Category Archives: me and my brain

Follow-Up #1: Rapture

Patricia Gozzi and Dean Stockwell in Rapture (1965)

Patricia Gozzi and Dean Stockwell in Rapture (1965)

A few days ago, I mentioned that I’d discovered the 1965 film Rapture starring Dean Stockwell, Patricia Gozzi, Melvyn Douglas, and Gunnel Lindblom.  I gave it a pretty rave review.  What I didn’t know when I wrote that post is that this particular movie would invade my consciousness.  I’ve now seen the movie at least four times.  “At least”… I think I’m starting to lose count.  I guess that’s embarrassing, especially considering that the only way I can watch it at the moment is in eleven separate parts on YouTube.  The performances are just stunning to me, and the music is so effective.  Georges Delerue’s score is beautiful and haunting.  I suppose those two words describe the film as a whole for me.  I haven’t yet actually spoken with anyone else who’s seen the film, though I know there are some other fans out there, but I have a feeling it’s not for everyone.  Or maybe I just secretly want to keep it for myself.

Whatever the case may be, I haven’t been this inhabited by a movie since I was a kid.  I think the last time I just kept watching a movie over and over was when I first discovered It’s a Wonderful Life.  Of course, that is a totally different animal.  But it’s been THAT LONG.  Yeah.  I actually have an order in for a copy of the Rapture Blu-Ray even though we don’t (yet) own a Blu-Ray player.  At the moment my order is pending and I’m slightly nervous that something will go wrong.  Up to now, I wasn’t even particularly interested in getting a Blu-Ray player.

Original Spanish language one sheet poster for Rapture (1965)--soon to be mine

Original Spanish language one sheet cinema poster for Rapture (1965)–soon to be mine

I also just ordered myself this poster.  One of these days when I have my own office again, this will live on the wall, hopefully alongside the poster we got at the Filmsmuseum in Berlin.

Mind you, I’ve been a bit of a miser lately.  I did not make these purchases without giving them some thought (neither was terribly expensive, but even so).

Now, of course, I am interested in seeing as many of Patricia Gozzi’s other films as I can.  With the possible exception of Sundays and Cybele, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1962, that’s likely to be a challenge.  I’m sure I’ll dig further into Dean Stockwell’s filmography.  I already watched all of the nearly three hours of Long Day’s Journey Into Night starring Stockwell, Katherine Hepburn, Jason Robards (another favorite actor of mine), and Ralph Richardson.  I have an increased respect for Melvyn Douglas now as well, having discovered that he continued making movies right up to his death in 1981.  His career spanned a full fifty years, and he stayed married to the same woman–the intriguing Helen Gahagan, who appeared in one film and then entered politics, eventually losing to Nixon in a race for the U.S. Senate–for nearly all of it (from April 1931 until her death in 1980).

Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Gozzi in Rapture (1965)

Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Gozzi in Rapture (1965)

And then there’s Gunnel Lindblom.  While her performance is secondary to the others, she’s still quite good.  A living Swedish actress, she appeared in several Ingmar Bergman films, including The Seventh Seal.  As for Georges Delerue, his massive body of work dwarfs me.  So there’s a lot here.

I’ve also looked into locating a copy of the book upon which the film is based.  It’s not available in my library system, but a smattering of old copies are available through abebooks.com and ebay.  I’m a little wary because it looks like it might be a bit of a pulp romance.  Of course, Now, Voyager was pretty much a pulp romance, and that book was turned into a great film.  Someday I will read Rapture, but I’m not sure I’m ready to risk breaking the spell of the film just yet.

Oh.  I also have a correction, though it’s more to something I repeated that someone else said rather than my own mistake.  The film’s director, John Guillermin, is British–not American.  Perhaps the person who said that Rapture is like a French New Wave film in the hands of an American director knew that but was making some kind of statement on his directorial style.  At any rate, he is British.

 

My new baby

I’d like to introduce you to my new baby. This baby is new to me, but it’s actually older than I am. And it’s probably a little older than I thought it was when I bought it.

Here’s a 1967 ad for my new baby.

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And here’s a picture from the adoption agency:
ADOPTION PHOTO

It works great so far… came with a correction ribbon, the manual, and the case. I suspect that I will be spending less time doddering around on facebook and more time writing useful things for myself and other people. Maybe that will even inspire me to write more here. These are all good possible outcomes, I’m thinkin’.

