Charm A Sacred Nun

Sandra Simonds

if you are feeling the need to “like” me :)

My 3rd book, The Sonnets, available in November from Bloof Books! 

My 3rd book, The Sonnets, available in November from Bloof Books! 

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"In fact many romantic artists and other hardy pioneers in subsequent generations conceived of the condition (the condition of alienation) as a source of pride, a chance to hurl a haughty defiance, titanic and Promethean, against man, history and God. Forced to live in the desert of his own surrender or on the mountain of his own solitude, the artist found compensation in that heroic doom which Baudelaire called both his curse and his blessing. Using terms suggested by Nietzsche, we might say that the artist believed himself capable of sublimating that fatal and fateful malady into an almost superhuman creative energy, which the German philosopher supposed to be the basis for all mental and spiritual health. The artist hoped to succeed in realizing his self and his work by the way of sin and transgression. He hoped to get a taste of the FRUIT OF THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE through disobedience and revolt. He thus seemed to become, as Rimbaud wrote, "le grand malade, le grand criminel, le grand maudit, et let supreme savant."

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3 Women, Robert Altman, 1977

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The million dollar question for me in this movie is this: Why is Millie Lammoreaux socially ostracized in the way that she is? I suspect if we know the answer to this question, we gain some insight into 3 Women. In a world of Facebook likes and Favorites, I guess her situation could be translated into zero likes and zero favorites.

She invites you over for tuna melts and she gets no likes. Oh but wait, back up, I’m totally wrong. She gets one like! And that one like comes from the person she doesn’t want a like from: Pinky Rose, the childlike dum dum who thinks Millie is the most amazing thing she’s ever seen. Oh yes, she also gets one more like—from the married dude with the pregnant wife (the 3rd woman) in the film who eventually gives birth (surprise!) to a stillborn baby. 

This movie reminded me a lot of Persona, except Altman added a third character, who’s supposed to be (from the imaginings of a male director) a young woman’s worst nightmare. The 3rd woman is mute and pregnant and draws disturbing pictures everywhere. It made me think that perhaps the fears of young women (getting old, having a baby, men not desiring you anymore) are also the fears of patriarchy. Hint: the problem with patriarchy is not older, pregnant women.  

There’s something “off” about all of these characters. One thing I noticed was that Millie’s dress was constantly caught in the car door. She’s sort of oblivious to everything. She doesn’t get her own lack of desirability and even when people make fun of her in front of her face, she just doesn’t get it. So when she finally takes home the married guy (who also happens to own the apartment building and the bar that the girls frequent) she’s super pissed when Pinky tells her not to (“his wife’s pregnant, Pinky says) and Millie says that Pinky shouldn’t interfere with her business….

Which is when Pinky attempts suicide by jumping into the swimming pool. Lots of twists and turns but Pinky emerges from the coma from the suicide attempt and then starts drinking and smoking and sleeping with the married dude. So, Pinky becomes Millie and now Millie is freaking out.

So, it seems to be about the balance and order between these two women. Who’s going to be in control and so on. At the end, Pinky reverts into this weird childlike thing and I think she even calls Millie “mommy” a coupla times. Oh and I’m pretty sure they kill the married guy.

This shit was crazzzzzzzzy but clearly a great movie. And it was made the year I was born. So, there’s that.  I’ve gotta go to work. 

Two-Lane Blacktop, Monte Hellman, 1971

 

If James Taylor is starring in a movie about cars, hell yeah, I’m gonna watch it. I’m a huge James Taylor fan and if pressed, I *might* know all of the lyrics to *some* Taylor albums….(you can make fun of me!) Anyway, this movie follows a race car driver (James Taylor) and a mechanic (played by Beach Boys drummer, Dennis Wilson) as they “race” an older guy (GTO), eastward toward Washington DC from California. We quickly find out that GTO is a compulsive liar/ conman and is, hands down, the best actor in this movie. They never get to DC, which is not at all surprising considering the palpable lack of desire that literally oozes from all of these characters.

Oh, and there’s also a girl. One day she just gets into Taylor and Wilson’s car (a 55 Chevy) and sort of rides around with them occasionally giving them shoulder massages from the backseat of the car. At some point along the way, (there’s nothing prompting this), the girl decides to ride with GTO for a little bit (he tells her how much he likes her and promises to take her to New York or wherever). She nonchalantly agrees, though there’s no way to know what she really thinks or feels. At the end of the movie, she sees a motorcycle driver in café and hops on the back of his bike and off she goes thereby ditching the mechanic, the driver and GTO instantly. It’s all very… what the fuck?

Taylor seems to be the most disturbed that he lost the girl but there’s no way to know for certain how he feels since his affect is so flattened.  Some call this film an “existential masterpiece,” but I say not so fast! Yes, it’s interesting that they are moving eastward since it hints at a failed adventure of the road narrative. “I’ll take you to Florida” “We’ll go to Montreal” “Mexico is nice”—all of these guys say this to the girl and I like how you can’t tell the conman from the driver or the mechanic or (ostensibly) the skinny blonde dude on the motorcycle who drives her out of the movie and into oblivion. 

One of the things that I did find interesting about this movie was its relationship to music. I don’t think that Taylor or Wilson contributed any music at all to the film which is curious.  In addition, apparently, no soundtrack was made. There seems to be a weak attempt early in the film to use music to move the movie forward, (there’s a Doors song and “Me and Bobby McGee” sung by Kris Kristofferson is used) but any relationship that the movie has to music fizzles out along the way and eventually seems to become a negative one.  

At some point on the road, Taylor tells Wilson to turn the music off because he “can’t concentrate.” I don’t remember if he says “think” or concentrate” but, you get the gist. There are a couple of other times when the radio is turned off. And I think that these moments work well reinforce the notion that whatever is driving this movie forward is more about some warped compulsion (the skeletal American adventure narrative) than genuine desire.It seems that they haven’t really bought into this narrative but they still have some weak-willed fidelity to it, nonetheless. 

This is all a recipe designed to induce frustration in the person watching this thing. What would seem to be an opportunity for an epiphany on the part of the driver (there’s a man on the side of the road with a broken neck from a car crash), simply washes over him like everything else.

The cinematography is beautiful, though, and for that reason alone, the movie is worth watching. It captures all of the faded colors and sounds and strange delirium and mystique of the last days of one version of Route 66.

Probably, my favorite line is GTO’s when he says, “If I’m not grounded pretty soon, I’m gonna go into orbit.” Who can’t relate to that?