Being sick when you're alone in a foreign city is not exactly an experience that i was desperate to have, but it happened. I had the worst cold ever (perhaps an exaggeration, but not by much) and it's been here for two weeks, and i've had it in Berlin, which is undergoing the global freeze that's happening everywhere (snow in southeastern US, freezing weather in India, etc.) but the freeze in Berlin is a little more than a sane person can take.
I finally started to go out this past weekend. Finally got to see Serge Bromberg's documentary on Henri-Georges Clouzot's unfinished "L'Enfer"; a fascinating document. The documentary is sometimes problematic (what's with the "enacted" scenes from the script?) but the footage that Clouzot shot retains an obsessive fascination. And yes, Romy Schneider was a movie star, and she gives the movie a charge that hasn't dated.
Also went to see "Sherlock Holmes". Guy Ritchie is far from my favorite director, but his riff on the Sherlock Holmes mythology had its charms. But it was a confounding movie in many ways. The sets: were they some elaborate constructions, or were they the most extensive use of CGI pictorialism yet devised? The pacing was breathless, but then, when the movie needed to take the time for a little exposition, the pacing went slack and the movie turned inert. But Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law play together with conspiratorial glee, and Rachel McAdams and Kelly Reilly are delightful as the women in their lives. (Kelly Reilly is one of those actresses, once she appeared, it kept nagging at me, i've seen her before, but where? I had to go to IMDB and look it up, and realize she was the showgirl in "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and Caroline Bingley in the recent "Pride and Prejudice", etc. Now that i've put a name to the face, i shall have to remember. And i do hope that, since it's obvious that "Sherlock Holmes" is headed towards franchise status, the women are retained, Rachel McAdams and Kelly Reilly really did add to the charm of the film.)
Yesterday, watched Deborah Warner's production of Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" on the Arte Channel. I can see why it was a "controversial" production, and the TV production actually had some very damaging aspects: the close-ups on the singers were really unflattering (when people sing, especially when they're belting out a complicated aria, the facial contortions can get extreme: we didn't need to have that shoved right at us), what was with Fiona Shaw in that prologue, and there was a creepy aspect to the chorus of children. But, for all that, i was glad it was in English; it was a relief not to have to watch BBC News and CNN and (yes) MTV to hear something i could understand with no sweat.
Since i've been sitting in the little apartment here at the IBZ with my stuffy/drippy nose, a lot has happened. Sundance and Slamdance came and went, and i read reports online about those festivals. Jean Simmons died, a great loss to many of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, when she was one of the great stars (though, after her brilliant start in such movies as "Great Expectations" and "Hamlet", she never quite got roles commensurate with her talent). James Mitchell died, immortal as Cyd Charisse's ballet choreographer-boyfriend in "The Band Wagon" (who was able to work continually on soap operas, including his memorable work on "One Life to Live"; that's what some people don't understand, the demise of soap operas really will affect so many aspects of show business, because soap operas were a place where many performers and technicians were able to continue to work and make a living). J. D. Salinger died, bringing with it a lot of talk about art and fame, about retreating from public life, and speculation about the fate of "Catcher in the Rye", which Salinger refused to allow to be adapted in his lifetime. But his lifetime is over.
On the Internet Movie Database, there was sad news: two of the regulars posters on the Classic Film Board died last week. Brought to mind the fact that in recent years, there have developed these virtual communities, where people from all over have been able to join together over a common obsession ("classic films" in this case). We "network" in new ways, on these message boards, on Facebook, on Twitter... but what does that mean for old-fashioned face-to-face interaction? Two weeks ago, i had a fright: someone i care about was no longer on Facebook. So i sent him an e.mail; turns out he decided to delete his account, because he was getting tired of the virtual narcissism, and the lack of actual human interaction. I was glad; he's someone who was very ill in the last few years, and i was afraid he'd taken a turn for the worse.
But for me, Facebook is a recreation of my life, of the various people (starting from high school) who were important in my life, but are no longer nearby. So many of us have moved, gone on to other things, but those old friendships meant something, and this way, there's still a connection. I'm no longer in New York City's Soho (where i lived for over 25 years); not many people i know still live there, either. But we're still "in touch", even if only on a virtual level. And that's especially important when you're in a foreign city, and, boy, Berlin is as foreign as i hope to ever get!