Something old, Something new

Dear Erin,

I hope you guys had a great time celebrating Matt’s birthday. Did you go see a movie?

Charles and I have been taking some time off from the movie scene over the past month or so; there’s not much out. However, the previous two weekends, we have found ourselves back in the theaters and enjoying the experience hugely.

Two weeks ago, we dropped over to Palo Alto, to the Stanford Theatre.



It’s well known around here, but you’ll be flummoxed when I tell you we have never gone, despite the fact that their “thing” is to show old movies. And one of our “things” is to watch old movies, so you would think it would be a match made in heaven. Somehow, though, we never made it until last Saturday. We watched To Have and Have Not, which we have also somehow never seen, so it was a productive trip all around.

Thoughts on the movie? Wow, that’s some chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall! It’s no wonder their partnership became legendary. I’ve never been a huge fan of Bogart – he often plays unlikeable men who treat women badly. The women, inexplicably, are attracted to him no matter how much younger they are than he and no matter how insulting and awful he is to them. This dynamic drives me nuts, and it’s in play here, too, but somehow it feels less sexist. Probably has to do with Bacall: with the combination of her deep voice, her reserved body language, and those shoulder pads, she comes across as strong, able to give as good as she gets. The studio made her sing, though, which seems like a mistake; she looked miserable and unnatural through each scene where she had to do it.

Dinner on University Avenue after the movie

Dinner on University Avenue after the movie

Then, this past weekend, we went to Gravity, which was almost the exact opposite movie-going experience (except that people sat right behind us and ate popcorn noisily in both theaters). We saw it in 3-D, and the entire movie was a wonder of technical craft. It was, I think, almost purely spectacle. There was a plot, and the primary conflict was compelling. However, this is not really a movie about intricate plot or memorable characters or clever dialogue, but about how it feels to be up in space, where it’s cold and vast and inhuman, where you’re untethered from everything you know and everything that gives you life, and where you could die meaninglessly at any second while the impossible beauty and life of earth is hanging right in front you, inaccessible. How terrible!

And yet, what a privilege it must be to see the world from outside the world. This movie gives you the illusion of being that privileged. I thought it was incredibly beautiful, and it is always a delight to experience beauty like that.

Can’t wait for you to get back from your blogging break on Friday and hear what you and the Munchkin have been experiencing this week.


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