Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Story – Baggage.

Monday, November 19th, 2012

They had lived together for ten months, with the first month being pure bliss and the following nine consisting of discussions evolving into disagreements, which acquired the dimensions of arguments, one after the other. They had both brought quite a bit of baggage with them into their relationship and it was showing up all the time.

“You think it’s easy being me?” With a furious face, Lorraine pulled a suitcase from under the bed. “Do you? Well, listen to this!”
Lorraine popped open the suitcase laying on the floor, the lid flew open, and her mother rose straight up out of it, finger already waggling.
“You’re a bad girl. Your math scores are low, you hang around with the wrong crowd, and when was the last time you helped in the kitchen? You are never going to amount to anything. Never ever.”
Lorraine pointed to her mother and yelled at her boyfriend Arthur. “See!”
Arthur shook his head in a combination of pity and superiority. “Oh…you think you’ve had it so bad? Take a look at what I had when I was eight.”
Arthur pulled a bag of his own down from the top shelf of the closet and opened it. A cute little doggie jumped out of it and ran around on the floor barking playfully. Suddenly a train came barreling through the bathroom door and ran over the dog, cutting it in half, then thirds, then mincemeat, and then shot out the window just a suddenly.
“See!” Arthur pointed at the bits of his scattered, dead childhood pet. “How am I just supposed to get over that?”
Lorraine stared open-mouthed at her boyfriend’s puppy’s body parts…but she had what she thought was even worse.

She walked over to her dressing table and yanked open her usually locked top drawer. Out of this arose a life-size pelt of of her skin when she was five. It was covered in welts. “This is what my father did to me when I was five. At five years old! One doesn’t easily forget such things.”
“Exactly!” Arthur shouted as he jumped toward his gym bag, ripped open the main zipper of the bag so his father’s head like a bowling ball could emerge to sneer at his son, “You think you’re a man? You’re lousy at sports, you always hide in your room with your games and books, say boo and you pee in your pants. Be a man. Come on, throw a punch? Think you’re tougher than your old man? Huh? Do you? I said, Do You?

Lorraine opened her rather overlarge handbag and out came three giggling teenage friends who just pointed at her shoes and laughed and laughed.
Arthur popped open his mobile phone and out came thirty of his so-called university friends , each staring at their own mobile phones, Arthur’s number glowing on it, and not dialing.

Lorraine and Arthur pulled out of their separate overnight bags twenty-seven pairs of lips, which flapped crazily around the room like manic butterflies, each mouthing off different parts of their past conversations, endlessly analyzing their relationship from different possible angles, over and over and over. The combined emotional noise was frantic and piercing.

Lorraine whipped out from a hidden compartment in her baggage her seven month old self, wailing in fear and tears. Arthur did the same from his own hidden compartment, yanking out his nine month old self, wailing, teary, waving his helpless arms about feverishly. Lorraine pulled out her thirty month old self, followed by herself at eight, eighteen and twenty-one, always crying and wounded, internally more than externally. Arthur matched her with his own self at fifteen months, eight, seventeen, and twenty-eight years of age, weeping and afraid and alone. There were different scenes being yanked out of different baggage of being fired from jobs for no good reasons or refusals of employment, again for no good reason, other partners turning away from them, siblings or cruel cousins teasing them mercilessly, their parents continually appearing in different guises from different times with fuller, fresher curses to hurl at them. The couple showed off the times when they scrapped their knees at five or were slapped at seventeen.

Meanwhile, the train kept charging out of the bathroom and running over the newly revived happy pet dog over and over again, while the mother berated the daughter and the father taunted the son and many teenage friends and recent business colleagues endlessly betrayed and tormented them. And their lips talked and talked and complained and wished the other would change, change, change for the better.

Then both suddenly stared at the various traumas that pulsed and moaned all around their apartment, and they ran into each other’s arms, wanting to shout, Save me! and Love me! and Help me! and I didn’t know! and Oh my God! And in the end they always said, each time, I love you.

And the baggage zipped back up and went quiet, for a while.

Dubbing for Julie Delpy

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Last Friday, getting over an illness, I hauled my buns into a darkened recording studio where five other Belgian-based Americans gathered. We were there to be part of hubbub crowd scenes in Julie Delpy’s next feature film .“2 Days in New York”.

