The most interesting aspects of Louise Fletcher's performance as Nurse Ratched in Milos Forman's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, which I honestly never liked all that much (and this is from a guy who played Dr. Spivey in a Connecticut stage version of Ken Kesey's play): (1) Instead of being butch-bossy, she was subdued and icy; (2) the combination of those hazel eyes and that slightly opened mouth had a macabre effect; (c) the 1940s Ann Sheridan hair style said more about Ratched than anything she said or did in that film. Login with Patreon to view this post
Last night I ran into an old friend who’s no longer a friend because he’s more or less turned into a wokester fanatic. Yes, the viral insanity has even permeated the exurban, tree-shrouded hamlet where I now hang my hat. I won’t name names but the words between us were (mostly on his end) awful.
It happened inside Wilton’s Village Market sometime around dinner hour, and it started when I saw him poking around the exotic cheese section. He was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, a fall jacket, a smallish hat and a black mask. No point in ducking the guy so I walked over and offered a greeting. Small talk followed.
Then I asked what was up with the mask, and stated in moderate but plain terms that the pandemic is over, and then asked how many booster shots he’d had, etc. I told him I’ve had four, and that I succumbed to the Omicron virus late last year. One of the reasons he wears a mask, he said, was to wind up people like me. And then we were off to the races.
He began ranting about the anti-woke assholes who refused to be vaccinated last year, and I agreed, I said, that the anti-vaxxers didn’t help matters at all, especially those who refused to mask up. Then he expanded the topic to include all anti-woke people of whatever persuasion, and I said, “Well, that’s me…I’m an anti-wokester because of the shrill lunatic attitudes of the woke left.”
And then the subject drifted over to my deluded enemies in the #MeToo congregation, which mainly stems from that unfortunate March ’21 episode in which I posted a friend’s Oscar-related opinion about how the horrific Atlanta massage parlor shootings (which the left tried to characterize as a racial hate crime until the facts began to dispute that) might blow favoring winds in the direction of Chloe Zhao.
I took the sentence-long comment down after a brief Twitter flare-up, but the haters were on a rampage and before you knew it I was being blamed for everything including the burning of the Reichstag, even though I’d actually done zip. As in Z-I-P. I had written dead fucking nothing.
Then he looked me in the eye and said I deserved all the rain that had fallen on my head since that episode, and said — this was classic — that I was just as deplorable of a human being as Harvey Weinstein. I gulped. “You can’t be saying that…you can’t be,” I replied. But he was. He’s King Lear with three Millennial daughters, you see, and they’re all wokesters and he feels he owes them his allegiance. So we’d basically entered cuckoo-bird land.
I’ve known this guy since high school, and have regarded him for decades as one of the best and brightest, a guy whose views and judgments I’ve always felt were wise and on-target…I could have never imagined that this guy, of all people, would look me in the eye and essentially call me a piece of shit who deserved to die.
It was like speaking to Tom Courtenay’s “Strelnikov” character in Dr. Zhivago during that train-car scene with Omar Sharif. It was as if this former friend had been taken over by a woke pod person from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Decades of trust and affection and mutual respect, and this guy had chucked it all over a moronic woke-vs.-anti-woke, Hatfield vs. McCoys blood feud.
I wrote him a couple of hours later. “You’re aware that 70-plus years ago a hardcore cabal of allegedly patriotic rightwing Americans devoted themselves to punishing people who’d sympathized with Communism in the ‘30s,” I said. “Careers and lives ruined because righties were trying to purify America and cleanse it of Communism.
“Has it occurred to you and your fanatical spawn that you’re trying to do exactly the same thing now? You and your woke Robespierres are looking to cleanse the country of the wily anti-woke pathan. You’re doing the same damn thing, man. And you know what? People hate who you are, and what you’re about. I just can’t believe that you’ve turned into a woke seed pod. It’s scary.”
I whined about this supermarket trauma to a friend, and the friend decided to write Strelnikov and share a few thoughts.
