Friday night I went on a dinner and a movie date with myself. It wasn’t an official date because really I was just trying to do something productive before I had to go to work. And that’s not romantic. But official or not, it was a very good date. It started at the Museum of Modern Art where Friday evenings are free and so are the film screenings. It’s pretty much the perfect activity for money strapped lovers…money strapped haters, too.
In conjunction with this cool exhibit of hand-painted film posters by Batiste Madalena, MoMA is showing some of the silent films advertised in the work he did for the George Eastman Theatre in Rochester, NY between 1924-1928. Turns out, silent films are AMAZING. Watching them has been on my to-do list for awhile (I keep seeing City Lights at the library and I keep not bringing Charlie home with me). Anyway, Friday I saw 1927’s The Unknown with Joan Crawford and Lon Charney. I could go on and on about how ridiculous the story is, but this pretty much sums it up:
A wanted man binds his arms and takes on the identity of an armless, knife-throwing carnival freak. After killing the father of the woman he admires in order to protect his secret, and then having his own arms amputated to prove his love for her, he discovers that she is engaged to the carnival’s strongman.
I couldn’t believe how beautiful Joan Crawford was!! The only other film I’ve seen her in so far is 1954’s Johnny Guitar. So I was expecting a younger version of this:
I highly recommend these film screenings at MoMA if you’re around Manhattan. They fill up with a fun mix of people. The intellectuals, the snooty Upper East Siders, the trendy Brooklynites, the college students attending purely to meet a course requirement, people like me (?), and of course, the token bag lady.
The token bag lady was a source of great entertainment before the film began. She sat on an aisle seat and she had a terrible cold. It literally sounded as though her lung was about to find its way into her lap. And when she wasn’t hacking, she was blowing her noise with the gusto of a bugle player waking up a summer camp. She really wasn’t bothering me (not much bothers me), but the rest of the audience? Oh boy, it was on. A man in front of her turned around and muttered something. I wish I could hear what he said. He was pissed off. Maybe because she smelled like piss? I don’t know. Then there was a middle aged woman a row or two in front of me who just kept looking around in aghast bewilderment and saying things like, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” This roughly translates to: “I paid absolutely nothing to be here, and that woman has just as much a right to be here as I do, but I have a huge sense of entitlement and the bitchy scowl to prove it.”
In the end, as soon as the silent film started, the maybe bag lady was equally silent. So all that huffing and puffing by certain audience members was in vain. The bag lady proved herself more dignified than the stylish, attitudey man who wore out his VHS of Mommie Dearest and has since upgraded to the blu-ray version.
After the film screening, I walked down to one of my favorite Midtown diners. I love diners in New York–they’re all run by big, boisterous Greek families. I sat at the bar where the creepy Greek cousin with the chain and the chest hair and the slick hair chatted me up. And the Greek grandfather sat next to me eating a slice of pound cake and drinking coffee while occasionally smiling and nodding at me. Not sure how I gained his approval, but it was nice.
I also saw Paul Blart: Mall Cop this weekend. To take in that bit of culture I had company. As much as I like going to movies by myself…Kevin James is where I draw the line.
Oh, and I couldn’t fall asleep last night, but I didn’t want to get up and turn on my computer to blog, so instead I wrote down a couple notes, and I think they make a rather nice poem:
silent movie, diner dinner date.
joan crawford, sneezing bag lady.
humanity? no arms.