Sunday, October 29, 2006
Last night we saw The Prestige. First I just want to say that Christian Bale is my new favorite actor. I've loved him in the last few things I've watched. This movie was fantastic. I loved it. I liked everything about it: the fractured chronology, the dialogue, the premise, the actors, the magic. Everything! It was clever, but also touching. I also love Michael Caine in his understated way. And Hugh Jackman. Highly recommended.
On Thursday we watched V for Vendetta. I think this movie was promoted terribly. The most engaging part of the movie to me was the mystery elements and the Stephen Rea character. Of course Natalie Portman was good, but the movie was very intelligent, the dialogue was good. I think when I saw the trailer, I thought it would be super violent and I didn't get a good sense of the story. But I really loved this movie, and was impressed by the writing.
The Break-Up: I'm not sure what to say about this. I love both Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. And I love that Vincent D played Vince's brother. The cast was great. I have to say, though, that the ending was unsatisfying. I know it's all open-ended and what not, but when I watch a romantic comedy, I want a happy ending. But that's the problem. It wasn't really a romantic comedy. There were funny parts, sure, but most of it was rather dark. My favorite surprise cast member: Judy Davis. My favorite DVD extra: the alternate ending (which isn't that different) which features a touching version of "Rainbow Connection."
We also watched Junebug recently. Though, as MB said, it was totally without arc, it was entertaining. It's hard to say who was my favorite, because everyone was so good. I have to say the character of the husband was incredibly irritating, and it bugged me that the wife never stood up to his absenteeism. But the characters were interesting. I especially liked the folk artist guy, who was odd and creepy.
We finally watched Amelie, which of course we loved. I found it inspiring, in terms of its plot and, again, just how it was written, the interesting details and how the stories came together. It was funny and sweet and charming.
We saw Final Cut, which I have to admit, I was reluctant to watch. But it was quite good. There were some unsatisfying loose ends, but overall, it was good. The premise, that an editor edits your life down to a movie that makes you seem like a good person, was interesting, and Robin Williams was quite good in it.
Overall, I have to say that Netflix has helped us to catch up on our movie viewing. And we haven't really seen any movies we didn't like on some level. Though MB may not ever forgive me for Cache.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
"I hear the secrets that you keep, when you're talking in your sleep."
"My Sherona. My, my, my, my Sherona. My, my, my, my, my. Whoo!"
"Wake me up before you go-go, 'cuz I'm not plannin' on goin' solo. Wake me up before you go-go. Take me dancin' tonight. I wanna hit that high!"
"You're too shy-shy, hush hush I know why. Too shy-shy. Hush Hush."
"In the shower, I'm afraid to wash my hair. Cuz I might open my eyes and find someone standing there."
"Imagination never lets us take blame."
"Black cars look better in the shade."
"'Cuz there is something about you, baby, so right. Wouldn't be here without you, oh oh, tonight."
Did I mention I saw Rick Springfield on an infomercial selling an 80s compilation CD?
I thought: "I wanna tell her that I love her but the point is probably moot."
Also, this doesn't qualify as pop exactly, but I found myself singing it in the car today.
"Out of luck, out of love. Got a photograph, picture of."
And can anyone tell me when Depeche Mode became Classic Rock?
A free 80s mix tape to anyone who can name the sources of the lyrics above.
I will probably forget (soon) your names in order to make room for more song lyrics. I apologize in advance.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Class Two: Males in the class were visibly dozing while I talked. I gave them time to pair up. Most of the class (except four) left after about ten minutes. They are now known as "The Lame Class."
My question is: How should I exact my revenge? I have some ideas, but I want to know what you think.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd: Am I the only one who remembers, and loved, this show? I love Blair Brown, the star. And David Strathairn as Moss, the bookstore owner. I became addicted to it just after I graduated from college and was living in Seattle. I'm waiting, but unless someone else gets on the bandwagon, I'm not sure this will ever come out on DVD.
Thirtysomething: I know I'm not the only one who watched this, but it is still unavailable on DVD. Especially now that Timothy Busfield is back on Studio 60 (another show which, blame Middlebrow, I am now addicted to. It's actually good!), maybe they will put it out on DVD. The funny thing to me now is that I watched this show when I was twentysomething. Why did I like this show? I loved it! But it was about totally foreign experiences, child rearing and working. What did I know? Maybe I hoped my life would be as exciting and climactic as their lives. Is it? No. Not nearly as exciting. That's why I want the show on DVD.
Others? Are there shows you miss and wait (quietly, deperately) for them to be issued on DVD?
I wanna know!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
After my last post about "best novels" I found this news heartening. And, of the six nominees, three were women. Is it that the UK is more forward thinking than the ole U S of A, or what? Anyway, the name of her book is The Inheritance of Loss, which sounds good.
Other good news for women is the Gift of Freedom Award. $50,000, sisters! This year the award is for a fiction writer. Let's get out there and apply.
