Middle of the Row
I saw Frankenweenie on Sunday night.
There was a time in my life (1985-99) when a new Tim Burton film was an event, something to be admired, a sure-fire Friday night plan. And then came the unfortunate Planet of the Apes remake and a lukewarm Big Fish (which for all I know is perfectly good, I remember almost nothing about it) and then four more films I haven't even seen except for Sweeney Todd which I thought was pretty entertaining.
Which brings us back to Frankenweenie. I remember the live-action short, but this story was meant to be animated (re-animated?) and the full-length version is superior in every way. It's funny, it's tender, it has a big, socko finish.
This is how good I thought it was: I didn't even finish my bag of popcorn.
But that's not all.
I saw a woman in a green sundress.
I know it's October everywhere, but it's still summer in the desert. There's a cooling trend coming at the end of this week, but it was still ninety degrees on Sunday. Sundress weather, maybe the last weekend of it.
This woman with the green sundress had short hair and she was standing in front of me, so there was neck, there was back, there were shoulder blades.
I was reminded of that scene in Citizen Kane, the moment where Mr. Bernstein (Everett Sloane) tells the story of the woman with the parasol:
A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry. And as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl.
White dress and parasol, green sundress--it makes no difference. I saw some skin on Sunday that reminded me of necks I've kissed, backs I've rubbed, shoulders I've placed my head on. Familiar, but different. Close, yet distant.
In another week or two, all the sundresses will be hung in closets or stowed in drawers, replaced by sweaters and scarves and coats.
A month from now, when it's cold and rainy and chilly and damp, let's see which memory is stronger: Frankenweenie, or the girl in the green sundress.