Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Living More

Seeing is not the same as seeing a long-time girlfriend.

So while I'd seen her just this past Friday at the VMFA, we hadn't had a chance to catch up then and it had been far too long since we had.

I picked her up at work and we touched down just in time for happy hour at an uncrowded bar that quickly became a lot more crowded.

It's such an estrogen release to rant and ramble for ninety minutes and then just leave it behind with our empty glasses.

We had time constraints because she had to be back at work, so we had to cherry-pick our topics.

Of course she wanted to hear about my Mom's big birthday bash, mainly because she'd heard so many stories about a couple of my (ahem) "difficult" sisters who were there so she was curious about how it all went down.

I think I may have gotten the biggest laugh of all when I told her the home movies story, but then how often do you see images of you and your sisters opening Christmas presents inter-spliced with random footage of someone doing lines of coke under a "Happy New Year!" banner?

And, I might add, with a soundtrack behind it.

I think the story of how the New Year's tape got mixed in with my parents' home movies, converted to DVD and passed out at my Mom's party might have made her day.

Funny stuff.

We did our usual dissection of our lives, with her making a case for the always challenging "wait and see" method of handling life.

Like Cinderella, all at once she had to be swept away and back to work (although not to sweep out the ashes from the fireplace), our only delay being the Man About Town running after us as we exited the restaurant, wanting to say hello and share an upcoming art event.

Happily, I got her back to work before she turned into a pumpkin.

From there I made a mad dash to catch this week's VCU Cinematheque series offering, "Alexandra."

It was the story of a grandmother who comes to visit her grandson, a Russian army captain, at his military base during the second Chechen war.

Shot in beautiful sepia tones, the 100-degree heat is a palpable thing that Alexandra just can't get used to as she wanders first around the base and then into town to the marketplace to see what she can see.

Naturally, the guards tell her not to leave the base but she wins them over by promising to bring back cigarettes and cookies.

We all have our price.

One very distinctive feature of the film was its slow and deliberate pace, which has the two male  VCU students on either side of me shifting non-stop in their seats throughout the movie in an attempt to stay awake.

Just for the record, that's their ADD and not because it wasn't a riveting film.

"Alexandra" was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes and ended up on many critics' best-of list.

But, despite being a war movie, there were no battle scenes, no fighting and no action except an old lady shuffling around a dusty camp and down a dustier dirt road.

And really, the film had as much to do with aging as with war, like when she and her grandson discuss life, she telling him that she wants to live more even though her body is aging quickly.

It's her years of experience talking when she advises the much younger man to use the privilege of changing your mind before it's too late.

Hell, who couldn't stand to be reminded of that lesson?

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