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I am pleased to have seen last night, watching The Harvest, that extraordinary new actors are still being generated. I selected it partly to see more Samantha Morton (having just been wowed by the three-actor cast of Miss Julie), then couldn’t take my eyes off Peter Fonda as Maryanne’s grandfather. The boy, Charlie Tahan, was a marvel, reminding me appealingly of young Toby McGuire. The writing seemed non-existent at first but inexorably became brilliant, the surprises and twists unending: even when you think you’ve got it, major reversals are to come. But most impressive was the little girl, Maryanne, Adam’s young friend, Natasha Calis.
When I was a kid, WWII, Chaplin was immortal, ubiquitous, couldn’t be overrated (though, unknown to me, we had turned and kicked him in the teeth): and we also loved Shirley Temple, then Liz Taylor. Then we loved the kids in ET, and Dakota Fanning. More recently I’ve been addicted to lauding the hell out of Saoirse Ronan: now we’ve got Natasha Calis to demand the world of.
Media are stuffed with attractive models, last year’s beauty queen plays this year’s witch. Bogart was a matinee idol: put another year on him and he became the moron gangster, the thug: embodiment of male maleness. Take the young actress just mentioned, Natasha Calis: she’s pretty, slender pretty: so what? lots of girls are pretty: fat-pretty, slender-pretty. No, the great ones are pretty in extra dimensions, dimensions too complex to talk commonly about. She can do pretty, and she cn do slender, and young, and vulnerable, and scared shitless but still with a resource or two … Well, I segued right to another example, last night, 2015 09 18, sampling Mostly Martha, German film, about an up-tight chef whose neuroses we somehow enjoy: we meet her niece and wow, zowie, suck-away breath: awesome pretty. Maxime Foerste.
[Aye! I went and fetched a pic, now I don’t think it’s the child jut mentioned but another gorgeous child! Same movie though. How can these girls be so beautiful?]
And one of the things I enjoyed most about her, about the entire cast, all the chefs crammed in the kitchen, half the women pregnant, all attractive, mostly Germanic blond, Germanic brunette, one odd-species Italian … Culture clash, right there: put an Italian among a bunch of Germans and you’ve got comedy.
I long ago described taking artist Gatja Rothe, German galore, mezzotint artist, and her son, to Puglia’s, on Hester Street: Italian as Italian: singing waiters, pinching bottoms, garlic bread, mustaches in the wine: and my Germans’ jaws dropped at the Italian laissez-faire. Gatja, Peter were so funny, and didn’t know it. (The endless “Mario” waiters were funny, and did know it!)
I also want to note that benefit can derive from dipping into different talent pools on occasion. Talent from around the world accrues in Hollywood: and in London, and in Hamburg … After a while you’ve seen John Houston, and Humphrey Bogart, and Peter Lorrie (Irish, NY, German …) gathered as “Hollywood”; but have you seen Toho talent, Argentine talent … Bollywood …? In any case I found it refreshing to switch from “American” to “German”.
Funny, Friday night FrankE played Mac the Knife, I invited Helene, a German woman, to lindy, and as we did so I sang the Brecht lyrics to her, in German. She made no comment. She simplified things by not suddenly babbling at me in German, my non-facility would be been exposed. Which reminds me: once long ago Hilary (my wife) whispered in my ear at a party. She was whispering in German. I had no idea what she was saying, this was 1962 or ’63, and scowled at her. She leaned at my ear again and paraphrased whatever she’d said: still in German! I scowled at her some more. So she tried French: I got it, and responded, in French. (Whatever it was she’d aimed it to be private.) Later she asked me how come I hadn’t answered her German. “I don’t speak German”, I replied. “Of course you do”, she said: “I’ve heard you singing in German for hours and hours”. “Yeah”, I said: “from listing to the Lotte Lenya records over and over: but I have no idea what it means”.
(In 1965 or so I modified those in-abilities with a one month course on reading German. Two weeks of review and I took the Grad Record Exam in German, got a 630: not a bad score for a speaker of German! But I still can’t understand it spoken: except a little bit. But in a movie theater I’ll even understand a little bit of the Japanese, or the Spanish.)
That German-reading teacher was a truly great teacher, I’ll never forget him. (NYU was borrowing him from Barnard).)
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Keep your eye on Xzannjah Matsi. What a role she had in Mr. Pip!
2016 09 19 I was impressed by a pretty blond Swedith actress the other evening: she had a major scar on her lower face. Otherwise she was pretty, nice round bottom, ample bosom. The movie itself was such a stinker I don’t want to mention it by name: I’ll just say it was a Norwegian flick. She had the scar, she didn’t hide it, neither did she especially show it. Bravo for her.
Brings me back in one giant step to the early 1950s, Mad comix: lampoon of Gone with the Wind. The Clark Gable character calls hiw wife “ScarLip”: instead of “Scarlet”. That cracked me up, age twelve or so.
He’s leaving her, after she’s whored around: he’s leaving her penniless. “But Rhet,” she blusters, “at least give me a hydro-electric dam so I can get in the peanut crop.”
“Frankly, ScarLip,” Gable answers, “I don’t give a hydro-electric dam.” The most famous line in the movie mimicked as utter trash.
2016 09 19 I see so many movies these days I can’t keep track even of those I’m going out of my way to keep track of. I’m watching The Harvest, trying to jog my memory to recognize Natasha Calis. I don’t recognize anything: except Samantha Morton: and that’s because of a role she played as a girl: Minority Report.
Something tugs my attention away: oh yes, the awful movie with the ScarLip: the archeologist’s daughter gives him grief over everyting. He still protects her, feeds her, worries about her as a dad ought. No: if she doesn’t honor her role he might consider no longer honoring his. Dump her.
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