Usually for such work, someone connected to the film tells you when to make what kind of sounds or words that will be crafted as a sort of background soundscape by the sound engineer. For this film, there were scenes in restaurants, airports, gallery openings, and suchlike. The talent tries to make it fun, knowing we will end up as unrecognizable background.

So we sat down, all six of us, three men, three women, lined up in chairs, with me taking one on the end near the door in the event I felt something physical coming on from my illness. It was going to be a three to four hour session. We started with a woman suggesting, and it became your-turn, my-turn, our-turn, doing variations of sentences or conversational improv, until about forty-five minutes in, we had an entrance.

Light suddenly streamed into the darkened room and a woman saying, in French, “There are no taxis in Brussels. I called at 8:45 for a taxi and was told there would be none until 10:00. No taxis in Brussels. Impossible! Sorry I am late. How is it going?” It was Julie Delpy, writer-directer-actress-singer.

Okay, this was unusual. And she took off her coat, took control, and wanted to see what we had done, saying bonjour and started adjusting what had already happened. She took up residence at the table next to me. She was not well, wore no make-up or attempt at actress glamor and placed a see-through plastic bag of medicines before her. I felt empathy.

Often, between takes, she was sticking sprays up her nose, blowing said nose, sucking on a throat lozenge, taking a pill, digging around in her bag for something extra. I remarked, “I see you brought your pharmacy.” That lead to talking illnesses going around. Never heard her complain once about her feeling bad, although while waiting for the engineer to find the next scene I’d glance over and she’d be holding her head bent into her hands, very still.

Mentioning illness, she talked of her mother dying from cancer two years ago, and her own giving up smoking last year (“I began smoking when I was 14”), and the horror of her mother going through chemo, and “it may have been worse than her disease.” Then we speculated on how DNA and cigarettes impact, and diet. I told her my grandmother smoked until she was 65, gave them up and died of natural caused in her sleep at 96. “See!” she said. “It’s all a roll of the dice,” I replied.

Before working on a scene, we watched each individual scene to get a sense of it. Many of the scenes everyone laughed quite heartily (it’s a nervous comedy from what I saw). It must have pleased her, since we were, in a way, her first test audience, and I glanced and she was smiling at the laughter. There was one scene in a restaurant where the man playing her character’s father (her father in real life) complains that the prices on the menu was so high. Her character replies something like, “It’s not euros, dad, it’s dollars. They are not worth anything. So order whatever you want.” Our little audience roared, and Julie mentioned that many in the USA didn’t get that joke, “They say, what is so funny? Which is funny.” Seems even in Hollywood they don’t get the dollar’s weakness abroad. She said, “Everyone outside the USA always gets it and laughs.“

Later on, when there was a technical breakdown, a microphone going mysteriously screwy, I turned to Julie and asked, “So, “Before Sunrise”, “Before Sunset”. When’s the next one?” She said that after this film she was going to begin working on the script. “But I have no ideas. I don’t know what to write. I have nothing more to say about relationships. I don’t know anything about relationships. I want to write about computers and aliens, things that explodes. Anything, just not relationships!” She paused. “But Ethan will have ideas. He always has ideas. That will help. I need a couple of months break.”

I can report that Julie Delpy’s fingerprints will be on every sound mumble and frame of the film because she really does care. There was not one moment when she wasn’t completely frank, spontaneous and enthusiastic. Couldn’t detect any artifice. As the dubbing progressed, she made real effort to get everyone’s name, and had them all by the end of the dubbing session. She was unrelentingly kind, treating us all like artistic colleagues, and even accepted some script change suggestions. “Americans say pictures, not photos,” someone remarked, and she replied, “Really? Okay.”

I departed thinking highly of this talented artist, and I hope her film is extremely successful so she’ll be given the budget to make one with high-tech exploding gadgets that go off whenever some character says the word “relationship”.

End note

To quote Roger Ebert, the film critic, “…Julie Delpy is an original, a woman who refuses to be defined or limited. Her first great roles were in Bertrand Tavernier’s “Beatrice” (1987), Agnieszka Holland’s “Europa Europa” (1990) and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “White” (1994); she was in Linklater’s “Before Sunrise” “Waking Life” and “Before Sunset” and she dumped Bill Murray at the beginning of Jim Jarmusch’s “Broken Flowers.” In between, she studied film at NYU and made herself available for 30 student productions.”

If you want to get a quick idea of her humor, CLICK HERE.