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There’s Another (Three) Boy Geni(i) Fuckin’ Gone…

(Soundtrack: Bikini Kill–Reject All-American)


What a sad weekend–Derrida, Christopher Reeve, Ken Caminiti–I have fond memories of them all…



Derrida, obviously, is the least distressing of the departures. He made it to 74, and he wrote a million awesome books. That’s definitely a good enough life, right Batman?


Nearer and dearer to most readers of this blog, I’m sure, is Superman himself (I wonder how Christine’s feeling right now? Reeve is a personal obsession of hers–along with Alan Alda and Judd Hirsch…not sure where I fit into that love-equation!) Now, the Superman movies have never been particularly dear to me. They don’t come anywhere close to giving me the Superman stories I want. I’m much more interested in Weisinger/Bates/Maggin craziness/super-pet fun than I am in Siegel & Schuster’s original conception of the character–Krypto! Bottled Cities! Spending Christmas in the future with the Legion! Finding the weirdest, most roundabout way of solving a problem, without actually punching anyone with your superfist! Meeting alternate versions of yourself! that’s what I like…

Still, the first two Reeve Supermans are unquestionably superior members of their species–the superhero-story-as-action-film. I’ve often voiced my displeasure at this genre-shift, so I won’t bore you with any more of that. Instead, I wanted to say a word about my favourite Reeve vehicle: Somewhere in Time.

It’s a time-travel fantasy, clearly inspired by Jack Finney’s books. Reeve plays a writer who wills himself into the past in order to make the acquaintance of the subject (played by Jane Seymour) of a painting that he’s obsessed with. My first encounter with it was a midnight showing on the local CTV affiliate when I was eight, and it really freaked me out. The film has its flaws, but it also features a perfectly appropriate Rachmaninov score and gauzy cinematography, which entice the viewer into its ephemeral-yet-intimate embrace. I haven’t seen it for years, but I seldom go very long without flashing back to an image of Reeve, sitting by himself in a retro Hotel Room, trying desperately to fool himself back out of phase with a reality he can no longer bear, after his experiences in “the past”. And Teresa Wright’s in it too!

As for Caminiti, well, although he was the youngest of this group (only 41), the really sad thing is that his death comes as no surprise. His problems wth cocaine and steroids have been well documented, and cardiac arrest is pretty much the only possible result of that lethal combination. Still, I hadn’t heard about him in a few years, and you always hope that, somehow, people are getting their acts together behind the scenes… Anyhow, he was an important member of several of my NL rotisserie teams in the early nineties–you could always get him cheap, and he always seemed to contribute a little more than expected… By the time he entered his prime (even winning an MVP award in 1996), my interest in (real) baseball had waned, but I always kept an eye on the performance of my little “discoveries” (Edgar Martinez, who only just retired, was his American League counterpart). I have never lost my passion for Strat-O-Matic however! And if I had the game here, I would salute a 1993 Caminiti Houston Astros card! The guy basically gave his life for that MVP award! Now, that’s (misguided) devotion…



Good Night Friends!
Dave

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5 comments

  1. Dave,
    The Superman movies are a lot closer to the later Superman stories than you think – not the Weisinger era exactly, but the Julius Schwartz era that grew out of it. Reeve’s Clark Kent and Superman strike me as being much closer to Swan and Anderson than Siegel and Shuster. And the Elliot S. (sorry, S!) Maggin novelizations with Reeve on the cover are written in that late-70s continuity, with walk-ons by such distinctively Me Generation characters as Steve Lombard and Oscar Asherman (perhaps the biggest nobody in the Superman mythos, edging out even Ron Troupe). Fun stuff.
    Anyway, regardless of where we can map these movies, I loved them when I was a kid and I’ll miss Christopher Reeve.

  2. that makes sense Mark, I’m sure you’re right… and I may even have sold the movies short on their willingness to depict craziness that you’d never find in a standard issue action movie–i.e. reversing time by flying around the world, Superman “depowering” himself in order to begin a “normal life” with Lois… still, despite my admiration for Hackman and Beatty’s performance (whenver I want to make Christine laugh, all I have to do is work up by best brainless thug accent and say “Are we going to Addis Ababa, Mistuh Luthor”) I find the hero-villain conflicts in both of the two movies that matter just a little bit too reminiscent of other thrillers…

    This is inevitable though…a film that is marketed upon the strength of its “action content” just can’t read like a late-seventies issue of Superman Family…and maybe there is no way to translate these kinds of stories to the big screen, but I’d love to see some director take a shot at an “Offbeat” (i.e. no fighting) Superhero film…

    Jess–
    Strat-o-matic has indeed, at times, been one of the great passions of my life, and I’m always willing to play a game, time and materials permitting!

    Dave

  3. Somewhere in Time is based on a novel written by Richard Matheson, not inspired by the Finney books. I love Finney (The Third Level being one of my absolute favorite books ever, what with the Woodrow Wilson dime factor) but Matheson was a contemporary and I doubt he was deliberately aping him. I suppose you could argue a sympathy of outlook, however.

    And Somewhere In Time is a good movie, although considering your views on nostalgia I’m surprised you liked it as much as this entry made it seem.

    – Matt Rossi

  4. For sure Matt–I’ve never read the Mattheson book, but I remember that info from the credits–but the method of will-powered-time-travel is so similar that I thought I’d toss Finney’s name out there as a way of introducing people to the film!

    On the subject on Somewhere in Time and nostalgia–you’re absolutely right–this is indeed a paradox… I can tell you that just thinking of the film makes me almost physically ill, but in a good way! I’ve never tried to claim that I don’t have a wide nostalgic streak myself… Some of this can possibly be attributed to the film itself, which upset me profoundly, and consequently introduced me to the pleasures of tearful self-pity! I distinctly recall worrying, as the movie ended, that Kristy Choules–the proverbial anarchistic girl-next-door–would never look at me again with the kind of openness that she had shown that afternoon that we baked Smurf “Shrinky-Dinks” (what an awful name!) together!

    I suppose that I would defend this movie on the grounds that it treats nostalgia patholigically–but then, you have made a very good case for the idea that Faulkner performs the same operation! As always, tastes become more important than aesthetic judgments, and the reason I prefer to be made ill by Somewhere in Time than by Absalom Absalom is that the latter never even tries to fool you into identifying with the people it critiques!

    Dave

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