Jan 222019
 

One of the most moving films I’ve seen in a long time. The narration—multimedia, impressionistic—was thrilling and the performances offered up by the youngest son and his father are just extraordinary.

On a personal level, I have near unbounded sympathy for young, lonely characters who, naively and without pretensions, live a rich imaginative life and are made to suffer for it. The final scene of the boy collecting his journals and drawings from the garbage and then walking off across the field broke my heart.

 January 22, 2019  Movie Logs Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Jan 202019
 

What I didn’t know going into this movie was that it was a kind of docu-fiction: real people playing characters with different surnames who live the experiences the actors have lived themselves. It’s an interesting set-up: not, I think, because of grand epistemological implications but because it creates a context for non-actors to give extraordinary performances within a crafted narrative.

The star here, Brady Jandreau, resembles a very young Heath Ledger often enough for it to be unsettling yet he brings enough depth to his role to keep the resonance from obliterating him (as by all rights it should). This is a western, which means it’s a film about being a man in American culture, but the familiar generic iconography is held at bay. The landscapes are beautiful but seldom soar and seldom feel metaphorical. Brady is just a young man in the middle of nowhere with no money and few prospects, who’s had the one thing he loved and was good at, taken from him by bad luck. Now he’s got to figure out what to do.

I found two aspects of his story extremely moving. The first was the two scenes where we see Brady training horses: the first horse had never been ridden before and was terrified; the second had been badly trained and now bucked fought. In both cases, Brady’s attention to their expressions, his patience and his steady hand, look like love. Genuine, full-blown love. The care he shows these animals reveals that he is a good man. This is the ballast for the film.

The second set of moving scenes is of Brady working in the local pharmacy or grocery store. As he explains to an acquaintance, money wasn’t coming in so he took a job. This is what was available. Despite the situations thrown at him by people who see him as he works—for example, when he’s recognized by two boys who have watched him ride and view him as a hero—Brady’s reactions have little to do with pride. He’s working and seems to feel no embarrassment over the kind of work he does. Instead, his exchanges with other people at work, which I’d expected the film to frame as humiliations, serve as reminders of the work he loved which is no longer possible. The emotions at play are sadness and grief rather than shame or anger. The film’s realism is grounded in this choice of emotions.

All of which is to say that this film is beautiful and I enjoyed it a lot.

 January 20, 2019  Movie Logs Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Jan 132019
 

One of the books in this series showed up in a “best of” list on Ars Technica and it looked interesting enough that I ordered the first in the series. It showed up recently but I’ve been busy and it sat on my desk untouched.

Then today, after a long six days of work with another starting up again tomorrow, I saw it and decided to give it a whirl. Ten pages in, I’d already laughed out loud hard enough to get choked and have to get some water.

The set-up is simple: Murderbot is shy and doesn’t like being around people because they get awkward and that makes him awkward and sorting through the layers just isn’t worth it because ultimately he doesn’t much care about their problems. He’s downloaded hundreds of hours of shows and he’d just like to watch them in peace. Unfortunately he’s got to go through the motions and do his job, otherwise someone’s going to figure out he’s hacked his governor module and is a free agent.

So these humans he’s with on this mission? They wind up in trouble on a faraway planet and they aren’t terrible and he kinda likes them. So he helps them survive the murderous plots of a rival survey group, and they in turn wind up helping him.

The whole thing was light funny and more-or-less perfect for a quick read on a lazy Sunday by the fire. On a more serious note, the few glimpses we have of the the mysterious larger context dominated by the Company and the rest of the economic and political powers gives plenty of hints that this is a story happening in the world that Google and Facebook built: a capitalistic panopticon become simply “the way things are.”

 January 13, 2019  Book Logs Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Jan 132019
 

Blogging was a thing once. Then it wasn’t and then it seemed like it was again. And now…who knows. I’m pretty sure I don’t much care whether it is or it isn’t. After all, sweater vests aren’t a thing (even if they ought to be) and I wear those, which is just like blogging. See?

All of this preamble is warm-up to me trying to show some love to My New Plaid Pants a blog about beautiful men in great movies and TV that I’ve read daily for at least the past eight or nine years. If blogging isn’t a thing, I don’t care as long as this blog continues to exist.

I don’t know the author, Jason Adams, in person, but I think he’s great just the same and wish we lived in the same city and were best friends. His blog is funny yet totally unapologetically sincere. It is also somehow—and seemingly impossibly given the number of posts going up every day—1) not his day job and 2) not all he has going on. It boggles the mind.

So why sing the praises of Jason’s Pants today after all these years? Let me explain.

First, for reasons I’ll leave unspoken, I thought of and went searching for this post containing the picture of Alexander Skarsgard sitting off to the side here. Importantly, what I wanted was not the photo—(sorry Alex)—but instead the exact wording of the suggestion that we might, to our dismay, think of this picture the next time we try on a bathing suit, a comment that to this day makes me laugh out loud.

Second, finding the specific post took some time and effort because there are A LOT OF POSTS ON THIS BLOG. Skarsgard’s tag alone had 242! So as I undertook the “onerous” task of flipping through all of those pictures one by one, I stumbled across this post which screencaps the hell out of a scene from True Blood so wonderful that—to keep my life from seeming a drab worthless wasteland of day after day after day and then tomorrow too—my mind let it slip from my memory. But now I have remembered and am overwhelmed and may have to watch the whole series again. Damn your Pants, Jason Adams!

Third, the next day I went back to the blog only to discover that the final post before the weekend was Adams letting everyone know that he was going to rewatch Shcrader’s film about Yukio Mishima’s life, death and fiction: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. The photo that ends the post—I think it’s a still from the film that is mimicking images from a famous late-in-life photo shoot—is a showstopper: the male artist objectified and beautiful.

So today, all my love to My New Plaid Pants. May you strut your stuff for years to come.

Jan 032019
 

Our second day in Saint-Michel-des-Saints was clear and bright and very very cold. A half foot of snow had fallen covering everything. After breakfast, one of our friends set out croissant for the birds, and female blue jays came to eat them. I’d only ever seen the males, but the female, even without the brilliant blue coloring, are almost more beautiful.

With the table cleaned up and the fired taken care of, we put on our boots, coats, scarves and hats and set out to walk around the lake. It was beautiful.

 January 3, 2019  Travel Tagged with:  No Responses »
Jan 032019
 

For New Years, the Beav and I were invited up north to stays with friends in a chalet on a lake in Saint-Michel-des-Saints.

The drive up was long and in the days since Christmas winter had finally set in. The fields were covered in snow and the rocks dripped icicles.

We got to the chalet early enough to offer to make dinner. The kitchen stove was wood burning rather than electric, so we were improvising a bit, but everybody chipped in and dinner—apple and sausage stuffed guinea fowl—was perfect and delicious. Done eating we helped everything digest with a quick walk in the cold.

Back inside, we shared a toast, wished each other a happy 2019, and by 10:30, were in bed and off to sleep!

 January 3, 2019  Travel Tagged with:  No Responses »