Sunday, June 05, 2016

Word of the day: otiose! From Stefan Zweig's story "A Summer Novella," in the collection Fantastic Night, published by Pushkin Press in 2015. The word means, essentially, "without practical purpose."

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Saturday, June 04, 2016

Ah, The Player. Watching it, I think I may have under-appreciated many aspects of it. Most notably, the comic ability of Lyle Lovett. "One of us. One of us. One of us." He's an interesting choice for Altman--seemingly without personality on the outside, and yet he's in roles in Altman films positioned at the crossroads of pathos and its suppression. I'm thinking of his turn as the baker in Short Cuts, in the movie's rendition of Raymond Carver's tragic story...

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I just found my iPod, which I'd thought I'd lost. For reasons I can't explain this cheers me.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

I tried, and failed, to watch Mike Figgis' Time Code last night. And in fact, I intend to return the movie to Netflix this morning. I was pleasantly distracted, at first, by the quadruple split-screen approach Figgis was using. I was also moved by the real-time quality of a lot of the action. And then I became upset, and then I fell asleep. Perhaps I was drowsy to begin with--I'd been out for most of the day, but I couldn't follow the film, not at all. And it wasn't for lack of talent. I could have watched any of the actors, alone on screen, for 90 minutes, easily. But it was as if the actors in the 4 stories were all aware of each other, aware of each other's narratives, and therefore didn't try as hard as they could have.

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Just watched, again, Band of Outsiders. Fine work--what has happened to French cinema? I guess that's an old question. This just seemed so full of energy and life and spirit... has something happened to France? Watched, also, Code Unknown, which the critics I respect hated but really moved me...

Have added J. Robert Lennon's Pieces for the Left Hand to the roster--100 short-shorts, seemingly of little consequence but explosive when scrutinized.

Have also added Amy Newman's BirdGirl Handbook to the rotisserie rack--my brother chose it for a chapbook contest recently. I'm pondering reading Barack Obama's autobiography as well.

Any feelings about Rahm Emanuel?

And speaking of chapbooks--not sure if anyone reads this blog regularly, or at all, so I can make such statements without fear of being too self-promotional:
Tarpaulin Sky Press will publish a chapbook of mine entitled The Pictures in the fall.

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Am reading Orhan Pamuk's Snow and Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude, having finished the Wahloo and the Malcolm. I have added A Sentimental Education. I also finished the Ryan and the St. John, both decent. None of these are terribly recent releases, which is a relief. I find myself perpetually trying to draw parallels between the events in the Flaubert and contemporary life--not sure if this is a function of nervousness or of the author. Am considering adding something from Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials, unless I'm dissuaded strongly by someone or have an early-spring aversion to science fiction.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Am reading Kay Ryan's Niagara Falls and David St. John's The Face right now. These too are more conservative than writers I might normally read, but also not. Ryan's poems have an odd, abrupt way of ending, and St. John's poems have spontaneity in them which I enjoy, even if they do talk about what Donald Rumsfeld would call "known unknowns." Am also reading The Poisonwood Bible, alongside a book about Mobutu's last days as President of Zaire. I'm trying, and stop me if I've said this before, to read a Sjowall/Wahloo book as well, The Man on the Balcony. These books are pared down to a really comforting degree, a little depressing, but also genuine.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Billy Wilder, Billy Wilder, Billy Wilder... I watched Irma La Douce the other night, and was totally impressed by Shirley Maclaine and Jack Lemmon. Their performances carry the performances of every other actor in the movie. It occurs to me that, over time, movies have tried less hard because the filmmakers have more and more resources. Entertainment has become a matter of technology, not sweat. Though, of course, what the digital set-makers and effects-people do requires its own kind of sweat... The films of the 40s and 50s, though, seem to really try to entertain us--we get the full production, from overblown credits to fully developed story lines to conclusions with the weight of sandbags. And there's something nice about that. Simple minded observation? Possibly...

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