Friday, May 24, 2013

Art Can Bring Us To Truth

"Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" are a blend of stars, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, with a wonderful script brilliantly filmed. Motion pictures are an art form which lends itself to action, visual delights that are seen in such classics as "Gone With The Wind" and current ones such as "Iron Man Part Three".  "Gone With The Wind" combined visual moments with smart dialogue whereas the "Iron Man" genre depends on action and the script is secondary. A successful modern day picture that combines the elements of a great cast with a script that creates tension is "Argo".  But what "Sunrise" and "Sunset" do is have a story about two characters that meet and talk, converse. There is no political agenda where they may lose their lives, no super hero jumping tall buildings at a single bound, just two characters the viewer believes in who actually do nothing but have a great experience of falling in love and converse. AND we, this modern culture of ours have really lost the art of conversation.

"Before Sunrise" have a young, early 20's, Jesse and Celine, meet purely by chance on an European train and spend a day together. What they do is enjoy themselves mainly by talking, sharing their dreams, hopes fears. They do make love but it is not an overt love scene but we know they are sharing they human aspect of being in love. They have to leave each other but make the promise to return in six months to meet again.

"Before Sunset" takes place some nine years later. Jessie and Celine never met in that six month interlude and he has become a writer and in making a promotional tour through Europe meets, again by chance, Celine. Their lives have moved on in these nine years and they spend the day together talking, sharing and confirming the fact they loved and are really still in love. The movie ends without a really final ending but Jessie does not make his flight back to the United States.

Another nine years have passed and "Before Midnight" is the last in this trilogy and has been released May 24, 2103. The New York News and Times loves it. Again what sounds more like a play rather than a movie there is conversation between Jessie and Celine which carries the movie. I have not seen it yet but I will. It is a must see movie for me, a "must see" that has to be seen with my love sitting besides me because this is what life is about. People being in love who talk, share, explore and experience life through companionship, through going through life taking risks without really knowing where the risks may lead but hoping all roads lead to a happy loving ending though the results might be imperfect but when is anything in life perfect?
The New York Times review sums it up by saying this:

“Before Midnight” is a wonderful paradox: a movie passionately committed to the ideal of imperfection that is itself very close to perfect."

Everything about these movies from production values, direction by Richard Linklater, the photography was perfect, the script wonderful but had to be delivered perfectly in order to carry such a film for a couple of hours and it was. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy really made you believe in their characters Jessie and Celine so when you viewed the picture it was actually Jessie and Celine you were eavesdropping on.  These actors were not afraid to let you see them grow older by the very real passage of eighteen years.

For me most of all this artistic endeavor brought home the very real fact that it is important for people to talk to each other, talk and listen. Conversation is especially need for lovers be they couple lovers, parents and children, friends and even enemies. Civilization has become so attached to computers, smart phones, anything except human interaction that we have become distant. We humans need to interact and we do that best by talking, conversing. Sharing is the best way we communicate which therefore is the best way to love.     

Thursday, May 16, 2013

God's Plan?

Using the remote he shut the TV. Leno had just interviewed a 101 year old actress who was still working. She referred to Betty White who is 91, as "That kid. She has a bright future!". He was still chuckling as he turned out the lights and got under the covers. It had been quite a day with many things happening.

One of his friends who was once a bartender at a local bistro, and locally well known, just passed away. She was only 58 and she used to visit her mother at a local nursing home who was still very much alive after celebrating birthday 100. The breaking news of the day was all about the finding of three young girls who were abducted some 10 years ago and held captive by some guy who was well known in the neighborhood and considered a "nice" guy while in reality he was a fiend who tortured and abused with glee. There was a breakthrough in the bombing of Boston which maimed many and killed some. There were young ladies who had posted on their social network page that despite the terrorist doing all these bad things he was so cute that they would like to meet him and I suppose have sex with him just to put the cherry on the top. Some other information coming to him that day was about the sex traffic in Thailand of children and the abuse of women in India. With all this mayhem going on in the world there was news of the British royal family who live in great wealth and protection not only now but from birth. Imagine such great wealth while people live off mountains of garbage. Imagine the food today, and the clothes you wear coming from the trash discarded by people who are living in luxury.

He could do nothing about all the events in the world he thought. He thought that at least he should be aware of it all and pray for everyone, including himself. As he turned on his left side and assumed the fetal position getting ready for sleep he thought that life is surely screwed up and the theologians like to say it is all in "God's Plan". Imagine some great super power who sees everything on a macro stage while micro managing individual lives. He was on the other side of life's mountain going downhill, slowly he hoped. He had the good fortune to meet a younger lady and fall in love. Yet instead of people rejoicing in the fact that life still had excitement and meaning to it there were some who silently thought he should act his age and some younger people who scoffed at the fact that such a union could be real and feasible. The peculiar part to all this is that the people who scoffed, and were abashed were really not happy with their own lives and while they were searching for some healing and completeness they managed to find fault with other people's try at happiness. He started to drift into the arms of Morpheus as he thought what kind of plan must God have to fit all this into Universal Consciousness, where we bear each other's hurts and expand our joys. I would imagine that is what we mean when we speak of God's Plan, to reach Nirvana of some sorts.

