The Night After

74  bar steady  29.73  0mph ENE dew-point 56  Summer night, too warm

Waxing Crescent of the Thunder Moon

This is the night after the fourth of July.  No bangs, pops, whistles, booms, showers of color, whirling fountains.  No patriotic music or patriotic festivals on the TV.  A night whose character takes its shape from the night it is not.

When I thought of this earlier, it made me reflect on all those night afters.   Each have their unique caste.  The night after Labor Day school begins for many, the serious, get-to-it season commences.  The night after Halloween the candy gets eaten or dumped, the costumes stowed, the lights taken down.  The Celts have begun their new year.  The night after Thanksgiving many of us groan and roll around on the bed or the couch, one too many turkey legs or dollops of mash potatoes or pieces of pecan pie still harbored somewhere in the digestive track.  The night after Christmas Santa has returned to the North Pole (where will he go if the ice melts?), no more presents and no more anticipation.  The night after Hanukkah the menorah goes back to it usual spot, the family gatherings end.  The night after New Year’s we settle into the next year, the hangover finished, the streamers and screamers and auld lang syne all put away until next year.

In each case we leave the sacred or festive time and return to what the Catholics call ordinary time, a phrase I love.  The value of ordinary time comes from the leavening, the spice that holidays bring to it.  On the night after the frisson between ordinary time and the festive, sacred time of holiday is at its most poignant, the memory still fresh, yet the moment has passed.  So, happy night after the fourth of July.  I hope the sense of patriotism embraced by the revolutionary generation seeped a little bit more into your bones.

While exercising today, I finished Lust,Caution by Ang Lee.  This film pushes boundaries like Brokeback Mountain, sexual boundaries and the question of love ignited in impossible situations.  It is a brave film, both for the director and for the two lead characters.  The context is the Japanese occupation of China.  Most of the film takes place in occupied Shanghai.  The struggle between the resistance and the Japanese, which forms the overall storyline, portrays the complex choices people make in situations that test loyalties at their core.

The technical skills in Asian cinema–Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Korean, Singaporean, Thai–has developed over many years.  We are now beginning to see films that push into the east/west osmotic filter from both directions.  This is a rich and interesting time for cinema from Asia and I feel lucky to participate.

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