A movie will sometimes begin with another movie ending.
Large bright figures move across a large space as the two characters embrace.
The floor is covered with darkness but punctuated with clouds of spilled popcorn. The dark in the area beneath the seats will show glimmers of candy wrappings and torn bits of foil.
Some feet are being shoved into the slippers and sneakers.
The sound of the music soundtrack becomes loud for an instant and gives a mechanical crack.
Shortly before the inevitable "The End" there will be a lull of time when people go away and the weather clears and the clock is running after years of needing repair. It turns out that the clockmaker found a wad of fluff that was just enough to keep a minor gear from meshing.
What time is it on the planets of that glimmer of a star?
She comes out of a movie theater and the streets are wet from a few hours of rain. The rain was not hard enough to wash away the leaves that had accumulated on the wide pavement outside the complex. They look like a series of gold stars marking the path of the stars on the earth.
"Sometimes you have to look down to see where you are. On a dark and clear night you can look for the forever that is above, over you but every day you can see where you are standing now."
He is standing across the wide street and he is holding a paper coffee cup that has been dented by his grip. There is no coffee in it and his voice over admits it is a prop that says he was having coffee, perhaps with a few people who have recently left and it was only the rain that had kept him there after they had gone.
"But that does not explain why they were able to chance the rain and it does not explain why he is wearing his pajama top under a jacket that is not a rain jacket and why he is not wet and why he has not shaved for a couple of days.
She will see him but he will turn slightly away and she will know that he wanted her to wave, to yell or to walk up to him and smile. He knows this is not her way. He does not know that is not her way. He knows now that there is very little of what he thought he knew he can say is for sure and exact.
He had come to the East Coast with his family from Europe after the end of World War II. He grew up in a small Jewish Neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA. His father was a barber and he had a brother and a stepmother who thought he was the best thing to ever opened his eyes. His loving stepmother was a person who wanted him to feel warm, well nourished and safe. She and her husband knew from his first set of paints that he was someone who would be an artist. He and his brother lived in a large city but they were surrounded by friends and neighbors. His father was a hub of the community. Everyone gathered at his shop and each day the boy was allowed to spend some time there.
He watched his father cut hair and listened to the men who came to the shop talk of the world and of the new life that was opening up in America. The women of the families were at home or working in shops nearby. The boy and his friends were under the constant vigilance of the everyone who had children
The mother explained that all the children were a special gift and like your new shoes you allowed them to take the shape of your feet. The winter and the cold was the time for getting warm clothes and for going to school and doing well.
The two brothers would sit late and talk about what was on the radio and what they remembered from school.
The parents were always telling them to get proper rest and to do well with the lessons in school.
He had been alone in the museum for several hours. The lighting of the exhibit had been soft evening light and he found it both relaxing and apt for the show of wood prints and small carvings.
When he left the building he was surprised that the evening had arrived and the streets reminded him of the soft blow of the exhibit.
He decided to go to a local restaurant to have a small meal. There were several choices but he had the idea of something sushi and perhaps a miso soup. The small images began to come to mind but they did not inspire him. Then he saw a tall man wearing a black cap of dark silk. It was a memory from one of the prints. The person had a plain long black coat that went well below the knees and he had a sling bag of dark brown and very dark green patches. It was almost flat and he imagined a folder of brush drawings inside a mulberry folder.
He was following the man and he saw that the destination was a small restaurant.
He did not read the menu in the window. He was not sure if he had ever been there before but he walked in and waited inside the door to be lead to a table.
The place was peopled but not crowded. The man was seated with his back to the door. He was sitting with his hand upon a menu folder. He could not have had time to read the menu but he seemed settled and ready for the approach of the waiter.
His thought had taken him away for a moment and he had not noticed the young woman who was asking him if he were alone and if he preferred a table or a seat at the counter.
She explains to the viewer that she has always told him the truth about her position in life but he has not heard her. He looks and he seems to be hearing but his response does not reveal any understanding of what she had said.
