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February 1999, Week 4


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Jeffrey Apfel <[log in to unmask]>
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Wed, 24 Feb 1999 07:51:37 -0500
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I used to contribute here but two new little kids put an end to that for
a while.  After re-lurking for a while I thought I'd post.

I just saw Alan Rudolph's Afterglow.  I have seen most of his films.  To
be honest, I kept going back to see his movies in the hope that he would
capture some of the magic I found in his quirky 1984 film Choose Me.
For the most part, I wasn't satisfied.

Anyway, after seeing Afterglow, I was struck at what I thought might be
its bookend-type quality with the earlier film.  Both films posit a
universe in which easy sexual availabilty lurks right under the surface
of life.  The charm, if you will, of Choose Me came from the friction
between this just-within-reach availability and the potential dangers
associated with it.  But in that (1984) universe, pretty much the worst
thing that could happen was fisticuffs with a meanie like Patrick
Bauchau--in cinematic terms not a bad thing.  Nothing like the frisson
of just a little violence.

However, in Rudolph's 1997 universe, the mostly twenty- and
thirty-something characters are all grown up (and if you want to portray
grown-ups, real grown-ups, who better than Nick Nolte and Julie
Christie?).  Here, the consequences of sex are much, much graver.
Christie's dalliance while husband Nolte was overseas leads to a
daughter, to a secret between the couple, to the exposure of the secret,
to the daughter's running away and to a steady deterioration in the
parent's relationship and in their own personal happiness.

Any sense that Rudolph is commenting on his earlier film?  That it is an
explicit commentary on the times and on the issue (as one of the main
characters puts it) of sexual modesty?  And even if so, it is
interesting to compare this possibly more restrained view of the world
with other new films such as Living Out Loud, which was, to me, Choose
Me updated for the nineties without the regrets.

Jeff Apfel

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