Saturday, September 21, 2013

Eyes Wide Open


Bless TCM. Bless Robert Osborne. Bless Thomas Edison. Bless the Lumiere Brothers.

I love movies - new, old, short, long, intimate, epic, black and white, color, CinemaScope, 3D ( sometimes ) - so many movies just everywhere - so many bad BAD flicks but so many good ones, too.

I pick movies the way I pick books. One of my favorite "libraries" is TCM. I adore this television network. It isn't nostalgia that beckons me to this channel. I am not a fan of pure nostalgia. It's an aesthetic.  TCM, like a library, has the good the bad and the interesting.

Today I watched a series of short Lumiere films - movies from the 1800's - THE 1800'S!! Two of them were in color - IN COLOR!! What an experience. Viewing movies from two centuries ago was like a visitation from Marley's ghost - chilling, thrilling and a little scary BUT also a kind of holy spiritual experience.

I recently watched "Giant' with Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Rock Hudson. It was fabulous. I was astounded to realize what a great actress Liz Taylor was in her prime. I was surprised at how good Rock Hudson was and how bad the forever young James Dean could be. "Giant's" director George Stevens was a revelation to me. Now I want to see all his films.

Another surprise for me was the phenomenal performance by a young and very beautiful Natalie Wood in "Splendor In The Grass". Warren Beatty made his movie debut in "Splendor" and was pretty stunning - all the earmarks of a screen star. Directed by Elia Kazan, Natalie Wood's heartbreaking performance was never equaled by her.

TCM is a treasure trove of great 20th Century "literature". Yes, TCM also shows bombs but viewed as history, these bombs blow away many of today's hits- you know - like the repulsive "Hangover " movies. the stupid Jennifer Aniston romancers, the grating Adam Sandler indulgences, the smarmy Paul Rudd buddy flicks, the recent spate of senior citizen romantic comedies starring Diane Keaton, Alec ( puke puke ) Baldwin, Meryl Streep ( is nothing sacred ) and Robert Dinero ( Mr. Sell-out ).

I am not saying movies were better then today's efforts. I am saying that today's  garbage is smellier. In an attempt to be real, movies have given up wit, true humor and poetic vision. That said -today  we have Ang Lee, Spielberg, Scorsese, Danny Boyle etc. making very good movies and I do love state of the art. So there is much to enjoy and savor today but oh - ah - yesterday - Bette Davis, Kazan, Garland, Cagney, Charles Laughton, Montgomery Clift, Geraldine Page, Ava Gardner, Kim Novak, Inge, Hepburn - Katherine & Audrey, David Lean, Brando, Coppola, Lumet, MGM musicals and that marvelous roaring lion and on and on............

But I don't have to dwell in a nostalgic mist. No I do not. All I have to do is turn on TCM and catch a dream - eyes wide open.



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