Friday, April 14, 2017

Hi-Ho From the Starship Bridge

Gemini, pace yourself, as you have a lot to do. You might feel as if something is bothering you on a subconscious level, which could be driving you much more than you are aware. Your anger is close to the surface.

And when my anger is closest to the surface, I seek out friends who make me laugh. Tonight, that was Pru and Beau as we headed to the VMFA for the James River Film Fest's final screening of "Truffaut Hitchcock," the kind of film that causes film nerds (and, as it turns out, people of a certain age) to congregate.

I was necessarily being collected at an early hour because of my refusal to conform. When Beau and I conferred about tonight's longstanding plans, I insisted on a slightly earlier time because I needed to pick up my ticket at the member services desk before the documentary.

They, on the other hand, had printed their tickets at home. Not my style.

A ticket, a real ticket, is a souvenir of an experience. I have tickets going back to the '70s that remind me of shows and plays, but it's also the retro aspect that keeps me from printing out a ticket. Mainly, it's the fact that I don't want my entire life standardized and printed on 8 1/2 by 11" sheets of paper.

We'll just call it a quality of life issue.

Heading to the museum, we immediately dove head first into a discussion about the difficulties of living with someone after becoming accustomed to living alone. Pru was the first to admit that her eccentricities have been showing, while Beau politely reminded her that everyone involved was already well aware of them.

Mine continue to come to light the more often I invite friends to stop by.

"Truffaut Hitchcock" turned out to be a cinema buff's movie, a film about film-making, one that covered Hitch's emphasis on style, how he was responsible for the "auteur" philosophy - that a director controls the artistic statement - with his ability to "write" with the camera and how he believed that logic was dull.

Tell me about it.

In addition to Truffaut and Hitchcock's conversation, so many good directors testified: Richard Linklater, Martin Scorcese, Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Schrader, among others,expounded on subjects such as how perverted "Vertigo" is (very), how Hitch deliberately made movies that played to 2,000 people, not just one and how "Psycho" was the first movie clearly drawn from the real world, so all the more disturbing for it.

One particularly satisfying takeaway is that cinema is a visual art form firmly rooted in silent films, so the long takes and leisurely pans that today unnerve and bore millennials actually make sense when referencing earlier eras. As one of our hosts pointed out, today's films have a climax every two minutes.

I don't know about you, but I find that climaxing pace exhausting. At the very least, give me a refractory period before tossing out any more expectations.

The film left us absolutely certain of Hitch's genius, but also of Truffaut's recognition of that fact, despite his relative youth. Some men catch on more quickly than others, that's all I'm going to say.

From the museum we headed to Secco for a post-film supper among the West End types that Beau pegged as being in the wrong part of town ("She's got to get home to the Barbie Dream House," Pru quipped of a stylishly-cut blond in white shoes and pricey-looking togs) whom we ignored.

Instead, we savored a bottle of Cherrier Sancerre Rose and not even two weeks after the last time we'd had grilled asparagus with breaded fried egg, oops, Pru and I had it again. Twice. There was my smoked fish brushetta with creme fraiche (tasting like pure Sweden), a special of gnocchi with oxtail (decadent and homey simultaneously) and Beau's creative entree of fried lentil pakora with artichoke, mushroom and cashew ricotta (a master class for its marriage of flavors and contrasting textures), all of which returned to the kitchen licked clean.

Because Pru and Beau once lived across the hall from each other, they keep bringing up memories I couldn't even imagine.

"Remember back in the '80s when you and Robert used to have depressing parties?" Pru asked, recalling soirees where the men smoked pipes and mulled, the music was the "Blade Runner" soundtrack and Beau turned his living room into a starship bridge ("Of course you did," Pru sniffed), whatever that might be.

Pardon my optimism, but I can imagine nothing less appealing than heading to a depressing party, although fortunately, I hadn't been invited. Or maybe I would turn it into an upbeat party and ask for dancing instead of depression.

Our final stop was Can Can for dessert, although our mistake had been in forgetting that they had an absinthe drip or we'd have headed there directly. Despite the late hour, our barkeep happily delivered chocolate fudge pudding cakes and three absinthe drips: two made with Trinity and one old school style, made from Grand Absinthe.

My only complaint was that he didn't do the drips in front of us for the pleasure that affords.

Extolling the sublime marriage of absinthe and chocolate, he became the enabler who fueled our last few hours, including procuring a baguette for the happy couple. Inexplicably, the baguettes we'd seen lolling in a basket behind the bar earlier were tossed when the kitchen closed, despite customers who wanted to purchase them. Go figure.

Appreciating the need to pace myself, I shared my second absinthe drip with Pru as the bar began to empty out and I ignored a restaurant owner leering from a nearby stool as he sipped a glass of red wine. Had ours been a depressing party, I might have asked him to join us. I didn't.

I'm pacing myself so my eccentricities don't show any more than they have to. I've been warned I have a lot to do.

Color me ready to do it.

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