Derik Badman's Journal

2021-02-13 11:05

Watched another Hong Sang-Soo the other day: The Day He Arrives (2011), the last of the ones on Mubi. That's a lot of his movies lately. I read an article the other day that said lately he tends to make two films a year, one in the summer and one in the winter, which explains why there seem to be so many of them. This one, like many of the others, had a bit of narrative non-linearity to it. In this case we seem to see the same evening repeated in different configurations. A director (of course) comes into Seoul to meet a friend. In the different repetitions he sees a lot of the same people, ends up at a few of the same places, but the conversations tend to reveal different information about the characters. There is also an actress playing two different characters, though that is not totally clear in the film, other than the reaction the protagonist seems to have on seeing the one character and narrating that she looks like someone. The primary emotion of the movie seems to be loneliness, as all the main characters at some point (in one of the iterations) bring up the topic.

Today I watched Josephine Decker's Thou Wast Mild and Lovely which was not at all what I expected narratively. Visually, it was, like the others of her movies I've seen, dynamic and beautiful: lots of changing focus and short depth of field, lots of cuts and montages, lots of subjective camera movement (at one point we seem to be seeing the point of view of a cow). Narratively it felt mixed and not totally successful to me. It sets up a scenario with a young man coming to work at a farm, where live a man and young woman (ostensible his daughter). The young man is hiding that he is married and has a kid. The older man is creepy and aggressive. The young woman at first seems fairly quiet, nervous around the guy, but curious. Then there is this scene where she is walking the fields with the guy and she catches a frog in some water. She's kind of playing with it a bit and then... she bites its head off. That was just... shocking and weird. There is a slow burning sense of dread and threat, like you know violence will erupt at some point, and you know it will start with the older man. And eventually it does, but it quickly goes from 0 to like 100 and then just as quickly ends. And the ending happens so fast it feels like there's no time to consider it. It left a lot unanswered, but also it felt... unmotivated. I don't know. I think it took the horror aspect too far right at the end.

Puttered around today, cleaned my office, read some documents and such. Looked askance at all the books that have accumulated that I realize I don't really want anymore. It's like... maybe I need some kind of system/constraint for my book buying. I at least have really curtailed my comics buying. I think I'm getting better about all the rpg stuff too, especially the more I realize what is really useful and what is just another book I'll never use. Sometimes it's just like I feel like I need to check the boxes, check items off the list, clear the docket, process the "to read" pile/queue/folder/shelf. I found too many books that sound interesting in summary and then aren't so much in actual full length. Always searching... for what I have no idea. Is it just an acquisition thing, a collection, a hoard...

Sitting here in the living room with a gimlet, while the brown rice cooks for dinner. I don't write about food much, but I do most of the dinner cooking. I find it to be a good transition from work to not work, but also a process that I don't have to think too much about... I have a recipe, instructions, and then I follow them as best I can. I don't have to come up with a strategy or a plan for it. There are not open questions (most of the time, especially after I've cooked the recipe once). It's comfort I guess. Put on some music, mix a drink, cook, dance around the kitchen, sing too loud, text with friends. It's never a blank page. It's never a problem I have to solve that I don't know how to solve. I do get better over time (I think). It's also... worthwhile... in that we need to eat dinner. I don't have to question the purpose of it. And in contrast you can see all the things I think about in re work or art or anything else I do.