Friday, September 25, 2009

gently, but firmly

I saw my first Hitchcock film last week. It was Notorious, and it was pretty much what I expected: stylish black and white, wit and gleam and melodramatic music. Nothing that I particularly loved, but enjoyable, and I saw it at the Stanford Theatre, which makes most movies into a pleasant occasion.

I went with a friend who had never been before, so I got to introduce him to the gilded carvings and painted ceilings and plush red curtain. I got to see the helpless delight hit his face when the Wurlitzer organ rose from its trapdoor in the stage with the little Japanese organist perched on the bench and playing the closing music before he was even level with the stage.

We went to see Rope last night, because the lovely Heather said that we should. It was absolutely delicious. I loved it from the moment when the dreadful Brandon says that the man they just murdered will soon be resting "gently, but firmly" at the bottom of a lake. Gently, but firmly. Such off-handed and stylish cruelty. The story is quite thin, but it's told in such an interesting way, with these placid, long shots that actually move from place to place rather than cutting in and dropping out, that my imagination went into overdrive during the eighty or so minutes. It's the first film that I've felt such an intrusive sense of narration in. It made me think that I was watching events through the eyes of another character, someone silent and invisible and incapable of touching anything in the room. Which made me think of ghosts, which made me decide that we were watching the sadistic dinner party in the company of the murdered man's ghost. Which made the movie entirely more interesting.

And now I want to write a story told by a ghost about his murderers, though it has been done to excess and will soon explode across too many screens in the form of The Lovely Bones.


Emily Jiang said...

I adore the Wurlitzer! One of my secret dreams is to have that job and pop out of the floor during the main intermission!

Megan Kurashige said...

I know! I long to appear out of a trap door in a stage one day. When I saw The Rake's Progress at the opera house, the multiple uses of the trap door were my favourite parts. It made the rather abrasive Stravinsky bearable!