willie mays

When I was a kid, and we'd go to watch the Giants play, we'd goof around like kids will do at a ballgame. But every time Willie Mays came to the plate, we had to stop goofing. "Watch,Willie's up!"

There are several statues of former Giants at Oracle Park, but one is central, the one of Willie Mays. You tell a friend, "I'll meet you at Willie Mays", and they know what you mean. Heck, the address of the park is 24 Willie Mays Plaza.

film fatales #208: the souvenir (joanna hogg, 2019)

I feel like I need a spoiler warning before writing about The Souvenir. I'm usually pretty good at avoiding crucial spoilers, but much of what works and doesn't work in The Souvenir comes out of a specific plot point. So, you've been warned.

Joanna Hogg directed Exhibition, which I liked, in part because of the fine job from former Slits member Viv Albertine. The Souvenir has an intriguing cast ... Tilda Swinton in a supporting role (and what actor in our time is more intriguing than Tilda Swinton?); Tom Burke, who recently appeared as Praetorian Jack in Furiosa and who played Orson Welles in Mank; and Swinton's daughter Honor Swinton Byrne in what is effectively her film debut. This is only my second Joanna Hogg movie, but I already feel like she has a recognizable visual style ... she's not afraid of mirrors, for one thing.

The Souvenir is a semi-autobiographical remembrance of Hogg's time in film school. The Hogg stand-in, Julie, begins a relationship with an older man, Anthony, and at first that relationship feels fairly straightforward, although from the start I wanted more time spent on Julie than on Anthony (in fairness, Anthony in the film only exists as part of Julie's world ... there is no question which character is at the center of the movie). The scenes of Julie and her film-school friends are fun, the scenes with her with Anthony less so, and we eventually learn a reason for this: Anthony isn't always a lot of fun because he's a heroin addict.

It's tough, albeit not impossible, to represent addicts in a movie. A greedy, flamboyant portrait risks romanticizing, but a down-in-the-dregs picture can become too dreary to watch. Hogg is closer to the latter approach ... Anthony is not the most interesting character in the movie, and his addiction doesn't really make him more interesting. But The Souvenir never falls too far into dreariness, because the center of the movie lies not in Anthony but in Julie, who is full of youthful life. I suspect I am asking too much of Hogg, for the character of Julie is believable and interesting and she is, after all, the focus of the picture. A movie like Sid and Nancy, where both people in the relationship are junkies, eventually pulls away from romanticizing because both characters falls into the dregs, but the vibrancy of Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb still jumps off of the screen. In The Souvenir, Anthony is a much quieter junkie than Sid or Nancy, and while Byrne gives a strong performance, it doesn't often call for "vibrancy". So The Souvenir is a more low-key film than something like Sid and Nancy, and I'm not sure it makes sense for me to even compare the two.

There is much to respect about The Souvenir, and it's easy to recommend it. I preferred Exhibition, but both of the Hogg films I have seen are encouraging. #148 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century.