He tells her that he loves the Chinese culture. She explains that he had no real knowledge of the culture. She tells him that what he knows is what he had seen in old movies and from books that were written by those who had a bias. The translation of the poem is not the poem. The sense of what he has learned has been show in the media for such a long while that it seems to have some truth to it.
History is not the story read in the newspaper. The history of the newspaper has been attached to the prejudice of the publisher and the bias of the advertisers. The story of an industry that is told by the representatives of the industry is not correct.
She told him he needed to find some doubt in what he read and experienced. If a young girl from the streets tells you you are the most wonderful man and that she respects and understands you it may be a truth that you want to hear but it may also be something she had been taught to say.
She told him he had a great deal to learn about Asians in the city. The history of San Francisco goes back to the mid nineteenth century. The first arrivals were not the gold rush people of 1849. The bay and the coast of California had been visited in earlier times. The fishermen along the coast had built small settlements and they were the beginning of the area now know as San Francisco. The first Europeans came several hundred years before there was a town here. The Mission Period was in the late 18th century around the time of the Colonies of the east coast rebellion against the British.
He asks her if she could teach him about the things he does not know. She suggests several books and several Asian organizations in the area that could direct him to information and events. He feels she is blowing him off but she adds that all learning begins with some effort and self directed work.
He begins to go to the Asian markers around the city. The Asian collection in the art museums, the tea garden in the Golden Gate Park. The World War !! Japanese monument at the Legion on Honor site, The Peace tower in Japan town. The park at the edge of China town where the elders do the tai chi. The neighborhood parks that have elements of Ruth Azawa fountains and the hanging wire sculptures.
She surprises him with her knowledge of the European and East Coast Jewish life. She tells him she has visited New York several times since she was a child. She tells him that her grandparents were all born i California. Her father and mother had met in China when they went there to work for an American company trying to open the Chinese markets in textiles and dinner ware. She tells him that she had had several great uncles and aunts who were in the rag trade in New York during the fifties.
He sees that she has begun to tell him more about herself because he has approached her as being someone new to the US culture.
"But you do not act like other american women."
"I am just me. I was taught to be a listener among the family. Now I deal with the needs that people have in business. It is my job to listen."
"Your desk is so elegant. I feel like I am visitng a very important official when I come to tyour office."
"You have gotten my point. I am important to the company and how I am perceived by the client is how the company is seen."
She tells him that she knows that he has been in contact with a Chinese woman on the internet. She can always tell for he adds little phrases to his talk that could only have come from someone who speaks very little English and is talking to someone who speaks very little Chinese. The business world speaks a difgferent version of the language. The everyday person talks about the things that people would say to be friendly with strangers.
Give me an example.
"I do not say to my grandmother, "Most gracious mother of my parent, please pass the ketchup."
He gives a laugh for he knows he has been caught.
They are eating examples of food that had been served to the visitors from the mid west offices of a company which his ad agency had just signed a big contract. The boss has told him that the success had come from the dinner they had at a neignborhood restaurant.
"Not in China Town chinese food is like being a guest in a family home. The wiaters knew her and she took him to the doorway of the kitchen and introduced him to the ancient mother who sat there and did small tasks. The people from the midwest were really impressed by her ability to remember all their names and the names of their spouses.
This event was the moment that determined the success of the agency in San Francisco. The company uses the dinner at the restaurant to become a source for future celebration and milestones in the city.
The food from the banquet was wonderful. She had helped him arrange the menu. He was not sure that his favoirtes would go over well with the clients he invited for a get acquainted dinner. They were all from the prairie states and it was yet the sixties and the middle states were still sure that there was no cooking like good old Mom. They knew some names for what they thought was Chinese food. It came in a large can with lots of funny words and thte noodles were crucnhy and possibly flammable. She told him to keep it simple and do not tell them it is wonderful. Let them find that our for themselves.
She explained that she lived in Iowa for a year while she was in school there. The flavors they go for are often sweet and many are salty. They do not want to know what the thing looks like while it was alive. They love corn. Rice and soy sauce are produced there and flavors manythings they do not know. They know the flavor but not the name.
