bunt sign

Sunday, November 18, 2001

My dad was a barber, just like Billy Bob Thornton's character in the Coen Brothers' new movie, The Man Who Wasn't There. My dad lived and worked in Santa Rosa, just like the character, Ed Crane. And, like Ed Crane, my dad wanted to be a dry cleaner (or so I've been told recently).

So Mom and I went to see the movie today, to find out if there were any other similarities. The answer, besides an uncanny physical resemblance, is ... no, not much. I seem to remember my dad being a little more colorful (although I'm not sure he had much more to say).

Oh, but we thoroughly enjoyed the picture, even if not a frame of it was actually shot here in Santa Rosa. (It was filmed in the cities of Orange and Pasadena, according to the end titles.) It was hilarious, although sometimes I seemed to be the only one laughing. It was engaging, from the stilted dinner conversations to the brawling family wedding.

The atmosphere, in vibrant black-and-white and impressionistic shades of gray, gives it the look and feel of a film from the late forties or early fifties. And the use of shadows and silences is masterfully old-school, in that twisted Hitchcock fashion. The dialogue is sometimes so sparse that you have to actually look into the actors' faces to know what the characters are thinking. (And it takes real actors to pull this off.)

It's a movie that feels like a Movie, directed by a Director who knows what he's doing with the medium. No explosions, sorry, at least not on screen. Even the blood is shown in grayscale.

I have to say, though, that everything about the two-chair barber shop, from the clippers and powders to the actual cutting of the hair, seemed thoroughly authentic to me. I actually believed Billy Bob must have gone to barber college, just like my dad, because he did everything the way I remember it.

Even the hairstyles of the men and boys in the movie were true to the postwar era. If it was a bit jarring every time I heard someone say "here in Santa Rosa" (or Petaluma), it was reassuring to see genuine old-fashioned barbers doing their job. I'll take my realism where I can find it.


The pussywillow is looking a bit threadbare against the rain-soaked fence.

The Leonid meteor shower early this morning was a bitter disappointment at my house, where all conditions seemed perfect, until about three hours before the appointed time. Then the fog started to roll in, and it got thicker and thicker as two o'clock approached.

Still, I stayed up late enough to be out in the cold morning air, staring in the direction where I knew there were meteors flashing across the sky. Can I get credit for attending the event, even if I didn't actually see it?

I did see some flashes, but nothing like the thousands of streaks of light that I might have seen on a clear night. There are no street lights on my road, and usually I can see the stars almost as clearly as you can see them from the top of a mountain.

Last night, though, the only place I could see any stars was directly overhead. After staring into the foggy distance until I was a little dizzy, I started looking straight up, where the stars were visible. I figured that if I could see them, I could probably see any meteors that might pass by, since they were several light years closer. And I did see a couple of them, but that's all.

It was the bad luck of living where the temperature happened to sink below the dew point (as the weather people have been instructing us all week). At least we'll have another show like that in about ninety years, so all hope is not gone.

previousbunt signemailnext

Latest recommendation:

Bev, Funny the World, November 17, Zippers and Spinach and Kidneys

Other recent recommendations can be found on the links page.

One year ago: Garden Variety

Subscribe to the list to be notified of updates.