Saturday, July 24, 2010

Recovering From A "Virus"..Thoughts on Movies, Reading, and A Computer-less Week--Saturday Journal


I'm back....
Before my laptop computer contracted a disabling "virus" this past week, I had not considered how much time I had been spending at my keyboard, laboring at my writing and reading electronic images.

After I had posted my review of "The Kids Are All Right", a number of sinister messages kept popping up and preventing me from going on-line, or doing anything else on my machine.

I am not certain how this happened, but if you see any messages with the word "Antivir", then chances are you have been infected too.

I took my laptop in for servicing, probably a simple procedure, but with all of the others in line ahead of mine I had to wait a few days.

I am back on-line and thank those of you who have remained as followers during my unexplained absence.  I have a lot to catching up to do.

Here are a few random items that occupied my thoughts while I was computer-less....maybe some of these ideas will be worth developing later as essays in their own right:

---ON BEING WITHOUT THE WEB: It was a bit of a relief to have some of the control for my blogging taken away for a few days.  It forced me to attend to other things...and I slept a lot better this week.

---ON MY EMOTIONAL STATE WITHOUT A LAPTOP: I didn't realize how chronically anxious I had become, trying to meet self-imposed deadlines on posts I felt I just had to write, and pushing myself to publish in order to stay relevant, and not disappoint those who have expressed enjoyment of my writing.

---ON MISSING THE BLOG: Not everything I write appears on the blog; but I missed the format, and the immediate response and instant gratification of reader feedback.  Positive feedback is the fuel that keeps me going, and has always been.  Although I accept that I can't help it, at least now I can be honest about this quirk of mine.

---ON BOOK-READING: I have stopped reading books like I used to, and it's time to get back into that habit.  I have done copious reading on-line, which is effective in amassing a lot of information and keeping on top of a rapid world.  But for a depth of knowledge, for contemplating, mastering and synthesizing ideas, and for creative inspiration and a sense of exhilaration that comes with deep understanding, nothing for me beats continuous book-reading.

---ON ON-LOCATION SHOOTING:  Downtown Chicago was tied up and disrupted last week with the filming of  scenes from the new "Transformers 3" movie.  Why, I asked, didn't they just re-create the city through computer-generated effects?  Did the success of the film depend on a few minutes of shooting right here in the city?  I suspect not.  Neither the film nor the city of Chicago really needed one another.  If it were a story of some consequence or broader appeal, then I might have justified it....  "The Dark Knight" did not succeed or fail based on its Chicago barely registered in viewers' minds....

---MOVIE BLISS, '70's STYLE:  I regressed to some old favorites on the home screen: "Five Easy Pieces" reminded me of when a movie starring Jack Nicholson was important. His portrayal of Bobby Dupea is one of the most complex and appealing characters he has ever achieved.  It's a rare look at a man trapped between two worlds, and alienated from them both: the pretentiousness of the intelligentsia, and the numbing mediocrity of a specific blue-collar existence.  There is a lot here for even a modern young audience to appreciate, but how to provide exposure, create a desire to experience this film? 

"Dog Day Afternoon" is a deceptively rowdy tale of how  one man's life completely disintegrates in one day.  Al Pacino is inhabits Sonny with puppy-ish volatility.  We see layers of a disturbed life slowly revealed, yet find ourselves caring for him, wanting him to succeed with his schemes, if only because his motives, although misguided, are honest.  It is also pretty bold, for its time,  in its treatment of bisexuality and transvestism.  As it grows progressively dark, intimate, and tragic, it still has some exciting set pieces, including Pacino's classic "Attica" speech.

--ON JOHN CAZALE'S REMARKABLE BRIEF CAREER: John Cazale, who was involved for a time with Meryl Streep, and died of cancer very young, had arguably the most artistically successful movie career  any actor ever had.  He made only five movies in his lifetime...all 5 were nominees for Oscar's Best Picture.  In order: "The Godfather", "The Godfather Part II", "The Conversation", "Dog Day Afternoon", and "The Deer Hunter".

Coming up: "I Am Love"; "Inception" More Chicago Architecture; Personal Items from my Archives


  1. There was a fantastic doc on John Cazale playing on HBO about a month ago. It's not even an hour long, but what a fascinating movie! I feel the same as you regarding my book-reading. I'm forcing myself to get through True Grit, not because the book is terrible, but because I've just gotten out of the habit. (Great book, actually) And I, for one, thought the Chicago locations in The Dark Knight made the movie. It grounded it in reality and the ARCHITECTURE MY GOD THE ARCHITECTURE!

  2. Walter, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Please consider being my guest for a real look at the architecture of our city. You are hereby invited! If you appreciate good architecture you will be astonished.