Friday, I got to the Twin Cities a bit later than planned, but in time to meet my girl at Li'l' Duce's day care. We headed home to sup on decent Vietnamese takeout, and later on, we watched La Strada. ninafarina is a big fan of Fellini's, and I got her this and a couple of other flicks for Christmas; I like Fellini just fine, but I haven't seen a huge amount of his stuff. Well, La Strada's reputation is more than justified. The lead (played by Fellini's wife) is just absolutely phenomenal, with an incredibly expressive face and an ability to convey emotional weight in her movement that I've rarely seen onscreen. Anthony Quinn is quite good in it, almost making me forget that he spent much of the rest of his life as a hack, playing variants of Zorba until you prayed for death. And the direction...I'm not really familiar enough with Fellini's career path to comment cogently on the movie as a shift from neorealism to magical realism, but there were so many fantastic shots in it, and the whole arc of the story was just perfectly done. It had an intensely operatic feel to it, but without any level of spectacle; and the emotional reversal they pull off at the end of the movie is one of the finest things I've ever seen.
Saturday, we did a bit of shopping (including a hassle with a rude clerk at a clothing store; young women who work at clothing stores seem to rival young men who work at record stores for sheer life-hating shitty condescending attitude -- no offense, thevulgartrade) and then dropped Li'l' Duce off at her grandparents so we could prepare for a screening of this film. It was being sponsored by a major magazine, and introduced by my girlfriend's boss; ninafarina put an enormous amount of effort into (and received an enormous amount of frustration out of) putting the screening, speech, and after-party together, but it all came off quite well, and I was very, very proud of her, as she should be of herself. The movie itself was fascinating -- The Real Story of Farmer John is essentially the biography of John Peterson, a farmer in rural northern Illinois who's maintained his family farm for decades through inordinate amounts of personal and financial difficulties. It's eventually been transformed from large family farm to ruined wasteland and back to organic farm, and now is one of the largest CSA (community-supported agriculture) farms in the country. John himself answered questions at the screening and was also at the after-party with the director; he's a fascinating, charismatic guy, a natural bohemian who's faced a tremendous amount of prejudice from his neighbors. The film is useful in that it really calls attention to the ever-increasing gap between the food producer and the food consumer, and gets everyone who watches it really excited about CSA. (There's a moment when an old farmer breaks into tears when describing suburban expansion; he talks about watching concrete poured overnight onto good soil, and it's hard to watch.) It's also fascinating as a portrait of Peterson, a real character whose life is documented meticulously through literally decades of archival footage taken by himself, his mother, and his friends. Overall, it really speaks to the positive qualities of the rural lifestyle, while never allowing itself to gloss over the ugly side of rural culture. See it if you can. Shauna did a fantastic job with everything, and her celebration was well-deserved.
Sunday, I had to head home after we picked up Annie; I listened to AM radio most of the way, because that's the kind of shitbird I am. Even on a lazy day when we do nothing, I'm glad to be with my girl, and even when I've just left her house, I miss her. You wish you knew her, gang, and if you do, you wish you knew her better. An inexplicable fog engulfed my car on the way back, but life being what it is (that is, nothing like a Stephen King novel), it did not turn people inside out. I made it home safely, answered some e-mails about various freelance stuff, and hit the sack. (I later realized that I left my wristband, the source of my awesome powers, up in the Twin Cities, so prepare to read stories in the paper about ninafarina, who has not yet learned that with great power comes great not-having-any-fun-ism, knocking over banks, pushing around big-shots, and throwing elephants at people. It's a constant temptation, I tell you.
P.S. Lileks today, in case you were wondering, claims to have an extensive iPod playlist of songs from 1938, even though he doesn't really like any of them.