Sunday, September 13, 2009

one foot in reality

the other in fantasy. that's the way it's always been, fascinated first by picture books, then by the movies.

when i was very little, four or five, a member of my father's church owned a movie theater. he said i could watch whatever i wanted, whenever, free. and i'd wander in, sit down and absorb the mysteries of hopalong cassidy, the prince and the pauper, and inside the theater and outside all become one.

using the fancier term, i still love films. as a student in berkeley i visited studio a and b, the pics chosen by a local, pauline kael, who later became a famous critic ('i lost it at the movies', etc). she played every classic: 'children of paradise', 'the naked night', 'streetcar named desire'. european and american, they flooded my imagination. and even now as i talk about them, i'd rather be in a movie than sitting here on a mountain.

actually, i almost was, in a movie, here where i'm writing, as the fall weather rolls over me and the sky clouds up. a columbia crew came from hollywood, rented my clothes, painted the inside of the lookout, and for four days on two weekends in october i lived the life of a fellini character, hot lunches for all on the edge of the cliff. kevin bacon starred. we'd be talking and he'd be called. i'd never seen anyone focus so quickly.

they had a terrible time with the film. the producer a lawyer who knew nothing about the business. he'd sit in his chair like a lord mayor, making everybody nervous. and they complained about his cheapness, his willingness to spend only forty thousand dollars a day.

and in the end, they filmed the rest of it in new zealand and never released it into theaters, the lookout scene cut, after all that. maybe you can find it. 'whitewater summer' that's what it was called.

so at four and five i slipped into the darkness whenever i wanted, and at six i wanted to be an actor. alas, as soon as my mother wanted me to memorize the poems of winnie the pooh, i knew it to be too much work. besides, i wanted to repeat my own words, not the words of others, and i did monologue performances for the neighborhood instead.

of course, i wanted to rival my father's sermons, a habit i've never lost. and i keep learning lessons from the silver screen myself. after a viewing i absorb the energy of the principal actor and walk like him/her, talk like him/her, all the next day, one foot in reality, one foot in fantasy.

here are a few examples of dreaming a life away:

i can't recommend it too highly.