There is an old saying that all mothers give to the child. The confidence you show is often the confidence you acquire. You have a version of that. "Never let them see you sweat."
He told her how he wanted the dinner to go. She heard that there would be six guests and him. They would be arriving in the mid afternoon. The hotel was having a small reception for the company and his group will be inroduced to him at the meeting.
He begins to go to the Asian markers around the city. The Asian collection in the art museums, the tea garden in the Golden Gate Park. The World War !! Japanese monument at the Legion on Honor site, The Peace tower in Japan town. The park at the edge of China town where the elders do the tai chi. The neignborhood parks that have elements of Ruth Azawa fountains and the hanging wire sculptures.
She is sitting in a doctor's office and she is reading the casefile of a patient. He was not her patient in the early parts of his illness and nor he no longer is alive. She knew him [ersonally not as a patient during her years in medical school and her residency.
To him she was always the poor ghetto girl who needed a good man to direct her over the rough parts of life.
He never really listened to her explanations or her talk of her family and friends. He was filtering her talk so that he heard what he needed to hear. The irony was that she was helping him to come to terms with his age and his illness.
He came to me with a shallow concept and I did not say it was bad but I knew that he was going to go nowhere with it. He seems to be able to have these lucid ends of dreams but not go beyond the first draft.
He went to a meeting with a friend who had a few connections in the business. They listened to him for a few minutes before looking at their non-existent wrist watches and signaled to their assistants to interrupt and suggest a lunch at some future date.
For a film you need to create a dense page for each minute. The time for a moment includes the notes for the visual and the dialogue. The music and sound cues can be noted if they are the most important element of the scene. The sound can have layers. The sound may be pinpointed to a visual.
He goes out of the meeting with his friend and began to tell him how well he thought the whole thing went.
The friend said that the idea needed a lot of work. He disagreed. The friend suggested he write a thirty page treatment. He said that was not the way he did it. He liked it the way it was. All they really needed is a big director and a few really good actors to come in and do the thing.
The friend repeated that he thought there needed to be a write up of about thirty pages before they could go forward with the project.
He then commented that there was definitely was a movie in the idea.
The friend says that there is always a film in a concept but only when the process is not short circuited by someone who did not listen.
He stopped talking and withdrew emotionally. He looked at the friend and smiled a little knowingly.
I will make it if I have your help or not.
I am sure you will.
She was alone when he called and she said that she was waiting for a business call. He offered to call at another time but she assured him she had call waiting and the other call would amount to only a yes or no.
He asked her about her mother and she said that her mother had a new job and was learning to use the computer at her work. She said her mother had only personal experience with computers but the people were very impressed with her skills and her way with people.
He wanted to ask her how old her mother was but he knew that was too personal. She seemed to have read her mind. The sudden information startled him. She said her mother was almost forty years old and had just swam in a meet and came in second place. She said her mother was very athletic and had always been a swimmer and a dancer. She had performed on stage during the times of national festivals. Her dancing group were on tour in Europe for several months and she was now working with the national cultural groups.
He listened as she talked of her mother and there was a great pride in what she talked about.
He interrupted her thought by asking if she also danced. She said no with a quick finality. Her mother had a special talent that no one else in the family shared. The others for generations had been workers on a farm in the middle of a nameless world.
He wanted her to talk more about herself. She said the pictures she had shown him told him everything.
He used the word prison in his reply. She then insisted that she was not in a prison and she had never done anything that could be seen as a crime.
It is a lesson in language for both of them. He listens to tapes of a language course. She listens to his attempt to say a few things and she repeats the words he is trying to say. He says words in English as a reaction to his feelings and she repeats what he says. The two spend hours talking by repeating words. The words are basic. She say the words for being polite while traveling. Travel words talk of hotels and taxicabs. She knows words of things that are part of the directions for her products at her plant. The directions for how to boil water for tea and soup.
She reads the English word on the screen and he assumes she knows the meaning of what she reads.
