Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Lazy days

I feel like I've been holed away for weeks rather than mere days, although maybe it really has been much longer in terms of my headspace.

My hometown at Christmas was (unusually for its microclimate) blanketed with snow, and I returned to Montreal to record-breaking piles of the white stuff. Perfect for taking cover and staring into other worlds.

Three movies I've seen...

Moonrise Kingdom. So charmingly naive while being the exact opposite of naive. Visually it reminds me a little of Greenaway, only it's sweet and funny and ironic. The soundtrack (a lot of Britten) goes some way to promoting this comparison too. Thematically, I'm not sure — the strength of true love, the innocence of childhood, they fuck you up your mum and dad? But lovely. (Bill Murray: "I had to work with a bunch of scouts and kids. No money can make that right, can it?")

Stalker. Not what I expected, based on having read the source material (Roadside Picnic, by the Strugatsky brothers). No alien gadgetry, no reanimated corpses, no backroom thuggery, no black market economy, not much obvious unpleasantness at all. Tarkovsky stripped away all the details of the novel to focus on one trip into the Zone, one philosophical issue: the nature of the true unconscious wish that might be granted upon reaching The Room. The film is gorgeous, everything looks organic, walls and faces are mossy, mouldy. The Zone itself is lush, quite the opposite of the barren desolation the novel invoked, in fact more like Chernobyl is now; it's the town skirting the Zone that's colourless, dead.



This is art. But I'd still love to see a true adaptation of the Strugatskys' novel.

The Other. Based on Thomas Tryon's novel, which I read a couple months ago, I think the trailer with its voiceover and screams may be more chilling than the movie as a whole. The book is one of the scariest I've ever had the pleasure to read. The movie missed the mark on the characterization of the supporting characters, but it has all the classic elements of an evil-child horror movie, perfect for a dark and stormy night.

Three serials I recommend...
These are weirdly interconnected. Race, class, money, love. And a lot of desperation. (I watched these on Netflix.)

Daniel Deronda. Wow. I have got to read more George Eliot. I was fascinated by the Victorian-era look at Zionism. (Part 1 on Youtube.)

The Way We Live Now. An adaptation of Anthony Trollope's novel, inspired by financial scandals of the 1870s. (Part 1 on Youtube.)

Hell on Wheels. I wouldn't say I'm a fan of westerns, and nothing about post-Civil War frontier expansion holds much appeal for me, but this show is strangely compelling. The same time period as the Eliot and Trollope stories, it also features some railroad-related financial and sociopolitical shenanigans, but with a harsher breed of day-to-day difficulties. And several scenes flashed through my mind on my way home when my train was blockaded by First Nations protesters and delayed for several hours. Only the first season is currently available on Netflix, but I look forward to seeing more when I can. (Trailer.)

In queue
Prometheus today, and the continuation of John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga.

What are you watching these cold snowy days?
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