. If you haven't already, check out his solo albums "Insignificance" and "Eureka" (and to a lesser extent "Bad Timing" - the three making a triptych of sorts named after the Roeg films).

Anonymous said...

I wanna say, it's a shame that Chaw doesn't have a review for Religulous. I need to point somewhere to show that it's possible to be an avowed atheist who thinks religion is bullshit and still loathe this movie with every fiber of one's being, which Chaw would absolutely do, I feel safe in assuming.

Berandor said...

Bill Maher is a cook, anyway.

corym said...

Bill and Berandor

I actually liked the title "Indiana Jones and The Saucer Men." If anything, they should've removed most of the archeology and jungle elements from Crystal Skull and just gone with a cold war paranoia/sci fi angle. I kind of like the idea that Indy would jump genres with the detonation of the atomic bomb. The old gods and magic are gone, replaced by bombs and science.

Anonymous said...

I think the new South Park episode said everything that needed to be said.

Yiyer