Saturday, March 16, 2019

I watched "On the Waterfront" again last night

I don't think I'd seen it since
my college years - all the sad
debris of anticommunist hyster- 
ia, clinging to it for so long.

Plus there was dread of Brando,
of course, possibly not seeming
so excellent after all our prog-
ress in whatever-it-is in which
we're reputed to've progressed.

And worry, too, for Schulberg's
notorious longwinded dialogues,
and whether Leonard Bernstein's
jagged edges in his score would
be even more intrusive nowadays.

The movie is intensely didactic,
political, simplistic, and just
primordially brilliant. Just as
the impression threatens to set-
tle in, that this is not a film
at all, but a stage play, there
are flashes of a bond between ac-
tor, script, and director which
a camera must not only capture,
but compose. These many inter-
ventions seem to cast the movie
into a third category, without
a label. But it does have a name.

Roger, pay the $2.00, as Jesse
Royce Landis counseled her DUI
son, Cary Grant for Hitchcock.

See Marlon Brando. One has to.

Elia Kazan
Budd Schulberg
On the Waterfront
Columbia, 1954©

Friday, March 15, 2019

An Ides of dangerous ideas

It's a pretty cool Ides of March
which can report even a delicate
an autocrat's arrogation of not
just every power, but every rep-
resentative voice of the State 
as his own. Few other than The 
New York Review might have been
ready for this, hence their of-
fer of readings to help us nav-
igate these straits with reason-
able awareness of where we are.

I chose Simone Weil, but I don't
know anyone who'd not be tempted
by Geoffrey Household's rollick-
ing good tale, about a Second A-
mendment Type on the prowl in Ba-
varia, or Kingsley Amis' hilari-
ous treatment of the chorister's
change of voice. It's not that I
mean to advance the fortunes of
an unsupervised press, on this,
of all feast days of autocracy's
comeuppance. It's that I'd rather
these occasions could be spotted
before a happier road is blocked.

Weil, whose essay on the Iliad
has drawn notice here, before,
was infamously brilliant and 
inveterately provocative; and
in a time when provocation a-
gainst intelligence is the
sworn policy, duty, and func-
ion of every Cabinet office,
I expect nothing less than a
rare revelry in her dexterity,
in avoidance of this conflict.

To be fair, it would waste her
utterly to measure challenges
she faced and posed, by the
decadence of the present con-
text. But why deny pleasure,
just because it's on sale?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Our Paul iii: Victim

At his second Federal sentencing
yesterday, tacking an additional
term of years upon his leasehold
of penal hospitality, our Paul
inspired the district attorney
for Manhattan to offer him some
indictments under New York law,
(an unutterably blunt restraint
upon our apostles of sleaze),
to spare him the embarrassment 
of any freedom inflicted by the
President, whose delirious, lum-
bering reach extends no further
than to the planet and the stars,
but not into the States. But that
was as far as our chronicling of
Paul's transfiguration as victim
of prejudicial prosecution could
extend, we thought, when we saw
a credible image, for a change.

Like the bourgeois boy with a
Day for Night, Sergio Larrain's
portrait of a Chilean child des-
cending a staircase, from about
ten years before, appears again
and again to the conscience as
a missive from a state of trust.

fering Valparaíso, the book he
designed for this photographic
project, in cloth at a discount.
What have we been spending, to
understand our glamorous liars?

Sergio Larrain
1931 - 2012

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Sunday nibbled sleeve vi: Manafort, and who's the wiser?

One does dislike any act of spoiling
someone's misery, but before address-
ing the inconsolable convulsions of
wretchedness abroad, on the sentenc-
ing of Paul Manafort by an ingenious
ments, one does have to satisfy one-
self on the matter of the convict's
lessons learned. For, who could have
failed to notice our Paul's indefat-
igability in perpetration of fraud,
even against the most knowing and
threatening blandishments of a plea
deal to the contrary? Even from the
supervisions of ankle bracelets and
penitential detention, how stoutly
he persisted in the pathways of his
nature, oblivious if not motivated
by the feebleness of restraint. Who
could bet, against this unblemished
conduct, he would change in any num-
ber of decades as our guest upriver?

And yet, with what higher intelli-
gence in the dispensations of juris-
prudence could his recidivist valor
meet its match in mockery of equal
justice under law, than in the hi-
larity of Judge Ellis' concession,
that not everyone would exult so
interestingly as he did, in wield-
ing his gavel with such obeisance 
to our Paul's dashing harmlessness?
What credit for time served must he
have discerned, in the repeating
whiteness in his repp-striped file?

We come, then, to the matter of a
widespread misery in the land, oc-
casioned by this latest courtroom
drama's inconclusive climax, not
that courts of law are structured
to procure anything else. Even the
nattiest divorce judgment is incap-
able of undoing the array of griev-
ances. But there's nothing like a
stark departure from the guidelines
in sentencing to call into question
the poignant futility of healing an
unflappable wretch like our Paul,
to the satisfaction of anyone we'd
like to know. The trial of hapless
Paul concludes as courts of law
are bound to permit at their best.
To draw misery from this irresolu-
tion is to lie beyond law's reach.
Who has seen the scales of justice?

Nan Wang x Karolina Kuras
National Ballet of Canada