Saturday, October 13, 2012

Constancy

I almost wrote this today in an email about something but then pulled back, thinking, No.....people don't really use this word. It's too dated. I'll probably use it next week.

And then, doing a little search for the wisteria pergola behind the Naumburg Bandshell and Kramer vs. Kramer, I watched both of the French toast scenes and then the one with Dustin Hoffman on the stand. Coincidentally, he uses the word constancy in reference to what makes somebody a good parent.

His list includes, in order:

1. Constancy
2. Patience
3. Listening to 'em
4. Pretending to listen to 'em when you can't even listen any more.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979 -- so, yes, dated) has two handfuls of visual typos and at least one factual problem. But it has to be one of the best movies ever made about divorce, mainly because the emotions aren't so overwhelming and over the top that they hide the truth of two people in trouble and in pain -- in other words, we can see people feeling something other than anger. We also meet a child who is lucky enough to not be relied upon to behave as a parent to two grownup children, and not asked to take sides in the custody fight.

It's gratifying to watch a self-centered father travel successfully from the Cave of Ignorance to the Lake of Self-Awareness and True Parenthood in a little under two hours. It's also startling to see people behaving as civilized people, actually. (Rich Kids -- with the great song, and also from 1979, and needing to make it onto DVD -- is another film featuring civilized parents who are getting a divorce.)

Person on stomach, arm over head, feet crossed at the ankles
Dappled
[ both photographs taken with my much dropped
Sanyo "dumb" flip phone ]
I'd walked through the pergola for the very first time on Thursday, while crossing the Park. I had no idea what it was, and then I ran into a friend of my sister's and told her how I'd just discovered it,
and she mentioned it was in Kramer vs. Kramer.

Which was one of those information coincidences. I'd been watching the movie recently, and had wondered where the poignant "You're going to live with Mommy" scene had taken place. It was the only place I couldn't readily identify.

Kramer vs. Kramer has a gold standard of a script. It's really very difficult to find fault with anything in the movie, except for the fact that the parents portrayed are so decent and the outcome so satisfying, you have to wonder if so many of us love it because that's the way we wish divorce -- and the transformation of parents (of people) -- would turn out, period. It's a little like a play, the movie.

The one character who perhaps personifies constancy is the wonderful Margaret, who at the beginning thinks and knows Ted is behaving like an ass and yet doesn't shut him out. They become true friends.

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