Rituals Paterson Rituals

The Red Wheelbarrow*
(William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963)

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.


Jim Jarmusch
used William Carlos Williams as his muse for the movie Paterson. And if you’re going to see a movie without any action, based on poetry, one would think you would not want to take a rugged retired fireman.

But wait!

Jarmusch would say that’s exactly who would appreciate such a film, just as the main character-Adam Driver-is the bus driver poet, why couldn’t there be the fireman poet? And in fact, didn’t Guy Montag, the main character and fireman in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, have such poetic leanings, ‘her dress was white and it whispered’?

Perhaps a firemen would alter WCW’s poem to:

The Red Firetruck
(ghost written by Roxanne Baker 1963-)

so much depends
on a red
fire truck

blackened by smokey
soot

beside the white
two story.

Paterson was an ode to the poet in us all, and in this movie, everyone is a poet: a laundry mat rapper, a 10 year old girl, a Japanese tourist. The film could also be seen as an ode to director Chantal Ackerman, specifically her film Jeanne Dielman, an epic film where the housewife goes through everyday routines repeatedly.

The habits of Adam Driver and his girlfriend made me miss the predictability of coupledom and paradoxically, made me glad I have the freedom as a single gal to do whatever the heck I want. The fact that Jim Jarmusch can evoke opposing emotions is a feat unto itself.

His eye for art is also appealing, and in this film black and white patterns fill the home courtesy of actress Golshifteh Farahani, the unemployed, but dream filled love interest. Their pug, in his gloriously bored expressions, mirror the mundane life most of us live. The most fun aspects of our lives are the tiny surprises that interrupt the predictability of the rest of our lives. For instance, when you meet someone on a bridge walk and end up going to a movie.

Thought provoking messages about yin and yang, and the idea that the world eventually gives us what we need, also supplied and required reflection. The shadow within every person was found in a talented poet beaten down by the drudgery, the shadow in every relationship in an unrequited love affair, or the shadow in many life moments as two guys on Paterson’s bus share similar stories of the promise of a dating opps, only to let them slip away. The world giving us what we need was seen in a bar incident on the verge of violence and a gift of an empty notebook.

Paterson doesn’t hold it’s power in action, but in its ability to make you ponder. The film’s equally enjoyable for poetry fans and for the dreamer in us all.

*1985 Ft. Lauderdale

Skimming the Cinematic Stones: Early Linklater

Between my son’s practice in the Finger Lakes Opera ‘Carmen’ and my work on a Blue Cat Screenplay Contest Short, completing a triology of early Linklater was a challenge. But guess what, I’m not late! Santa aka ‘Boyhood’ won’t be in Rochester, New York till 8/15.

Let’s start with the wonderful surprise of Slackers (1991), a breezy yet heady walk through the lives of Austin, Texas 90’s ‘kids’. Don’t discount it because it’s old, nor get it confused with the other Slackers from 2002. Do be amazed that we’re still fighting about gun control 23 years later. The movie literally moves (like sharks) through the apartments, houses and streets of Austin. Not really big on story, more philosophical ramblings of both young and old.

The cult classic “Dazed and Confused” is from 1993 and is the first movie of two mega stars: Ben Affleck (who made me uncomfortable as a bad ass machismo frat boy) and Matthew McConaugHEY (the origin of his ‘alright, alright, alright’). Parker Posey, a mega star in my book from her tantrums in “Best in Show” (Guest 2000), also plays a cartwheeling high school sorority queen (and she pulls it off, not looking her actual 25 years of age). But, I have to say, this movie disappointed. Yeh, I get it’s a halcyon view of Linklater’s early life, but if someone gave me the choice of ’93 comedy ‘classics’ (and trust me ’93 was a barren landscape for great comedy) I’d pick ‘Grumpy Old Men’ or ‘Ground Hog Day’.

Last, in the Linklater menage, was “Waking Life”(2001), a very good case for the old adage that writers only have one story presented in different forms. Not a bad thing, considering that “Waking Life’ is Slackers grownup and animated with the addition a through character (Wiley Wiggins) as he meanders through conversations and musings of philosophers trying to decipher if he’s in a lucid dream or dead.

If you enjoy deep thought: ‘liberate from your own negativity”, existentialism as a positive realization of our free will, and last, but certainly only the tip of the movie’s ideological ice berg, that every choice we make is crucial to our life, then you’ll love “Waking Life”.

Much like “Slackers”, “Waking Life” addresses gun control with an ironic scene of a man bragging about his need to carry a gun everywhere quoting “a well armed populace is the best defense against tyranny”. I won’t tell you how that piece ends, but everyone except those pinch-your-cheeks-cute Texans can take a good guess.

In the end, this was a trilogy sandwich where the bread was better (Slackers and Waking Life) than the filling (Dazed and Confused), but indeed, it was a chewy, hearty and fulfilling sourdough. And if that line doesn’t sound like corn beef, I don’t know what does.:)