Monday, June 10, 2019

Such a Strange Vibration, People in Motion

Come, come, step out of time with me, a magical place we can and will be, a part of, you'll see. Mountains rise to meet the sea; houses with witch hats and proletariat speak-easies -- a crowd of semi-strangers clustered in an attic space giving and receiving the performance art of their lives. Simpsons references fly fast as skateboard wheels fly off, off the rails, off the trolley rails, blinking three-eyed fish in a barrel. Jump out of the closet space and scream, home again, home again -- there ain't no place like it.

I moved to New York City with an idea of myself living in New York City -- substitute the people I saw in movies, Bette Midler and Humphrey Bogart, plastered over my face. It's what we all do when we go to college, move away -- new friends, new me, and maybe the somebody inside. You figure you'll make their acquaintance as they come to you, as if a dream, awoken by fresh sunlight coming from fresh angles. I am now this thing, this place, defined by my contours like piping hot liquid poured into a fashionable mold. Ahhh, we say, the steam rebirths us.

The definition of ourselves by our borders, shaped by our container. I am these skyscrapers, this wall at the museum, that patch of grass behind that tree at the old park nobody knows about, or pretends not to.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco is about a man figuring out he's more than the sum of his storied spaces -- the city he moves through, the histories they hold, they are not all him. He's been telling himself for so long that this one thing is him, or this one thing could be him, that he's turned his world into a surreal fairy tale, brimming with big characters, bookish and outlandish and strangely referential, when even he knows, better than most, that he's stacking up bits of air, fragments of cloud, to keep out the weather.

San Francisco is a stormy town, fit to pique, you need a flannel to sweat in the sunshine and the rains come like clockwork, wrong twice a day. The Greek Chorus on the corner, playing the same melody nightly for a price -- drop a dime in and you'll see -- are getting rusty from it; they wash out to sea, foaming at the mouths. They cannot help you -- the water's gone rotten, green from armageddons.

This film's this year's miracle, a one of a kind wonderment, drifting like music up and down the hillsides and making the flat shapes quake with magic, shoot up the opposite of horizontal, smack you in the soft face. It's a cool calm hand at the cheekbone at fifteen miles per hour -- keep pace alongside, your retro suit jacket flapping in its oceanic algorithms. It spoke kind to me for two hours; I pray return the favor.

1 comment:

par3182 said...

sometimes i worry i'm going to be more moved by your review than the movie

you are so good at this