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

04 June 2007

L.A. Update #2

I've been keeping busier. Last night I went to see Luisa Fernanda at Los Angeles Opera. It was delightful. I hated the set, but I had never seen a zarzuela before, and this was a really cool experience particularly because I got to hear Plácido Domingo sing the lead male role. Boy does that man have a voice!
Being downtown made my heart ache to live in Los Angeles again. There's Southern California and there's Southern California. I realized today that I like living in Tallahassee a lot better than I like living in La Verne (where my folks live). Everyone is so white out here and it all feels so... I don't know how else to describe it except by using the word fake. Everything is a chain store: chain coffee and chain restaurants and chain clothing stores and more chain restaurants. Chain hardware stores and chain movie rental stores. Chain jewelry stores, chain bagel shops and chain auto mechanics. It's a town without a bookstore. At least Tallahassee feels lived in. It's an eerie feeling: like living in a big Hollywood movie where everything is predictable.
But downtown doesn't feel like that at all. It feels different and new and messy and unpredictable. I went to the opera with Derek. We didn't even dress up: jeans and dress shirts. And we had a great time. It's just so nice down there. And the weather! I love Los Angeles.

I finished Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's book Epistemology of the Closet which is really brilliant. And I started Foucault's The History of Sexuality Part II: The Use of Pleasure, but I am getting a little bored. I need some fiction in my life, I think. Maybe I will pick up some Noël Coward for a lark.

I've been watching movies too. Melville's Bob le Flambeur (1956) is easily as good as his later masterpieces Le Samouraï and Le Cercle Rouge. I am in LOVE with Jean-Pierre Melville. This man makes some brilliant fucking movies. Bob is an über-cool heist film without a heist. And it's an obvious predecessor to what would be called the French New Wave. The French New Wave would have been unthinkable without Bob le Flambeur (or, I think, Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows, another must-see from the 1950s.) It's a mid-1950s noir, betraying Melville's fascination with all things Yankee, but it's attitudes and self-satisfaction are unmistakeably French. Add this one to your Netflix queue.

Captain Blood is your standard Errol Flynn swashbuckler. The first one, I think. I'd never seen it, and I liked it a lot. There isn't quite enough swordfighting for my taste, but it's totally fun nonetheless and the cinematography is amazing. It also stars Olivia de Havilland, who was in all of those 1930s Errol Flynn pictures with him—before she finally escaped with Gone with the Wind and started racking up Oscars for her shelves.

Everyone's been hailing Once as a new kind of movie musical. It's a really good film, but it isn't really a watershed event in movie musical history or anything like that. Actually, it's not even really a musical so much as it is a movie with a lot of music in it. The movie follows an aspiring musician in Ireland as he records his first album and falls in love. It's filled with songs that he strums out on a guitar. I really liked it, and it has a near-perfect ending, but don't go in expecting it to change your life. It's just a really cool indie.

And Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is no Oldboy. That's all I'm saying.