Friday, June 30, 2006

Three press screenings. Actually, Wednesday was another "theme" day. Two screenings, one in the morning, one in the evening. And both were films in which French fags directed French divas, i.e., Patrice Chereau's "Gabrielle" starring Isabelle Huppert and Pascal Greggory, and Francois Ozon's "Time to Leave" with Jeanne Moreau. Thought "Gabrielle" was exquisite, perhaps too exquisite. It stayed distant until a few moments near the end, when it erupts. But i loved "Time to Leave", thought it was Ozon's most directly emotional work to date and a big step forward for him. (If i'd gone to a screening of Techine's "Changing Times" with Catherine Deneuve, that would have been three. Melvil Poupaud, after "Changing Times" and "Time to Leave", is now in the running as the best actor of the year.)

The other press screening: "Two Sons of Francisco" from Brazil. Pleasant and with a lot of music, though a bit rambling and long.

Didn't get to the screening of Vittorio De Seta's "Bandits of Orgosolo" which i'd wanted to see again. It's been decades since that movie was around, and i wanted to check it out. I hope that it'll be on DVD soon. But the IFP meeting went longer than usual, because we're almost at the end of our mission. By next week, we'll be coming up with the final group....

At the screening of "Time to Leave", Sophie Gluck was there, and got to see a photo of her baby. Eight months now.

Which reminds me that Roddy and his wife should have had their baby by now.

My (old) sneakers got drenched last night and (finally) cracked. That thunderstorm was crazy. But now everything is calm. But have to go get some new sneakers. I'll try Century 21 and if they don't have what i want, then i'll go to Modell's.

Last night, watched "Petulia" (new to DVD) and "Point Blank"... and it reminded me that the reason Godard's movies were so stunning in the 1960s was that his movies actually seemed to be about the moment people were living in... in "Petulia" so much was happening in America in the 1960s, politically, socially, artistically, and all that tumult appears peripherally (if at all). That's one of the problems with movies, so few of them really seem to be about the times we live in. There's so little direct address, even now. You'd think that digital filmmaking would open up the process to a greater sense of immediacy. But it hasn't happened yet....

Saturday, June 24, 2006

More on the horizon. Larry and i went to see a performance at the Mark Morris space next to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This was the "variety show" that Lisa was helping to organize. It turned out to be fun, the most amazing act was the tap dancer Omar Edwards. There was a reception afterwards, that was also terrific.

A lot has happened this week. MoMA announced the appointment of Barry Bergdoll as the new curator of architecture, replacing Terrence Riley. I had to go to Gouverneur to see about a (very minor) attack of gout. But i needed to get some more pills, just in case there was a full-blown attack. (This has happened before, when i've had a relapse a few weeks after an attack.) But it took forever: the last time, i simply went to the emergency room and a doctor saw me and looked at my foot and looked at the chart and then gave me a prescription for Indomethacin. This time, i went to administration, and got sent to emergency, and then emergency sent me to podiatry where they do "walk-ins" and then i had to go to the cashier so i could do the co-pay, and then i went back to podiatry where they sent me to administration again to get a referral, and i got the referral and went back and sat waiting for three hours!

It was insane. However, everything is fine, but i think i need to change my service provider or whatever it's called to some place here in Brooklyn.

What's happened to the radio here in our room? It doesn't work. What i think happened.... i don't want to say, except that i found the same thing with the VCR in the basement: someone had been playing with the knobs on the things... and it wasn't me and it wasn't Larry.

Cara Mertes just got a new job, as head of the documentary section at the Sundance Institute.

I finally mailed off the books to Brett. I still have to mail off things to my niece. It's only a few months late.

Once again, got sucked into some of those damned threads on the IMDB message boards. Why does it matter? There's a thread about a movie that's now being shot in Paris, and how a number of the directors and actors originally announced (including Godard) are no longer participating. And then it just disintegrates into idiots who couldn't care less about Godard. Including one idiot who uses the tag "resdogs" or something like that. So one person surmises that the person is a fan of Tarantino, and reminds said person that he should show respect for Godard, since Tarantino does, and the person replies that he hates Goadrd and can't understand why a cool director like Tarantino would like Godard....

