Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Better Late Than Never Show

I'm not a fool. I'm entirely capable of learning from experience. And last night's experience proved just dreadful. And I'm not speaking about escaped lunatics invading my home in the dead of night. In point of fact, they did not.
No, I skipped the late movie and the late concert, went straight to bed around one a.m., which is a perfectly reasonable bedtime for someone dedicated to a long life and perfect health, let alone for someone like me. And I slept, if slept is the word, horribly. I'll skip the details, but it would have been better if the lunatics had invaded.
I spent the day in a fog. No one much noticed, because this is not very far removed from my usual demeanor, which consists largely of blinking a lot and saying "What?" regardless of external stimuli. But the lesson is clear. Skipping the late movie avails me naught in terms of the following day's level of consciousness. And it renders the sleeping process tantamount to having my home invaded by slavering lunatics, perhaps with homemade musical instruments in their palpitating yellowish hands.
Tonight I watched Kiss of Death (1947), which featured Victor Mature (as a small-time hoodlum who has his own sleeping problems), Richard Widmark (as Tommy Udo, a slavering lunatic, no less), and Brian Donleavy (as a sensitive assistant district attorney, this in the days before the West Coast became a leading symptom of mental disturbance.) It was a noir film, which means "black" in French. In this case, however, whites and grays were added so that you could make things out without a flashlight. The movie was quite good, although not so good as to require extensive mental acuity on my part. The ending was a bit more ambiguous than I'd previously thought, as is the case with so many old movies I'm watching these days. Am I really tuning in to narrative questions that I'd previously missed, or am I just making needless trouble for myself? Another burning question is: Just who are the musicians in the bebop trio in the nightclub? (I'm excluding the sax and trumpet, who state the angular theme on the soundtrack, but do not appear on the bandstand, so who is fooling whom?)
Next up, I watch an early Max Fleischer cartoon. Am I alone in espying early intimations of several major noir conventions here? Correct answer: Yes, you are, end of story. Oh, yes -- and the cartoon had hitherto unsuspected ambiguities.
Then on to the evening's concert, sort of: Richter: The Enigma. Now, I am not the sort of person who goes into flutters and sweats and deep exhalations and fainting spells over The Power Of Art. I will stack the brevity of my attention span against any man's. My callow indifference to stark beauty is legendary. Whatever sleeping difficulties I may have often vanish in the concert hall. But this film moves me. I won't go into details, but I'm not talking about idle fidgeting, I'm talking about transcendent emotions here. Everyone ought to get this video and watch it a hundred times. For starters. We will not see this man's like again. And I quite agree with the Amazon reviewer who avoids his keyboard for days after viewing this movie. Why bother?
All right, to bed. Read a little bit, check for lunatics, click off the light, try to think about vague things that make little sense. Early to bed, early to rise: Right. No one ever said the two earlies couldn't be on the same day. Major loophole there, I think.