Sunday, May 3, 2015

Rooms on Film: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

star-crossed: dodge and penny meet mere days before the apocalypse
This is one of those movies I watch whenever I find it playing on cable. A quiet little story about two people who meet as the world is counting down the end of days. As society literally breaks down around them, giving way to despair and chaos on every level, neighbors Dodge and Penny meet and join forces to return to their loved ones before an oncoming asteriod extincts mankind.

While Dodge is the main character, mired in a tidy regret, this post is about flighty Penny's apartment. She's the life of this party...

all the staircases in this place are like an m. c. escher painting
Somehow the two fail to meet over the course of years, though Dodge passes Penny's door daily. They finally intersect when Penny clears out so her ex can move out, hiding outside the window of Dodge - whose wife recently ran off with her lover. 

One thing I dearly love is the peacock teal paint in Penny's hallway. It's a stark transition from the pre-war building's common hallway, in all it's neutral tones. And right away it tells you how lively she is. As opposed to Dodge's sterile, catalog-esque apartment upstairs. 

the outer hallway is boring, but i love that textured wallpaper
Although Penny's apartment is mostly seen on the run we do get some good peaks, entering through the kitchen window as Dodge must. The black paint highlights the white built-in cabinets and tile backsplash. Being a prewar, this place has some of those old-timey details like a pull-out cutting board built into the counter. We can see by the shape and hardware that the fridge and stove are also vintage. Having an apartment-size stove myself, I can attest to missing a stove with space in the middle for a utensils. Penny's is covered in copper pots, a utensil caddy and... marmalade? Altogether different from Dodge's kitchen, which while also prewar, has stainless steel modern appliances and counters including a dishwasher and premium six-burner stove.

vintage kitchen
From the black and white butler's pantry (at the opposite end of the kitchen) we step into the... marsala colored livingroom? Vintage 1950s dining table surrounded by a mix of dining chairs in various fabrics. A great Oriental screen is hung on the wall, painted in gold and black with a kimono painted on. For some reason, there's a rolling rack of dresses in the room too.

warm and inviting global dining room, well lived-in
from here you can see the doorway between the pantry and kitchen
penny stands in the dining room, facing the hallway
As you can see the dining room opens onto the peacock hallway as well as onto the livingroom. From here you can see the lovely chandeliers in the other rooms, as well as the oriental rugs on the floors. The lava lamp raises my eyebrow, but that parasol shade on the other kinds redeems it.

penny's warm, spacious apartment
The highlight of the living room is Penny's vinyl record collection complete with the necessary equipment to enjoy it. This takes me back to childhood, having grown up when this was still the preferred medium for home music. Chilling on the floor with this rug and the fluffy floor pillows is an ideal way to kill your last day on Earth - assuming all your loose ends are tied up. Dutch certainly preferred it to his own cold, catalog-ready home.

a world of good music at his fingertips
lounging on penny's floor, melted candles are so appropriate

What songs would you want to hear in your last hour? I can narrow down my list of artists before my list of songs. Sarah McLachlan, Alabama Shakes, Sinead O'Connor, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ben Harper, TV on the Radio, Cyndi Lauper, The Eurythmics... The list just goes on. But as a native of Rochester, New York who grew up in the 70s and 80s, it would be utterly necessary to roll "Feels So Good" by Chuck Mangione in there. It would be a profoundly appropriate sally.

penny's histrionic ex ignoring all the chaos
And then there's Penny's bedroom. It's pretty simple. Her taste is reflected in the bedding and a few spare furnishings.

The whole place is actually rather composed considering Penny's bouts of hysteria and self-described flightiness. You'd expect it to be furnished in discount steamer trunks, bongs and bean bag chairs. But it's actually fairly tidy and simple: mattress and box spring on the floor, low oriental cabinet for a dresser, paintings on canvas leaned against the walls, mix-match patterned bedding, garments slung over lamps:

a rather ugly afghan that keeps reappearing throughout the film
cherry blossom art and a low-slung oriental cabinet
comfy chair in the corner
 We get a better view of the bedding in the final scene. It's no wonder they choose to pass the final moments of their lives in Penny's bed just looking at one another, and with the incredibly calm dog, Sorry. Certainly the end of the world is no suicide, but the neatly made bed suggests people laying themselves out with finality.

 And then, of course, the end comes. Too soon.

penny rages against the dying of the light

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