And at that point, you know it's hopeless. The internet has unleashed this morass where there are no critical standards, no history, nothing. Fred Camper makes the point that,w hen he teaches, he makes sure that his students must use actual research: they must look at the actual films, they must look up the material published in the 1960s and 1970s, they must not rely on the internet, where you won't be able to find material from (say) Film Culture or the East Village Eye. (There's a website devoted to Louise Brooks, for example, and her last article, "Why I Will Not Write My Autobiography", which was published in Film Culture in 1979 and has never been anthologized, is not included in the bibliography. I'll bet the person who runs that website doesn't even know the article exists. And yes, it is authentic, because Film Culture was one of the places where Louise Brooks published her articles, the rest of which were included in "Lulu in Hollywood".)

Someone (i don't know who) responded to one of my posts, by asking what Christine Vachon did to me. Well: that's nobody's business, but, in essence, she cut me dead. That is: the "queer" film business isn't so vast that there aren't overlaps. So after the release of "Poison" and "Swoon", i'm at an event and Christine Vachon also shows up... and she cuts me dead. Now, i never (usually) go over to people, because i don't expect people to remember me, but in Christine Vachon's case, since we were friends, i expected her to say hello. And she didn't. So i knew she was purposively ignoring me. And she was. And she continued to do so for years afterwards. It wasn't even saying hello, it was snubbing me, very publicly.

If we had just been business associates, or casual acquaintances, that would have been fine. But we weren't. She was a close friend, and i did nothing to her. She did something to me. (Just before the release of "Poison", Todd Haynes called me and left a message on my machine, apologizing for the "oversight"; in Todd's case, though i haven't seen him that often, when he does see me, he always comes over and says hello, and always tells people how we're good friends, yada yada yada. In Todd's case, what happened was "business" but it shouldn't interfere with "friendship".) I can get over the business betrayal, but it's the personal betrayal that hurt.

And i won't let it happen again, which is why i don't have any "art friends" anymore.

And i don't want to be alone, i do want to go to things and see things with people....

But i won't ever let anyone else get close to me the way Christine Vachon had been close.

Well, the quasi-storm last night caused a brown-out in Chelsea, where a lot of the elevators weren't working in the gallery buildings, etc. So that's what happened: there was some sort of power problem (a surge, etc.) that affected things like the radio and the VCR. But the computers and the TVs are fine.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Quick quips.

Haven't blogged in a few days, but did get to press screenings (at last)! Saw "The Blood of My Brother" (which i missed at Tribeca) and "The Motel" (which i missed last year at the Asian-American Film Festival). Feel like i'm playing catch-up, but glad i got to see those movies. Michael Giltz is back on his blog, Dave Kehr has a whole exchange about Westerns (i have to thank Dave for alerting me about the DVDs of Varlerio Zurlini from No Shame, and for the DVDs of Janie Geiser and Lewis Klahr; his NY Times column is really essential, and i loved his comments on Charlie Chan this week, i happen to agree, though it's pointed out that manyof the characters are racist, the Chan character is not a put-down, because he always reveals his intelligence and his superior reasoning). So many movies i've seen in the past two years or so have opened, such as "El Perro" or "Russian Dolls" or "La Moustache" or "Only Human" or "The Hidden Blade". Am glad that "The Road to Guantanamo" opened, thought it was very effective. So there's always a lot of good movies opening. Plus there's the Benoit Jacquot retrospective at the Walter Reade. Larry and i got to see a lot of his movies because one year, one of the festivals we went to had a retrospective of his films.

