23 April 2007

Weekend Events

Friday Night I attended a book reading of Mirabai Starr for her translation of Saint Teresa of Avila's The Book of My Life. Since we got married at Saint Teresa in Bodega Bay I have become more and more enlightened of this wonderful saint. And so when I learned of this reading I was very excited to go and to learn more. Ms. Starr explained how Teresa of Avila was often accused of being a heretic during the Spanish Inquisition and yet she went on to be canonized by the Catholic Church. How she also was a contemporary and friend of St. John of the Cross and how they shared a correspondence only to have John (who was 27 years her junior) burn all of her letters after her death. I questioned the author if she had had the opportunity to visit our local St. Teresa Church and she was not even aware of it, but as the next day was one of the only free days of her tour she hoped to do so. St. Teresa of Avila Church in Bodega California is a historical landmark, having been built in 1862 and was even photographed by Ansel Adams. It is also famous for being in several scenes of Hitchcock's The Birds. After the reading we could not help ourselves from taking the ten mile drive to the church just to stand on her humble porch and gaze at the crescent moon and starry sky.

On Saturday I had to get some blood work done. Since my dad's stroke and resultant diagnosis of diabetes, I had been wanting to get checked, even though I was sure my cholesterol numbers would be a cause for concern. And they were. But just a bit. "Borderline high". So now I have one more reason to start exercising and eating better. Oh joy!

Next we did some shopping and had lunch at Sushi Hana. Yummy miso soup, Kiran beer, hirami, California Rolls and many oyster tempura, put my fasting metabolism right back on track. Now I was ready for a nap.

Later we watched Notes on a Scandal the latest Judy Dench movie. I love Judy Dench and I'd been looking forward to seeing this movie ever since since was nominated for an Oscar for her leading role. The previews looked like it would be a departure from the roles I'd seen her in before. And it was.

In her role as Barbara, an over-bearing, moralistic and selfishly-motivated manipulator, she showed her wide-range of acting abilities. The movie showed a spot-light on the uglier side of humanity and relationships. Barbara's harsh judgments of her students and co-workers were starkly recorded in her voluminous journals. Outside of that she maintained an external appearance of a cold and detached woman, one who was loath to show any vulnerability. When she catches the new art teacher, played by Cate Balnchet, in an indiscretion with a 15 year old student, she abandons her feigned moral highground and uses it as a means to manipulate the art teacher, Sheba.

Sheba appears to be a woman out of touch with good-judgment and out of control of her emotions. She is not without fault by any means, still as fallen as she may be, Barbara's manipulation of her almost causes one to feel a smidgen of sympathy. But in fact, at least to me, none of these characters deserve one bit of sympathy. Not even the 15 year old boy who at one point begs Sheba not to end the affair, and yet soon after learning of her disabled son and the realization that Sheba is a real person with real human problems, he casts her aside with the compassion of a child breaking a toy that has lost its entertainment value.

That this story is set in contemporary London allows for a principally British phenomenon of two-faced, inter-personal relationships of exterior pleasantries which only slightly obscure the underlying disdain. Whereas, in America, the harsh reality of judgments and malign would have been more in-your-face.

I speak from experience. Barbara is a British female form of a White Fang; someone who uses any number of sureptitious means to gain some sense of control over someone else. The only difference is that while Barbara had some truly criminal information which she should have brought to the attention of the proper authorities and did not, White Fang had no such evidence despite his prolonged and strenuous efforts to gain some. And in the absence of such, simply made up some psuedo and imagined character failings and spewed his infectious venom in public forums.

Overall, the movie was not a feel-good movie of my taste and preference, though well acted, not one of my favourites. And it gave me bad dreams.

On Sunday we watched To Sir With Love on TCM channel. It was the perfect antidote for Notes. Poitier is a doll.

Later, we watched U.S. vs. John Lennon. Well, this movie broke my heart even if it did not surprise me by its content. What an important documentary. The directors David Leaf and John Scheinfeld are to be commended for this historical and vital work. Leon Wildes is a national hero to me for his representation of the Lennons in their immigration legal wranglings. Lennon loved America and showed his love for its ideals by fighting the forces of evil that hounded him.

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