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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Personal: A "Three Colors" Weekend 
4th-Nov-2007 01:34 pm
I See You!
Diane grabbed me Thursday evening, beating out Julie by a few hours (as I found out when I got home to her voice mail proposing we do something – too bad: we haven't hung out since Regina), and we headed out grab dinner up at Harry's Bar and Grill, which we hadn't been to since March. She had just moved from her apartment, it turned out, over to her old friend/employer Robin's house, since she's become executor of his estate. That job will keep her busy for the next three months, and Robin's sister gave her permission to stay there while she's taking care of everything, rent free, which is of course attractive. So she showed me around a bit more than the one time I'd been there, and I looked at his library much more closely, and discussed the possibility of finding a university looking for a collection in Tibetan Buddhism that would buy it, rather than merely liquidating through a book dealer. After much hit-or-miss in trying to do something social with both me and her still fairly newish boyfriend, Tim, he appeared unexpectedly at the house, after a last-minute work rescheduling, and we persuaded him that he wasn't crashing in on "friend-time" and to join us for dinner.

A lot of talk ended up being about film, as we had decided to watch Three Colors: Blue after dinner, and I found Tim to be really sharp in his viewing of film, in execution and in storyline, and so the conversation was really kind of compelling as well as fun. We were all laughing after having just been served our entrées when my Aunt Helen showed up to join the large and growing group of women seated around several tables pushed together that was next to us. This, it turned out, was a bunch of her fellow teachers getting together for a drink out, and before joining them, Helen spotted me and came over, where I introduced her to Diane and Tim. She then took it upon herself to warn them that I was the slowest eater in the known universe and to push me to get started and not to let me get talking too much. Diane was familiar with this, but I think Tim might have been a bit taken aback for a relative of mine to pop out of nowhere and begin razzing me so playfully. I just took it, nodding with exaggerated long-suffering painted on my face. But it was fun. I spoke with Helen a little later, just before we left, to just catch up on a bit of news, and then we took off. Coincidentally, I'd been thinking of watching Three Colors again just that week, and so for Diane to bring it out had been a happy piece of serendipity. I'd not watched them in at least eight years, maybe longer. I was enough older and more adult a watcher of film that I knew it would be a fresh experience. Blue was an entirely new film to me: I didn't recall a moment of it. We talked some about its portrayal of grief, particularly in its destructive modes: not just of things, but even of old boundaries and patterns of life. And, of course, what "Liberty" – the "three colors" of the French flag, and their "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" invocations – might mean in the film's context. All in all, a quiet night but very pleasant. That is, until I got home: for some reason, I had an awful night, with very little sleep, and so I slept in late in the morning, since I had no scheduled work.

This kept me up late on Friday. I watched White on Friday night/early Saturday morning, over a late snack after working for a while once I got home from my date with Faith, and was disappointed. While I remembered a few of the comedic devices of the story, it seemed very ... pedestrian? compared to Blue, and this despite my default fondness for Julie Delpy after having Before Sunrise and Before Sunset become the most compelling movies of the last year for me. The ending was certainly a bit difficult, and it was difficult to read the mood of these characters for me, so their actions came as a surprise, in a way that threatened to seem contextless. I was almost more taken, as an historian, with just the snapshot-like quality of the vision of Poland just after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, which while relevant to the story was certainly not what Kieslowski was hoping would grab my attention. "Equality" was perhaps easier to spot with this one, but not happily so. Still, seeing equality as an absolute value has certainly been one of the more simpleminded and problematic excesses of the Enlightenment.

Red I watched over a few meals on Saturday and into this afternoon at lunch. This was the one I remembered the most, and which strikes me as vying with Blue for the strongest of the trilogy, although I'd give Blue the nod for best cinematography without question, where the symbolic colour of the film was most smoothly woven in, whereas the red in Red occasionally seemed more than a little forced. Blue plumbs one emotion most deeply, and so the film's strength seem to me to be in its focus, whereas Red is the most engaging overall, with its parallel stories weaving artfully together by the climax, and the fraternal goodness of the lead character, the aptly-named Valentine, powerful enough (though not crudely idealized) to coax the reclusive judge Joseph back to his own love of humanity. I somehow assumed the setting was supposed to be Paris, but it didn't look right to me (even avoiding the obvious landmarks), and I had to blink when I realized at the end that it was set around Geneva. I'll have to go back, now, and just look at the geography to see what I recognize.

Oi. More to say about that, but I'm trying to get things together for heading down to meet Kevin in Chicago. I'm still feeling kind of punk, and so I wasn't sure if I was going to be up for doing this, but I guess I'm rallying. I'm definitely more in the mood for a quiet, low-key night of food, drinks, and talk, rather than roaming the city looking for adventure. He wanted me to look for any live Irish music in the city, which on other occasions would be great, but for tonight I think I'm going to nix that idea.
Comments 
4th-Nov-2007 08:00 pm (UTC)
The Three Colors is what made me want to make movies.

White isn't about Julie Delpy/The Marriage for me. It's about Karol Karol finding himself and about his friendship with the man he meets in the subway - the scene where he refuses to kill him breaks my heart every time, and I think both actors are brilliant.

Ah, Blue...I know what I'm doing tonight.

4th-Nov-2007 08:05 pm (UTC)
Hey Jen,

I can sympathize with your read of Karol and his relationship to the other guy: great scene – so understated by both of them. It would make sense to see that as primary, to me, but then the stuff with his wife seems so odd and problematic, especially the fallout of his scheme at the end. Maybe I just need to watch it again, but it seems rough and jumpy compared to the other two.

Ah, well, then: enjoy the evening! Now I feel bummed that I'm going to be in the city and not making time to say Howdy!
4th-Nov-2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree that the wife stuff is weird and uneven....I'm just saying I watch the film for the friendship between the two men. That's where the "heart" lives for me.
4th-Nov-2007 08:06 pm (UTC)
Still, seeing equality as an absolute value has certainly been one of the more simpleminded and problematic excesses of the Enlightenment.

*waves hand idly* At your leisure, Mr. Novak, do expand the thought for your favorite dix-huitièmiste.
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