Night and the City at the Dryden

Ali and I went to the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Night and The City. It was one of the most gritty, brutally cruel noir films I've ever seen. The protagonist is a jerk — just barely charismatic enough for the audience to tolerate watching him. None of the characters are any good at all. The gist is that a Greco-Roman wrestler of old is coerced by a con man to start shows with traditional wrestling — in direct competition with performance-based wrestling run solely by a thug who happens to be the son of the traditional wrestler. Things go from barely tolerable to horrifically bad. It's quite a show of the worst sides of humanity.

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Really Quite Ill, Actually

I noticed the other day that one of my tonsils had become swollen and got some blotches on it. I didn't think much of it other than to keep an eye on it. It got worse over the weekend so first thing Monday I went to the doctor's office. Of course, I had to wait until the afternoon when they could fit me in and then sit around for 45 minutes for a 5-minute examination.

I thought I might have strep throat — the only problem being that I only had a mild sore throat and I hear that with strep it's the worst sore throat you've ever had. Well, I ended up getting diagnosed with a generic "tonsillitis" and prescribed heavy-duty antibiotics. As it turns out, the infection is really very bad. There's finally some improvement after a third of the antibiotic dose, but it's not pretty.

In any case, I really haven't been out much this week for that reason.

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Dead Man at the Dryden

I went to the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Dead Man. I convinced Ali to not see it with me because I was worried it wasn't her kind of movie — and with other options like food at her parents' house or the video shoot for The Lobster Quadrille also going on, I didn't want her to feel like she wasted her time. Now after the fact, I think she probably would have liked it. One of the things I really enjoy about the Dryden is how the introductions bracket the film — to give one a way to see it and understand it rather than to find no way to understand it and simply dismiss it (especially in a case like this).

Anyway, Dead Man is an excellent movie: a meditative cinematic poem about death on all sorts of different levels. All the actors in the film were stunningly convincing. The direction and cinematography offered a deliberate, steady pace with plenty of room to simply observe.

It's about a guy named William Blake who goes west for a job in the town of Machine. When he arrives, there is no job for him — and he had spent all his savings to get there. He meets a woman, but his bad luck isn't done because her fiancee returns and in a blur of passion, shoots her and Blake who in turn shoots him. Injured, Blake heads for the hills and is aided by a Native American named Nobody — who happens to be a fan of poet William Blake in a moment that transcends the "fourth wall" like none other. The fiancee happens to be the son of the brutal, sole industrialist in Machine and puts a bounty on Blake's head. Meanwhile, Nobody declares Blake to be a dead man and spends his time preparing Blake for his journey to the other side.

But that's not what the movie is about at all.

What I got out of it was that it was about the reality of death. Not the part that it's inevitable, that it's permanent, or that it's man's greatest fear, but simply that it was, is, and will be. The Europeans slaughtered the Native Americans, for instance; and no matter how good or bad we feel about that now, it happened and we cannot change it. There's a certain beauty to the notion of impermanent existence — that no matter what we do in life, we end up part of the same earthly goo from which we came.

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Juno at the Little

Ali and I went to The Little (240 East Ave.) to see Juno. We got there a bit early and ended up having some good (but a bit pricey) panini sandwiches at the cafe.

Anyway, the movie was really cute. It's about a smart, quick-witted girl who unexpectedly gets pregnant. She decides to put the kid up for adoption and finds the seemingly perfect couple — at least on the surface and through her myopic teenage eyes. It was really just a nice, light story that takes what would ordinarily be a heavy topic, and puts a bit of flair on it to make it quite palatable.

One of the complaints I had heard was that the title character Juno was too smart — too worldly for her age. Indeed she was awfully smart, but come on: have you heard teenagers talk? (And I freely include my own teenage inanity.) I don't think people would tolerate 2 hours of that. That said, they didn't do a bad job of giving Juno and her friends the pop-culture, repetitive patterns of teenage speech without making it irritating.

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