The King and Down in the Valley

Here are two suprisingly similar films, both about a ‘charming’ stranger who comes to down (I meant to type town, but comes down also seems right) and disrupts and exploits the weaknesses of a family – Baptist evangelicals in the case of “The King”:, and a down at heel Californian family in “Down in the Valley”: This male stranger starts off attractive, charming, mysterious -almost with no background, seductive, offering something authentic in the face of a not-quite-functioning family/society. In both, the target, at least initially, is a rebellious or would-be rebellious teenage daughter, but a brother is drawn in in both films – though with very different consequences.

Guns and weapons figure large in both as property of both the father (the menace of American force behind the veneer of civilisation and/or religion) and in the hands of the outsider who uses them more appealingly but with no less, or actually, more destructive effect.

This outsider is ambiguous, offering energy and a relationship to teenage children that parents/fathers/step-fathers can’t seem to, but he ends up offering or delivering something quite unambiguous in its destructiveness – a devil in The King, and a disturbed, disowned and hurt young criminal in the Valley.

more battle dreams etc

Some war dreams with fighting and a sense of doom.

Also I have a new flat, some public housing somewhere – quite unEnglish, a block of flats, painted white in the sunlight. I had to climb on an old lady’s mantle piece to mount the stairs to the higher floor where I lived.

Before I went in, outside in the evening sunshine is a woman in a wheelchair who I don’t recognise. She says she is Beatrice and this feels like a reunion. She is there with her children who have grown older to welcome me to my new flat – which is kind of half way between two places. I see that she has only one leg (she has been married to at least 1 if not 2 Africans – in real life). But when she gets up I see that she has both and that it was my imagination.