Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
"My body wasn't taken with me, the soul being a very spacious thing. Our dreams were correct: we would come to, over time, discover independent yet certain truths.
Discovery number one: it is lonely."
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I'm getting bored with writing about movies I saw. I really like the idea of keeping a record, but recording something like this just seems pointless...
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
All this to say, I didn't like Sweeney Todd at all. The leads' had terrible voices and the music was god-awful dull. The cool story was just butchered (ha ha) -- I mean, I was so, so bored. And I love Victorian stuff, and I love Helena Bonham Carter, and I love gore and cannibalism and revenge. And yet I was bored from the very beginning through to the end. I wish they had just made it a straight dramatic movie, without the singing. And I wish someone other than Tim Burton directed it. His heavy hand was in every scene, every shot, never for a moment letting you forget who directed it...
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Dustin Hoffman was exactly Dustin Hoffman, doing everything that he does that makes him who he is and makes him so likable. Jessica Lang was charming. Teri Garr and Bill Murray were hilarious in supporting roles. Ah, 1985 was so long ago! 22 years. It's astonishing.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Of course, television and video games are identified as a big component in the declines of reading. There is a firm correlation between television watching, reading, and academic performance. Etcetera. This piece made proud to be someone who reads so much, and I look forward to my twilight years where I will be someone with that "arcane hobby" of reading actual books.
Cairn quoted Proust's description of reading as "that fruitful miracle of communication in the midst of solitude", which resonated with me quite a bit, being alone but much less alone with a book. Being in yourself, but also in communion with another mind, another voice.
Readers also do more than non-readers. We participate in sports, go to live entertainment events and museums and vote more than our non-reading brethren. Readers rock!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
The quality of the DVD wasn't so hot. And for some reason there were all these chunks of dialogue they didn't bother to translate.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I really enjoy high concept pieces like Groundhog Day and the Spotless Mind thing. I like suspending my disbelief for these things, and I like the way I am mentally engaged in the concept. I like watching how they take the concept and work it out to it's end.
This was the perfect movie to watch while making my imperfect Oreo balls.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The special effects were really spectacular, and I can see why people like to see that kind of thing on "the big screen" -- but aside from a few breathtaking moments, this was just one long-winded piece of self-important childishness. Lordy, lordy, lordy.
I never cared much for the saving-the-world-from-unleashed-evil genre. Evil in the abstract is pretty meaningless to me. Not something I trouble myself over.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The ending was REALLY good. I was expecting all the leads to be saved, but that wasn't the case.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I came home exhausted after a long draining day at work and curled up on the couch with the newest New Yorker (even though I haven't cracked last week's yet). I read a wonderful, funny, touching piece by David Sedaris on flying business class next to a sobbing Polish man. I know it is so... so... pedestrian to like David Sedaris, but I am not going to apologize. I think his prose his so smooth and witty; his essays are extremely well structured. I don't know what's not to like.
Then I read a review by Malcolm Gladwell, another favorite of mine, about a book on the race & IQ thing. I know that this has been in the news again recently, but can't we just table this ludicrous issue already? It was a good article, of course, but it is just so depressing that there are still people out there trying to prove that blacks are inferior.
Ethereal Elegance included beautiful acrylic on paper fashion paintings by Steven Stipelmen. These had a lovely, impressionist feel to them and some of them reminded me of Debuffy and Chagall.
Exoticism showcased clothing from all over the world that has inspired Western designers. The textiles and ornamentation were intense. Heavy fabrics weighted with beads and embroidery. A really cool pair of "granny boots" that were knee high and made of fabric that looked like old fashioned curtains.
Chic Chicago displayed "Couture treasures from the Chicago History Museum". Basically a ton of gorgeous, elegant clothes from all different eras. This was kind of my favorite.
Monday, December 10, 2007
He covers Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Each chapter has a title like, "The Consolation for Inadequacy" (Montaigne) and includes a lot of information on the philosophers' life, on how they lived, as well as copious quotes and even pictures, sometimes oddly chosen.
My favorite sections were the ones on Montaigne and Schopenhauer -- both whom I personally related to. Neither whom I've read. I can't wait to go out and read Montaigne's Essays, although that will probably have to wait until after January. Surprisingly, I am most familiar with Nietzsche and was least engaged with that chapter ("The Consolation for Difficulties")
Some Schopenhauer quotes:
"We can regard our life as a uselessly disturbing episode in the blissful repose of nothingness"
"There is only one inborn error, and that is the notion that we exist in order to be happy... So long as we persist in this inborn error... the world seems to us full of contradictions. For at every step, in great things and small, we are bound to experience that the world and life are certainly not arranged for the purpose of maintaining a happy existence... hence the countenances of almost all elderly persons wear the expression of what is called disappointment."
