Conversations with dad, who died many years ago

When I go to the potty, I take my phone with me. On it, I either scroll mindlessly through facebook and instagram or read a book I’ve been trying to read for like two years. This is not a fact that you need to know but it might be important later, if you stick around reading this.

Neutral Milk Hotel is playing in the house. I am alone, so it echoes.

Two headed boy. You should listen to that song. It’s nice.

I was watching the Godfather this morning. It’s the first thing I did this morning when I woke at 4:30 AM. Then I watched The Godfather Part II. Only my dad would’ve understood such an act of absolute anarchy. I remember watching films with him at absolutely any time of the day. He liked The Godfather a lot! And Brooke Shields was his favorite actress (because my grandfather liked The Blue Lagoon a lot, thinking that it was a soft porn film. I guess my father, like all other fathers before him, couldn’t help but be influenced by his father, even if their fathers made everything beautiful into something cheap. I really should rewrite this last sentence.) Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about.

Brooke Shields had nothing to do with The Godfather, at least nothing that I know of. It’s just a fact that I remember about my dad and my dad’s dad.

I couldn’t help but think of my father while watching The Godfather. He would make sounds of approval on great dialogue (“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”), he would point out when he thought a scene was rather well shot, he would recount life-lessons that he’d thought the film related (this is my father I am talking about here, The Godfather couldn’t’ve pointed out scenes in The Godfather). He (again, my dad) really thought of himself as a hybrid of Vito and Michael Corleone. Sometimes he would look at me as if I was turning into Fredo – this is a reference that only the ones who remember the film would get. And having looked at me, he’d shake his head. I remember his constant disapproval and his constant pride in my existence. I hadn’t done anything to earn either, I had just existed.

I was in sixth grade when I saw the boobies of the heroine in The Godfather. It’s the sex scene when Michael gets married in Sicily. I am told that a George Clooney picture called The American shows the boobies of the daughter of the girl whose boobies we see in The Godfather. My father could not see The American, he wasn’t around. It would’ve been a very weird, very pervy, full circle otherwise. I have.

While watching The Godfather this morning, I was struck by several nuances that Francis Coppola thought of while making the film. The minutiae, like hundreds of extras at a party, so the party feels real, or the man who jumps thrice in the streets as they mock celebrate Cuba’s revolution or Kay’s fight for her freedom and everyone’s disgusting disregard for all the women in the films, or all the scenes where Michael talks to his mother.

When I notice these things, I feel like I want to talk to someone about them. Who better than a die hard fan of the film? Who better than my father?

But he is dead. It’s been six years. He and I used to fight a lot. I was always right, like Kay. He was always wrong, like, I don’t know, Fredo? or like the guy who thought that The Godfather video game was a good idea. Point is I don’t have a good candidate to talk to and point out all the things I found worth pointing out today. And just for this reason, I miss him. He was such an asshole to me and I honestly miss him.

So now I go for a walk in the evening, thinking I have wasted the entire day watching films that I first saw when I was reading Asterix and watching He-Man cartoons. Afterwards, my tummy decides, as it happens with all men who have walked for an hour having eaten a big lunch and have also seen The Godfather, that I must take a shit.

This is where I was for the last 20 minutes. I did not take my phone with me this time. For the first three-ish minutes, my fat ass deplorably trumpeted my lack of dignity, but after that my brain took over.

I have realized, as an outcome of the last approximately sixteen and a half minutes of closed room introspection, that The Godfather is a great film, Part II as well, and that I have not addressed my father’s death, I have denied myself proper grief, mourning, and have brain-blocked all versions of sorrow that such facts ensue. Sometime, I really should deal with it – the dad bit, not The Godfather.

Lost in my thought I forgot to skip Oh Comely, which is such lazy songwriting and I really despise it. Ghost is just done and Untitled is going to start in a second. Untitled is my favorite track in Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Despite Oh Comely, it’s a great album. You should listen to it, sometime.

