Girl On Film: Scorcese’s “The Color of Money”.

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It all starts -- and ends -- here. Photo: Wikipedia.
It all starts — and ends — here. Photo: Wikipedia.

I’m not a film critic. I’ve probably only seen a couple hundred movies in my life, and that’s a whole lot fewer than most, I suspect. So what I have to say about it might be of zero consequence, but I gotta talk about The Color of Money. 

An article I read the other day referenced Scorcese’s 1986 film and I thought to myself, “Oh, yeah… The Color of Money. I should watch that.” Today has me feeling really puny, so my evening was me, tea, and a $2.99 YouTube rental of the classic pool shark vs. pool shark tale based on the novel by Walter Tevis. (I could get used to this, too; getting into bed and watching a streaming movie on a laptop balanced on one’s chest is one of the greatest things about being alive in 2016.)

It’s just a damn good movie. I’d pay a lot of money to watch Paul Newman and Tom Cruise just sit in chairs and make facial expressions, but in The Color of Money they do so much more. If you could bottle the swagger between them it would be do more damage than nuclear fission. Newman plays Fast Eddie, a first-rate but aged pool hall hustler. Eddie discovers Vince (Cruise), and takes him under his dark hustler wing. They go play in the fields of billiards and no one in their wake is safe.

Eddie teaches Vince his tricks. But then Vince plays Eddie. But then Eddie plays Vince right back. Turnabout, turnabout again. Newman — who, it cannot be denied, bears an eerie resemblance to my ex-father-in-law it almost ruined it for me — is so manipulative, so “Daddy knows best,” so “Let them hate so long as they fear” about everything you just hate him. But you find yourself desperate for his approval, just like Vince. And Paul Newman is my favorite male movie star of all time. I don’t think you can beat Newman for sex appeal, talent, and charisma. But Tom Cruise… I hardly have words. He was 24 when he made that movie. Twenty-four. He is boyish sex incarnate. He’s pure hormones. Phermones. It’s hot in here, I can’t think straight. Jesus, take the wheel!

But then there’s the girl. Yeah, the girl. An achingly young and pretty — but fierce — Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is Vince’s girlfriend and I realized that she is a Disney princess in human form in that movie. Watch it; you’ll see that I am right. Her character is great: layered, conflicted. One wonders if the film had a sequel, we’d learn Carmen was the one playing the boths of ’em.

Perhaps the single most compelling reason to watch this movie asap is this: those boys are actually playing killer pool. Newman and Cruise can play the game for real. I said “Waaaat??” several times over the course of the movie; you can’t believe you’re seeing what you’re seeing. Tom actually sinks an eight-ball while he’s looking in the other direction, being adorable. There are dozens of sequences that are filmed in one take and you see shot after successful shot pulled off by these impossibly beautiful men who are supposed to be acting. Fabulous.

It’s funny and depressing to note that when this movie would play on cable when I was in high school, I distinctly remember thinking, “In no universe will I ever be interested in a movie about pool. Ugh!”

That was a long time ago, Eddie.




At The Chicago Botanical Garden, Early April

Me and a little dude with a tail.
Me and a little dude with a tail, Chicago Botanical Garden, 2015. Photo: Yuri

Yuri was in Chicago over the weekend, also.

We spent time together on Monday. After work tasks were complete, he took me to the Chicago Botanical Garden to walk, to talk, and remember each other for awhile.

The Chicago Botanical Garden is a world-class joint. Hordes descend upon the place in warmer months but somehow milling among thousands of people doesn’t feel bad at the Botanical Gardens; it feels communal. English gardens, Japanese gardens, fields of field flowers, a glassy pond, sculptures big and small — if it’s green and cultivated you want, green and cultivated you shall have and there’s a great cafe for when you’re exhausted from walking and have pollen all over your shirt. It’s also free to get in.

Yuri and I walked through the grounds arm in arm. We did this because we care about each other a great deal but we were also freezing cold. Nothing has bloomed, yet; there were a few brave shoots poking up here and there, but not many. All the plants are waiting, checking final items off the pre-production list before the big launch.The greenhouses were thriving — greenhouses do that — so when we were almost too cold to be having fun, we found a greenhouse and slipped in to warm up. Tip: if you’re feeling disconnected from nature, pop yourself into a balmy, breathing greenhouse. You’ll get fixed right up.

We had fun together. We got soup and a glass of wine at the cafe. We argued. I cried. We laughed. Walking on the main promenade under the cold, grey sky, Yuri picked me up and spun me around and I hollered, “No! Don’t! Yuri, stop!” but it was okay. New York, we have both decided, seems like a dream. It’s a trite thing to say, but damned if I know how else to describe it. The East Village? Really? Manhattan? But when? I know why — passion, risk, love, adventure — but as to the how, I couldn’t tell you if you put a Rhododendron ferrugineum to my neck.

Yuri and I aren’t together, but we’ll always be together because of New York, because of Chicago, because of that day in the garden, I guess. When do you stop being connected to a soul?

That picture up top is one of a series Yuri took of me being a mom to a hunk of bronze.