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published in Times Square
Chronicles , NYC August 2022
Cali Lili ‘s
Eve N God This Female Is Not Yet Rated (with original soundtrack)
Oscars 2020 Contender
” After the first minute, I knew this would not be an LA – guns – and – car – crash film.
There was artistry, care and attention to detail, but most of all an homage to intelligence – allowing the audience to think for themselves. Cali dares us to sit and watch or else, just – turn on a re – run of, say… “Columbo”. I kept writing as I watched in response, not out of criticism, but, tracking, as a witness. As in any art form – that refuses to be told – I let go and it took me back to where all art should take us: to love, to oneself and forgiveness for the natural sin of guilt.
The dreamy woman, almost asleep on the stern of the boat is not just the character, she IS the film maker, her subconscious streaming, inviting us into the pre – sleep dream that we all understand, like T. S. Elliot’s “Love Song Of J. Alfred Proofrock”:
“Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky,
Like a patient etherized upon a table…”
The woman dreaming on the boat is our abraxas or the horizon line before the sun drops to the darkness of another day or, the light that explains, prepares us for the events and responsibilities of the agenda’s we all set for ourselves, during the waking hours. She could be a surfer girl or the beauty who zips by on blades along the promenade in Venice, leaving those in her wake, cranking necks to watch her disappear into the anonymous crowd.
But, Cali never allows us to look away. At times she gazed straight into the camera, definitely, stating, without fear or apology – that she knew we were there. We all knew why she was there. Her personal strength and as the character’s – evolves: committed, palpable, specific and alive placing us, on the other side of the proscenium yet – in her thrall. It is a comfort to the viewer – we do not have to worry.
Wings was beautiful. So simple and true; thoughtful, at times, funny but slightly repentant as the handsome old man next to the clock with no hands. I never thought I could feel sympathy for a deity but he made me realize that even God recognized that there was a new sheriff in town and – it wasn’t John Wayne.
Something happens to us. We have to dare to accept the intricacies, the subtle nuance of the literate dialogue, scenes that would rival Brecht, Pirandello or a French Film Auteur’s like Jean – Luc Godard, invoked from the 1950’s. It was no “he – said, she – listens”, conventional scenes out of a Syd Fields plot – point script designed to “sell” to the “suits”. It demanded that “attention must be paid”, with distinct references to literature, history, art, dance and music. At times the film makes fun of the Greecian conventions of “Beginning, Middle and End”. Cali knew you were keeping score, thinking you were a step ahead. No, she knew. Poof! “Doc” makes mention of the structure of the film, alluding to story development – or lack thereof. Just sit back and accept it, on its own structure. (Cali’s music, her singing, her lyrics with Wings playing the instruments underneath, throughout, seemed to mix naturally into the feast like herbs directly plucked from the garden).
But horror and fear, a subtle reference to a Snub Nose 38, all co – mingled with the proud, personal denial of one’s own racism and the ever – present fear of one’s own sexuality, a topic that pinches us into squeamishness and denial for those of us brought up in the “goodness” of the puritanical Judeo/Christian tradition. No! Throw all that out! You’re on your own…
I rarely think about films after I’ve seen them once. I’ve watched “La Strada” a hundred times and will watch again – any time it’s offered. And I know I will cry at the end. I know it. I access something about myself every time I find out “she passed away”. The same applies to “Cool Hand Luke” when Newman plays a banjo to his mother’s death. “Waiting for Godot” never allows me to “think clearly” but I will rush to get a ticket to see it again.
If I am honest and willing to have the courage to see into my own fears, “Eve N God This Female Is Not Yet Rated” helped explain the inexorable pull to sexual jealousy, possessive impulses of the women I’ve known and loved. I recognize, with regret, any rights I might have imposed on their thoughts and feelings, that I could invoke on their desires, on nature or on humanity itself – especially when it comes to love. No one has the right to climb into the hypothalamus of someone else’s brain and tell that 3 pound organ that those pleasure impulses, those electrical charges of desire are within the purview of another, not in spite of marital commitment, but – in the nurturing of the those lucky enough to wake up in the morning and say, “ I love you – but I don’t own you”. In a strange way, the experience “liberated” me from the fear of sexual possession. The universe knows what it wants from us all and, sometimes – we simply must – just, get out of the way.
This film would be in demand, played on a loop in NYC art houses, women’s movements, LGBTQ community and anyone who thinks they are better than the ones they stand next to, in line, at the DMV. Men who think they are “MEN”! – Oh, really?
It takes astonishing courage to step out of the confines of linear expectations, walk alone into the woods with just a True North compass; to launch a small, single – woman sailboat into the Pacific, living out of the sea. Or – to make a film, in LA, with a beggars budget and, yet, have it all become so intellectually gratifying and allowing us to think on it long after.
Gary Swanson’s show business career began in the circus as a Steel Pier High Diver in Atlantic City. He moved to NYC and became a contract player on Day Time TV show “Somerset” leading to a life – long career as film, TV and theater actor. He’s written for numerous magazines, taught masters programs. He still acts, directs, writes and produces. His political barnburner, If You Can Keep It, is in development. He lives by the Atlantic in Montauk, NY.
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