The Mood, the Sea: THE SUMMER BOOK, p. 67

  • The sea is always subject to unusual events; things drift in or run aground or shift in the night when the wind changes, and keeping track of all this takes experience, imagination, and unflagging watchfulness. It takes a good nose, to put it simply. The big events always take place far out in the skerries, and time is often of the essence. Only small things happen in among the islands, but these, too — the odd jobs that arise from the whims of the summer people — have to be dealt with. One of them wants a ship’s mast mounted on his roof, and another one needs a rock weighing half a ton, and it has to be round. A person can find anything if he takes the time, that is, if he can afford to look.

Such beautiful language. Thank you to Thomas Teal for his limpid translation.

In other news: self saw the documentary RBG today. A few things struck her:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg has the greatest sense of style. Love her fishnet gloves. And the intricate judge’s collars.
  • She was so pretty.
  • Her foundation was a rock-solid marriage, which freed her up to focus on doing the law.
  • Her friendship with fellow Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia was the best.
  • When she was nominated for the Supreme Court, it was whispered about that she was too old (She was in her early 60s).
  • Some of her most ground-breaking dissenting opinions were written after she turned 70.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Telemachus Plays Host to the Suitors

Self just got back from watching The Rider. There is a very interesting father-son dynamic in that movie. Which is a perfect segue to Book 1 of The Odyssey: The Boy and the Goddess. The translation self is reading is by Emily Wilson:

Telemachus was sitting with them, feeling
dejected. In his mind he saw his father
coming from somewhere, scattering the suitors,
and gaining back his honor, and control
of all his property.

The poor boy. The poor, poor boy. Something wonderful is about to happen to him in the very next moment, though.

Stay tuned.

TREASURE ISLAND, Chapter XII: “Council of War”

DSCN0175.JPG

This past week has been a great, angst-y week. Not only did self definitively decide that she couldn’t bear to read further than p. 253 of The Amber Spyglass — it would break her — but she saw Avengers: Infinity War, and — she just can’t seem to escape the bloody angst. Because the movie — just ask anyone who’s seen it — has angst to the nth power.

As soon as she got home, she resumed reading Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. (For such a slim novel, it is taking FOREVER for her to read through, maybe because she keeps having to blog about pirate tropes, practically every page)

Today’s reading had mild angst. For one thing, a mutiny has just been discovered by the captain of the Hispaniola, a rather decent man named Mr. Smollett (The name alone does not encourage confidence regarding his eventual fate).

So, what are we to do? asks someone of the captain (He means: what are we to do about the mutiny?)

“First point,” began Mr. Smollett. “We must go on, because we can’t turn back.”

The captain and his mates then begin to try and figure out which members of the crew are loyal and can be counted on. They consider a crewman named ‘Hands.’ (Self loves the names in this novel. First there was Barbecue, the ship’s cook. Now there is a seaman named ‘Hands.’)

“Hands was one of mine,” says the squire.

“I did think I could have trusted Hands,” added the captain.

“And to think that they’re all Englishmen!” broke out the squire.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Philip Pullman Death Scenes De-Constructed (Spoilers — The Subtle Knife)

Self thinks they are amazing. She’s near the end of The Subtle Knife, and the tension is beautifully constructed, like a Kabuki play. She thinks that’s because of the double-ness of having a daemon. People don’t just die, their daemons have to die as well. And since the daemons have been actualized — meaning, they’re actual physical beings, but have properties that are not exactly human — there is a gap in the effect of death. Self means, you’re never sure a person is actually dead until the daemon goes down, and thus two have to go down together.

At this point, self has read three Philip Pullman books. And no two deaths are exactly alike.

There is something so stoic about Pullman’s characters. The reader (self) hides under a blanket, screaming — but the characters themselves are  puzzled by their injuries, and don’t make much of them (All the while the reader thinks: Get yourself to the emergency room! Call 9-1-1!) and we live every moment of their disbelief and shock when finally —

UGH. WHY.

She also thinks she won’t watch film or television adaptations of this universe. They’ll either focus entirely on the action, or have the characters feeling tragic because they can almost see the end approaching — and how would we get the curious timing of human/daemon deaths that add so much to the books? The film would have to be directed by a person with deep roots in Kabuki or Noh theatre (She’s seen real live Kabuki performances in Tokyo, theatre is a particular love of hers, just saying) Could they get Kathryn Bigelow? Because she did such a beautiful job with the deaths in The Hurt Locker.

There are only five or 10 pages left to go in The Subtle Knife, and the character self is reading about keeps acting as if ’tis but a scratch. But of course, how would the character know he/she only has that many pages left to live? That’s masterful, keeping that scene going till the very end.

She thinks of another scene in a novel that she read maybe two decades ago, which ended with the main character saying, in the last line: I die.

At that point, PHOOEY. When your main character has to tell you he/she is dead, that is one lousy ending. Self nearly threw the book across the room.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Tomb Raider: Just Okay

This is not a masterpiece. It’s not, even, that much fun. Alicia Vikander’s body is rippling with muscle so that’s certainly an improvement over Angelina Jolie’s (The trouble with Jolie as Lara Croft is that she’s very top-heavy and it gets in the way. Seriously). But Dominic West, poor Dominic West, is so wasted.

