Saturday, June 2, 2018

Thunder Only Happens When It's Raining

Seeing the same movie twice in ten days? Oh, please.

Do I sound like I have any extra time? Au contraire. Is this an issue for me? Not for a second. So when I repeat a film so quickly, it's easy to assume that it's a slightly trashy guilty pleasure, likely something in the RomCom wheelhouse. Except no.

I mean yes, there's romance, but the real draw is the rarity of seeing onscreen women - ranging in age, mind you, from 65 to 80 - portrayed as smart, accomplished, funny and, most unlikely of all, sexual beings. It's four actresses giving effortlessly authentic voice to an age usually relegated to characters who are wise or cranky/funny, but rarely shown as objects of desire.

And I've got no idea how much work these actresses have had done, because it wasn't about their physical condition so it doesn't matter. It was about interesting women, none of whom were at their first rodeo and all of whom were fully formed characters. Like all my girlfriends and all five of my sisters.

It's ridiculous how refreshing it is to see such characters onscreen, even with the prerequisite reminders that oldsters aren't pros with technology (there's a difference in being adept and being addicted, just sayin'). Generally, you have to look at French films for sexual depictions of women of an age, something American films shy away from.

So, yes, I returned for another dose of age-appropriate romance and friendship but I'm here to say there's no shame in that and if there is, I don't care. If it happened more regularly, I wouldn't be so excited.

Besides, it's not like I didn't eventually head to Gallery 5 for First Friday and a little live music. And since it was after 9, the line in front of G5 was 20 people deep but what's a little queue time but a chance to talk to strangers?

The first words out of my mouth when a fresh-faced young woman joined the line behind me was, "Now those are impressive! Looks like something we wore to clubs back in the late '70s," referring to the silver lame gaucho pants she had on.

"Why, because they're comfortable?" she wanted to know. No, because they're glitzy and looked cool on the dance floor, grasshopper. That they were totally synthetic meant they were also hot as hell to dance in, so definitely not comfy.

Turns out she was from Nashville, here two years and liking it because Richmond has so many fewer addicts and alcoholics, at least according to her. "Here you smile at someone and if they smile back at you, it's a real smile. In Nashville, it's a mask to hide something." Deep stuff in line. Even so, she acknowledged that Richmond is not her forever place, though she senses someplace like Santa Fe or Morrocco is.

Unless you go there and decide to come back here like so many other people do, I tell her to laughter. She has a million questions about Gallery 5 shows and she's run into just the right person to fill her in until we made it inside.

First up was locals Fat Spirit, pulling from post punk, with some shoegaze and psychedlia thrown in and making me smile as I heard references to bands from multiple decades.  Some guy near the front kept heckling, insisting that he wanted to get onstage and sing a song. Finally, the lead singer told him to just stop asking because the sound guy had said no, but it had to be annoying.

During their last song, my Nashville friend tapped me on the shoulder and said bye. Godspeed, newcomer.

During the break between bands I went upstairs to see an exhibit about urban heat and vulnerability in Richmond via a series of colored maps showing areas affected. Living, as I do, in the center of the city, I shouldn't have been surprised to see a map showing that J-Ward rated the highest vulnerability to urban heat or another indicating how small its tree canopy is. And don't get me started on our high percentage of impervious surfaces.

My kingdom could use more green.

This wall full of maps only confirmed what I already knew: when it's hot in the Ward, it's far hotter than in many areas of the city. For the record, this is why I've taken heat naps two of the past three days.

Back downstairs, I found a prime spot to watch Philly's glammy Sixteen Jackies, a quartet with an eye for rock fashion. Joey, the lead singer, wore a gold lame top belted at the peplum over a three-tiered flounced black skirt. Oh, and pearls.

If he wasn't a former theater kid, he missed a golden opportuntiy.

One guitarist resembled no one so much as the Who's Roger Daltrey during his white t-shirt, shoulder length curls and sunglasses phase, while the other nailed the British invasion look with a dark, flowered shirt, white scarf around his neck and mop top hair hanging in his eyes as he played. The drummer was no more than a head of long blond hair flying side to side.

Adorable doesn't begin to describe them. The singer's voice was part sweet sing-song and part ferocious growl with everything in between set to highly theatrical charisma: swiveling hips, drops to the floor, belt twisting, grand arm gestures and moments of speed shredding.

Once the band had exchanged instruments, it took a while for the mostly young crowd to realize the band was covering Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams," but no time at all to see how singer Joey was masterfully channeling his inner Stevie Nicks for the song.

Now here you go again, but could there be a more age-appropriate way to spend a sticky June night than listening to a song from my youth sung by an earnest band of young Philadelpheans? Not tonight anyway.

It's just too bad the depiction of older woman as smart, accomplished, funny and sexual left out the part where they can't resist a little hip-shaking in a sweaty building if it means hearing live music. That kind of older woman.

Hopefully coming soon to a theater near me.

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