Sunday, May 14, 2017

I Love Dick | Lefsetz Letter

Kevin Bacon is a revelation. Like a less loquacious Don Henley. A not quite as nice J.D. Souther. He’s a Texan of few words who’s completely confident in his opinion and is unafraid of expressing it.

And Kathryn Hahn is obsessed with him. Believing herself a filmmaker previously, at dinner Bacon cuts to to the bone, outs her personality, identity, her hopes, wants and dreams and she becomes infatuated with him, becomes a writer, pecks out all her fantasies.

And this happened in real life. Only it was the downtown art scene, not Marfa, and it wasn’t about visual art, but writing. And to be this naked and honest is what art is all about, which is why “I Love Dick” became a cult classic, not that this was clear back in ’97, when it was released, it had to marinate in minds for years and be rereleased to get its well-deserved victory lap, and this limited series on Amazon, which is a failure.

Not the initial episode. Watch that, it’s all you need, it sets it all up, delineates all the issues and the tension and…

Is that really Griffin Dunne? We’re unallowed to age in today’s world, but he did and gained not only weight, but gravitas. He plays Hahn’s husband, she worked so he could write, they both gave up children for their careers, which they believe are still gonna happen.

Hard to fathom if you’re living in internetland. Actually, that comes up much later in the series, one of the institute attendees makes a viral video, and of course its attraction is sex, i.e. nudity, but it gets Bacon wondering, the five hundred people who visit his museum a year, his work, is it worth it?

People like this still exist. But they don’t live in Manhattan, they can’t afford to.

Some smarties go to Harvard and get on the fast track, write for late night comedy shows, become rich and famous.

Then there are Oberlin graduates like Lena Dunham, who through sheer will and pluck and endeavor capture the zeitgeist and are recognized for it.

And then there’s a plethora of nobodies going nowhere, part of a community of analysts and creators that does not include us, with its own hierarchy, its own fellowships and rewards, and “I Love Dick” is about them.

Now prior to Reagan, prior to the great greening of America, and I mean mazuma, cash, dollars, your mind was more important than your bank account, and if your mind was good enough you could always find a way to survive. But those times have passed us by. Even the elite institutions are focusing on jobs, with their entrepreneurship courses, the parents paying 60k a year want to see tangible results. As for the schools further down the totem pole, it’s always been like this. But we relied on the best and the brightest from the elite institutions to be a beacon, to show us where to go, to be the soft underbelly of our culture, to illustrate that life is worth living, that it’s all just not work and accumulation. But as the rich got richer the intellectuals became self-satisfied, resentful of their low economic status, and drifted apart from you and me.

And if these worlds have ever touched yours, you’ll be reminded of all this watching “I Love Dick.”

Which got made because Jill Soloway had such success with “Transparent,” deservedly so. And we need deep pockets like Amazon to fund creativity. And creators don’t always succeed. But there is something different about this production, it has a woman’s viewpoint. And the end result is it’s much more raw than a man would make. You feel Hahn’s desires, you see both the weakness and the attraction of Griffin Dunne. If you can endure the four hours you will be rewarded with a foreign film, the kind you used to go to the theatre to see, that made you feel good about yourself, a member of the club.

And some were better than others.

This is not a good one.

But Kevin Bacon, whew! He’s just so calm and collected, yet coiled tight like a snake inside. This is not the sneering a-hole of the past. He’s mature, he’s past his peak, he’s comfortable in his clothing, and that makes him oh-so-attractive, it draws you to him.

And Kathryn Hahn’s intellectualism. Men believe looks are everything. But watch Ms. Hahn long enough and you become attracted, even if you weren’t previously, to her character anyway. Who is brave and not subservient, a woman of heart and mind who cares about you, but not at the cost of herself.


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