A slice of January

Most people probably agree that the cold months following Christmas and New Year’s can be a little bit of a letdown. But there are always good little moments. Here are some of mine so far in 2010.

One long weekend I finished up the Santa puzzle my mom gave me for Christmas in 2008. It was a lot of fun… a really good cozy winter activity. I think it looked better put together than it did in the picture on the box.

During our holiday visit to the farm, Ezra’s sister Abby introduced us to Bananagrams. It’s so completely up my alley–a word game, sort of like Scrabble and Boggle put together, but better (well, definitely better than Scrabble anyway). So on that long weekend I mentioned we gave Bananagrams to Amy and Doug for Christmas. Of course, we played several rounds.

Bananagrams
Amy’s fabulous creation with the Bananagrams tiles… not a part of the actual game

And, of course, we had to get it for ourselves shortly after that.

I’m still going through my Christmas postcards. I promise to share more about them soon (take that as a “coming attractions” or a warning, as you wish).

Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Mike Capuano

… in the Democratic primary for the special election to replace Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate. Here’s a link to Capuano’s official web site, in case you’re not familiar with him and his positions. He was the mayor of Somerville and we loved him. He’s currently our representative in the U.S. House and I still think he does a great job. He’s got a lot more spunk than Martha Coakley. I’d like to think he’d have beaten Scott Brown, but maybe the outcome of the election would have just been that much more depressing had it been him instead of Coakley. It would have been a much more spirited campaign–I’m sure of that.

On to brighter topics…

My Collections: Vintage Christmas Ornaments–The Stripes

While taking down our Christmas tree this past weekend, I decided to take pictures of my vintage ornaments before putting them away. Over the next several days (weeks?) I’ll be posting pictures and any info I feel like adding about my collection of vintage Christmas ornaments. I won’t post every single ornament, but I’ll include quite a few of them. I also hope to post more about my much bigger collection of vintage Christmas postcards, and I may get into some of my other collections and treasures as well (socks, books, music). But I’m starting off with what gave me the idea–the ornaments.

In general, I collect what I like. I’m not looking for the most valuable items or necessarily for a particular manufacturer or artist. Instead, I’m looking for what appeals to me–and in the case of vintage ornaments, they have to be genuinely old, not reproductions. I think most of my vintage ornaments are from the 1930s-1950s. Perhaps someone with a lot of knowledge in this area will come upon these posts and tell me more about what I’ve got (and also let me know if I have any misinformation).

Just because, I’ll start with the stripes. Some of these are a bit newer–50s and 60s. I’ll share some older ones in future posts. The clear–or unsilvered–ones may be from the 40s. The story goes that during WWII metals were needed for the war effort, so Christmas ornaments produced during this time were made with unsilvered glass.

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This next one seems older. The glass is heavier and sort of frosted and it shows a different sort of wear.
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This next one also seems older to me. It’s a bit smaller than many, and something about the glass and the way it’s worn makes me think it’s older.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4003/4267903092_d0b5888273.jpg

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I love the colors of the one below.
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Confessions!

So I’m just going to admit that part of me wants to see a couple of silly teen/20s-ish romance/coming of age movies. In particular, I wouldn’t mind seeing (500) Days of Summer. I can’t help it. I LIKE Zooey Deschanel. And then there’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The twelve-year-old girl in me liked him in 3rd Rock From the Sun. And while we’re blaming re-runs, the other movie I’m curious about–though less so–is Youth in Revolt. I have a feeling that one is simply too contrived and too pubescent for 35-year-old me. It’s too much a vehicle for pushing Michael Cera (and, probably, Portia Doubleday) into greater flavor-of-the-decade stardom. And like Garden State, which I had hopes for but ended up really disliking, it features Jean Smart as the mother. That probably isn’t a good sign for me, either. I think that, really, I’m just anxious for the Arrested Development movie (which had better not stink). (500) Days of Summer appears to be on DVD. Netflix, methinks.

Feel free to weigh in if you’ve seen either.

Some Things I Love

Kim did a post like this, and I’ve been wanting to do one myself. Mine will be sillier than hers because some of the things I love are pretty silly.

