Doubt

Not having seen “Doubt” on the stage, and having read some reviews of the play that laud it over the film and remarks on some differences, I feel at a disadvantage discussing the film, but as John Patrick Shanley, the author, also directed the film, unless he privately changed the motivations of his characters during the shift from stage to cinema, then the unvocalized back story which cements the action should be one and the same. Even if the dialogue is different and the actors in the cinema version have colored and weighted the story elements differently than the stage version, we should find rectification in the film via Shanley’s symbolic choices and editing.

The opening story is this. One Sunday, the progressive Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) gives an impassioned and seemingly personal sermon on doubt, relating the tale of an experienced sailor who, having survived a ship wreck, finds refuge on a raft and sets his course by the stars just before a 20 day fog rolls in that will eventually leave the sailor in the troubled dark of doubting his course and his fate. During this sermon, the severe Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) is drawn out of her seat and progresses up the side aisle intentionally terrifying children into alert attention. Though the Father speaks of the isolation of personal doubt, such as doubt as a consequence of knowing one has done something wrong, he ends on the note that doubt is as strong a bond between people as is certainty–and as the sermon ends we see Sister Aloysius staring fixedly at the priest from the side aisle, as if an oppressive shadow opposing his empathetic and consoling spiritualism.

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Hollywood, Pavlovian Pups, and The Best Adjusted Nervous System Response Desired by Corporate Psychologists

I just watched a film short on Turner Classic Movies that was pretty interesting, titled “Of Pups and Puzzles”. The film was released Sept 1941 and thus predated, if by just a few months, the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into WWII, so it wasn’t your standard WWII patriotic oompahpah, though I felt the stars and stripes in a back closet chafing at the bit. Instead, the film’s focus was to educate the public on the advances of modern science and psychology in building imminent utopia, the subject that day being how “psychometricians” had perfected the ability of matching the applicant to the perfect job, which of course makes for a happy, jolly, no-complaints universe in which no one’s talents go unappreciated and even the stoop-shouldered depression era hobo would now be able to exchange his hobo bag for a proper lunch pail.

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George Pal’s “Time Machine”

“Let’s watch The Time Machine,” I’ve been encouraging H.o.p. for a couple of weeks, and he always declined, intent instead on working on his projects, not wanting to be distracted despite the fact it was directed by animator and special effects artist (hero) George Pal. Which surprised me as he loved Pal’s “War of the Worlds” and even did a short claymation several years ago attempting to copy a scene of a Martian emerging from his spacecraft.

Today, I finally just started the movie up and, as it turned out, the intro music was enough to catch his attention.

“Wow, I love the music,” he said, leaving his computer and shuffling over to mine as I was playing the movie on Netflix streaming.

I was curious what his response would be to “The Time Machine”, and how my memory of the movie would hold up as I’ve not had a full viewing of it since I was a child. The scene that had remained with me all these years was when the blond Eloi, sirens blaring, had become as somnambulists and walked en masse to certain doom through the mysterious sliding door of the Morlock den.

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Painted Desert Inn

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Painted Desert Inn, Stairway to Old Hotel Room Entrances
View On White

Was watching a little of the movie in which Judy Garland plays a Harvey Girl and was reminded of the Painted Desert Inn, which was a Harvey institution during the late 40s through early 60s. I returned to those photos and worked on a few more, including this one of a small external stairway that leads past entrances to a few of the old hotel rooms. Intended to be viewed large. Loads of grain.

Ben Hur

The other night I saw Ben Hur for the first time. Marty hadn’t seen it either and begged me several times to turn it off.

“Hnh? Gay!” I thought, watching Massalla (Stephen Boyd) and Ben Hur (Charlton Heston), or so it seemed to me, but this was crazy-making as I couldn’t see Charlton Heston knowingly playing gay subtext.

I also for some reason kept thinking, “Count of Monte Cristo.”

Afterwards I looked up Ben Hur, first the novel, which is a bad book that is composed of set-up and dialogue. Set-ups are down the order of “…Ben-Hur entered Ilderim’s tent. He had taken a plunge into the lake, and breakfasted, and appeared now in an under-tunic, sleeveless, and with skirt scarcely reaching to the knee.”

The kind of description that was passed off to me as writing when I was a kid, and it only makes sense that Ben-Hur reined supreme until Gone With the Wind, which at least added a little personality oomph.

The author, it seems, was partly inspired by “The Count of Monte Cristo” and had it in mind for much of the book.

Then I looked up the movie and found that Gore Vidal had been an uncredited screenwriter and that there was indeed a homosexual subtext and that Stephen Boyd was advised to play his part as a vengeful rejected lover while Charlton Heston was oblivious.

(I’ve not a clue when I originally saved this to post. Was moved up to the present unintentionally.)