Derik Badman's Journal

2020-12-21 08:48

The weekend passed and the snow is still here, thick and crunchy. I watched a couple movies over the weekend, and started more books and played more games.

Zheng Lu Xinyuan's The Cloud in Her Room (2020) was available as part of a new director's festival via Lincoln Center. I had seen good word of it when it debuted at some festivals earlier in the year. Aesthetically it's a beautiful film, in black and white, with a clear attention to composition, movement, contrast, etc. In that respect alone it was an enjoyabe viewing experience. Narratively it was slow and a bit muddy. Throughout the story, as we follow a young woman (22 I think) through a sort of ennui that felt very 80's NYC to me (like Jim Jarmusch's first movie), I was constantly reframing the inner framework I was making of who the characters were and what was going on. It took me awhile to figure out the relations between the protagonist and her family, and then I kept seeing the protagonist in scenes and thinking she was someone else. Like she looks different in different scenes, by almost the very end of the movie, I got this idea that the scenes were actually happening in two timelines. I'm not convinced I'm right about that, but I'm also not sure I'm wrong. Maybe if I watched it again I could confirm or deny that assertion. In the end, I don't think the film really work as a narrative, it felt too tight lipped to extract much feeling from me.

Hong Sang-Soo's Tale of Cinema (2005), probably the earliest of his films I watched, was even less satisfying. It had an odd structure, the first part seemed to be a film within a film, which then switches to a character who just watched the film and believes himself to be the inspiration for the protagonist of the film. It just didn't ever gel for me. I found the protagonists kind of annoying.

[Edit Jan 10 2021: After watching another of Hong's earlier films since, I've decided the later ones I like are better because they give more attention and focus to the female characters. Tale of Cinema and Woman is the Future of Man (which I didn't even finish) were all about the men and kept the woman at a distance. While Claire's Camera, On the Beach At Night Along, Yourself and Yours, The Day After, etc. are all primarily about the woman or at least give her equal standing with the male protagonist.]

Had a few in person meetings with people this week, which is unusually enough now to be noted. Saw my parents on Wednesday. I was in town for a dentist visit so stopped by their house to help out with a few things they needed. Everytime I see them now it starts me worrying about them. They are old; they are living alone (well, they are together, but still); and at this point any little thing could quickly become a big problem.

███████ were up on Saturday to deliver some Christmas gifts to ███ and I, so I walked over and just met them at his house. We stood around talking a bit awkwardly outside at some distance. I'm not sure it felt any more "real" than our weekly video chat happy hours.

████ then came down yesterday (just as our weekly D&D game wrapped up) to deliver us some food goodies. Cookies for Lianne, and cole slaw and macaroni salad from the Roy-Ann (?) diner for me. Which probably sounds insane, but that place makes amazing mayo-based salads, I wish I knew the secret (maybe it's just Miracle Whip or something). I have a weird love of mayo-based salads, but I am also really critical of most of the ones I try. Still trying to perfect my recipes for same, though they've gotten a lot better over the years.

Christmas this week, which will be the first... ever... that I won't be at my parent's house on Christmas day. I imagine it will be the same for Lianne, too. It's going to feel very... unholiday to just be at home by ourselves, not unlike Thanksgiving was I guess. Lianne got a tree for the first time in a number of years (Zoe and the tree were not a good combo; Buddy thankfully just ignores it), and while I am not generally enthused, it is nice to have it all lit up in the front room. Been listening to my Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack a lot too, and that's about as festive as I get.