He prefers the sound that the translator gives. She often repeats the phrase with a different sound and he assumes they are saying the same thing.
On screen an imaginary translator tells the viewers that there is a big misunderstanding occurring.
The breaking of the fourh wall adds another level of reality. He has a fantasy of what he is doing and there is the difference between that happens and what he wants to happen.
Woody Allen moment of a narrator contradicting the visual.
Narrator says that she gazed into his eyes and he felt compelled to tell her his innermost thoughts.
Visual shows her glancing over his head and using the point of her dinner knife to divide the food on her plate. He is telling her that he always completed the crossword puzzle in the newspaper.
She fishes a piece of ice out of her water glass and adds it to her wine. He tells her that his first piece of art won a prize. Visual shows him standing as a child at a school event and he has won a ribbon for a kite design.
She says that her mother always wanted to be famous and to be recognized for her ability to perform.
The summer after his daughter graduated from high school and he is starting his day with a cup of coffee. he tastes the coffee and puts it aside He looks into a cupboard to find the wooden boxes of tea. He puts one on the counter next to the coffee brewer. He has made a resolve to drink more tea.
He goes to the screen of his computer.
The screen goes from a full blue blank page to a blank (not black but a smoky grey). The visual becomes a ghost image that seems to be a combination of a very old woman and a version of her when she was young. She talks to him as if she is giving him some advise. The words are not clear. The younger woman speaks with the same tone of voice but her words are distinct.
What the younger woman says is something like she is reading a poem that is almost a saying from a fortune cookie. The vision becomes filled with the noise of a restaurant and the table top is the end of a meal and the younger woman is reaching across to touch his hand.
"For part of your life you are the parent but being a parent is remembering being the child."
He comes back to the moment and screen is blank. The time is not the same.
(There is a change of time and date) Weather and seasonal clothes are changed.}
He is now wearing other clothes and he is wearing a watch. He takes the watch from his wrist and puts it in a clear glass bowl that sits on the counter in the kitchen. The kitchen counters are empty of all the usual tools and bowls he uses when he is getting a meal ready. This is a different time in many ways. He is ready for a evening in the City. San Francisco is covered over with thick fog and he is walking on a shadowy street with no one else in view. The street and sidewalks are wet and they reflect the lights from store window signs.
His father walks with him to the busstop which is on the way to the barbershop. They meet a man at the busstop each day who goes to the art school. The two older men talk of the weather and the events of the world that were on the last night's news. The boy stands back and allows them to have a few moment alone. The bus is visible for a few minutes as it comes up the street and stops at several block stops. The boy has drawn a picture of the bus and the morning street. The bus is green and has a white sign that is a number and a destination. Each time he looks at it it has changed. He starts to hear the voice of his father and the men in the shop. They always ask the questions that become the theme of his life. Where are you going? What do you want to do? The moment becomes a scene in the shop and his father is telling a story about the past and his hope for more than survival. The boy at the bus stop is thinking of the bus that goes through the tunnel to the airport. He remembers a bus and a train that meet at a small station. The people all have suitcases and the people are saying goodby and some of the older ones are crying.
He sees a cover of a magazine of a soldier with a duffle bag getting on a bus and the girl who is standing with her parents and pretending she does not see the soldier. She is there with her parents and her brother is going off to the city.
He sits in the corridor outside the office of one of the instructors. The door is open a crack and he is able to hear the advice the teacher is giving another art student. The man is telling the artist the same old story of the value of finding a place in art that pays the bills and allows the person to continue with his art. The voice of the teacher begins to blend with the advice his father has been giving him about the need to make a living and the need to find security in a good paying job. The voice of the step mother talks of how life often gives hard times that make each day a treasure. She tells him a story of a little girl who lived in the apartment a few years before. The girl was angry with her mother and said things that hurt the the mother very much. The girl went away for a long time and when she returned she was changed and had become kind and thoughtful to her mother. She said that some people are going through the worst of times and do not do such things. The girl learned a big lesson. The boy returned to the moment when he was waiting in the hallway outside the teahers door. Now he heard the sasme words but this time he heard something different. It was the way the teacher spoke. The works became filled with caring and with great hope. The art was the important thing. The teaher was talking about his decison to be an art teacher and the effect of passing on to the young the hope of being an artist and of being true to a dream
He is the first one up on his street each day. His son and his daughter are both asleep and he goes to this computer and enters into a chat room with a friend who works in a factory in the industrial area of a Chinese city. She is studyng English and computers. She works with hundreds of others in a large assembly plant that she shows him a pidture of the place and the large empty space above an endless floor of workers all doing the same tasks over and over. She explains that the work is continuous and she has been doing the same thing over and over for several years.
