The Lowlands

Lowlands CoverA book about a network of women building lives in those spaces left open to them by political conflicts and foolish men. And yet, the book is never explicitly about this. In fact, the book’s form embodies the narrative’s central problem: it has a story to tell about women’s lives but narrates it in relation to these men and this politics. So its subject emerges, in a sense, outside of it’s pages.

The result is a gentle, troubling book.

The Matrix Trilogy

I rewatched this series of movies for the first time since they were in the theatre. (I’d seen the first many times, but the last two each only once.)

It’s better than I remembered.

Filming multipart releases in one extended shoot has become more common post-Lord of the Rings. The Wachoskis were ahead of their time in this regard and many of the things that drove me batty the first time watching the series were, I now realize, missteps in handling the episodic realities of an ambitious three-part story.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of IgnoranceI liked this when I saw it because of the moments of magical realism. They walked a tight rope between fantasy and realism without tipping either way and without lasting too long.

The rolling backstage drama of the final days of rehearsals which serves as the backdrop for a sympathetic portrait of an actor struggling for identity as late middle-age creeps away conjured up memories of John Cassevetes’s Opening Night in a way that made me patient of the film’s indulgences.

Thinking back to it now though, I don’t remember much that would make me watch it again.

Madame Bovary

Madame BovaryI don’t know what it is, but I just don’t like the story of Madame Bovary. This adaptation, which is carefully done, doesn’t change that. I left indifferent.

The New Rijksmuseum

The New RijksmuseumA film that documents the massive renovations of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Even after extensive cuts, it’s a long film, but this allows it to capture the structuring apparatus of the institution while also presenting a variety of fascinating and humane portraits of the people living interesting lives within it.

The film captures the frustration involved in working with organizations that have become too massive to control but it also suggests the extent to which they reflect and protect the beauty of the odd people that work within them.

The uncut version of the film exists and when it circulates, I’m going to watch it.

StorySpace

A first beta of the new StorySpace has been posted for people in the Tinderbox Backstage and I’ve downloaded it with blind excitement.

“Blind” because I’ve never used StorySpace before, but I am currently straddling the divide between linear and hypertext writing and feel very unsure of which way to go with a couple of stalled writing projects. Linear writing means these projects will never be published. Hypertext writing makes publication easy. I worry though about the way it tempts me to avoid the fruitful challenge of ordering material. Overcoming that problem has been key to all my successful writing in the past. How do I work without it? Or beyond it?

“Excitement” is less complicated: curiosity in this case feels like hope.

Aliens

Aliens SEWatched the director’s cut of Aliens, which I’d never seen. Realized two things.

First, the story of the longer version was really engaging. I realize length is an issue with feature releases, but sometimes it is worth letting a film’s story breath.

Second, Sigourney Weaver was acting this movie to pieces. I think the genre of the film makes that easy to discount, but her performance is very, very good.

Alien 3

Alien 3I disliked Alien 3 when it came out and had never watched it a second time. My brother convinced me to give the director’s cut a try.

It is like a different movie, and Sigourney Weaver is drop-dead amazing. Her performance invents layers beneath and between the lines of the action-horror script, recreating the film as both sensible and engaging.

A new favourite instalment in the series.