Kate had an unexpected sleepover Saturday night, normally a clarion call to head out and see an R-rated movie, but we were both dead tired, and so we stayed in, cooked a Splendid Table pasta recipe, and watched a triple feature of movies we’d already seen, on cable.
I’m a big fan of the re- experience. I reread books, rewatch movies, rewrite stupid blog entries that no one gives a fig about. It’s a form of mania, maybe, but you learn something. Among the things you learn: Kathleen Turner is so sexy she managed to make a nation forget that air conditioning had, indeed, reached Florida by 1981. So, first up: “Body Heat.”
I recall being blown out of the water by this one. Saw it several times in the theater, went around quoting its best lines. My favorite: “You’re not too smart. I like that in a man.” While I could never pull off the Full Turner — tight skirt, no bra, poky nipples and Veronica Lake hair — in my mind, I aspired to be Matty Walker. Who wouldn’t? She apparently possesses the world’s most powerful sexuality, enough to hypnotize William Hurt into killing her husband, after which she frames him for the deed and escapes to the tropics with all the cash. But I was ignorant then. In 1981 I’d not yet seen the film’s predecessors, “Double Indemnity,” “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and other noir classics. I see now what I couldn’t see then, that Lawrence Kasdan was referencing an earlier era, and his story is equal parts homage and retread. The update, I guess, is that one of the two killers skates free at the end, which was not the case in the earlier era, when the guilty had to be punished.
I was thinking it would have been more interesting with a few more contemporary details. The lack of air-conditioning, even in Matty’s mansion, shows the script isn’t entirely rooted in reality, but I’d like to have seen Hurt with, say, a minor cocaine habit. That was certainly pretty standard for weasel Florida lawyers in the early ’80s, and would have underlined his poor judgment. Even in 1981, did men ever fall for lines like, “I’ve never wanted it like this,” breathed in his ear as he’s dragged back to bed? With a head full of coke it’d be more believable. And, OK, it’s a young Kathleen Turner delivering the line, so I concede the point: He wants to believe.
But these are quibbles. The script is as tight as Turner’s skirt. It’s refreshing to see what was sexy in a less vulgar time, when hemlines were lower (but the slit skirt was in its full flower). When Hurt peels off Turner’s panties, they’re real panties, not a whale-tail thong. And how brave is Turner, showing off her lean, nude body so boldly. So that’s what a pair of unaugmented breasts looks like. Not bad.
So: It holds up. Just don’t think too hard about the air conditioning.
Next was “Igby Goes Down,” c. 2002, another film I recall loving at the time, but now? It just got on my nerves. It’s an update of “Catcher in the Rye,” a rich-kid-loose-in-the-city tale, but it’s a story that didn’t need updating in the first place, unless you have a deep need to sympathize with rich brats. The stagy dialogue grates, even in the hands of great actors. What is Susan Sarandon doing in here? Looking fabulous and classing up every scene she’s in, that’s what. Ditto Claire Danes, Jeff Goldblum and an early Amanda Peet who wasn’t quite recognizable as the current Amanda Peet, so I’m wondering if there hasn’t been a little work done in between, or maybe just the five pounds of weight loss that makes the face of a woman in her 30s different from the same face in her 20s.
This is another story that has to be looked at with of-the-period eyes. In 2009, it’s impossible to find the existential angst of a rich prep-school dropout compelling in any way. Get a job, kid. The world’s a tough and unforgiving place.
And the late show was “Bringing Out the Dead,” which I told Alan during the opening credits was “a rare Martin Scorsese disappointment,” but found myself loving. I had my head up my ass in 1999; this is a wonderful movie. Halfway through, I figured out what I was responding to: Scorsese’s heart. The guy always swings for the fences, and if you can’t respect that, go rent “The Dark Knight.” I recall this movie got meh reviews at the time, so I wondered what Roger said, and hmm, looky here:
To look at “Bringing Out the Dead”–to look, indeed, at almost any Scorsese film–is to be reminded that film can touch us urgently and deeply. Scorsese is never on autopilot, never panders, never sells out, always goes for broke; to watch his films is to see a man risking his talent, not simply exercising it. He makes movies as well as they can be made…
I love it when Roger agrees with me. “Risking his talent, not simply exercising it” — that is the challenge for the talented, particularly the greatly talented. Watch “Kundun,” a film about the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism, a story about meditation and silence and inwardness, and goddamn, but it works, and how many filmmakers could have pulled it off? I’ll follow this guy anywhere.
So that was Saturday movie night. I went to bed around midnight, exhausted but thinking “Milk” will have to wait for another sleepover night.
Do you still want some bloggage? How about this: The Portland mayoral sex scandal, in which Taylor Clark wonders how it might have played out if the mayor weren’t gay.
I was rooting for the terrier, but I respect the winner. An elderly Sussex spaniel takes home the big bowl at Westminster. Although I already miss Uno.
And with that, it’s time to start the real work. Good day to all. More coffee for me.