Kashi Heart to Heart Oat Flakes and Wild Blueberry Clusters


So yummy–tastes like a really good blueberry muffin.

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Guru: The Indian Caterer


Oh my, this is incredibly good Indian food–fresh and delicious, not run of the mill. And so cheap!!! And it’s practically around the corner from our house.

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The Strand Bookstore



It’s sprawling, it’s packed with books, it’s a Manhattan classic right in Union Square.
They’ve kept up with the times–they have an excellent web site on which I’ve discovered a bunch of books–and at the same time they’ve maintained a sort of old school presence in their main store. The last few times I’ve been in New York, I’ve spent hours there–sometimes over multiple visits. The last time I was at the main store, I went to collect some books I’d ordered online. Of course, I had to browse, and ended up adding a few to my pre-ordered stack. They sell new and used, remainders, review copies, and rare books. They have a great art section on the second floor, and there’s a sizable children’s section that I’ve never really properly investigated. Their prices are generally very good. Their book bags are awesome, too. If their onesies came in slightly more appealing patterns, Rainey would already have one.

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Arrested Development



Ez and I don’t watch a lot of television, but we do watch a lot of DVDs. Like many people, we missed Arrested Development when it first aired. That was our loss. We just finished watching the whole series on DVD and we love it! Funny stuff. I’m sure we’ll see the film, though I’m a LITTLE worried that it won’t live up to the series.

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Casa Silva Sauvignon Gris 2006



We tasted this wine at Dave’s Fresh Pasta and we really like it. It’s got this sort of tangy, almost effervescent quality.
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My computer has been unreliable of late–hardware problem, we think–so I’ll end this post here. I’ll have to make this a series as I think of other things I like enough to blog about them.

Overanalyzing Pretty in Pink–beware!

Most people have a favorite teen movie from their youth. Mine would have to be Pretty in Pink. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it. I saw it with a bunch of school friends (all girls–many of us were teary-eyed as we exited the theater) when it was first released in 1986. I’ve owned the video (VHS) for at least 16 years. It’s been a little while since I last watched it, but it was on AMC the other day–slightly and amusingly butchered–and watching it again I was reminded of some of the enduring reasons that I like it, even now. I also noticed–in some cases for the first time–some of the ways in which it doesn’t work. When you’ve seen a movie countless times, it’s hard not to pick up on editing gaffes, plot inconsistencies, and the quality of the acting–both when it’s bad and when it’s, maybe surprisingly, pretty decent.

The set designer must have had a lot of fun doing this movie. Even now, even with the overabundance of pink, I still like Andie’s bedroom. This time around, I noticed that she has at least one–maybe two–Mondrian prints on her walls. I can’t say whether that influenced me as a teenager, even subconsciously, to check out Mondrian myself, but it’s entirely possible. Iona’s Chinatown apartment is fun, too–though the kooky retro 50s/early 60s black and white stuff isn’t really my taste.

Andy's bedroom
Andie in her bedroom with her dog, Ace. Sadly, this is one of the best pictures I could find of her room–doesn’t show much, but you can see one of the Mondrian prints on the wall in the background.

Iona's apartment
Iona (Annie Potts) and Andie (Molly Ringwald) in the kooky 50s/60s room in Iona’s apartment. Andie is wearing a pretty nice Chinese jacket.

Trax, the record store where Andie and Iona work, makes me all nostalgic! I mean, did we all know someone who had that Smiths poster, or is it just me?
Iona at Trax
Iona at Trax

Of course Andie’s outfits are fun. That’s a little part of the point, right? She makes a lot of her own clothes… the film is even called Pretty in Pink. Some of it probably looks a bit goofy to someone watching the movie for the first time today, but I still like some of the pieces and combinations. Some of the colors are great. I like the vintage blue cardigan she wears at the record shop, and I especially love that lace top (can’t find a good picture of it, of course).

