Derik Badman's Journal

2020-12-27 10:12

Xmas was pretty uneventful. Though we did video chat with the family.

Finally watched Kelly Reichardt's First Cow yesterday, which I really enjoyed. Another one of her non-generic westerns. She places it in Oregon, so it's all forests and lush greenness as opposed to the classic western plains and deserts. The protagonists are a cook from Maryland and a Chinese man he meets in the woods. They start a baking business (well selling snacks at the local outdoor market) using stolen milk from the only (first) cow in the area. It's a beautifully filmed movie with a slowly building tension that never explodes as much as a more traditional western would (there are no gunfights, and the only gunshots are more warning/alarms). At one point as the two friends are talking about starting up a hotel, the one guys says something like "you have to have money to start, or a miracle, or a crime", and that feels like Reichardt making a point about American history. These guys have only the crime route to take, and it doesn't work out for them.

This morning I watched another Hong Sang-Soo film, Yourself and Yours (from 2016, but only released in English this year), which was a wonderfully ambiguous and a bit surreal romance. A painter gets in a fight with his girlfriend because he's been told people see her out drinking with other men, she denies it. We then see her in a café and a guy walks up to her and calls her the name we know her as from previous scenes. She denies she is that person, then claims to be the other woman's twin. She hangs out with that guy a couple times. Then once again she's in the café and a different guy thinks he knows her from years ago at some publishing company. She denies that, but they end up hanging out. When she and the painter next meet up (after he spends days trying to get in touch with her), she claims to not know him or have the name he calls her. But he's so in love with her, he doesn't care. It's never resolved at all what is going on with the woman: is she crazy, is she just lying, is it just fantasy? There are two clearly imagined (by the painter) scenes in the film which add to the ambiguity.