Some questions: since when did Bryan Singer become gay? The Bryan Singer i knew (the kind-of-creepy kid who did "Public Access" which Larry Maxwell was in)... if he was gay, he certainly was closeted. Larry M. (of course) had a lot of experience working with gay people: me, Charles Ludlum, Todd Haynes. So if Bryan Singer was gay (at that time) it wouldn't have fazed Larry M. But he never mentioned that Bryan Singer was gay. But the creepy feeling came because, after "Public Access", Bryan Singer was trying to raise money for his next movie. It was another collaboration with the same writer, Christopher MacQuarrie. And in order to raise money, they shot a few scenes on video, with the actors from "Public Access". But what happened was that the project soon got the attention of an actor who wanted to produce (Gabriel Byrne, if i'm not mistaken) and then....

As usual with these type of projects, it got away from the original intent, and it became a much glossier production, and the original cast was replaced with various people who had been on the peripheries of Hollywood (Byrne, Kevin Spacey, Benicio Del Toro, etc.). This is something that is par for the course (it happened with "Safe", which went through various permutations before the eventual result with Julianne Moore), but Bryan Singer didn't handle it with any sort of finesse.

What was so funny was that, on the set of "Apt Pupil", there'd been the scandal about the underage boys and a shower scene. At that time, it was supposedly ridiculous, because Bryan Singer was straight.... Anyway, the case was settled out of court.

Then he directed "X-Men" and then there were the stories about his being gay. So i often wondered how that happened, and whether this was just some sort of p.r. stunt to appeal to the "specialized" market.

It's going to be Gay Pride weekend. It's funny: Bill Jones wrote that the Pride parade happened in L.A. and he hadn't realized it. As he put it, when did he lose his membership? I think that Larry feels the same way. So do i.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Notes from the Rialto. Yesterday, went to a reception at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, a reception for a photographer Cedric Pollet; he's from Nice, and somehow the reception was given by the Nice Tourism Bureau. It was pleasant, the photographs are large scale close-ups of tree bark (seriously) and (as people know) anything close-up can look amazing. But the photos were prints on canvas and then shellacked, and not just printed on photographic paper.

I didn't get to another press screening. What happened was that on Tuesday night, while i was putting back all the tapes and DVDs for the IFP, i found FOUR MORE at the bottom of the bag. Totally unaccounted for, because i had a list that said that i had 10 to look at (and i had the 10) plus seven re-views (tapes or DVDs looked at by others) plus two more tapes which were assumed not to have been viewed (but that was erroneous; they had been in my first batch two weeks ago). So instead of 19, i had 23! And so dutifully, yesterday, i sat and watched those DVDs and then made out my reports... spending about 3 hours doing so. Which meant i missed the screening of the Leonard Cohen doc.

This has got to stop. I need to get out of here! Either that, or i need to get paid: all this pro bono crap, and i take it seriously enough that i make sure i get it done.

However, i have to say that in The New Yorker, it was interesting to read Hilton Als's piece about Gregg Toland. Though why Hilton decided to write about Gregg Toland isn't quite clear. (From Hilton's aesthetic, i would think he'd have chosen Lee Garmes....) Oliver Sachs's piece about eyesight was (typically) fascinating.

In Vanity Fair, a lot of the usual (another celeb profile, this time on Sandra Bullock) but i have to say that James Wolcott's piece on George Clooney was first-rate, very insightful and amusing. (Made me think that someone James and i both knew would have been really happy to read it.)

Last night, after we got home, watched "Violent Summer" one of the movies included in the Valerio Zurlini box-set from No Shame. (Thanks, Dave Kehr, for pointing this one out; his review prompted me to get it, because i loved both movies, "Violent Summer" and "Girl With a Suitcase", when i saw them during the Zurlini retrospective a while ago... "Girl With a Suitcase" is wonderful, but the strange thing is that it used to play a lot in the US during the 1960s and 1970s, but in a version cut by almost half an hour, so seeing the full two-hour-plus version was a revelation.) But one thing about "Violent Summer": whatever happened to Jacqueline Sassard? She's in the movie, and she looks terrific. Looking her up on IMDB, she made "Accident" in 1967, and then "Les Biches", and then that's it. No other information.

Strange. Those two movies would have been the height of her international career, and right after.... nothing.