Here are a few positives:

  • That ripped body of Vikander’s
  • Walton Goggins having a stellar moment in every action/fantasy movie of the past few years (He was in the final Maze Runner movie, which self would rank higher than this one)
  • There is an Asian man who is kind and also has a ripped bod (Never seen this actor before. Googled. Welcome to the world, Daniel Wu!)
  • Solving puzzles is always fun. Though self did get a little lost when people were tossing all kinds of colored crystals at Lara Croft while balancing on their toes at the edges of a room with a crumbling stone floor.

Was there music? Self can’t remember. Too bad. A score can do so much for a movie.

What was that fox race through London? She doesn’t get the point, but loved that she saw a section of Tottenham Road, which she knows intimately: Hanway Alley (where her favorite London restaurant, Chez Nous, is) is just off Tottenham. Moreover, Vikander does a great job as a biker. She has that look of determination, and looks great in capris and bike helmet.

The guy who plays spoiled brat/murder suspect ‘Silver Smile’ in TNT’s The Alienist has a bit part!

Good Lord, she would never place this on the same level as The Last of the Mohicans, even if just for comparison, which critic Matt Zoller Seitz did in his review for RogerEbert.com. The Last of the Mohicans was a masterpiece! It was directed by Michael Mann, at the height of his powers! It starred Daniel Day-Lewis, at the height of his powers. (No, let’s re-phrase that: with Daniel Day-Lewis, there is no such thing as ‘height of his powers.’ Because he is still bringing it all the time! Just watch Phantom Thread!)! It introduced Wes Studi to the world!

Every time Vikander sailed through the air, self was reminded of the Fassbender move in 300. Which he executed so well that now, every action movie has to show its heroes and heroines doing the exact same move, at least once. It’s getting to be a thing! Vikander does it so many times in Tomb Raider that she even out-Fassbenders Fassbender.

Self found Tomb Raider a by-the-numbers thriller, which is to say it was not a thrill ride.

She was so excited, though, to see a preview of John Boyega’s Star Wars movie.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Movie # 7: FIFTY SHADES FREED

Self has liked the other movies in this franchise. But this one — well, let her list the ways:

  • The lack of chemistry between the two leads is never more apparent.
  • Dakota Johnson’s flat, affectless voice, while perfect for the role, is really annoying once she gets everything her heart desires. And, oh wow, someone is stalking her but she’s sooo ready for flirting. And sex. And romance!
  • There is no ending.
  • What is with Christian Grey’s brother’s affair? It’s a red herring.

Pluses:

  • Marcia Gay Harden has a small scene.
  • clothes, Anastasia’s
  • lipstick, Anastasia’s
  • Self didn’t hate it enough to walk out.

Stay tuned.

 

THE SHAPE OF WATER

Self arrived back in the US on Jan. 19. She saw three movies in three days. Her pace has slowed somewhat. The Shape of Water is her 6th movie since getting back.

Self doesn’t like Sally Hawkins. She never has. Though, of all the movies she’s seen that star Sally Hawkins, this is the one she likes best. Hawkins is really good in this. And moreover, her signing is so beautiful: so elegant and precise. Her tub scenes were great.

Self still doesn’t like Sally Hawkins. She finds her movies predictable: they always follow the same trajectory. Which is not to say they’re bad — they always get heaps of critical praise. But they’re always about an eccentric or misunderstood woman who, despite it all, triumphs. And not just triumphs in an ordinary way: no, when a Hawkins woman triumphs, it’s always in a quirky way. Because she looks quirky. Get it? GAAAH.

The fact that this movie is Sally Hawkins being directed by Guillermo del Toro means that it’s more obviously a “message” movie. But del Toro does inject enough moments of strangeness to still make this a satisfying Guillermo del Toro movie.

There were parts that dragged, parts where she actually found herself nodding off (it’s been a long day; she drove to Mendocino from Redwood City, then had to move all her stuff into a new apartment). She felt the creature was a bit too anthropomorphized. Why did it have to have two legs, two eyes, two arms, etc? Why, if you forget the fish scales for a moment, it could practically be A MAN!

She sometimes loves Michael Shannon and she sometimes finds his performances “meh,” but he is perfect here. Per-fect.

And boy does Octavia Spencer ever ground this movie.

Two more supporting actors deserve kudos: Richard Jenkins (magnificent) and Michael Stuhlbarg.

Self would also like to say that Michael Shannon’s two fingers were real scene-stealers.

SPOILER ALERT

They were in a paper bag, can you imagine. Then they somehow magically got re-attached to Shannon’s hand. But the color was off. And darn if the first thing self looked at whenever Shannon was in a scene was: the hand with the two greyish fingers. The scene where Shannon explains how they came to be re-attached to his hand: priceless.

