A psycho has shot a bullet through your sternum, but it must be a thick bone, there’s not much blood yet. He fled, but says he’s coming back soon to finish you off. Unthinkingly we wait, as if your murder can’t be avoided. Then someone suggests that we could take you to the hospital, that no force holds us here in silent resignation, that he might not even come back. I run downstairs to get dressed for the drive. As usual it takes an eternity, there are many complications, my shoes become all the way unlaced and I have to lace them again. But I rush and fumble only for the dream’s sake, and not because I anticipate a second gunshot above my head.
A tornado forms in front of our house, in winter, on a snowy street. It spins in place and then evaporates in the cold air. But while it lasts we think of the terror (without feeling the terror) of remaining inside, listening to the roar of the unseen tornado and not knowing which of our walls it will come crashing through. Some birds find a gap in our window and escape inside, lining up on our windowsill, away from the cold and the wind. When it’s safe outside again, they leave as miniature people, carrying playing cards larger than themselves. We help them balance the cards, fighting the impulse to crush them underneath.
Models: Charlie Korsmo in What About Bob? / Joseph Mazzello in The Cure
Mysteries of Lisbon starts with an orphan at a boarding school, and spends four hours unraveling how he got there, how a handful of players aligned and realigned over many years to reveal his fate. The boy’s moral guide as he discovers his past is Father Dinis, skillful transformer, who shows him his room of assumed identities, calling it his “temple of sincerity” and speaking of his “solidarity with all men.” He’s the anti-Carlos: he too understands history as a set of shifting alliances, but chooses to use the knowledge differently. As for the movie, it’s as spellbinding as any great long film I can name. It’s amazing anyone has the energy to undertake an imaginative work of this kind in the current century.
I hate to fall to invoking “the real” when discussing movies, but Parting Glances really got to me and seems to have demanded it: I haven’t been so dazzled by plausible real life since Andrew Bujalski’s Beeswax. Which isn’t to say either movie achieves perceived realness simply by observation, or without a careful application of cinematic technique. The centerpiece of Parting Glances is a long sequence at a party that takes up nearly a third of the film and could go on forever, so assured are its rhythms. Add to this the fact that the movie is populated with smart people, and is smart about everything it thinks (knows) it’s smart about. Somewhere in the depths of that party, two characters look at an old painting of a servant delivering a letter to a concerned woman. They ponder what news the woman might be receiving (her female lover, dead?), and then one of them, an artist, points to the woman’s hand, says there’s more painting happening in that bit of space than in all the paintings of her New York contemporaries. The movie, too, has more intelligence in the way it frames this moment than I’ve seen in quite a while, and has the boldness to imagine the lives of people who receive messages with their own particular sets of restraints, whether defined by being gay in 1980s New York or by some unique quality partly hidden from view, like the face of the turned-away woman in the painting. A great movie in every way that can be named.