Derik Badman's Journal

2022-01-23 13:26

What have I been up to?

I read another Penrick & Desdemona novella by Lois McMaster Bujold, Physicians of Vilnoc, which was entertaining enough, though it didn't bring anything particularly new. There was also The Pictures Generation an older catalog of a show at the Met about the eponymously named cohort, most famously Sherri Levine, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, David Salle.

Yesterday I finished up Jane Austen's Emma. We finished up watching Dickinson on Apple+ (which was an excellent show) and there is one point where they are all excitedly reading Bleak House, so I decided to maybe read some Dickens. But we have no Dickens in the house, it turns out, so in search of some other 19th century novel, I pulled down Emma instead. I quite enjoyed it. Two things I noticed... The narrative is almost completely focalized through Emma herself. We know her feelings and what she sees or is told, but are not (as far as I can remember or notice) told anything outside her ken... except for one scene in the third volume where the narration suddenly shifts to Mr. Knightley for a brief period. It was an immediately noticeable and unexpected shift, I'm not quite sure why it is there. The other thing was how much there is of the mystery plot at work, which I guess is not an unusual thing to find in early novels, but it occurred me when I got to the climax of the novel, as formerly hidden relationships and feelings are revealed, that that revelation of the hidden is sort of like the revelation of the solution to a detective story.

Over a few days, watched Antonio Pietrangeli's I Knew Her Well, a film that ended up in my Criterion list for some reason I no longer remember. A mid-60's Italian film, seemed kind of late neo-realist. In a number of scenes, mostly disconnected from each other, it follows a young woman, played by Stefania Sandrelli, who is trying to become an actress. In total it's a rather bleak portrait, as she is frequently cheated by men, but it is beautifully filmed and at the scene/vignette level is often less bleak. Pietrangeli seemed very taken by Sandrelli's face, as there are tons of close-ups, thankfully she conveys a lot with her expressions (and her constantly changing hairstyles).

This morning I watched Paul Schrader's latest, The Card Counter, which was also bleak. Maybe I'm remembering his First Reformed wrong, but this one seemed more pessimistic than that one. Though it has a similar political element (this time, revolving around former Abu Ghraib guards) and a protagonist who ends up sacrificing himself... and... a kind of frozen moment of love at the end... The protagonist is a gambler, so it had this whole narration to it that explained aspects of gambling (cards mostly) that was an interesting element.