I have never forgotten my Freshman Seminar professor exclaiming one day, for no reason I could discern, "Oh, poor Schopenhauer!"
Sunday, December 9, 2007
It was made in 1992 and I can't believe that was 15 years ago. That makes me feel old. Brad Pitt looked like a baby practically.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Freed from the drive-in prison of single-mindedness
He turns effortlessly to the highway drama
Of the heart's debate with the so-called "verifiable" world...
Thursday, December 6, 2007
But, I am pleased to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by Ratatouille -- the story of a rat who wants more out of life, more out of food in particular. He loves food, as a gourmet and gourmand. I don't feel like detailing the plot, but I didn't feel like it was predictable at all. I was genuinely engaged. I thought it was terrific and bet it will inspire a lot of children to become bourgeois foodies in the best and worst sense of the term.
One thing I really liked: it was not too cute. At certain points when they showed swarms of rats I was appalled and chilled. I liked that they didn't cutify ratness to the point of unrecognizability (a la Mickey Mouse).
Simon Pettet was fabulous as well. His work reminds be of Brenda Coultas' in one particular way: both poets give me the impression that each word comes at great cost; is written through something; chosen with difficult deliberation. Simon read a number of his poems twice, which created a weird, haunting effect and allowed you to really hear them. Often when I am at readings, words wash over me, a few sticking here and there, a few lingering. But Simon's technique let me hold his poems in a way I never had before.
I bought both his books: More Winnowed Fragments and Selected Poems
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Saturday, December 1, 2007
It is the perfect holiday movie. Et il est en francaise!
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Basically, arguments and facts I'm pretty familiar with but it is very good practice to refresh one's memory and find more sources. I took good notes for my winter intercession class, although I think I will use Angela Davis more than these folks.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I thought this movie was pretty ridiculous, although it was slightly intriguing. It takes place in Brooklyn during WWII and a modest, nondescript man living in a neighborhood of anti-semitic ignoramuses buys a pair of glasses that make him look Jewish. Because he wants to avoid trouble, he doesn't join in with the rabble rousers and they decide that he is a Jew lover and that his wife must be Jewish. I kept wondering why he didn't buy a new pair of glasses the second he was demoted at work. It seemed like a stubborn streak in his personality rather than a principled one, because he didn't seem to have that much of a problem with "real" Jews being harassed. The other thing that made no sense is why they cast Laura Dern as his Jewish-looking wife. She screamed shiksa. But she was supposed to be so Jewish looking that she couldn't get a job. And, she was the one who felt like if you can't beat them join them and wanted to make Macy fit in more, but she wore these flamboyant over-the-top outfits that also inspired hostility.
Still, there was something to the colorful, surreal, and noir-ish way it was filmed that held my attention. Although it really wasn't scary or creepy or tense even for a second.
Friday, November 23, 2007
But it was also very boring to me! I felt like I would rather read it. Or skip it entirely. But I definitely didn't want to listen to it. So I turned it off three quarters of the way through.
"Seems like everyone is sleep-walking through their waking state, or wake-walking through their dreams. Either way they're not going to get much out of it." Whatever.
Or, and better: "On really romantic evenings of Self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion."
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I'd post some brilliant excerpts, but one can easily find them online, so I won't. Here:
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
It is a corny movie, and, when you think about it, a little creepy -- about the courtesan class raising a girl to be a high-class, uh, "courtesan"; a man who watched her grow up falls in love with her and arranges for her to be his "courtesan" and she is very upset. When she finally agrees, he feels like her spirit is being corrupted and so they get married. I don't know. I just don't know.
But the sets were so gorgeously over-the-top! And Leslie Caron was so beautiful. And I love that song, I Remember it Well between Maurice Chevalier and the woman who plays Gigi's grandmamma...
I don't want to say what it's about because it is one of those movies that unfolds in a choppy, back-and-forth kind of way that makes basic relationships come as a revelation.
I will give one thing away. This came as a big surprise, so don't read on if you care, but Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character does heroin and those scenes were in some ways the most upsetting. He played a creepy asshole, but he did it so well. Instead of hating him or feeling sorry for him I was just viscerally complicit in his self-hatred. Which is a very weird, and, like I said, unpleasant, feeling...
