Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The Impact of Mirrors
There were a couple dead ducks among the crowd I went to feed to-day, floating against some reeds. I can't tell what killed them--maybe just old age. There were also flyers posted all over the place with pictures of someone's missing kitten. Not a particularly uplifting day for a walk, I suppose.
In her blog to-day, which is about facing hard truths, Caitlin mentions a quote from Akira Kurosawa about how being an artist means to never look away. If I weren't banned from her journal as part of being, I guess, living proof that despite what she says Caitlin does flinch and look away from things, I'd probably point her to the story of Kurosawa's firsthand experience of the Great Kanto Earthquake's aftermath and how it influenced this particular outlook of his. Though I guess it's a story I've referred to enough times in this blog. It's certainly a philosophy I've always agreed with, though I don't think it's as easy as people like Caitlin seem to believe. Kurosawa himself "flinched" now and then, as when he broke off communications with Laurence Olivier when Olivier speculated that if Macbeth's child had been born it would have been deformed hideously.
I watched "The Shakespeare Code" last night, the second episode of David Tennant's second season on Doctor Who. It contained possibly the most annoying rendering of Shakespeare I've ever seen--a beefy guy with a cocky swagger. He seemed like the kind of guy who would have beaten up the real Shakespeare and taken his lunch money. Otherwise, the episode's not so bad except it bugged me that the Doctor acted like he'd never met Shakespeare before--I say this despite having read in the episode's Wikipedia entry that, "Russell T Davies and screenwriter Gareth Roberts have both stated that they were aware of these past references to meeting Shakespeare, but that they would neither be mentioned nor contradicted in the episode."
One of the things I like about Bob Dylan is that he has no apparent swagger. But Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which I also watched last night, is a movie that seems overwhelmed by its own soundtrack. Mostly consisting of songs by Bob Dylan that are better than what's going on onscreen and at odds with what's going on onscreen, every scene seems to show up with confidence and then quietly dissipate into a confused fog as Dylan's guitar takes centre stage. Dylan himself appears in the movie, and seems about as overwhelmed by being in a movie as the movie is by his soundtrack. He's such a little and shaky guy and he so clearly doesn't know how to handle the knife he's seen throwing once with supposed deadly accuracy. His arm kind of flaps over his head with it in a windmill motion.
It's nice to see an American Western from the 70s that doesn't look as slipshod as High Plains Drifter, though maybe Sam Peckinpah, like Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter, was working from a Sergio Leone influence and was trying to compose a movie more of mood and atmosphere than plot. There are some beautiful shots in the movie, but Peckinpah just doesn't seem to have Leone's knack for lingering. Almost every scene is Pat Garrett or Billy the Kid showing up in a saloon or ranch and meeting old mutual friends who are surprised at how things are between the two men now. The movie has the idea of the absurdity of killing when the roles of lawman and outlaw are so insubstantial, which is an idea I really respect but there's just something too unfocused about the movie. Even the death of the lawman played by Slim Pickens, accompanied by Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" disappears into the background of, rather than accentuating and working with, that great song.
There were a lot of gratuitous bare breasts, though, which is always appreciated.