Tuesday, August 2, 2016

If I Could Reach the Stars

I may officially be old. Today I joined the ranks of people who yell at policemen.

Walking on Leigh Street the past week and a half involves weaving in and out of scads of burgundy and gold-clad visitors hell bent on getting to Redskins Park, which is fine. I can cut around them and not break stride.

Except today a cop positioned on the southwest corner was not happy when I stepped off the corner before spotting traffic and retreating to the sidewalk. Instructions to stay were shouted at me.

But it was when I crossed without the light as far as the median strip that he started fuming, despite my clear sight line with not a single vehicle in the lane as far as Broad Street.

"Ma'am, I told you to stay on the corner!" he roared. Sir, I walk six miles every day, so I know when it's safe to cross the street, I yelled back.

"I could have you arrested for jay-walking! Wait for the crossing signal!" I did, but we had no further eye contact so I can't say how he reacted to my civil obedience. A look of superiority, perhaps?

As it turned out, today I also joined the ranks of people who know who Kristen Stewart is.

I managed to get all the way through Woody Allen's new film, "Cafe Society," with no clue who the actress playing the lead was. Not that it mattered, because I'd have had no greater appreciation for her minimal acting chops and vacant stare had I known she was part of the "Twilight" dysfunction.

In other disappointments, given the setting - Hollywood and New York City in the '30s - a person could be forgiven for expecting a reasonable facsimile of those two places to resemble old movies of that era, but a person would be sorely mistaken.

Yes, yes, I get it that Allen wanted every California scene bathed in a warm, glowing light to symbolize Hollywood's golden era, but, Woody, can we talk about those costumes? Those hairstyles? The wardrobe color palette? That make-up?

No woman in the '30s had Stewart's smoky eye make-up and au naturel lip color, much less that loose, unstructured hair style. Everywhere you looked, scene to scene, were women wearing the colors of the '70s (avocado green, burnt orange, harvest gold), hairstyles of the aughts and fabrics that did not exist for Depression-era women.

Hell, rayon wasn't even a thing until the '40s, Woody.

For anyone who's a student of fashion history, it was almost constantly jarring to see how few costumes actually recalled the '30s. Just as bad, the formidable undergarments that women of that time would have worn under everything were noticeably absent.

I can appreciate that as a filmmaker, the man always strives to come in on time and under budget, but don't do a period piece and have actresses wearing Brigitte Bardot up-sweeps and loose waves of hair like a Yardley model circa 1967.

On the other hand, the movie began with a jazz piece featuring clarinet and black and white titles, so from the first moments of the film, you entered Woody's world, a place I have willingly visited since the '70s. Many of the same old tropes remain steadfast - Jewish stereotypes, lots of talking about romance and relationships, a sense of place - while others get more grating with each new film.

Must he continue to cast pretty young things when they can't act or emote to save their lives?

Compensation for a so-so Woody Allen film came in the form of buttered popcorn and Milk Duds for dinner, and as Pru said about our choice to forgo the four main food groups for the snack group, "Is that bad?"

Daily, yes, occasionally, no.

Leaving the Criterion, she serenaded me with a surprisingly good imitation of Cher doing "If I Could Turn Back Time" and flipping her hair appropriately, something I couldn't have done in a million years.

Apparently it's only the missing six inches of height that keeps Pru from going into the Cher impersonator business and making a quick killing. When I suggest sawed-off stilts under an evening gown, she marvels, "Then my hair could be as long as me."

So tonight I was the Sonny to her Cher and we took the act to Quirk's rooftop bar, her first visit, conspiring with the elevator strategist who insisted on carding us before allowing us upstairs. Next time, he suggested sotto voice, come at the same time but on a night when the Diamond has fireworks.

"We've got a fantastic view!" he assured us.

This I already knew from my last visit - after all, who wouldn't want to admire Jackson Ward from above? - but it was Pru's first and it left her decidedly underwhelmed.

"I think it's cute that you like it so much," she teased after I pointed out the minarets of the Altria, the Belgian Friendship building from the World's Fair, the way it looked like Broad Street went right under the WTVR tower flashing barely two miles away.

Even though it was a repeat visit for me, I felt no more charmed by the scene than my first time, despite glasses of the lovely Raffault Chinon Rose.

Besides the unbearable heat around the bar, the crowd comes across as completely vapid and inane. A lot of straightened hair, a lot of gigantic purses. I overheard discussions of breathalyzers on two different levels of the lofty space.

We adjusted by taking a table facing West on the penthouse level to drink our Rose and dissect what will no doubt go down as a minor, late work of the master. An aging master.

I bet he's been yelling at policemen for years.

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