Thursday, September 13, 2018

Elementary, my Dear Freud

Leave it to Richmond to overreact before Flo even touches down.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as concerned about the potential damage of a Category 3 storm as much as anybody along this part of the east coast. Who wouldn't be terrified reading that they've measured 83' waves under the northeast quadrant of Hurricane Florence?

But did we really need to start canceling events tonight, before Florence even makes landfall? Mac and I had plans to stroll over to the ICA for "The Future is Afro-Femme: New Negress Film Society" to take in a variety of short indie films presented by the New York-based film collective, but VCU squelched that by closing down tight, effective tonight through Sunday.

Seriously, VCU?

The weather has been brooding all day. When I left for my walk, the top third of the Art Deco Central National Bank building was shrouded in fog, as was the crane looming over the Dominion HQ being built downtown (because, of course Virginia's shadow government needs to have the tallest building in the city). The canal was unusually high, with not a duck in it. Brown's Island felt like a pressure cooker it was so oppressive and the James was lapping over the pipeline.

Not one to be daunted by impending weather, Mac and I simply made other plans. No one's going to take away our evening if we can help it.

When she came to pick me up, she was frazzled, having had to run the gauntlet of crazed drivers headed to and from the grocery store in addition to the usual September problems brought on by students who can't walk, much less drive, impeding traffic at every turn and making her late. Put another way, Mac is an easygoing woman who showed up at my house frustrated by the short drive from Byrd park to J-Ward.

By the time we made it to 821 Café by the most circuitous route imaginable, she was saying she'd be needing a drink with dinner. For Mac, that's a major indicator.

My problem was that after a busy afternoon with no breaks to snack, I was all but monosyllabic. When I realized that, I apologized, saying that a wise man once told me that if I'm quiet, it means one of two things: I'm hungry or I'm tired.

I got nearly nine hours last night, so clearly my issue was food, a problem easily corrected with a half order of black bean nachos while Mac tried to forget about the legions of bad drivers with a BLT and a cocktail. By the end of the meal, we were both in happier moods.

And little did I know, but there was laughter in our future, too.

Walking down the aisle to find seats at the Byrd, we passed an older man sitting in one of the raggedy old seats. Since the theater was uncrowded, it seemed like an odd choice. Why have a spring poking at your butt when you can sit in a wide, comfy new seat? Apparently the man realized this and moved to a seat in front of us, despite the hundreds of free seats not near others. Once the lights went down, he slid down in his seat and promptly went to sleep, only occasionally rousing himself for a moment before dozing off again.

I can't explain 'em, I just observe 'em.

As for our reason for being there, I'd suggested seeing "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution," not because I'm a Sherlock Holmes fan but because it was a 1976 movie - a period of filmmaking I adore - and the cast was fabulous.

From Broadway star Nicol Williamson - whom I'd seen at the Kennedy Center in the '70s in "Rex" - to Vanessa Redgrave ("her head of flaming red hair was celebrated on four continents"), not to mention a dapper Alan Arkin in a handsome beard (as Sigmund Freud), a young Robert Duval as Watson, Joel Gray as a bad guy and even Sir Laurence Olivier as the real villain, it was a primo group of acting talent.

So while I'd chosen it for the era and the actors, the movie ended up being downright hilarious, which I hadn't expected at all. Because I don't know the Sherlock Holmes canon, I have no clue whether or not Holmes is always played as an understated and droll wit with encyclopedic knowledge and a magnifying glass.

Even the credits made us laugh. "The story is true...only the facts have been made up."

As I anticipated, the movie melded the Victorian period squarely with the '70s, as evidenced by the décor, costumes and especially the women's hairstyles. Watson's drawing room looked like a cross between an antique store and a fern-filled college dorm circa 1972. Dated lines like, "The ladies do seem to cause trouble, don't they?" reeked of SOP male chauvinism.

Even the story about Holmes being addicted to cocaine seemed straight out of the Studio 54 era, as did his reason for taking it up: "to relieve the ennui." The struggle is real.

But the visuals were wonderful, from a sword fight atop a steam engine train to a library with a two-story bookshelf to a scene of Lipizzaner stallions attempting to trample our heroes inside a large building. Can't say I recall the last time I saw horses used as killing machines.

Best of all, the film ended with Holmes cured of his cocaine addiction and persecution complex by Freud. He then takes off alone on a cruise, where he just happens to find himself on a deck chair next to Vanessa Redgrave's character, Lola Devereaux.

Lola: Journeys alone are always so tedious, don't you find? Specially when they are long.
Holmes: Will this be a long journey?
Lola: That all depends. But I do think it will seem shorter if there are two of us, don't you?
Holmes: I hope it will not seem too short.

I have it on the best authority that the best journeys are neither short nor solo. As for relieving ennui, everyone knows only boring people get bored.

No comments:

Post a Comment