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The Aaron Sorkin Interview from ILM/LucasFilm Speaker Series

The Social Network, again. I continue to be fascinated by how they did it.

I swing between regarding Sorkin as a genius and someone with no respect for the medium of film. Film should be a healthy marriage of show and tell, visuals and talk – his writing is almost the exact opposite, the extreme end of too much talk. But, the words work so well together that  you can close your eyes and just listen to the dialog. So, either Sorkin just wrote the way he did, without any respect for the grammar of cinema (which is what most hacks do) or he understood it so well, saw it so clearly that he could play with it the way he wanted to (it almost always takes a genius to do that). Whichever way you look at it, it is very clear that directing material like Sorkin’s is a very very tough job. His material has led to invention of film-devices like the “walk & talk“! (BTW: would you call it a “trope”? It’s more like a narrative device, but, for film…ah! forget it) Here is a great sampler from 30 Rock where they do the walk & talk with Aaron Sorkin himself in the cameo – “We don’t need two metaphors, that’s bad writing, not that it matters…” – comedy gold!

I had seen Mike Nichols’ Charlie Wilson’s War and that made me think “How could Sorkin write something so big, so grand in scope and still be meticulous enough about the small moments?” However, all in all that film did not have as big an impact as The Social Network did. Maybe it was some nuance in the writing or maybe it was the director. I’ll go with the director there. (please don’t misunderstand me, I think Nichols is a great director in his own right, Closer is proof and so is The Graduate, Catch 22 etc.)

So, Sorkin material is tricky. Which is why I feel that Sorkin should only work with people like David Fincher, who can carve a fiercely visual experience out of his words. Somehow I think Fincher is a lot more fierce, emotional and personal about making his films. He tries harder, fights harder, goes nastier and so on. And I feel that it shows.

I keep going back to Zodiac for David Fincher with the same kind of awe that I felt for CWW and Sorkin. How did he do it? How could he be so grand in scope, yet so mindful of the smallest details? Also, I keep watching The West Wing, Studio 60, Sports Night for Aaron Sorkin’s writing, trying to make sense of it all.

Then I see The Social Network.

We can all get into arguments about the events around Facebook were not as big a deal as the events around Afghanistan and that that would in turn affect the film that got made, but, it would be a moot discussion. The point is that regardless of the subject, Fincher and Sorkin have always been able to treat it (the subject matter) well, break new ground and deliver gold. And to do that well you need to know you stuff really-really well.

And that, is genius.

So, when in this interview I heard Sorkin talk about the mechanics of doing it, how he came to write The Social Network, how Mike Nichols and David Fincher treat his work (and what they bring to the table) and how they worked with the actors on the material, I was, as I said before, fascinated.

At the time of this post, embedding is disabled on these videos, therefore I’ll directly link to the videos (that’ll open in a new tab/window). Here we go:

  1. Part 1 of the interview,
  2. Part 2 of the interview,
  3. Part 3
  4. and Part 4.

Fascinating! 🙂

S.

Off we go!

I

“The ball is round, a game lasts 90 minutes, everything else is pure theory. ”

Josef (Sepp) Herberger (1897-1977)

This line is also a part of the sequence that opens Run Lola Run (w./d. Tom Tykwer, 1998).

II

The film however open with another Sepp Herberger quote:

“Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel”

After the game is before the game.

Before this game there was another one. After this game there will be another one.

Some say that the complete “ball-is-round” quote was: “The ball is round so that the game can change direction…”

again:

The ball [earth] is round, a game [life] lasts 90 minutes, everything else is pure theory.
The ball is round so that the game can change direction…
After the game is before the game.

III

Once, in the film a desperate Lola asks “What should I do? What should I do?”
…and eventually answers herself “I’ll just keep running…” […for it’s the best she could do.]

Life’s getting tough, the ball is round, before this game there was another, after the game is before another, what should I do?

The best that I can.

So off we go!