She does not show her home. She says she lives with her mother and a brother and his wife. She shows a picture she has taken from the window of their apartment. The picture shows the roof tops of many identical buildings and each one has a roof covered with used things that are too valuable to abandon and too broken to use.
He looks at the pictures she shows and he tells her of his family and his life as a small boy in the city of Pittsburgh. She asks him for pictures of his life as a child and of Pittsburgh. He sends her pictures of the modern city but not of the one he grew-up in.
She sees through his editoral pictures and wonders if he had older pictures.
(She has been studying the pictures on the internet of America and the history of the industrial areas.)
Back to morning inside his apartment. The dog eats a little food and goes and lays by the door. This is part of the dog's routine. He knows that the garbage truck has to go by on the street and the man will go and knock on the door of his daughter's room. She will answer in her sleep that she is awake and she heard the truck. There is a clock on the wall near the front door. The clock frequently needs to be adjusted. The man remembers the clock as being on the wall near the front door of his parents place.
The clock is part of a memory. He and his father took the clock to be repaired at a small shop near where his father had his shop. The man in the shop spoke to his father in a language the boy did not fully understand. The man was asking for the name of the town they had come from before the war.
His father says there was never any time before the war. The town that was destroyed by bombs destroyed all that had come before that. The war was the first memory and "They say the war is over. I tell my self that each day but the dream at night says the bombs will always be coming in the next minute."
The boy was sent to pick up the clock when the work was done. He took the clock to his father's shop and his father explained that the clock was not the clock he had had in Europe. It was a clock very much like that one but not the same. This was the American clock and it knew how to tell time.
The man hers his daughter in her room and tells her through the door that he is going to walk the dog. She says something and he asks her what and she says "Nothing."
He says to the dog that she always says something but she then says that she said nothing. How could I hear it if it was nothing. Maybe she means that what she said was nothing she wanted me to hear or that what she said was not important. We do this every day and one day she will tell me what she said and I will understand.
But then life changes. She appears at the door and she has pulled her hair back and she has on a sweat shirt and draw string sweat pants. She does not say anything. She takes the dog out for a walk
He goes to the window that looks down to the street. This is his first sip of coffee moment.
He is seeing the now of things and the moments inspire flash memories of the few years past. (The memories are of the first years he had moved into the apartment.)
The view is a wooded hillside and a few porchlights. There is no traffic on the street. He notices a light being turned on in a small window of a house down the street. It is a bathroom window. He knows the house and his mind goes to the woman who lives there with her one daughter who is a few years younger than his daughter.
He hears a door opening. It is surprisingly loud. He sees the dog running from the porch to a corner of a yard. It is the house near the end of the block. He knows the family. The husband travels a lot and the wife is a substitute teacher at the Catholic school at the edge of town. He thinks of the playground of the school and the days he walked his daughter past the play ground on he way to the elemetary school a few blocks up the hill.
The story of the imigrant experience had been told by those who would publish the stories. The book and the newspaper told the ones everyone knew. There were other stories that were told around the dining room table and late at night aften the day at the lake when cousins shared the last of the beer and the coldcuts. But the other ones were not seen. They were in the letters and journals that found aplace in the cardoard boxes in the dusty dark attics. There they remained until the young couple who had bought the house decided to open up the small spaces and bring in the fresh air and rid the palce of the years of ghosts and memories of those other times.