Derik Badman's Journal

2021-07-01 20:05

Watched more Christian Petzold movies this week with Phoenix a few days ago and then Undine tonight. Phoenix takes place post-WWII with a Jewish woman who somehow survived the concentration camps but is so damaged she had to get her face reconstructed. She ends up rediscovering her husband who may or may not have turned her in to the nazis. He doesn't recognize her but suggests she pretend to be his wife so they can claim her inheritance. I had read about the movie before, but it was only when he talked about dying her hair that I recalled/realized there was a Vertigo reference going on. Petzold keeps you wondering about her plans or feelings until the last scene, which has a really powerful ending.

Undine is a little less... direct...? A woman, her old lover, her new lover who's a diver... a kind of vague then not so vague reference to mermaids... maybe... I didn't feel this one as much as the other Petzold movies I've watched. It felt like it was a little further removed from the heart of the matter. I'm not totally sure what I was supposed to get from this one... I enjoyed it and was engaged with it, but in the end, I'm not sure about it. I think partially it is that the movie makes a shift of focus from the woman to the diver, so in the end, the woman disappears both literally and thematically, and it's not clear... why?

I also watched Hong Sang-Soo's Grass, one of his more recent ones with Kim Min-Hee. This one also felt... odd... unfocused. Kim hangs out in a cafe, working on a laptop. She says (at one point) that she's writing some kind of diary like thing, but also eavesdropping on the other customers. There are a few actors. Her brother and his new girlfriend show up.... It didn't hold together for me. Even less so that Undine and any other of the Sang-Soo movies I've watched. There didn't seem to be any throughline to the whole thing, any focus... any point? I should look up some reviews of it and see if there was something I missed.

This morning the women at the coffee place I've been going for a few months now were finally not wearing masks, and it was this weird thing for me. I think they were the first people I've interacted with quite a lot who I had only ever seen with masks on (the place opened after the pandemic/quarantine), so it was like suddenly they were just slightly different people. But it also reinforced the feeling I've had more recently about how much I rely on smiling instead of talking when casually interacting with people. I can smile nicely at people to express... a sense of kindness... without having to actually have any rote conversations.

It was one of those mornings cause I had two other interactions with people while out getting coffee that just felt... friendly... an older latino woman crossing the street the same time as me gave me such a nice smile, and then a woman I've seen a few times walking that time of today commented on my coffee (I already had mine, she was headed to get some), where before, having seen her, I kind of thought she looked... not intimidating, but... stand-offish... but clearly was not. Or maybe she'd by this point just seen me enough that she felt okay talking in passing to me. Anyway, after my week in the house alone, the tiny social interactions do make a difference. I was out for dinner alone last night and appreciated the little interactions with the folks there a lot too.