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Archive for June 5th, 2021

by Sam Juliano

Note:  This was originally scheduled as the final post in this year’s festival.  However, We may yet be getting one more from Adam Ferenz.  Stay tuned!  Scheduling rules do not apply this year!

Dearest Allan:

     This business of wearing masks and social distancing would have had you regaling us with your satirical prowess, though watching from up there I’m sure you have had your fellow angels in stratospheric stitches.  But let’s face it.  You watched all your world cinema masterpieces and wrote your incomparable capsule reviews indoors anyway so there would be little opportunity for you to ever obscure your face or worry about standing in a line.  Feeding your beloved ducks at the pond around the corner from your house wasn’t subject to any protective compromise either.  In any case, our own close friendship would have gotten even closer as during this covid infringement on our liberties you would have had me at your beck and call.  My e mail would be inundated with orders to watch this and that, and my life would basically have been spoken for.  All the frustration you suffered for the better part of a decade in trying to reform the most renowned of philistines would have finally paid dividends. 

      I saw several outstanding films this past year via streaming.  It is purely a guess, but I am thinking the film I wrote here to pay homage to you is one you would have showered with a fair degree of praise.  As always I want to express how much we love and miss you.  Time has not been kind in dimming the grief on your untimely departure.  Still, all of us who benefited from your ornery passion and irresistible persona remain guided by you in spiritial and metaphysical terms as we will for the remainder of our own lives.

 Love,  Sam

     The acute realization of hearing loss is wrought with shocking consternation as one sits in a booth where perfunctory queries are made to a patient reduced to guesswork.  Hearing loss is largely an inevitable consequence of age and genetics but it could also be brought on by bad living choices or a profession that increases the odds of long-term or as in the case of Sound of Metal an all-too-speedy sensory breakdown negotiated by aural bombast.  In the surprisingly unsentimental film, directed by Darius Marder and written by Marder (and his brother Abraham) a punk-metal drummer recovering from drug addiction lives in a time and age where there are some promising options.  Initially “Ruben” defies the advice of an ear doctor who sensibly warns against further exposure to loud noises by staying the course on the performing circuit.  His girlfriend and band-mate “Lou” who travels with him in a recreational trailer is fearful his newfound disability may reverse his sobriety so she helps to arrange a move to a remote rural shelter for recovering addicts who have also lost their hearing.  The commune is run by recovering alcoholic “Joe” whose own ability to negotiate sound-waves was destroyed during the Vietnam War.  At first Ruben refuses to come to terms with their edict that Lou cannot live there with him and that ultimately all he is seeking are cochlear implants which are not covered by insurance but are reachable after he later sells his possessions including the trailer.  Lou persists in convincing Ruben to return to the shelter while she puts their relationship on hold by moving to her father’s residence in Europe.
     Ruben readily becomes acclimated to his new group home and learns sign language.  Joe encourages him to write and to be comfortable with silence, and Ruben administers drumming lessons to the young members.  After Joe reveals that Ruben’s tenure at the home was sponsored by a local church, he offers the brooding tenant a degree of permanence by taking on a job, but restless to his core Ruben is more interested in what Lou is doing and learns online she is experimenting with her own music.  While awaiting the activation of his implants, made possible by the aforementioned pawning of his holdings, Ruben asks Joe for a loan so he can re-but his vehicle, but is denied by Joe who then asks that Ruben leave the home on the philosophy that deafness is not and should not be considered a handicap.  The activation of the implants brings mixed results, though in view of the drummer’s professional pedigree even less, since severe distortion connected with the end result of the procedure can never be satisfying.  He flies to Belgium to move in with Lou and it greeted by the father who tells him he has had an about face in his feelings about his daughter’s boyfriend since the bottom line is that he made Lou happy.  Further realizations that hearing distortion will never allow him a real measure of sensory appreciation coax Ruben into leaving Lou, and some visualized meditative uncertainty.

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