Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

02 April 2006

My Weekend Died.

I did see my minimum two movies this weekend: this morning's screening was Saw Wood's Kitty Foyle and yesterday I caught Patrice Chéreau's Son Frère. But most of the weekend was spent plumbing. A shame, too, because there are a lot of movies in the theatre that I want to see right about now. So many. It's a little frustrating, but, I am the one who has chosen this rehearsal schedule (i.e. Sunday-Wednesday) and I am the one who fills the non-rehearsal time with non-cinematic things like doing people's tax returns and attending the theatre.

I saw iWitness at the Taper on Thursday night, by the way. It's really just a World War II A Man for All Seasons, but way less compelling and more boring than anything else. It's nicely directed, but mostly the material just isn't revelatory in any way. Three things about the show, though. First, the floor of the set was made up of this metallic grid on which the actors walked bare-footed for a good deal of the time. I was so uncomfortable with this and so worried for the safety of the performers that at times I couldn't pay attention to the show itself, so rapt with attention was I on the possibility of their feet turning into hamburger. Second, Seamus Dever gives a really wonderful supporting performance. It's award-worthy stuff: wonderfully comic, and always fascinating. I saw (and loved) Dever in a play called Pera Palas at the Boston Court Theatre some months ago. He's also a member of the Antaeus Company. He's really a fabulous actor. Be on the lookout for his work. Third, I'm happy that directors and playwrights are feeling more and more comfortable with the lengthy one-act form. I know we as audiences are trained to prepare ourselves for the intermission, but I think it's fine to announce that there will be no intermission at the beginning and then proceed with the story. We sit at the movies for two hours. We can all stand two hours of uninterrupted theatre. (My real point here is that I'm glad that not all dramatists are feeling the constraints of the two-act form. It's very nice to see some theatre practitioners deviate from it.

Sam Wood's Kitty Foyle was mostly dumb. It's told in flashbacks (almost always a lame storytelling device, in my opinion.) Ginger Rogers is good enough, I guess (she won an Academy Award for it.) The men in the film are both gorgeous, but the central dilemma in the film (which man will she choose: the impoverished, idealist doctor or the fun-loving, wealthy playboy whom she's loved for ten years?) is a boring one. I mean, who cares which man this woman picks, you know? If the film had something to say about men and women's roles in society or was a good romantic comedy or had some semblance of plot, I would be more forgiving, but it's mostly just banality.

Patrice Chéreau's Son Frère (His Brother) is a very well-made meditation on brotherhood, illness and death. I've been thinking about this topic recently because of the Albee I've been reading. Something Albee says in one of his plays is that there's no such thing as death; there's only dying. I own my life and I own my dying, but I'll never own my death, you know what I mean? Son Frère is about a very sick man who places all of the responsibility of his dying on his estranged brother. And the healthy one steps right in and takes responsibility for his brother. It's not a film about sacrificing things for those you love, but more about the price of becoming a caretaker and actually dealing with dying. It's an excellent film, a unique character study and a moving portrait of human frailty.