Things like that always "haunt" me.

(It's like looking at "Sir Arne's Treasure": i always wondered what happened to the actress named Mary Johnson. She's phenomenal in that movie, and she's so lovely in "Gunnar Hede's Saga", but what happened? Garbo we know what happened to her, but what about the other actresses who worked with Stiller, like Johnson or Tora Teje?)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rush to judgement. Anyway, haven't updated in a few days, and a lot has happened. And yet, not much has happened. The black-and-white cat who seems to love this house (she used to stretch out on the window ledge or on the little back porch) had some more kittens. We haven't seen them, though our neighbors did, but we've heard them at night (very tiny mewling sounds). Went to the Dada press previwe at MoMA: a lot of people showed up for it. Ran into Eleanor Heartney, Elizabeth Kley, saw Regina Cornwall, Liza Bear.... many more people. As Larry and i were leaving, Kyoko Hirano, Barbara Mayfield and Cecilia... her last name starts with an "E" and she's the person who has the "Eye on Dance" program on cable TV... they were coming in just as we were leaving.

Curious note: on the way into Manhattan, we sat opposite this extremely handsome young man. Wearing very neat dark blue jeans and a navy sports jacket. With a very trim beard and mustache. He's sitting there, reading... KANT! And being very serious, and jotting notes in the margins. Be still, my heart! I mean, not every day you see cute guys (who usually read - ugh - the Wall Street Journal) reading Kant. On the way back, a guy (not quite as cute) was standing opposite (even though the subway was not crowded, but he was waiting for his stop) reading the latest Peter Handke! Amazing. (Made me realize that the last time i read Peter Handke was sometime in the mid-1990s.) But when we changed this morning, to catch the express train, i turned to Larry and said, "Get me that!"

Well: for more than half a year, i gave up going to the IMDB message boards, because it was getting too ridiculous. There are no critical standards AT ALL, and every other jerk makes a comment, and some of the comments are just too inane to go into. But i got suckered into it: there was a thread about Robert Osborne's book "50 Leading Ladies" and the fact that he left out a number of people (Jennifer Jones, for example) and chose to include Olivia De Havilland over Joan Fontaine. So i had to stick my damned two cents in, and now every day i get some joker who wants me to know that Olivia De Havilland is a "greater" actress than her sister. (Actually, i simply quoted Andrew Sarris, when he said that, because Fontaine worked with more "auteur" directors, her career was more significant artistically. In short: appearing in a masterpiece like LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN trumps THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.) Now these idiots are writing to me constantly. And i don't give a flying f*ck about either! I was just making a point (and using Andrew Sarris as my critical backup).

But have started hearing from different friends. Bill Jones has an exhibit out in LA; his movie "Massillon" will be playing at MoMA as part of the Cal Arts programs this month. Heard from Dennis Poplin: dire news. Will have to find out more, but nonprofits are in trouble! Jeff McMahan just had an article published in TDR, and is going to Europe for a conference.

One (very troubling) thing: Joan Fontaine's career was severely damaged because she agreed to star in "Island in the Sun"; in the movie, her character was supposed to have an affair with Harry Belafonte (though, by the time the movie was finished, the relationship was more hinted at than overt). Because of that, she received death threats, and her movies were boycotted in the South! (That's enough to scuttle anyone's career.) Donald Bogle talked about this during the TCM series on Race in Hollywood cinema.

It reminds me of the fact that Leila Goldoni (who is actually Italian) had a blighted career because she played a black girl passing for white in Cassavetes's "Shadows". The idea that, because people thought she might be black, she didn't work in movies.... it's a sign of the kind of place Hollywood was....

And probably still is.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It comes to pass... anyway, George W. Bush's anti-gay initiative didn't pass, but he vows not to give up. Will he leave people alone? That's a stupid question. In Iraq, there was the death of al-Zarqawi. Of course, Washington (Bush, Cheney and cohorts) are trying to claim a victory, but it's really not that relevant to the instability of the government there and the destabilization of the region.

