Have you ever started a movie or record or book and known within minutes that it’s a masterpiece? It happened to me a few nights ago with Krysztof Kieślowski’s Blind Chance. It’s a hard thing to put a finger on: why does this movie flow as if inevitable, no matter how farfetched this or that plot point or element may be, while any number of other movies which look so similar on paper are dead on arrival? I kept trying to figure it out but then gave up and just enjoyed what Kieślowski made. His 70-80s Poland is familiar to me on a base, elemental level. It feels like part of my DNA. The decor of the apartments, the fatalism, the absurdity of interactions with the powers that be.
The other night, a young woman came to the bar. It took me a few looks to place her. She works at Bite, where I worked twenty years ago. A couple months ago we had a short exchange in which we learned we’re both from the Evil Empire. She came here in the 90s. I didn’t remind her of any of this because a young man soon joined her for what may or may not have been a date.
They talked a lot about tattoos. Both were pretty well covered. Then, about an hour into their visit, she figured out where we knew each other from. We formally introduced ourselves. Then I excused myself because there were other drinkers to tend to and because the guy looked a little put out to have his time with her interrupted. They stayed for a couple more hours. Then he left and she stayed. We talked some more when I wasn’t helping others. She drank more.
I thought she’d gone to the bathroom but when I checked after not seeing her for half an hour realized that she’d split.
I met Amanda Goldblatt at a radio show recording at the Dial. She was being interviewed. We know people in common. It’s inevitable when you’re in the book racket. I’d just donated a rolling suitcase and a half’s worth to Open Books a day or two before, but bought her book anyway.
I started it on the bus home and got sucked in right away. It’s that same thing as with Kieślowski—it just flows. If I retrace my steps, reconstruct the timeline, I took a break from reading Goldblatt’s book to watch Blind Chance. I don’t know what the connection is. But what are the odds of falling for a book you knew nothing about, putting it down, and turning on a movie which you knew little about and sensing within minutes that it is a masterpiece?
And where does the disappearing Russian girl fit into all this?