It was a bit steamy today. The C-Dawg did not enjoy himself in this heat. I arose late-ish, at half past seven, and started screening films. Ran three miles, no Monument climbs. Do you ever get so hot, where it feels like you can burn your own finger by touching your own skin that you realize that if you shower, then and there, you're only going to keep sweating post-shower? That was me, so I went for a walk to Charles Street in Beacon Hill. There is this cafe I may start going to regularly. I got an iced latte, a bottled water, some fizzy strawberry drink, and a yogurt parfait, then walked a couple blocks to the Public Garden, and had breakfast while watching the ducklings. For years, I've only eaten once a day, and I'm trying to get better with that. From there I walked to West Street, by the Common, pretty close to where Childe Hassam painted At Dusk (Boston Common at Twilight) in 1885-86, to pick up some volumes at the Brattle Book Shop for cheap: Troyat's Tolstoy bio (having thought well of his Gogol one), Mary Roberts Rinehart's The Yellow Room, a tight little 1945 mystery set at a Maine cottage, Zane Gray's The Last Trail, a collection of Sherlock Holmes apocrypha, and an assemblage of W.C. Field's letters and autobiographical writings. Field could be brilliant. There is no other movie like Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. It's as postmodernistic as Beckett, and I think it's brilliant that he got it made, because it's radical, and though a lot of people can love a radical work--more, by far, than a prosaic one--that powers that be tend to not understand this, and keep chanting "Hidebound! Hidebound! Hidebound!"
Came home, showered, then it was off to the Brattle Theatre, for what was suppose to be a double bill of M. Hulot's Holiday (1953) and Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962), but I only lasted through the one picture. Of course I've seen both, it was cold in there, and I felt like walking home, to boost the day's mile total to nine. Sweated out my guts, it felt like. But as for M. Hulot's Holiday: There is no film like that, either. It's entirely plotless. You might say that the picture takes a holiday from the conventions/rules/expectations of film. When a film is plotless--or close to it--as could be the case with comedic vehicles at mid-century, it tends to be a succession of gags. There really aren't gags in this Jacques Tati movie. The Ringo Starr promenade/parading sequence in A Hard Day's Night owes it a huge debt, right down to the the scoring. M. Hulot's Holiday is so jazz, so elegant. I like when one of the young men tries to pick up the beauty of the film by basically saying, "Why don't you come back to my room? I have some new Billie Holiday records we can spin." Smooth. Then his buddy/rival chips in by saying that Duke Ellington is better, before a third mate/would-be contender says, nah, Fats Waller is better yet.
I like this poster, despite the dubious language, which makes it sound like you're going to get a facial from the movie:
The tennis scene is well done, with Hulot's crazy serve. It's a rare movie where certain things just happen, as in life. They're not their to advance a plot, because there isn't one. The plot is life happening for a spell at a given place in a given time. Which is a different kind of plot. But consider that scene with the little boy who trudges up to the ice cream man, gets two cones, the ice cream man scarcely looking up to see who he is transacting with, the clambers back up the steps, balancing his cones precariously, one in each hand, turning the door knob with a cone going upside down but somehow still not falling to the ground, then sitting down with his little friend and give him one of the cones. Touching, true-to-life moment. You know how when you see a young animal, and then you happen to see it again, and it's bigger, it's grown while you've been away, and you wonder what that actually looks like, the transpiration of that grow? Well, for humans, it looks like something that Tati's camera captures in this one scene.