But enough of that. Today finally got out of the house and went to the IFP to discuss the shorts and got more to watch. Then walked down to Florent for the NewFest industry party, saw Sandi DuBowski, Lynda Hanson, Debbie Zimmerman, Steve Grenyo, Jennie Livingston, said hello to Basil Tsiokos and talked a bit with Jim Hubbard, and then walked home. Got cherries from a street vendor, two pounds for the same price i paid for one pound the other day here in Brooklyn. While walking, ran into Douglas with Tom Settle (was that the name) as they were shopping for a computer. Larry went to Sotheby's reception. Got home, and watched "Track of the Cat" and "Plunder of the Sun" on TCM: Diana Lynn night. But her two best performances not shown, i.e., "The Major and the Minor" and (of course) "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek". Diana Lynn was wonderful, but she had the usual problem of child actresses: everybody loved her as the wiseacre child, but she never found a role as an adult which was as magical as those adolescent roles. Watching "Track of the Cat", i can see why it was so slammed when it opened in 1953: nothing happens. For a long time. And it's primarily set inside the kitchen of the house. People come and go from the kitchen, but that's it. (There's not even that much action of people going up and down the stairs.) It's "stagey", and the fact that Wellman tried to experiment with Technicolor by "de-colorizing" the film... the set design is (mostly) white, black and grey. The red wool jacket that Robert Mitchum wears really is an "emblem". I remember when i first saw it, it was on TV in the 1960s, and you didn't miss much "color" by seeing it on a black-and-white TV....

But seeing it in "full" color, it really is obvious how "striking" the attempt to stylize the visual field of the film was. But the film is lugubrious, rather like a bad production of Eugene O'Neill set in the frozen West. I always got it mixed up with "Blood on the Moon", the 1949 Robert Wise directed Western which starred Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Preston. ("Track of the Cat" has Teresa Wright, Diana Lynn, and Tab Hunter.)

In the past two weeks, i was looking up stuff on Robert Wise, because i was curious about some of his "noirs" like "The Set Up" or "The House on Telegraph Hill" or "Born to Kill". And in interview after interview, he "explains" why Orson Welles "failed" in Hollywood: Welles was "undisciplined", his "problem was he had no discipline"... Wise kept saying this again and again. Well, who the hell is Robert Wise (the hack of all time) to say that about the man who helped to launch his career by making him editor of "Citizen Kane"? And then Wise went and hacked up (on orders of RKO brass) "The Magnificent Ambersons" (which Wise always defended). I'm sorry, i do like some of his films ("The Haunting" is one of my favorite horror movies), but i hate Robert Wise for being such a toady and touting the Hollywood line about Welles being "undisciplined".

The other night, i was trying to write more on this blog, but i got distracted watching two Anthony Mann noirs: "Railroaded!" and "Two O'Clock Courage" on TCM. They were visually quite fascinating, but... well, the acting (in "Railroaded!" especially) was just so bad. The visual imagination (the cinematography, the editing, the compositions) was so strong, but the acting just plunked you right down to "B" movie level. Tom Conway and Ann Rutherford really worked it in "Two O'Clock Courage": they didn't play characters, they were characters!

Walking through NYC, i did see different people. I saw Ashley Judd walking her dog. I saw Greg Mehrten (is that the name?) who's in Mabou Mines. It just reminded me of what i've been missing....

Anyway, want to get to the screening tomorrow of "Pandora's Box". Can't wait. And today, "Sir Arne's Treasure" arrived in the mail, so i'll try to look at that over the weekend. Though i'm not sure i'll have time, because i've got 20 shorts to look at for the IFP. But Dave Kehr's comments on Stiller in the NY Times were very perceptive (i thought): i also think that "Sir Arne's Treasure" is a better film than "The Saga of Gosta Berling", but "Berling" has the attraction of being Garbo's first major role. But i always felt that Mary Johnson (the star of "Sir Arne's Treasure" and "Gunnar Hede's Sage", which is Stiller's other masterpiece, i think) would have been the one who would have been the international star. (She has a quality rather like Lillian Gish and Janet Gaynor, i.e., a "maiden" quality, but with real willpower.) But whatever it was that Stiller saw in Garbo to make him decide to make her his protege... well, the world saw it, because Garbo became the biggest star of the late silent period.