Also, the awful level of violence that Shannon’s character inflicts — not just on the creature, but on a fellow scientist. His scenes are what make this movie so much more than a fairy tale. Sometimes, self even laughed. Wait, she asked herself, why is she laughing in a scene where a clearly deranged character is acting out? Yes, Michael Shannon’s acting is just that good.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Hostiles”: Self Loved It

Because Bale. Because Pike. Boy do they ever sell that connection — so many notes of tenderness and respect, and hardly a word needs to be spoken between them. One never questions these two fine performers’ responses, never. And that’s something in a movie like this, that’s as much about the landscape as it is about the people in it.

Which is not to say “Hostiles” is a perfect movie; it isn’t.

But it’s brave.

Particularly in its commitment to maintaining the laconic rhythms of the Western landscape.

Self admits to being a tad confused by the quote used in the opening. Something about the American character being stoic, lonely, etc. Which seemed rather ponderous — even, overblown — a quote for a Western, of all things.

But then this Western isn’t really a Western. It’s more like a horror movie. With its bleakness, it reminded self somewhat of Ravenous (which apparently no one saw other than self and maybe two dozen people in the entire United States) or of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

Rosamund Pike’s character is absolutely luminous. And she goes through so much. It’s no wonder that at the end, Bale . . .

Self really loves the New Mexico setting.

And also the scenes between Bale and his commanding officer (played by Stephen Lang, who is perfectly cast — as are most of the other characters. Lang usually plays hard-bitten bad guys but, here, he is hard-bitten in a way that self can connect to. In other words, he’s allowed to appear human. He seems very exasperated by Bale’s character. Props to the screenplay)

And also the movie has Adam Beach (who is such a great actor) and Wes Studi!

Rosamund Pike breaks your heart. At the end, she deserved the best. Self wanted it for her SO MUCH.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Maze Runner: Death Cure

So excellent. Self can’t even. The best wrap-up to a YA series ever.

Three out of four stars.

Self knows of what she speaks: she’s a big fan of YA.

Just to show you this movie went beyond, self cried at the end. You’d think she was watching The Time-Traveler’s Wife, not Maze Runner.

There were a lot of high-powered actors in the cast: Patricia Clarkson, Aiden Gillen, Barry Pepper, Walton Goggins (sporting truly disgusting facial make-up: five stars!), Thomas Brodie-Sangster. Half the time self kept wondering when Woody Harrelson was going to show up. Self loves it when a YA action movie is way better than anyone has a reasonable right to expect.

The only thing that bothered self about the movie (Almost 2 1/2 hours long, and the time just flew by!) was that every time Aiden Gillen was on-screen, she kept thinking: Littlefinger! There is one scene in which Gillen stares creepily at Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and it reminded her so much of all the times on Game of Thrones when Littlefinger is perv-ing on Sansa.

Movie’s best moment? In her humble opinion, when Min Ho gets up in Teresa’s face and yells: TRAITOR! So cathartic.

P.S. There was a preview for Jurassic World. Bryce Dallas Howard is truly growing into a Jessica Chastain-level beauty. In fact, for a moment that’s who self thought she was watching

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

1st Month Back, Fourth Movie: MAZE RUNNER, THE DEATH CURE

Self is all for action movies. She absolutely loves them.

If she doesn’t watch an action movie, it’s at least got to have Frances McDormand.

And now, woot hoot, the Maze Runner is back. For a few years, there was some doubt about whether star Dylan O’Brien was okay. He had a horrific accident while filming Movie # 2 of the Maze Runner, and filming shut down completely, which meant the accident was bad. But he made a thriller last year, and looked no different. And this year, he starts out with a bang, with the closing movie of the YA trilogy, and critics have been saying that it’s the best installment yet.

So, #pointsDylan.

From the way self got into 12 Strong, she knows she is ready for this.

Christy Lemire over on Roger Ebert, the review site, even compares the film to Mad Max: Fury Road. Of course, it’s not as good. Nothing can be as good as Mad Max: Fury Road. But to even earn that reference — that’s cool.

Tim Robey, writing for The Telegraph, has good fun classifying the series’ main characters into the following camps: Absolutely, Hell No, and I’ll Get Back to You on That.

On Team Hell No are the heroes. These are played by Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Dexter Dardin. Let’s also throw in Rosa Salazar’s character, as self finds her so darn cute.

On Team Absolutely is a beauteous turncoat played by Kaya Scodelario.

And then Robey forgets who’s supposed to be on Team I’ll Get Back to You on That or maybe he just gets bored with his own review because he never says who.

But there are enough bits to convince self that she has to see this movie. Cinema’s just 10 miles north on 1, in Fort Bragg. And it’s not even raining.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

« Older entries

Asian Cultural Experience

Preserving the history and legacy of Salinas Chinatown

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photography

Learning and teaching the art of composition.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery

transcribingmemory

Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

litadoolan

Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

the contemporary small press

A site for small presses, writers, poets & readers

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”― Madeleine L'Engle

Rants Of A Gypsy

Amuse Thyself Reader!

FashionPoetry by Val

A blog. My blog

Kanlaon

Just another Wordpress.com weblog