Maybe it's the cold medicine (let's hear it for DayQuil), but I'm feeling more optimistic.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I think that's a good standard for making a list of novels. He talked a lot about the folly of making end of the year lists and best novels of the century and such things. But he did come up with a list of five things that good novels must tell us:
- Who we are
- Where we came from
- The names and powers of our gods
- Who our enemies are
- How to protect ourselves from enemies
He said the Great American Novel is a mythical creature, like a hippogrif. He said it is a book that is still being written. I think it is almost an impossible task, at this point in our national history. Can one novel encompass everything? Isn't it rather presumptuous to believe that one novel can speak to the many aspects of what it means to be American?
I don't know, but I think I would have to have voted like Banks, choosing a novel I just liked or wished I had written, rather than trying to decide which was "most significant." For the most part I find "important" novels boring. Middlesex and The Corrections come to mind as novels that try to be important and The Great American Novel at the outset. I liked Middlesex, but I preferred the narrator's story to the larger immigrant story. I couldn't read The Corrections. I read about ten pages and thought if I had to read one more description of magazines piled around the house, I was going to scream.
Just thinking about it now, I'd have to say that the novels that come to mind as my favorites are not American, but British or Canadian. And if I had to pick just one novel? Just one American novel? Aargh! I can't do it!
But just for the record, of the novels nominated in the NYTimes poll, I loved Underworld, but I wonder if it will age well. It seems so much of our time. I do love Beloved, but I loved it less the second and third times I read it. I haven't read any Roth since Goodbye, Columbus. I just can't stand that much discussion of masturbation. Banks said last night that John Irving voted for himself.
Actually, thinking about it just now, I have to wonder why Sherman Alexie didn't get any nods. If there is one aspect of American culture that needs illumination, I think it is Native American culture. I loved Reservation Blues and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.
Middlebrow suggested to me that maybe it's a problem of genre: my favorite American writers are short story writers. Ron Carlson, for example, is one of the best. Jesus's Son by Denis Johnson and The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien both received some votes in the poll. The other book I might have voted for is All The Pretty Horses, though again, it pales upon revisitation. Notice another problem with all these titles? Yep. All men. The other book I thought of was Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, which Middlebrow mentions is really a novella.
Which leads me to the question, is the Great American Novel a masculine conceit? Do women's novels, because they tend to (gross overgeneralization) focus on more intimate portraits, automatically fail to be a Great American Novel? I think maybe so. I think our conception of the Great American Novel excludes many fine novels by women, just by virtue of the definition of the GAN.
So maybe I would make a protest vote: Break it Down by Lydia Davis. It's a book I wish I had written. It's short stories.
So what about you? Cast your vote and be counted!
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Here are a few.
- Soup. It's finally cool enough to make soup in my kitchen without dying. And it's cool enough to appreciate the warming effects. On the menu for this weekend: some chili perhaps?
- Sweaters. One of my favorite rituals as a child was finding the great barrels (cardboard, probably from U-Haul) that we stowed our winter wear in. As a child, it was like shopping, because what had belonged to my sister the year before was now mine. I remember specifically when I unearthed an "Organic" (remember that brand?) corduroy skirt that had belonged to my oldest sister that finally fit me. It was soft and brown. I loved that skirt! Now I only get to unpack the stuff from last winter that was mine and is mine still. But it is somewhat like shopping, because after six months, I've forgotten what's in there. My love of sweaters also explains why I will never live in Phoenix.
- Leaves. This year (maybe it's this way every year) it seemed like the trees on my street changed over night. One day green, yellow or red the next. I love leaves and have since I went to school in Oregon. There were so many beautiful colors in the fall. It's the same here. I love the intense yellows appearing all over. I collect the leaves with Son and press them in the Dictionary or the Riverside Shakespeare. I vow we will make some beautiful art project with these leaves. So far? A dictionary full of leaves.
- Pumpkins. I love pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie. I love seeing a huge pile of pumpkins outside every grocery store. My love of pumpkins goes beyond Halloween. I especially love to visit Pumpkin Patches and pick my own. Sadly, this tradition seems to be disappearing. Son's school was recently deciding if the class should take a field trip to the Pumpkin Patch. I was one of the parents who raised her hand to say, yes, I want to go and I want Son to go. I love the crisp air and the tractors and the hayrides. I also love the hot cider.
- Fall Break. We never had one when I was in school. Or if we did, it was called "Potato Harvest." Even if I don't leave town, or I only get 50 miles away, it's a break.
- Baked Potatoes for dinner. See #5.
- Even though I don't watch football or follow football, I do have a certain nostalgic love for the outdoor sporting event. The crisp air, the sweaters. Do they still have bonfires? Probably not. They seemed unsafe, even when I was in high school. But they were fun.
What are your favorite signs of fall?