I also thought that J. Hoberman's piece on Antonioni in The Village Voice was sharp and insightful. Antonioni seems to bring out the best in people's writings, at least it did for Stephen Holden and Hoberman!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"Time heals all wounds." Actually, time seems to exacerbate old wounds. I felt like i was in college again, bexcause i had to finish reading the five screenplays for the ACV Screenplay Competition, and i just couldn't get through the first two i tried reading.... so i waited until Sunday, and then i had to cram, to finish reading all five. I did it, and made my comments, filled out my ballot, etc. And i'm glad i did, because i felt that two were excellent.

Just finished looking at IFP shorts, it's so strange, because the shorts show how various film can be; this batch proved to filled with good material, but all so different.

I was thinking about the time... how the period when Larry took care of Michael in San Diego, and then Larry came back to New York and we took in Kenny... that was the mid-1980s, so it was way before the whole "gay baby boom" happened. And we didn't look to do it, it was the situation where we were almost literally left with the "baby" on the doorstep, and what were we going to do, kick the baby out?

And one reason i don't like going to openings, etc. anymore: there's no reason to go. Movies are one thing i'll always go to, but everything else, there's no one to go with. Just going to a dance concert or an art opening is no fun if there's no one to talk about it with. At least for me. For me, movies are the primary artform.

I remember something that Jill Johnston wrote, how a lot of people who went to the Judson Dance Theater concerts went "for the revolution" and not really because of an interest in dance per se. She was right, of course, and i was one of those people who went to see "the revolution"; when dance returned to "dancing" (cf. Mark Morris), i'm afraid i lost interest.

Movies satisfy my need for everything. Susan Sontag wrote: "Cinema is a kind of pan-art. It can use, incorporate, engulf virtually any other art: the novel, poetry, theater, painting, sculpture, dance, music, architecture. Unlike opera, which is a (virtually) frozen art form, the cinema is and has been a fruitfully conservative medium of ideas and styles of emotion." Going to the movies can satisfy my need for a very traditional narrative, and it can satisfy my need for something more experimental.

But i forgot how wonderful it was to go to see something with someone. I do like going to press screenings and running into people i know. But that's colleagial, it's not that rush of love....

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Tried to write on this blog yesterady, and it didn't work. Hopefully, today will be better....

Anyway, finally the illness seems to have lifted. When the cold morphed into gout, i had a horrible feeling. I remember when Marie Vachon (Christine's mother) tried to describe her memory of the period in her life when she had Christine and her brother Michael (Michael is only ten months younger than Christine), and she said she felt as if her body had been taken over, and all she remembers is one inhumanly long pregnancy. (I remember the way she said the word "long" with this underlying horror!) That's how i felt: the cold then the gout and i'm stuck here... from here to eternity.

Sometimes, when i make jokes about Christine Vachon, people misinterpret. I don't really care that (in a business sense) she fucked me up. That's neither here nor there. It's the fact that she was my friend (and i don't really make friends that easily) and that the betrayal wasn't just business, it was personal. That's what hurts. (And, to this day, i have not made another "art friend": Christine Vachon was the very last.) Debbie S. and Christine Y. (of course) are the two friends from high school, but in my last year of college, i started to go to the movies with Dione Hemberger, and she was the first of my art friends. When Dione moved back to San Francisco, my art friend became Mary Lucier, which was actually very important for me, because i was strictly a film person (as well i should have been), but Mary taught me about video, at the time (late 1970s-early 1980s) how video was different from film, not just the technology, but how the differences informed the possibilities and the aesthetics. Mary introduced me to Elizabeth Streb, and when Mary got too busy (her art career started to take off, and she was doing residencies, etc.), Elizabeth became my art friend. I had already been interested in dance (post-modern, "new dance", whatever the post-Judson dance movement was called), but this clinched it. Then Elizabeth started getting popular in her field, and started touring, etc. And then my art friend became Theodora Skipitares, and she helped me to reconcile the idea of "theater" as a performance mode. Previouslty, i had considered that "performance art" (and i considered myself a "performance artist") was utterly distinct from theater, i.e., that performance art was created by artists who were doing something live but not from a background in theater, but from a background in other art fields (painting/sculpture, music, in my case, experimental film). Then Theodora started really touring, etc.

