Today was my 28th session at the hyperbaric unit, with nine to go. I can hardly wait. The sessions aren’t any hardship, just time-consuming. And I find that every time I get out of one, I’m exhausted to such an extent that all I want to do is close my eyes and go sleepyby. On weekends, when I have two days off, by Sunday evening I feel much better, more energized. I’m hoping that when I finally finish all the sessions, I’ll feel much better, much stronger, much less exhausted.
One of the positives of these two-hour sessions in the tube is the movies. The first session I didn’t watch anything and what a mistake that was. And three of them were taken up with the mini-series Lonesome Dove. That leaves twenty-four for movies, most of which I had seen before, a few for the first time. One of the not-seen was Wall Street, with Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, the truly nasty manipulator of stocks and corporations and people. Douglas makes a much better villain than a hero. In looking back at his career, I remember his comedic roles when he was much younger: Romancing the Stone and War of the Roses, and his role with Karl Malden in the tv series The Streets of San Francisco, all positive portrayals. But now that he’s much older, that smile of his is frighteningly evil. And evil he was in Wall Street and will be again in the soon-to-be-released Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Some actors seem destined to play good guys, seldom bad guys. Denzel Washington and George Clooney, for example, are just better as heroes than villains. I understand that Clooney in The American is a bad guy. I bet I’ll still root for him.
And today I watched Dead Man Walking with Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. I thought I’d seen it when it came out in 1995 but soon discovered I hadn’t. What a powerful movie. Sarandon won the best actress award for her role as Sister Helen Prejean and Sean Penn was nominated for best actor. The movie was almost a two-person tour de force with nearly all scenes close-ups of Sarandon and Penn interacting. I’ve admired Susan Sarandon from way back when she played Ailie Calhoun in a made-for-tv movie called F. Scott Fitzgerald and “The Last of the Belles.” This movie was made in 1974 and done in black and white, the outer story about Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda after they’d returned from Europe in 1919. Fitzgerald was nearly broke from too much living the high life and had to write a story for the Saturday Evening Post. The inner story is what he wrote in one long night, “The Last of the Belles.” The movie didn’t get much critical acclaim, but I thought it was wonderful, and a wonderful tool for me to use in my classrooms when I taught a unit on Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby. Richard Chamberlain played Fitzgerald and Blythe Danner played Zelda, the woman that Fitzgerald used over and over again in his stories and novels, the beautiful but self-centered women like Daisy Buchanan in Gatsby and Judy Jones in “Winter Dreams,” and Ailie Calhoun as the last of the belles. And Susan Sarandon played her to perfection.
Tomorrow I’m going to watch another movie I’ve long admired, An Affair to Remember with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant.