Last week was pretty stressful. I had to spend an hour here and there doing stuff that looked not entirely unlike my old job. I won’t bore you with the details. But even those couple of hours were exhausting and stressful. So much so that my blood pressure was elevated to the point where my physicians have previously indicated that I should sit quietly in a dark room.
The big difference to my old job was that, this time, I can wind up and point the enthusiastic young lawyers. So I took my doctors’ advice. I sat in a couple of dark rooms in Edinburgh, and watched a movie made by grown-ups, for grown-ups. And a Woody Allen film.
Let’s get Woody out of the way first. Blue Jasmine does feature a powerhouse, Oscar-worthy, performance from Cate Blanchett. In fact, the acting is top-notch across the board. And the movie does capture certain aspects of the Manhattan-Hamptons experience. But too many of the movie’s observations were too simplistic. And, in any event, better made 88 years ago, 66 years ago, 23 years ago, and 21 years ago.
But before that, I saw Enough Said.
Enough Said was completed just before James Gandolfini’s death, and if you’re only familiar with him from The Sopranos, it’s a pleasure to have a late chance to see him show his range at the top of his game. (See also his complicated army general in In The Loop, and his gay hitman with a soft centre concealing a hard core in The Mexican.)
The blurb on Edinburgh’s Cameo Cinema website gives a flavour of the movie:
Unexpected connections among an unlikely trio bring complications that prove that grown-up affairs can be fraught with embarrassment, if not heartache. Holofcener’s sharply written script perfectly fuels Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus’s bemused cynicism and touching vulnerability, and the end result is a complete joy.
When I walked into the Cameo’s second screen, it looked for a while like I would have the place to myself. But slowly, more men of a certain age and older began to straggle in. There was something nice about these older Edinburgh men — Hi, mom! — still being sufficiently invested in romance and laughter to have found this sweet little funny movie early on Wednesday afternoon. Even better, a couple of older couples joined the audience, as well. Unfortunately, no one took up the little loveseats at each end of the front row. But, come on. We were all old.
No doubt if the film had been targeted at the yoof, those seats would have been little puddles of passion. But the nice thing about the movie, in the face of the glorification of young love, was that it painted mature love as being just as important. Just as vital. More important and more vital, even. Because Enough Said painted a picture of divorcees who had been disappointed and were cautious, but for whom the prospect of love carried all the excitement and trepidation of a fifteen-year-old dancing in his room to The Cars’ Just What I Needed. (Am I dating myself? It was 11 years after release, at least.) More so even, when the parties, while less prone to melodrama, know the stakes and the potential for disaster. And perhaps age and experience bring a certain tenderness and selflessness to which the younger person isn’t disposed.
Then yesterday, I was looking through some of my old in-patient tweets, and stumbled across a tweet and a re-tweet, which were both just as heart-warming as when I saw (and read about) the scenes that inspired them.
Husband helping his wife [older couple] through rehab and learning techniques for discharge. #awwwsweet
— Ricky Brown (@ricky_ballboy) November 8, 2012
Just met a man who put his wife’s contact lenses on this morning. True love. Couldn’t see a thing mind.
— Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) November 8, 2012
Not long after, there was my late-period in-patient room-mate, Will (not the Wee Man, long-standing friendsoftheblog). Will, old enough to have voluntarily moved to part-time work, had suffered some complications after brain surgery, and was experiencing some weakness on his right side. A nurse encouraged him to try to write something. Quite on his own, with no-one to impress, he wrote “I love Pauline.” And Pauline, his second wife, would come in regularly, brining friends, little offerings and encouragement. Will would always be comforted by his partner’s presence, and it was lovely for me to share a room that was warmed by their love, this kind woman and her damaged man. Maybe it was something similar that gave rise to the scene that inspired this tweet:
… and @bethmonahan departs, to an explosion of affection from behind the nurse’s desk. Awww!
— Ricky Brown (@ricky_ballboy) November 10, 2012
Or maybe that was just gratitude shown to the only person who could calm my apoplexy and perseveration. The stroke patient’s tendency to uncontrolled anger, as previously noted, is well known.
I was walking with my father the other day, and he remarked on a conversation that he occasionally has with one of his pals. He suffered a couple of heart attacks bracketing the age (38) at which I experienced my brain haemorrhage. His mate had some health issues at a similarly and relatively young age. Today, they both attribute their longevity to being forced to listen to their bodies and take care of themselves. As well as, I suspect, being forced to confront the need to hang around, or else miss out on time with their loved ones.
Similarly, one of the pleasures of spending time with Beth’s parents is that, notwithstanding their propensity to entertain themselves by bickering, they’re quite open about their love for each other. I suspect that this is sharpened by the fact that Ray, like his daughter years later, has had to shepherd his partner through a crisis. And the fact that they came to their marriage tempered — nay, heat-treated — by starter marriages.
The day after I emerged from my personal Edinburgh Film Festival, I met an old friend from Edinburgh law school. He spoke of his upcoming 40th birthday party, and the similar bash he had thrown for his wife. I remember Beth savouring turning 30. And I have to say, I’m rather looking forward to my 40th next year. I’m anticipating a good decade. But we won’t know for a while. I’ve noticed that the decades of my life are like musical decades — in each case, their defining nature tends not to reveal itself until at least half-way in. 1966-67. 1976-77; 15, 28, 35.
Biz hundert un tsvantsik!