And then my art friend became Pauline Kael. Which lasted the longest (from 1984 - i can date it, because she called me up - her comment was "I decided it was time for us to meet" - to invite me to accompany her to a screening of "Splash" - until she retired), and it overlapped with my friendship with Christine Vachon....

My friendship with Pauline never ended, but she stopped coming in to New York City, but we talked on the phone maybe twice a month until about two months before she died. One of the odd commonalities we had was the fact that i knew a lot of the people she had known in San Francisco. Not that i knew them well, but i was acquainted with them, i knew their work, etc. People like James Broughton (of course) and Sidney Peterson and Anna Halprin and Chick Strand and Robert Nelson and Bruce Baillie, etc. And so if i had done something (like gone to a screening of Chick Strand's films, in those days, screenings were invariably accompanied by the filmmaker, who spoke afterwards; that was how most of the filmmakers made some sort of living, from the speaker's fees), this would often prompt Pauline to reminisce about her life in San Francisco....

Just as Mary taught me about video, and Elizabeth taught me about dance, and Theodora taught me about theater, so Pauline... well, she didn't teach me about film (since i was pretty much a conceited know-it-all about film from a very young age), but she taught me about the continuity of the "avantgarde" from the 1930s on. Not just film, but poetry and politics and dance and music... before "film" took over her life, Pauline had dabbled in a lot of different things, as did a lot of people she knew. (Before he became a poet and a filmmaker, James Broughton had spent time dancing; Pauline told me that James had toured for at least one season with Charles Weidman's company... and it was that connection that formed his friendship with Anna Halprin... one thing that James Broughton said about Pauline - it was in the essay that Philip Lopate wrote - was that she liked to sneer at the pretensions of his friends, especially Sidney Peterson and Anna Halprin!)

But after Pauline there was Christine Vachon, and after Christine Vachon.... nothing.

In The Advocate this week, there was an article about gays and polygamy: how many gay relationships are not founded on the simple model of monogamy, how so many gay relationships are more "various" than that....

When Larry and i moved into 141 Wooster Street, Gil Johnson and John Robinson lived on the 5th floor. But they lived with Billy. Now: Gil and John were both in their 40s, and Billy was in his 20s. But the exact nature of that relationship....

This is hard to explain. I don't consider myself "married" in any way. I know i live with Larry, and i don't expect that to change. But... it's like years ago, Larry Maxwell and JanieMar Werum were together since college, and had been living together for... maybe 15 years by the time we knew them. But they never considered themselves "married" and, in fact, i remember talking with Larry and JanieMar about that. But people in the 1980s were always open to trying new things, not just going along with the status quo.

Of course, the whole idea of a gay couple with a child... i mean, it was part of the final episode of "Will & Grace"! And Larry and i have always been ambivalent about that kind of "conventionality"... yet what happened? Larry and i wound up being a gay couple with a child, first with Michael in San Diego, and then with Kenny....

How the hell did that happen?

Anyway, Larry and i have watched "Slutty Summer" and "Sugar", two more DVDs from TLA. "Sugar" is actually quite fascinating, but there's no excuse for "Slutty Summer".

