Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Black and White February. (2011)

This can be a colorless time of year, that is, the arctic hell of February in West Michigan -- where lake effect know is always closing in from Chicago, crossing the great lake and howling on our beaches in white-out, blizzarding chaos.

I love snow -- if I can ski in it. And really, I'm too broke for that these days. So snow takes on a new meaning for me, a meaning that might resonate with a few others, as well: layer upon layer of washed-out white, covering the parts of the asphalt you need to see to keep from slipping on ice and breaking your neck.

The other day, I was driving down the road taking my daughter to her gymnastics class -- or at least, I think I was on the road. I really couldn't tell. If I was on it, it certainly wasn't visible, in fact I couldn't even see the signs next to the road. Every once in a while I saw a traffic light, and I think I stopped for most of the red ones, but between a half-working defroster and the white-out itself, there wasn't much more in front of me than a blank page.

Even today I was driving in Grand Rapids listening to AM radio from Chicago, and they were finally calling for our annual dumping. One to two -- not inches, but feet! And if Chicago is getting one to two, you know West Michigan will be getting three to four more.

Daytime here is white. Nighttime here is black and white monochrome. Sometimes day is a little bit black and white, with tones of sepia or a gray mush mixed in.

Now the TV is on and there's a graphic in the lower right corner. It bounces between three items: "Winter Storm Warning," "Blizzard Warning," and "Gale Warning." Sheesh. I don't even know what a "Gale Warning," is, but it sounds Irish and ancient, harsh and terrifying. My eight year-old girlie, always on the cutting edge of the weather patterns (thunderstorms terrify her, so she tries to stay informed) tells me "gale" means "wind," so now I'm trying to figure out why they don't just call it a "Wind Warning." (It's my five year-old son that should come with a "Wind Warning.")

In honor of what they're calling today an approaching 10-16 inches of snow, which will easily make this the hardest and most biting month of the year -- typical for a mad month that, year after gruelling year, makes you long for long underwear, a robust fire and the days of your youth (days when the warm body next to you negated your need for an electric blanket) -- I'm declaring this a frenzied BLACK AND WHITE month at Filmsweep. I'll be concentrating my focus on B&W films I love, as well as ones that are new to me, and we'll see if there's love.

I'll begin with a couple of great horror films from the thirties, then take a sharp turn into new territory for some 40's Hitchcock and 50's Max Ophuls and Andrzej Wajda. I'll revisit old friends like Lynch and Nolan and von Trier, and find out why Jim Jarmusch has a knack for black and white crackling to celluloid life.

Will I be able to post only about black and white films for the month? Probably not. The A&F Top 100 is scheduled to go public on February 7, and I'll also need to get to a few new theater screenings. Plus, the Oscars are looming at the end of the month, and any decent modern blogger should give predictions and reactions, right?

Still, I look forward to making it a "mostly" black and white month here at Filmsweep, my warm little home on the web. I'm hoping that March will reward with color for the lengths I'm willing to go for February frenzied film.


  1. I know this comment isn't directly connected to anything film-related, but I felt the fact that I had a good, loud laugh over the "wind" paragraph was worth a post. :-) Still chuckling...

  2. The kid is amazing, and he thinks that function of the human body is quite funny. But he often uses it as a defense mechanism more than anything else. Just last night I went to pick him up and carry him upside down out of the bath. The stinker skunked me and got away.


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