I’ve always liked John Cryer in this movie, and this time around I spotted some specific places–besides the classic Otis Redding scene, of course–where his acting really is pretty good. When he realizes Andie is going on a date with Blane (the major appliance), the hurt look on his face is perfect. Most of his acting in that part of the film really works, keeping in mind that he’s supposed to be in high school…

Andy and Duckie
Andie and Duckie at the record store, when Duckie realizes that Andie is going on a date with Blane

James Spader is just great as Blane’s ridiculously snotty friend Steff. His affected voice, the way he saunters around like he owns the place, his thick sleepy eyelids… he totally nails it. The bit at the end where Blane tells him off is classic. “You couldn’t buy her, though, that’s what’s killing you, isn’t it? Steff? That’s it, Steff. She thinks you’re shit. And deep down, you know she’s right.” Melodramatic? Yeah, perhaps. But for a John Hughes movie, that’s a pretty good zinger. James Spader as Steff
James Spader as Steff

Even Andrew McCarthy, who turned out to be rather less of an actor than he might have been, has a couple pretty good moments here and there. Possibly the best scene in a lot of ways is the one where Andie confronts Blane in the hallway at school. McCarthy’s character is doing a lot here–he’s squirming, for sure. He ends up doing the wimpy thing–but he’s crying. It’s not easy for him. (I’ve watched this scene many times, of course, and I think it’s really pivotal for how the film was supposed to end–but I’ll get to that in a second.) Duckie watches this whole scene unfold, and sees the aftermath of their exchange, where Steff tells Blane that Andie “was, is, and will always be nada.” I think Cryer again does a pretty good job here, and of course there’s some good John Hughes movie triumph involved when Duckie tackles Steff and they scuffle in the hall, with Duckie tearing down the prom banner after a few teachers come out of their classrooms to break it up. Steff’s reaction to the whole thing is great, too. It’s largely physical–refluffing his fluffy hair, spitting on the floor, dripping smooth disdain.

The filmmakers have been pretty open about the fact that they changed the movie’s ending after test audiences were disappointed that Andie and Blane did not end up together. In the original, Andie and Duckie end up together. I can see why test audiences felt the way they did. You want the film’s message to be that love conquers all–that class differences are superficial and don’t matter, and you want the characters to be strong enough to get past them. Andie and Blane’s romance gets built up, and even though the viewer sees just how much Duckie likes Andie, there’s not enough (at least, not that made it into the final cut) to show that Andie could see Duckie as much more than a friend, though there is one very purposeful shot at the prom where they take each other’s hands. That got left in, and I can’t help thinking that the filmmakers hoped it would serve a different purpose in the final cut than it did in the test version. To me, it looks like it’s supposed to show that they’re growing closer–maybe romantically. Perhaps the filmmakers decided to leave it in to signify that Duckie and Andie had reconciled and to show their unity as they confront Blane together.

Andie and Blane
Andie and Blane, selling BMW.

The ending that did make it into the film is almost too John Hughes-y. It’s too easy, too quickly thrown together. Of course, when I saw it in 1986 (I was 12, I think), I thought it was perfect. Heck, it made me want a BMW. But watching it now–not so much. There’s this whole thing between Andie and Blane earlier in the film where she tells Blane that she can’t believe in anyone who doesn’t believe in her. At the prom he tells her that he always believed in her but she just didn’t believe in him. Well, duh Blane… you wimped out on her! You started out all brave, taking her to your friend’s party and saying you were above it all, but then you caved! You didn’t return her calls! You backed out on the prom! Something there just doesn’t compute. And pairing Duckie up with some random girl at the prom is just silly. It reduces his role in the film.

I could probably go on, if anyone else is freakish enough to want to continue the discussion…

EDIT: Ah! But YouTube saves the day. Pretty vintage blue beaded sweater is at the beginning of this clip. And oh look–she’s wearing the lacy top thing under it. Around 2:20 she closes a door and we see the aforementioned Smiths poster, and then the scene shifts to her bedroom–Mondrian prints, pretty kimono on the wall, etc. Unfortunately, John Cryer’s good expression when he finds out that Andie is going out with Blane is split over two clips. Most of it is at the beginning of this one. It’s better when you see his initial reaction, though. Molly Ringwald is really kinda so-so compared to Cryer in that scene. Sorry, Molly.

The confrontation scene mentioned above starts around 4:45 here. Great stuff from Spader and Cryer… at least, great for a John Hughes movie.

For now I’ll save the rest for when I’m asked to provide commentary for a special edition of the DVD. (Hyuck hyuck.)