Archive for September, 2013

The Corrections

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Is still so, so, so, so good. Why did it not win all the prizes? WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?

Plus, I love talking about it with John. There is so much to say, and we just keep saying it, plus now he has yet another window into my interior world, he who is already in possession of more windows than anyone else. Marriage can be SO MUCH FUN.

(Contrary to what it looks like in The Corrections.)

The Delightful and the Unwatchable

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Two Netflix movies that have made me extremely happy in recent weeks:

1) Beauty is Embarrassing. Oh, Wayne White. Why did you not hang your early word paintings in a cafe in Berkeley (as opposed to LA), so I could have seen them and bought one before they cost a bazillion dollars? Ah, well. At least you are a brilliant and inspiring and hilarious person, and this documentary about you made me want to jump up and down and make lots of art.

2) Her Master’s Voice. The ideal way to watch this one is without knowing anything about Nina Conti, because it makes the weirdness all the more magical and inhabitable. For much of this movie I didn’t understand quite what I was watching, but I was entranced nonetheless (or perhaps therefore). I watched it a second time with John and then saw Conti again on Family Tree, the sweetly funny HBO show. At this point, I have developed an attachment to Monkey such that I need to impersonate him occasionally. Maybe more than occasionally.

Oh, and ALSO: Nina Conti is a genius.

Three movies (not Netflix . . . and that’s all I’m going to say about that) I have started and have not been able to watch:

1) Les Miserables. I laughed so hard, I nearly fell off the treadmill. Bail mark: 3:47.

2) We Bought a Zoo. Slick, overwritten, pandering. Bail mark: 4:09.

3) Anna Karenina (2012). This one lost me pretty much right from the start, because HOW CAN YOU NOT OPEN ANNA KARENINA IN THE TRAIN STATION, where it is meant to be opened, but I didn’t quite bail until Keira Knightly showed up. Nothing against her, but Anna Karenina she is not.


Readin’ Myself Googly-Eyed

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

This is a bad thing for a person who makes her living putting words in order to say, but sometimes I don’t feel like putting words in order. Or rather, at the moment blogging seems like more effort than it’s worth. And yet I don’t want to shirk my thrice-monthly (or so) duty to my (3-4) loyal readers.

How’s that for a sales pitch?

Hence I give myself permission to review the following three books in unkempt phrases:

1) Sisterland. Briskly compelling plot but utterly mundane language. Less matter and more art?

2) Old Filth. A rec from a colleague (thanks, Cass!), very tightly composed. Wry and funny, moves at a clip, and compassionately sympathetic to characters you don’t expect to like. I kept thinking This is not my type of book while continuing to read and enjoy it.

3) Subtle Bodies. I’ve always defended Norman Rush against critics, because even if he seems self-important and braggy, he’s so singular and smart. And he’s still (initially) delightfully brainy, but by 30% or so into this one, he at long last lost me. It’s a lesson in how to divest your content of its emotional power and exhaust/exasperate your reader by making every micromoment a Huge Freaking Deal. What, your character can’t find cuff links? And he MIGHT USE A STAPLER? I think we’ll all manage to navigate those waters. Plus, Norman, vary your sentence structure! The book feels deaf to the very tone it keeps ringing (wringing?), over and over, gong, gong, gong.

How did that go for everyone? Apparently, I got increasingly sentencey as we went on. Well, you can lead a horse to shortcuts, but you can’t make her take them.

P.S. John is finally reading (a.k.a. being read to as per audio book) The Corrections! Ergo I’m about to dive in for the fifth time, to aid discussions. CAN’T WAIT.


Yet Another Side Effect of Netflix

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Is that you rewatch movies you loved as a tween and discover that they’re all essentially the shits for women.

Well, maybe not all. Pretty in Pink holds up as basically sound romantic comedy, if flawed in the way of nearly every Hollywood romantic comedy, which is that the two leads fall in love without actually knowing each other, therefore rendering me unable to invest in their union. (Plus, what an additional few decades of life teaches you/me is that Duckie is far more delightful than Blane ever could be and that Andi should definitely, definitely have ended up with him.)

But Flashdance? Is male wish fulfillment by way of barely legal stripper—not, as I had believed at age 11, a movie about a young woman who dreams of a career in dance. Jennifer Beals’ character is 19. Michael Nouri’s is 40. He owns the steel mine. She “dances” at a club he goes to. When he takes her to an upscale restaurant, she removes her jacket to reveal that she is wearing a tuxedo bib. And nothing else.  Her character is essentially a pornographic construction—a young woman who exists to sexually arouse men, not for her own reasons. BLECH.

And The Breakfast Club, despite demonstrating more sensitivity toward people in general, is still grossly sexist. First, there are only two female characters: Everyone else in the movie (including the teacher and the janitor) is male. Second, the only two types of girl the writer could come up with were the queen bee and the “basket case.” (I guess we can be grateful that there wasn’t a “slut”—but was that even a type, then? Amazing to think that it might not have been.) Throughout the entire movie, Judd Nelson’s character sexually harasses Molly Ringwald’s in scary and disgusting ways, driving her to tears more than once, but she still kisses him and gives him her diamond earring. And Allie Sheedy’s character becomes appealing to the boys only after she gets a makeover. HURL.

What else you got for me, 1980′s?