Monday, December 22, 2008
Knit PH at Freddy's: Dec. 20, 2008
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn had their annual Holiday Bash at Freddy's before our Knit Night. The question was "So who's going to clean up this mess?" his question wasn't about the party it was about the disaster area created by Forest City Ratner now that the Atlantic Yards Project has reached a (permanent) stall due to lack of funding.
Food, family and neighborhood solidarity — Scotty and JP lead the caroling along with Chris Owens and son(s). The Manson Family Picnic gave us a show. Our District (#35) Council leader Leticia James popped in. She got a chance to see Dan and Shabnam's new baby... Shab joined Knit PH recently, she's making hats for baby Seeta. What a beautiful baby girl.
Marina and I were the first of Knit PH to show up since we're both active with DDDB. She's working on beautiful headband/neck warmers that she designed. She did well at the Lyceum craft show. Soon the party was over and Knit PH popped in.
Alexandra was the first to arrive, she had a beer out front while Marina and I cleared the tables, except for the tray of rugelach of course. Soon everyone else popped in with Christmas gift in progress Sarah, Marci, Victoria, Tracey... Adrienne joined our group recently. She met us at Prospect Perk at our last MeetUp.
Victoria brought some carob-coated "M&Ms" from the food co-op. Similar to Fig Newtons, they're always a bit stale, but I like them. Tracey vowed to finish the ribbed scarf she started last winter, I worked on a present for Stephanie, and Adrienne... a pair of gloves and a hat for her hubby. Over snacks and beer, we got onto the topic of Hanukkah. Marci says it isn't an Orthodox Jewish holiday so she doesn't celebrate it. We also had the usual conversation: patterns, knitting tips, Christmas gifts, the sagging economy... etc.
Celebrities who knit and male knitters are very worn-out topics. We seemed to hit a stride with of knitting in movies. Marina brought up the Tita's fantastically long trailing shawl from "Like Water for Chocolate" (1993, Alfonso Arua), Some one pointed out that it was crocheted. Adrienne brought up Edith Piaf knitting in "La Vie en Rose" (2007, Olivier Dahan). I mentioned a few: "Fargo," "Witness," and "Shipping News." Cartoons often use the imagery of knitting to anticipate the arrival of a newborn. But in cinema it's always used as a metaphor that anticipates tragedy or comedy. Here are some of my observations.
Dancing At Lughnasa
(Pat O'Connor, 1998)
One would think that a movie with the word dancing in the title would be a feel-good flick. Not so in this film. Brian Friel's stage play comes to life on the screen. Kate (Meryl Streep) is the family wage-earner in the small Irish town of Ballybeg, Donnegal. The cast of characters are united when their older brother, a priest, returns from Africa after mental breakdown.
Five unmarried sisters feel the financial impact as Kate, the eldest, loses her teaching job. Their eight-year-old nephew redsicovers his father, but says goodbye as he leaves to fight the war against Franco. The women are forced depend on a meager income knitting gloves. But when a knitting factory opens up-river and the WW2 economy falls apart, their situation grows dire. Two sisters leave Lugnasa to find work and better fortune in England but their lives end in tragedy. Now that's Irish!
Breakfast At Tiffany's
(Blake Edwards, 1961)
This brilliant movie is based on a book by Truman Capote. A former call girl, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) turns a new leaf as she attempts domesticity. She's learned to knit and cook. An old flame Paul Varjak (George Peppard) reunites with her one last time before she leaves for Brazil. No longer a kept man, he is now a successful writer. Holly is trading her life as an escort for one of a Brazilian diplomat's fiance.
But her tarnished past has returned to ruin her future. As they take an after-dinner stroll Holly is arrested for running messages for the notorious Sally Tomato. Free on bail, Paul picks her up in a cab along with her belongings and her cat (named "Cat").
He informs her that José Luis was pressured by his family to end their engagement. In a fit of rage she throws Cat from the cab, but then regretfully calls out as they search in the rain. I saw this at the drive-in when I was a kid. The whole notion that Audrey Hepburn was a prostitute went over my 4-year-old head and I didn't understand why she threw a cat from a moving vehicle. So how does an Upper East Side prostitute afford a Hubert Givenchy/Pauline Trigere wardrobe anyway?
How To Succeed In Business
(David Swift, 1967)
J. Pierpont Finch (Robert Morse) climbs his way to top as a window washer who literally connives his way up the ladder to become VP of Advertising after he buys a book called "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying".
In the scene above, Finch curries favor with his boss by pretending to share the big man's passion for knitting. "You know Mr. Bigley, I feel sorry for men who don't knit. They lead empty lives." "I find that knitting helps me think more clearly. What are you knitting?" "Uhhh. A bird cage cover." Mr. Bigley actually knit English-style correctly, but Finch knits as if he's tryign to solder yarn with two metal sticks. I like Robert Morse, he has a face built for comedy.
(H.C. Potter, 1943)
Hilarity ensues in the 1943 comedy "Mr. Lucky." Notorious gambling magnet Joe Adams (Carey Grant) dodges the draft by assuming a dead man's identity not knowing that the deceased was a wanted felon. Desperate to skip town Adams and his thugs scheme a beautiful society woman, Dorothy (Laraine Day) and her women's War Relief charity ball. He even feigns an interest in knitting blankets for soldiers, but eventually he comes clean and they fall in love.
Broke Back Mountian
(Ang Lee, 2005)
As dutiful wife Alma Del Mar (Michelle Williams) occupies her time knitting, her husband Enis (Heath Ledger) reunites with an old sheep ranching buddy, Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). Little does she know that the wool is being pulled over her eyes as both men were not in fact tending the flock. And we all know what happened to Heath Ledger. Very sad.
(Joel & Ethan Coen, 1996)
As Jean Lundegaard (Kristin Rudrüd) knits quietly she is unaware that her husband Jerry (William H. Macy) has arranged for her kidnapping in order to get her wealthy father to pay for her ransom.
Two bungling thugs, Carl (Steve Buscemi) and The Swede, Gaer Grimsrud (Peter Stormare), are hired to do the deed. The darkness of a small "Minnesota nice" town is realized when plans go awry and a killing spree ensues.
In this slow-chase abduction scene, a suburban calm is broken. Jean Lundegaard knits while watching TV wearing her pink jogging suit and house slippers. Then from the sliding glass door she sees a masked man. He starts pounding on the glass as she curiously stairs but continues to knit. After about a minute of pounding the glass door finally shatters.
She screams and throws her knitting to the floor and runs for cover. A second masked man enters and at a zomblie-like pace they follow her upstairs. She bursts through the bathroom door running past them with a shower curtain over her head. She screams hysterically, tumbles down the stairs and knocks herself unconscious. "Fargo" is one of my favorite Coen Brother's movies along with "Raising Arizona."
(M. Night Shyamalan, 2008)
Elliot Moore (MarkWalberg) and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) run for their lives in a battle against nature and man. This comic vignette demonstrates the correct way to deal with catastrophy: put on a gas mask and make a sweater. But as with most Shyamalan cinematic adventures. Movie Spoiler: Nothing really happens in "The Happening."