In order to reach the peace and fulfillment that must be the object of God's Plan we would have to stop thinking of our individual path to happiness but rather the way to acceptance and the want of joy for our brothers and sisters, including the animals that roam this planet of ours.  We humans rely on scripture, that is thousands of years old and written in different times and states of minds. The theme of most if not all these writings is that we should love one-another. Concentrating on that theme and not the actual words which in many cases reflect the writers own bias can help us get closer to what God's Plan is striving to reach. Instead of pointing to Moses saying it is sinful for a man to lay down with another we should understand that it is not sinful to love and not judge another based on an understanding that knew nothing of genetics and psychological advances. Really all we really know about Jesus is that he lived, preached sermons of love and railed against the establishment who wanted to take advantage of their position to live comfortably while others lived in squalor. We believe he rose from the dead but there are others that say, "prove it!" and we can't scientifically.

He fell into a deep sleep with the resolution in his own heart not to try and make the world over in his image and enjoy the time and circumstances given to him while trying to never judge others. AND most important to stop trying to figure out what God's Plan is because it is too intricate for a mind as small as his.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Live, Film, Recorded,or TV?

There is a guy I know who suddenly has got to satisfy the urge to see Baseball live at the stadium. He recently went to Boston, a more than five hour one way trip from New York City, just so he could say he actually saw a game in person at Fenway Park. The tickets were pricey, as was the beer, hot dogs and peanuts he purchased. The seats were uncomfortable, after all this park was built way back when people were skinnier and I guess less self indulged meaning they didn't spread out as much overflowing in to your space. He watched a game he really didn't have much interest in since his team wasn't playing besides he was seated by the "Pesky Pole" in right field so he was far enough removed from any player except the right fielder.   All in all the excursion cost him around $350 for a day that tired him out because of the round trip of about eleven hours, to see a Ball Game in an antiquated park, in uncomfortable seats, between two teams he really had little interest in just so he could boast he actually saw a Ballgame in Fenway Park. The whole thing had nothing to do with liking the sport but rather the "event" that he thought separated him from many others. He was almost furious when I told him I wasn't impressed because I decided a long time ago the event had nothing to add to my personal stature but the enjoyment of the game did.

Think about it, the $1000 seats at Yankee Stadium behind home plate are grossly overpriced for what they give you. The rest of the areas remove you far enough away from the action so you can barely see the action  The gigantic TV screens at the ballpark are referred to frequently just so you can actually see the action close up. So beyond the ambiance it is far better to view a game on your large 42 inch HDTV where in replays, slo-mo, close-ups, and so on, you get to see everything you need to see to enjoy the game with a detailed explanation of complicated plays or arguments as the occur, without paying $8 for a Beer you can get for far less and if it rains you are dry and comfortable. Heck when the guy comes home from the game after spending $100 for tickets and $50 bucks for food and Beer, you end up explaining what happened in far better detail than he can unless of course he saw the replays on the sporting news. But he can brag "I was there!", like that means something, like that means he is some sort of big shot.

Spike Lee can afford the seats he is in for the Knicks games and he has close-up views of the game,AND some of the players sweat even falls on him, big deal, but he is close-up to the action. The other seats for guys like you and me are very expensive and far enough away to let one consider watching the whole thing on HDTV which of course takes away the boast, "I was There." but costs far less and gives a better view of the game. There are events that I like to go to because by being there you actually experience a different performance than what you might see on HDTV, or by listening to the CDs.

Live concerts for instance are a whole other thing in getting the juices to flow or in understanding the music and it's fans. A little while ago I was at Hall & Oates concert and while we were far away from the performers we heard them, saw the effects and rocked with the crowd. I got up and clapped, howled and really let the crowd and the music take me to places I could never have gone just by listening or seeing them on HDTV. I also enjoyed what was floating in the air which I suspected wasn't Marlboro. The crowd, performers, music was all one as we let ourselves be carried away to heightened senses everything combined brought us to. Sitting up close at an Tony Bennett concert was an experience that couldn't have been gotten anyway but by being there up close. Bennett was less rousing than Hall & Oates but he brought a jazzy, cool romantic experience and we were sitting right up close to the stage in the middle of and aisle with no one in back of us or in front. I heard the chord changes clearly, saw the smiles on the faces of the musicians and never felt more groovy and romantic than when I heard an imperfect voice rather than the perfect singing that a studio produced album brings to us. The imperfections make the live performance so special because that is what brings the real artistic level of the performance to the heights of enjoyment that studio produced versions can never achieve.

What I am saying is don't feel you have to be there at an event just to brag that you were there because that adds nothing to your personal stature. Go to performances, sporting or otherwise, that truly adds to your enjoyment and understanding of the artistic performance unfolding before you. But other events that you truly enjoy may be best enjoyed at a distance, live HDTV, CDs, Film or theatre. Live Theatre of course is an experience that can't be matched when it is done well. However some go only to "Broadway Hits" when the real artistic event is off or off-off Broadway where risks are taken and truly artistic achievements are made.