The Nearness of You: Bright Star, a 2009 Perfection

I started having a fantasy the year James Taylor came out with his version of Glenn Miller’s classic “The Nearness of You”. The fantasy was simple, a slow dance with the man I love (preferably in moonlight or candle light). The man I was dating at the time, a sensitive itinerant painter who would not sleep next to me for fear of ‘losing his artistic edge’, not surprisingly told me he was not a dancer.(this was the mid 2000’s and he’s since gotten married and had children).

Watching Jane Campion’s beautiful film Bright Star from 2009, reminded me of this relationship. First, John Keats was also a very sensitive artist who, along with his buddy Mr. Brown, guarded his own artistic milieu. Second, the movie occurred in an era when people were near each other log enough for feeling to simmer and grow to a full boil, without pressure or distraction. This was the case with my relationship, too. Sure it wasn’t the 1800’s, but it was the aughts, pre-internet frenzy and while I don’t necessarily want reminders, I have fond memories, if that makes any sense.

But, to me, Bright Star was even better than The Piano, Campion’s other more famous film. The movie was a perfect depiction of an era when finances and romance were intricately entwined. Due to the fine trio of actors, never did I think ‘this is maudlin’ or sappy. Abby Cornish was terrific, a look alike to Lindsay Lohan, as Fanny Brawne. Ben Whishaw, equally great as the sickly Keats. And Paul Schneider, terrific as the womanizing deviant and Keats cock blocker, Mr. Brown.

Looking up the actors, there’s not much with Cornish coming out that thrills me, nor past-RoboCop? But I wish I could re-watch scenes from The Lobster and The Danish Girl to catch Whishsaw, now that I have seen him at his best. I’ve now got two of Schneider’s on my library list; Rules Don’t Apply, last year’s Howard Hughes failure with Warren Beatty and The Assassination of Jesse James which I’ve heard is fantastic.

One of these days I’ll get back to read more about Keats and Brawne’s long, suffering relationship.

Last of the Female Director Trilogy: Jane Campion’s The Piano

Again, thanks to the Amazon series “I Love Dick”, I happened upon two older films and a reminder of a third (I had already taken in) from three power house female writers/directors. To recap, I had seen Chantall Ackerman’s film, recently saw Potter’s Orlando, and last night viewed Jane Campion‘s The Piano.

And I know, I know, for shame on me for not seeing this three time Academy Award winner (best actress, best supporting actress, best original screenplay) earlier. My cinematic passion didn’t reach full flame until the mid 2000’s or ‘aughts’ as the lingo goes. I do remember thinking, once upon a time, that I really didn’t need to see Harvey Keitel nude, nor do I think Sam Neill is a very charismatic actor, both snobbish opinions on my part to be sure. And yet I think HK is a superb actor and loved him in Youth, from a few years ago.

The movie The Piano, of the three power house films, comes in third in my book after Ackerman #1, with Potter obviously at #2.

Why? Mainly due to the setting, which I get was a choice to enhance the feelings of oppression, but I couldn’t think of April/May being the cruelest months (along with November through March) in that Godforsaken land I left called Rochester, New York, mud and cold, mud and cold, (shiver) mud and cold. I have post traumatic frost bite, what can I say?

Now, the positives: Anna Paquin was astoundingly good and recognized with an Academy Award. I’m surprised (though a Golden Globe win for True Blood s noteworthy) that she hasn’t made more of a grand splash in major films. Holly Hunter is probably the best of all time at the derisive unsatisfied frown. The aforementioned gentlemen were good, but again someone more appealing may have heightened the interest (again, fully confess that’s a pompous ass comment).

What I got from this in a feminist perspective: women have to give up art or at least part of themselves for love. Probably true in the past, not so sure it’s as true in the modern era. I do know this recent relationship I ended was punctuated by the male trying to cover me with his music (most of which was great, especially the Tears for Fears guy’s solo cd) and film (if I heard the movie title Laura one more time or the phrase film noir, I may have pulled a Barbara Stanwyck). And, this should be in all caps: DON’T GET ME WRONG, I LOVE LEARNING NEW THINGS, BUT, when I tried to insert my favorites, it was almost as if the person felt threatened or unwilling to give it a try-Lost in Translation, Bfore the Devil Knows You’re Dead, The wood Brothers, Chris Trapper, etc. So maybe Campion is more on the money than I give her credit for. she did say this:

“I think that the romantic impulse is in all of us and that sometimes we live it for a short time, but it’s not part of a sensible way of living. It’s a heroic path and it generally ends dangerously. I treasure it in the sense that I believe it’s a path of great courage. It can also be the path of the foolhardy and the compulsive.”

To which I agree and disagree. If I had to list my top 20 life moments, the first 14 would be child birth, moments with my son and running.
(That’s not to discount the 16 years of safety and intermittent happiness I felt with my first husband, but that almost goes in a different category-Best Life Segment, maybe?)
However, the other 6 would involve adventure I had giving and receiving love: Ft Lauderdale 1985, Atlanta 199?, Montreal 2002, etc.
If we don’t reach for larger than life moments, life just turns in to day to day drudgery and turmoil. In fact, I wrote to a friend today, finally communicating info I had neglected to impart based on a recent compliment that I am a light in his life. After I wrotea and sent the communication, I looked up my Free Will Astrology for this week (don’t eye roll, it’s philosophical) and realized I had just done what was advised:

“Life is inviting you to decode riddles about togetherness that could boost your emotional intelligence and earn you the right to enjoy lyrical new expressions of intimacy. Will you accept the invitation? Are you willing to transcend your habitual responses for the sake of your growth-inducing relationships? Are you interested in developing a greater capacity for collaboration and synergy? Would you be open to making a vulnerable fool of yourself if it helped your important alliances to fulfill their dormant potential? Be brave and empathetic, Sagittarius. Be creative and humble and affectionate.” (Ron Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology)

To which I tell Jane Campion, yes, Jane, it’s totally worth it.

Next I’ll try to get a hold of her film Bright Star about the poet John Keats which I almost saw in 2003.

Carpe Diem.