5.28.10

Big movie week, where I finally caught up on a bunch of DVDs that had to be returned.  Fortunately, all were worth watching and 3 were actually terrific.

Bright Star, about John Keats, a favorite of mine, is wonderful. I’ve avoided The Piano for years, thinking it would be a drippy period piece, but Bright Star, also directed by Jane Campion, was so beautiful without an ounce of cloy in it that I’ll gladly watch anything the woman films.

Lorna’s Silence was the movie today. It’s Belgian and, like the terrific Medicine for Melancholy (shot in San Francisco), it uses modern locations, next to no music other than ambient, and follows very ordinary people through questions that mainstream American movies won’t go near because they’re too “boring.” Of course, both movies work because they’re subtle and fingerprint-free. The scripts are quiet and natural, and they focus, in very different ways, on people’s need to connect in order to survive. Loved them both.

Weird synchronicity: I walked in the door carrying Big Fan while its star, Patton Oswalt, was talking on tv. Spouse and I watched it that night. Rabid fans have been done often, so it’s not exactly fresh subject matter – it borrows a lot from King of Comedy – yet the performances throughout ring true. A New Jersey sister-in-law with a fake tan and breasts that look like plastic-covered upholstery verges on caricature, but then again, the woman who inspired her definitely exist; just hang out in a tourist-laden spot in New York on a Friday night.  This flick didn’t resonate with me nearly the way the others did – it’s basically a character study and fairly predictable, but it’s entertaining and doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t.

You the Living is a beautiful and austere showcase for absurdity, but being Swedish instead of American or even British, it’s not played for cheap, isn’t-this-just-the-most-bizarre-thing-EVER? gawking. It’s just life as people both live it and dream it all jumbled up together. Like the other most recent Swedish movie I’ve seen, Let the Right One In, it lives in a gorgeous icy palette. It’s kind of like if Bergman decided to direct a farce. You can see why this is the land of the original ice hotel.

I’ve had Simon Schama’s Citizens on the shelf forever and meant to read it. I saw that the non-fiction group is diving in, so I have as well, and I’m loving it so far. I haven’t read anything by Schama before, but he’s a book group favorite. I see why, great historical writer, and it’s one of my favorite periods.

On my classic movies list, I’ll be catching up on the original Phantom of the Opera later today. I’ve grown to love silent movies, which I avoided for years, as I’ve plowed through the 1001 movies list chronologically. Now that I’m up to number 25, I’m ready to point people to it. Just visit www.cinemarinkadink.wordpress.com

Yeah, I know that names a mouthful; it was supposed to be clever. Sigh. Such a fine line between that and….stupid…..

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