At least Christopher Walken‘s Dwayne, the brother of Diane Keaton‘s Annie Hall in Woody Allen‘s same titled film, was polite about it. Before sharing his shattered glass, car-crash death fantasy, he asked Alvy Singer, the stand-up comedian played by Allen, if he could confess something. By sitting down Alvy was saying “sure, Dwayne…shoot.”
If I’d been Alvy I wouldn’t have said “excuse me, Dwayne, but I have to be back on planet earth.” I would have said that I’ve also channeled a few brief death fantasies, and they’re not that big of a deal (or they don’t need to be that big of a deal) because they’re mainly about feelings of drifting and helplessness and career panic.
These feelings fester inside lots of young guys, i would have said, and especially those who are feeling pressured by society or parents or their own sense of guilt to get out there and achieve something. It’s just a signal, Dwayne, that you need to face whatever your challenge may be head-on. Life can be terrifying, but it’s even worse if you don’t man up and do something about what’s rattling you.
In short, Dwayne, you need to move out of your parents’ home and start fending for yourself. You need to start wrestling with the rough-and-tumble of life rather than hiding behind secure walls.
In my mid 20s I twice experienced a death dream that wasn’t too different from Dwayne’s. I was inside a commercial jet that had lost power, and it was tumbling downward through the clouds, going faster and faster. I could hear the fuselage skeleton groaning and cracking as the plane fell. I was a dead man. A flaming inferno death was only 25 or 30 seconds away, if that. And then I’d wake up.
In a comment thread about Ken Burns', Lynn Novick and Sara Botstein's The U.S. and the Holocaust (PBS), the six-hour doc about the prevalence of anti-Semitism in this country during the 1930s and ’40s, HE comment guy "bentrane" explained something:
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This morning “Rosso Veneziano” dismissed Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light as a “panned” film, at least in terms of its award-season potential.
HE response: “Empire of Light is my idea of a sublime and deeply moving yesteryear film, and is exceptionally well acted. There was no question in my mind that it was an authentic, emotionally fine-tuned masterwork after I saw it at the Herzog. It seemed “just right” in so many ways.
“As a study of a few characters living smallish lives in a somewhat isolated English coastal village in 1980 and ‘81, it recalls the complex textures of another tale of small-town characters, some of them grappling with sexual matters and with a certain movie theatre occupying an iconic space in their lives — Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (‘71).
“A few wokester fanatics panning Empire of Light in Telluride (vigilant defenders of Black identity and dignity, they didn’t care for the curious but affecting inter-racial romantic rapport between Olivia Colman and Michael Ward’s characters) doesn’t mean shit.
“Critics are truiy their own species these days, living on their own politically-attuned planet. Eternally fickle and excitably hair-trigger, they often seem divorced from and in some cases contemptuous of Average Joe perceptions about this or that film, and particularly those, it seems, that have explored racial situations or narratives. (2018’s Green Book being another example.)
More than any other time in cinema history, today’s elite critics are, to a large extent, living for and within their own realm.
“There are noteworthy exceptions and honorable outliers, thank God, and I’m not saying the elite critic cabal is entirely untrustworthy, but in the matter of films that either touch upon or seriously explore the holy woke covenant (race, gender, sexuality and whitey-very-bad), they’re never been more unreliable than today.”
Friendo: “I dunno. I’ve spoken to folks who don’t like it, and they didn’t seem to be coming from a woke perspective.”
HE to friendo: “They’re not ‘wrong’ but they’ve allowed themselves to be triggered by the romantic inter-racial dynamic. If Michael Ward’s character (who is only slightly older than Mendes’ age was in ‘80) had been white, the same know-it-alls you’ve spoken to would be much more accommodating. Then again the film wouldn’t stand out as much, of course, if Ward’s character had been a pale-faced Mendes stand-in.”
Bottom line: If you’re dealing with a Black lead character, a director-writer has to play his/her cards in exactly the right way or the elite critics will scold to no end.
Mendes casting Ward as a generational stand-in for himself seemed, at first, like a fashionably woke gambit before I saw it. But the writing and the acting and the overall quality factor won me over. I melted. And Ward is so charming and good-looking.