Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Classics in the Movies: Smoke (1995)
I have a hard time managing "time". Especially when I have more free time than I am accustomed to. I do much better when I am in a hurry and I have to move quickly from thing to thing to get it all done. Give me 6 free hours, and I start to think of all the things I could do, and I end up stressing out trying to fit them all in instead of enjoying the time in the first place. That happened to me again today (Sunday) when my wife had to spend the day officiating at a swim meet, and my son Ethan had to work. We had a busy Saturday working around the house, so I didn't have too much on my "honey-do" list for Sunday. But as Sunday unfolded, I became edgy and it got worse as the day went on. I just could not slow down and enjoy the day like I wanted to.
Towards the end of my day, as I scolded myself for letting a beautiful day go by without truly being in the moment and loving the gift of free time I had been given, I was suddenly blessed with a moment of clarity. I was standing at the counter in the kitchen having a cup of coffee, browsing through my playlist on Spotify and I glanced at some piano music of Shostakovich. At that moment I remembered a wonderful scene in a movie called Smoke from 1995 starring William Hurt and Harvey Keitel that uses this music. Keitel owns a small neighborhood tobacco shop in Brooklyn, and the lives of the neighbors who come in and out of the shop provide the stories for the movie. Hurt is a struggling writer who recently lost his wife. Keitel is an amateur photographer who takes a photo outside of this shop every day at the same exact time in the same exact spot...and has done so for 4000 consecutive days. This scene is brilliant for several reasons. Keitel's explanation of why his project is meaningful to him is very touching. As Hurst flips from page to page of the photo albums in rapid succession, Keitel tells him to slowdown...take time...really look at the pictures. The musical backdrop to this scene is the Prelude and Fugue in C major by Dimitri Shostakovich (1952). Have a look. (This clip from YouTube is in English but it does have Spanish subtitles).
The message of "slow down" is what I needed to hear on Sunday. Look at the things around you...really see them. Live each moment fully. The use of Shostakovitch is brilliant here.
Paul: "Slow down huh??
Auggie: "That's what I recommend."
Paul is rewarded with his patience in this scene too. Beautiful.