brothercyst: ...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

...

This whole weekend: gray as moss. I like when you can't tell what time of day it is by looking out the window. It is conducive to not leaving the bedroom for hours and not leaving the apartment for days, which describes how I lived from Friday evening to Monday morning. Pages were written, books were read. For three days Manhattan got literally no sunlight.

I saw a movie I liked.

Undertow.

Apparently set in the modern-day rural south (or the sometime-in-the-last-thirty-years rural south). It starts with a boy running away from a killer dog, stepping on a board with a nail sticking through it, then continuing to run with the board nailed to his foot. Then he gets arrested and treated, and then the cops give him his board back. Then he takes the board home and makes it into an airplane for his little brother, who eats paint and mud.

The kid is played by Jamie Bell, who's British but looks, speaks, and acts exactly like the surly backwoods Southern character he's supposed to be here. This guy is a seriously talented actor.

Pretty soon his uncle shows up (fresh from jail), moves in, and in a fit of pique, beats and stabs the boys' father to death. They flee into the woods and he starts chasing them. (He's played by Josh Lucas, who is no Robert Mitchum but does have a certain disgusting good old boy menace.) For the rest of the movie they wander here and there, through junkyards and swamps, while he sort of half-assedly hunts them. It's riveting. The swamps and trees and dirty backyards look sweat-drenched and everything is covered in a film of grime--which, as you know if you've ever been there, is just how the semi-rural landscapes of Louisiana and Mississippi look.

I liked the film because the plot seemed a thing that sort of happened in the background. It's a wandering, dreamy film. It stops to pay attention to minor characters who are deeply fascinating despite appearing only for minutes or seconds. It has an odd, permeating score by Philip Glass that seems to slow down the chase scenes, make them less "exciting" and more sort of arbitrary and ominous. The saturated colors, the grime, the strangeness and aimlessness... it added up to something. Certainly it was aesthetically satisfying.

(And I didn't fast-forward through even a second of it. That's really rare for me.)

David Gordon Green is the director. I saw part of All the Real Girls, another film he made, but it bored me. I'm now inclined to see his first film, George Washington, however.

Speaking of George Washington, The Criterion Collection is a great company. When are they going to release The Conformist on DVD? It's the perfect movie for them.

5 comments:

Greg said...

since when is moss grey?

NickAntosca said...

When it's dead or sodden.

Greg said...

By its definition, living moss is always "sodden". Moss retains so much water that the ancient Greeks used it to put out fires.

When a true moss dies, it invariably turns brown.

There are a couple species of moss whose green is so muted and light that you could, at a distance, mistake it for grey, but that grey is an optical illusion.

Lichens, which are not the same thing as moss, can be grey, but I suppose that doesn't scan as nicely: "gray as lichen" seems to come off a little less trippingly from the tongue than "gray as moss."

And of course, there is Spanish Moss, which isn't a moss at all. Spanish moss is grey, but it's more closely related to the Pineapple than any other species of plant.

In any event, I think I've proven my point, which is: most people associate moss with a lush, vibrant green colour. Moss does indeed thrive in rainy weather, so your metaphor is just a hair off the mark--you'd have nice bit of synchrony on your hands if moss were indeed gray--but I'm afraid it doesn't quite work. Nice try, though.

Nathan said...

George Washington thinks moss is gray.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=pc9y5ayeeb4

NickAntosca said...

For some reason despite thousands of hours hiking as a child I like to think of moss as dull and gray.

Nathan, I would ignore your spam posting except that the video is sort of brilliant.