The problem with staying at nice, semi-expensive hotels is that you’re always surrounded by couples in their late 60s and 70s, and more particularly by old balding guys in shorts and sandals with blotchy skin and knobby knees and bare feet. I’m sorry but something snapped when I was having breakfast this morning. Everywhere I turned I was looking at alabaster old-man toes encased in rubber sandals. I’m sorry but I can’t stand the company of older retired couples, or more precisely the metaphor that they convey. I like walking around Manhattan in the fall and winter with hard-working careerists and creatives and snappy-minded hipsters of whatever age with certain sense of style. And yet there I was this morning on the 14th floor, sipping coffee and quietly seething as I asked myself, “Why am I the only person in this hotel who’s wearing John Varvatos shoes with Urban Outfitter socks? Why does every person in this room appear to have never even considered distinctive apparel of any kind? Why do they all refuse to wear anything other than the standard golf shirt, shorts and sandals outfit?” I’m not trying to be amusing. I’m serious. It’s profoundly depressing to be around these people.
I’ll go with Haley Joel Osment seeing dead people in The Sixth Sense or Warren Beatty moving from body to body in Heaven Can Wait, but I won’t tolerate a little kid telling his parents what heaven is like in Heaven Is For Real (Sony, 4.16.14). Especially when the director is the stalwart and conservative-minded Randall Wallace (Secretariat, We Were Soldiers). Righties are such sentimental saps about Jesus and the flag and American exceptionalism and heaven. You know what happens when you die? Somehow or some way the human body delivers a kind of hormonal trigger that results in a brief sense of ecstatic destiny. And then it’s lights out, power off and a perfect serene sleep that you won’t wake up from. Well, you will in a sense because you’ll be reborn as a baby but it won’t matter because 99.9% of us don’t remember our previous lives so you might as well resign yourself to an eternal flatline.
I tried watching an episode or two of Amazon’s Alpha House last night but there were the usual streaming-from-overseas problems. I started to use the Tunnel Bear solution but then I made the mistake of lying down and that was all she wrote. Has anyone given it a whirl, and are there any reactions to share? A Gary Trudeau thing “skewering conservative stereotypes.” The reviews have been good. John Goodman sleeping in the shower. A Bill Murray meltdown cameo. Right up my alley.
For me Hue will always be the inferno-like, concrete-rubble city where Full Metal Jacket concluded. I arrived here last night around 11 pm. I took a 15-minute walk near the Moonlight Hue hotel around 11:30 pm and in that time frame I was solicited four times. Guy on scooter: “You want girl?” Me: “No, thank you!” Guy on scooter: “Hey, c’mon, man…” Me: “Look, man…no. Okay? Not interested.” But I might have responded if he had said, “C’mon, man, she love you long time boom boom.” To me Hue is the city that inspired the final lines of Stanley Kubrick‘s Vietnam War classic (which were either written by Gustav Hasford or Michael Herr): “I am so happy that I am alive, in one piece and short. I’m in a world of shit…yes. But I am alive and not afraid.” I would rather cherish that perfect 1987 moment than sample any present-tense comforts, no offense.
Two nights ago the Rome Film Festival did a bold and original thing by giving Scarlett Johansson its Best Actress award for her voice-over performance in Spike Jonze’s Her. I said in my initial reaction that this is Johansson’s best performance ever, and she doesn’t even appear on-screen. It would be very, very cool if SAG or the Academy or even the HFPA were to honor her with at least a nomination. (SAG conservatives wouldn’t touch this if Scarjo were voicing some kind of Avatar-like CG character, but she simply acted with her voice so where’s the threat?) Congrats also to Dallas Buyer’s Club‘s Matthew McConaughey for snagging the fest’s Best Actor prize, and to DBC itself for winning the BNL Audience Award for Best Film. Scott Cooper‘s Out of the Furnace was also named Best First or Second Feature.
This guy didn’t like it when I started snapping pictures. First he gave me one of those “are you about to steal a little piece of my soul?” expressions that I’ve seen every time I’ve taken a random quickie of this or that unprepared human. Then he came over and stuck his arm through the bars and swatted me across the forehead. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. He didn’t try to scratch or cut my skin with his nails. It was just a mild “fuck you and your camera” swat. He made his point. I ignored him completely but I understood what he was saying.
The drive from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay is no picnic. Three hours and change, lots of traffic, two-lane blacktop, road construction, etc. And submitting to a Ha Long Bay tourist cruise aboard the Annam Junk made me feel like a very well-treated steer. I just don’t like being herded along. But the area is one of God’s greatest creations and the Vietnamese tourism industry tries very hard to make everyone feel special and honored so I should just ease up and call it a nice pleasant time. Which it was.