Read Namwali Serpell's The Old Drift last week, an intriguing multi-generational historical fiction/sci-fi novel set in Zambia. The chapters divided into three groups (for the three generations covered) each narrate the story of one of the characters (though they do start overlapping) are divided by one page narrations that seem to come from mosquitos (though that seem is important as the book goes on). I was quite engaged by the book, taking time to read it at unusual times of day (mostly I just read before bed these days), but in the end I felt a little let down by it. It's a long big covering a long period of time and a lot of characters but by the end I'm not sure what it all leads to. It felt like it kind of petered out at the end.
Otfried Preußler's Krabat and the Sorcerer's Mill was an altogether different sort of book, a German children's book from the 1970s, a fantasy novel about a young man who becomes a worker at a mill run by a sorcerer. It's got a strong dark fairy tale vibe, but takes time to slowly build the story. Oddly the ending is extremely abrupt, barely more than "the sorcerer was left to burn, everybody else left, the end." I think I originally picked it up based on a recommendation on one the RPG blogs I read.
Read David Thomson's short book on the film version of The Big Sleep (the Hawks version, that is). He spends perhaps too much time on Hawks and his relationships at first (and how it relates to the casting and the female characters in the adaptation) before really getting into the movie. His main point seems to be about the sheer artifice of the movie, the way, in the end, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense as plot, but is still a delight to watch.
Christian Petzold's Yella was not one of my favorites of his I've watched. It too had an ending that felt disappointing, a lot of mysterious build up to a pretty boring (and mostly obvious) twist at the end, that made the whole film feel kind of pointless.
I did quite enjoy the over the top aspects of Paul Verhoeven's Benedetta, about a nun in 17th century Italy who has visions of Jesus. The movie is slightly ambiguous about the reality of her visions and other things that happen to her. The visions are shown to us, so they gain a certain truth aspect to them, not necessarily as true holy visions but at least something she sees. But the times she gets stigmata are problematized in the movie, both as plot points, but also as something for the viewer to question. It's never totally clear: are they really happening spontaneously or is she causing them to happen because of a) madness b) deception or c) true religious feeling.