Sex: don’t do it hepcats, or your foot will fall off and you may go to jail.
Such is my understanding of the matter from viewing films from far away and long ago today.
First up, 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days (2007) which is a lacerating, understated depiction of everyday life in Ceauşescu’s Romania. Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) a Tech student helps her roommate Gabita to procure an illegal abortion, jeopardising both of their futures and risking imprisonment. That’s it. That’s all you get for nigh on two hours, but a day after seeing it I’m still dwelling on the details. It is a deeply powerful piece of film-making. A wise, metaphorical exercise that left me paralysed with depression about how cruel society can be but at the same time uplifted about an individual’s ability to cope with just about anything
A lot of the credit goes to director Cristian Mungiu who has the confidence in his script and cast to keep everything low key. The film pulls you in though because of its massive centre of gravity, Marinca in the lead role. She gives a hypnotic performance and it reminded me of Kate Dickie’s equally mesmerising turn in Red Road. The films have little in common, but both actors bring a kind of weary fatalism combined with unkillable defiance to their parts. You don’t get too many movies like this.
Scary to realise that this story takes place in recent living memory. The consequences of casual sex seem so utterly out of proportion compared to what we’re used to now and in this country.
And then to hammer home the message that we have it pretty cushy these days really I watched the first short on my BFI The Joy Of Sex Education DVD. The deliriously well titled Whatsoever A Man Soweth provided one of the more fascinating 37 minute periods of my life. This 1917 educational movie is amazingly frank for its day. Aimed at the Canadian military it tells the tale of Dick, a uniformed soldier, who is nearly led astray by a prostitute whilst he’s enjoying time off in London. Another more experienced soldier sees what’s happening, sends the prostitute on her way and explains the dangers of syphilis and gonorrhoea to Dick.
Now I like the cut of Dick’s jib. Granted he looks so backed-up it’s a wonder his hat doesn’t pop off, but he sees things through. He takes a tour of a hospital where syphilitic patients have body parts in varying stages of dilapidation. He visits an orphanage for children who have been born blind to infected parents. And by the looks of things he keeps little Dick out of action for the duration of the war.
Virtue is rewarded and vice is punished. Dick returns home to a happy family life, but his philandering brother Tom returns home and gives a dose to his wife. Worse news for Tom’s dastardly friend Harry who has been, in the charmingly euphemistic phraseology of the film, “too friendly” with Mrs. Tom.
Tremendous. This is admirable in every respect, and I salute the BFI for having such a well-preserved print. It’s quite an emotional little piece anyway, but I was especially struck watching the crowd scenes that all these young, lively people from 93 years ago will be dead by now.
Your years on the planet are like excellent movies. You don’t get too many of them.
The snow is melting now, almost completely gone, and it’s a bit of a relief I suppose. I’m a simpleton in many ways and the snow made me happy for weeks. I built a snowman. I threw a snowball. I stood drinking coffee and looking out of my window singing “Oh the weather outside is frightful. Dum-de-dum delightful” more times than I can remember. But towards the end there when it was just brutally cold and life-threatening it was almost like the snow wasn’t my pal at all.
Today has been the first day this year that the pavements had a measurable coefficient of friction and driving was more like being in a motor car and less like being the front guy in the four man bob.
And whilst I’m here I should say that I have found my ideal sporting pastime. I reckon I could be the second or third man in the four man bobsleigh. The first guy looks like he’s got a bit of a stressful job. Navigating? Steering? I don’t know. The fourth man has to do way more than his share of pushing by the looks of things. The second and third man though, that’s just sitting still for a few minutes isn’t it? I could do that. Or have I misunderstood?
Lots of work tomorrow, and one last dance with the tax man for this year.