This afternoon, i watched "The Fugitive" on TV. That's the 1948 John Ford movie, based on Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory". It's one of those situations where... in the 1950s, when he was interviewed, Ford used to claim that "The Fugitive" was one of his favorite films. It's certainly one of his most "art-conscious" movies, with the most incredible expressionistic black-and-white cinematography (by Gabriel Figueroa, who would become Bunuel's favorite cinematographer during the 1950s). But the situation is similar to Hitchcock's situation: in the 1950s and early 1960s, Hitchcock would often cite "Shadow of a Doubt" as one of his favorite films. In both cases, you can see what Ford and Hitchcock are doing: they are appealing to criteria of "seriousness" (in the case of "The Fugitive", the religious-symbolic imagery and the fact that the material is based on a novel by one of the most important Anglo-Catholic writers of the 20th Century; in the case of "Shadow of a Doubt", the fact that the screenplay was written mostly by Thornton Wilder, by that point one of the most important writers in America, winner of the Pulitzer Prize twice for drama and once in fiction, a feat that no other American writer has accomplished; Hitchcock underscored this point by dedicating the film to Wilder). But by the end of the 1960s, the politique des auteurs had decided that these films were "impersonal" and instead lauded films like "Steamboat Round the Bend" and "The Searchers" for Ford or "Notorious" and "Vertigo" for Hitchcock. And this unhinged Ford and Hitchcock: in later interviews, you can tell that they're uncomfortable, they're trying to say "the right things" (yes, "Steamboat Round the Bend" is better than "The Informer"; well, "they" like "Shadow of a Doubt" but my favorite is really "Rear Window").

The New York Review of Books came today; we hadn't subscribed in about two years, and e finally decided to start up again. And Elizabeth Drew's article on how Bush is intent on destroying the entire constitutional way of government is... it's not frightening, because it's what everyone i know here in NYC has been saying, but we keep getting shouted down by people like Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson and... well, it's hopeless. But now it's been argued with great precision, and i hope it has an effect.

Stephen Holden's article on Antonioni (on behalf of the upcoming retrospective at BAM) in the Arts & Leisure section of the NY Times is really excellent: i was surprised at the depth and real consideration for Antonioni's artistry.

Because of the heavy rains, i stayed in rather than tried to go out (yesterday, subway service was a mess, all subway service in Queens was suspended and a lot of the lines were having delays or were being diverted), and read three of the scripts for Asian Cinevision. I have two more to go, but it's as depressing as most of the shorts for the IFP: competent, but without that spark.

But it's like people, i guess. On Thursday, Larry and i did go to the opening night reception for the New Festival (or NewFest, as it's now called) at the Heartland Brewery in the Empire State Building. Debbie showed up, and we go to talk to her.... i had planned to go to see the King Vidor restored films from 1920 at MoMA but the rains started and i decided to stay put, and i;m glad i did... i'm sorry to have missed the films (i love King Vidor, he's one of my favorite american directors) but i might have gotten stuck in the subway somewhere! But Christine did make it to the King Vidor movies, and she said they were charming, and she loves those tinted prints of silent movies.

I guess this is leading up to the fact that i ordered some of those silent films that Kino is putting out on DVD, the restored prints of three of Stiller's movies, "Erotikon", "Sir Arne's Treasure" and "Gosta Berling's Saga". How long ago was it when MoMA did its Stiller retrospective, with the restored prints from the Swedish Film Institute? Though i love "Gosta Berling's Saga" (what's not to love? it's such a rich, ripe tapestry of a film), "Sir Arne's Treasure" and "Gunnar Hede's Saga" are (i think) my two favorites. I wish someone would put out some of Sjostrom's films. Warner Home Video should put out "The Scarlet Letter" and "The Wind", Sjostrom's two classics with Lillian Gish.

But one reason i wanted to get those films is that one day, i want to show them to Brett. I'd like to be able to show him the history of Swedish cinema....

But one thing: because i stayed at home, instead of going out to see the King Vidor movies, i watched the Quick Fix Meals show on the Food Network, and i learned a recipe for tzantziki. It's really easy, and it's really good. Plus it's a good way to use dill, which is growing all over our back yard!

But if there's anyone i'm thinking of as a boyfriend, it's Brett, and i've never thought that i should "limit" myself. But (of course) Brett's in San Francisco, and i'm in... Brooklyn!