you can rest easy.
after last week’s threat-filled dilemma, i’m back to my usual self.
having feared for the very life of cinema itself, i spent almost six hours in two separate darkened rooms today, watching a brand new movie, and one that’s over a quarter of a century old.
both were magnificent.
i had never seen bergman’s ‘fanny and alexander’, so when the opportunity arose at the rather lovely duke university free screen society to see it on a nice public screen, i made plans to be there. i need to think about it for a while before i say anything else, so let this suffice: i think i saw something wonderful tonight, and imagine i feel somewhat differently about the world than bergman. the notion that you can never be free of your ghosts seems to me not to chime with reality. people make peace with the past all the time. i hope that bergman’s life was less debt-ridden than his art.
and the other film, much less serious than bergman’s, but nonetheless beautiful – scorsese’s rolling stones’ concert film ‘shine a light’ – an exhilirating, exuberant, often hilarious and incredibly exciting film. i was the only guy in the audience and was delighted. the sound’s great, and the images are utterly cinematic – i couldn’t quite figure out why this movie was restoring (some of) my faith in cinema, but then i realised that these boys are ultimately some of the world’s consummate performers. they belong on a movie screen.
charlie watts is the eric morecambe of rock’n’roll, doing comedy huffs and winks at the camera, and needing to be helped down off his rostrum. mick is old enough to be your grandad but more alive than most teenagers. ronnie wood is the sniggering kid, hiding his smokes from his mum, and looking down girl’s blouses. and keith – well, it’s easy to lionise the guy (and demonise too), but i’ll stay out of that. let’s just say this: he knows he’s lucky to be alive, and seems to spend most of his time in a state of stunned enjoyment. there’s a moment at the end of the movie
when the music is done, and he’s kneeling on the ground, holding the neck of his guitar, his eyes closed and lips pursed in an obvious prayer. in four years’ time, the stones will have been together for fifty years. there’s not a lot about their music that could be called socially mature, but they’ve been expressing truth and angst about the human heart for as long as i’ve been alive, and half as long again. and scorsese has made a gorgeous, thrilling film about them.
and in a weird confluence, both of the films i saw today are in some part about the same thing: the role women play in men’s lives. it’s been a very good day at the movies for me.