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Washtenaw Flaneurade
10 July 2006
Sunday in the Park with Non-Pointillists
Now Playing: Manuel de Falla--"Cancion del amor dolido" from El Amor Brujo
I spent early Sunday evening sprawled in the grass, dogs nosing around, the sun setting, and a baseball game nearby, listening to Jim Roll, Ryan Balderas and Adam Theriault play to an audience at the West Park bandshell, nestled among wooded hills in the Old West Side of Ann Arbor. The weather reports called for rain but were thankfully proven wrong. The show was supposed to feature a lot more people, but they never showed. It didn't matter to me, as Jim and Ryan were more than enough, playing their usual sterling games. Adam, who I got to know a few months ago, was a pleasant surprise as I had no idea he even played music, among other things the potential novelty hit "Diet Dracula". Lying flat with my eyes closed, the sun on my face, is a way to experience music I should try more often.

The show was a needed comedown after the World Cup final, a thrilling game between France and Italy that scored a point for each and then went into two overtimes and a series of penalty kicks. I'd been a tepid France supporter, because (a) they seemed to be the underdog, although not by much, (b) I thought Italy suspiciously lucky in the matches I'd seen, (c) Italy had beaten the U.S., and that matters, no matter how average our team played, and (d) most of the soccer fans in Ann Arbor seemed to be Azzurri partisans, so my contrarian impulses rather demanded that. All that changed in the last few minutes, as Zinedine Zidane disgraced himself and his team (and probably cost France the World Cup), leaving a sour taste from an otherwise terrific couple of hours. England's Wayne Rooney had been bad enough, but that little tantrum at least seemed to be a result of the heat of passion; Zidane actually turned around and walked back to deliver Mazzerati his savage headbutt. No matter how tired you are, no matter what kind of shit people try to talk, when the stakes are that high, isn't a better form of vengeance simply plowing ahead and winning, especially if it's your very last game ever? I suppose the guy'll have grief enough to deal with--as he's retiring anyway, one thing for which people will remember him is that he probably pissed away his team's chances through unthinking machismo. Lesson for us all there, really.

Me And You And Everyone We Know (2005), which I'd seen the previous day, is pretty much the polar opposite of L'Affair Zidane; a beautiful, luminous movie written and directed by the beautiful, luminous Miranda July, who also stars as Christine, a video artist and taxi driver who searches for enlightenment and happiness through personal encounters. She eventually runs into shoe salesman Richard (John Hawkes, Sol Star on Deadwood), who has his own problems to deal with in the form of his two precocious children. It sounds unbearably twee and pretentious, but somehow skillfully avoids it. I still haven't figured out how July pulled it off. It probably has something to do with the simplicity of the ideas and the acting, as well as the frequently insane dialogue: "How do you computerize soup?" Christine and Richard's problems are linked to those of a variety of individuals, a perspective amplifying the struggles faced by people simply searching for happiness in the knowledge of others. Sometimes the subplots become extremely disturbing, but if Todd Solondz can apparently get away with it, I see no reason not to give July the benefit of the doubt. The last scene is a beaut, but the penultimate scene is one of the most romantic cinematic sequences I've ever encountered, redeeming the occasional slightness of plot or direction. I had a smile on my face (occasionally bemused, but generally beatific) the whole time I was watching this, and that's not something that happens very often.

Posted by Charles J. Microphone at 5:12 PM EDT
Updated: 10 July 2006 6:05 PM EDT
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