‘Another lost day away from you’

This post’s title popped up as a suggestion in the ‘Subject’ box after I typed the word ‘another.’ Repetition seems to be a popular motif for me; I had four different subject lines starting with ‘another’ to choose from.

Today (Saturday) looks like an auspicious day for travel. Yesterday as you are aware I managed to have a pleasant day off, sleeping until noon and watching the tennis match. After dinner I returned to the airport tent for the evening roll-call, and I left at midnight on foot, frustrated that the overnight flight schedule hadn’t been posted in the three hours I’d been waiting. When I got back this morning, I was kicking myself to see that I’d missed two scheduled flights back to my secret city, one at 2 am, the other at 5 am, and that the 2 am flight had had open seats. I felt better after I saw one of my fellow travelers still sleeping in the same chair and heard the same six names (including mine) called from the roll-call roster that had been called last night.

This morning, in contrast, the full schedule was available, and there are four flights on tap back to the secret city, one which allegedly has open seats. Maybe I’ll sleep there tonight.

Last night’s entertainment, apprehended in the airport lounge while waiting in vain for the flight schedule to be posted, was necessarily watching television films. Last night brought a double feature, A Lot Like Love and Mrs. Harris.

A Lot Like Love is an awful film that seems to turn up again and again on television, like a bad penny or an infomercial. Its first scene takes place in an passenger aircraft, and despite the years of experience that Hollywood has earned in building authentic-looking passenger-aircraft sets, this one managed to seem completely fake and cheesy-looking, like a sitcom set that had been pressed into emergency service when the original, finely detailed set burned down in an accidental fire set by a dropped cigarette.

The action then shifts to an airport, which looked nothing like LaGuardia (and nothing like any real airport in the US), further alienating this careful viewer. By the time the two main characters end up on a no. 7 train elevated platform (that’s how I know it’s meant to be LaGuardia), even the subway looks fake, as if they used the F train platform at Ditmas Ave in Brooklyn instead. The by-the-numbers set design flattens out the fluky aspects of the two leads’ relationship, which is what the movie is allegedly about: a man and a woman who realize after six years of acquaintanceship that they are meant for each other. I watched the female lead (green-eyed Amanda Peet) move between multiple fully decorated and furnished apartments and wondered why she needed this particular man (Ashton Kutcher) when it was obvious from her décor that her life was so together.

That film was followed by the sleeper Mrs. Harris, a made-for-TV movie from 2005, with the fantastic Ben Kingsley and Annette Bening doing their thespian best in great costumes in front of gorgeous sets. It’s the story of the doomed Jean Harris–Herman Tarnower romance. The Tarnower bedroom set is fantastic, a softly-lit love den in gold and Chinese red, sporting two incongruous twin beds with matching mustard coverlets beneath a boldly patterned double headboard. In general the movie uses costumes and sets to advance the drama and make it seem more cinematic and exciting.

Today’s somewhat blurry photograph is of the secret-village cat; I took it this morning during my second encounter with Tabby. I had seen the animal chasing around the night before last, and thought that it was an ordinary aloof stray. Then this morning I found it in the entryway to Tent 2, mewling and looking all adorable. Seeing this little feline just makes me miss Ella, Sedre and Farkas—my cats at home—even more deeply.

A day to stay home from school

Yesterday it started to rain around dawn and continued on and off
throughout the day. A good day to watch François Truffaut’s Day for
(1973), a sweet movie about making movies. Whenever I watch
a film like this one about working in groups, I’m always keeping an
eye open for useful organizational lessons, as if I was some kind of
Organizational Change Consultant who likes to show little clips from
movies in the midst of his view-graph presentations in order to keep
the audience on its toes.

 I guess in this one the great OC moment is when the director (played
by Truffaut) and his assistant (Nathalie Baye, kudos to the costume
designer who kitted her out with this pair of amazing round glasses),
discover that Alexandra Stewart’s secretary is three months pregnant
and that this is the reason why she had made a fuss about dressing in
a bathing suit for a poolside scene. The two of them go over the
schedule quickly and see that there won’t be another scene with
Stewart for six weeks, at which time she will surely be showing. They
look into getting someone else to play the role, but the insurance
won’t cover it. Could her character be pregnant in the film? Baye
considers it, then demurs. It would confuse the audience because they
would think that she had slept with the main character’s father.

 Finally, the decision is made. Truffaut brings Stewart in to watch the
rough edit, which masterfully omits any view of her belly. The film
cuts as soon as she sits down to type, and we watch the rest of the
reel spool for the last time off the spindle into a cardboard box.
Despite the trouble and difficulty that Stewart’s pregnancy has
caused, he still treats her respectfully by showing her the rough cut
and how it conceals that she’s pregnant. At the end of the film,
Stewart returns, pregnancy quite evident, and poses in the group photo
with the rest of the cast and crew.

 Quick lesson: Truffaut disassociates the actor and her condition. If
he’d chosen to hire someone else and reshoot the scene, it would have
been “nothing personal,” but instead he uses the problem and his
successful resolution of it as a way to deepen his relationship with
the actor.