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I just finished Brenda Coultas' The Marvelous Bones of Time: Excavations and Explorations. There is nothing like this book. The first part is a long poem exploring slavery in Kentucky and Indiana, and the poet's voice makes this history very personal, intimate, strange. Heritage and national history distilled through the unique individual. The rest of the book is comprised of prose pieces about various ghosts stories and hauntings, and is written in a sparse poetic style that again is unique and intimate, layered.
The rest of the book seems haunted by the first part of the book. The way I understand paranormal stuff is that there is mythic misperception that we have about the solidity of our reality, and that other possibilities, other presents, are somehow there. This is true, always in our mind. In memory and dream and weird associations and feelings we have in our body, and these get tapped into sometimes with greater clarity. Or, as a poet Brenda quotes thinks about "consensus reality" - "about what we as a society agree is real, and his feeling was that there are other realities, which sometimes cross over into ours". It's like a bleeding or seeping.
Here's an excerpt from The Robert Investigations:
"He met a man who asked him if he were yelling 'Annabella' in a weird voice. The man, who was wearing white shoes and a shiny dark suit, said that it might be disturbing to other visitors. Robert said, 'No, I was yelling, "Brenda"' and he demonstrated. Then, out of the corner of his eye, Robert saw something move, so he turned his head, nothing there. When he turned back around the man had vanished. Later, he realized that the shoes were from the disco era."
I couldn't find an image of the book's cover, which is gorgeous, so I used this image of a photograph of "ectoplasm" that was on display at the Met a few years ago.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
But I hadn't heard her read in such a long time. Maybe a decade. Could that be? She was an amazing reader. The first piece was a heart-wrenching exploration of grief that was done with a harmonium accompaniment. I usually don't care for the music/poetry pairing, but this was absolutely fabulous, it worked so well. Akilah's reading style is already musical, and the sounds just sort of buoyed her voice, helped carry it. The reading was in the sanctuary and it was amazing how her words filled the space. I am really glad I went to this reading, it was one of the best ones I've been to ever.
Here, from The Putterer's Notebook (out of context etc)
"where is your embodiment? this small obsession of becoming and collapse."
"What is the primary duty of repair?"
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Less principled in middle age, I have, at times at least, an increased ability to suspend disbelief. Of course The Fly is ridiculous, I realize, but I can move on from there and not be paralyzed by my own self-righteousness.
So, I didn't hate it this time around. I had completely forgotten how gross it was: arms broken with bones sticking out, ears falling off, Goldblum's face turning to an oozy mess, watery white vomit expelled from his mouth, pulling his own nails off with an expression of horrified wonder. I love the ideas Cronnenberg plays with, the biomorphic imagery, the invaded body, the false or shedding exterior. In The Fly, there is a dream sequence where Gina Davis gives birth to a giant maggot; at the end, Goldblum's shell is cracked open from inside by the metamorphosed giant insect. I was fascinated by the character's transformation and disintegration. At one point it seemed to mirror the normal aging and dying process that seems to be one loss after another. Goldblum watches his body fall apart, in a drastically speeded up and embellished version of what we all might go through in one way or another. We will still feel exactly the same inside, we will still be us, but our body will begin to decompose before our disbelieving eyes.
I have to say, Jeff Goldblum's eyes seemed more bug-like and creepy BEFORE the transformation. I mean, he was kind of weirdly insect life or not quite human from the beginning (I posted before and after transportation pictures so you can see what I mean).
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Reading a whole collection of any poet sort of numbs me out. I hear each individual poem less and less clearly the more familiar I get with the voice, the cadence of imagery, the idiosyncratic diction.
RELAXING IN A MADHOUSE
They had already attached the evening's tears to the windowpanes.
The general was busy with the ant farm in his head.
The holy saints in their tombs were burning, all except one who was a prisoner of a dark-haired movie star.
Moses wore a false beard and so did Lincoln.
X reproduced the Socratic method of interrogation by demonstrating the ceiling's ignorance.
"They stole the secret of the musical matchbook from me," confided Adam.
"The world's biggest rooster was going to make me famous," said Eve.
O to run naked over the darkening meadow after the cold shower!
In the white pavilion the nurse was turning water into wine.
Hurry home, dark cloud.
(I couldn't reproduce the line breaks here, because of something in the website's formatting...)
Monday, October 29, 2007
Actually, the main problem I had with it was the pacing. Some scenes were too long, and some snippets of dialogue or action happened too quickly. Clark Gable is really good at flirting with the bratty girl, similar to his performance in Gone with the Wind. I think they could remake of it. Not try to update it, keep it in the 30s but do it with 21st century technology and narrative techniques...