Derik Badman's Journal

2022-05-16 08:13

Almost two weeks ago now, I sat down and read (in probably two sittings) the latest of Fireflies Press's Decadent Editions series, Dennis Lim's Tale of Cinema. The film has not been on of my favorite's of Hong Sang-Soo's, but Lim does a great job in relating it to a lot of Hong's other work. I've seen a lot of Hong's work since I first watched Claire's Camera back in August of 2019, but I know very little about him or where he came from (artistically speaking I mean). This filled in a bit of that, and also added to my understanding of how he works: quickly, minimal crew, minimal prep, most often the actors get the script for the day that morning after he writes it. Apparently he expects the actors to hew to the script, so the writing is kind of... last minute, but the acting is not improvisational. Made me want to watch more of Hong's movies (if only more were easily available to see).

Went to the actual cinema (in town) for the first time since March 1st of 2020, when I saw Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and oddly (or not?) it was to see Celine Sciamma's latest (subsequent) film Petite Maman. Stopped work early on a Monday, so the theater was nicely quiet and mostly empty. The movie is short, but effective, unlike Sciamma's previous films it has a magical element to it. I was going to say that it deals with children mostly (like all her films except Portrait), but really, while the leads are two young girls (twins... I think they are said to be 8 in the movie), it is as much as about the adult as the child. A bit of a spoiler (though I don't think if you've read anything about the film you won't know this)... the story involves a young girl who is temporarily at her grandmother's house. Her grandmother has just died and her parents are cleaning out the house. The girl heads off into the woods behind the house looking for a place her mom said she build a tree fort when she was young, and there the girl meets another young girl, her age, who looks just like her. When she goes to the other girl's house, she discovers it looks just her grandmother's house except everything is newer (or older depending on how you look at it). She's somehow met her mother when she was a child (and then her grandmother as a younger woman). I'm not usually a big fan of children in movies, but the actor's in this were excellent and they were written in a way that was neither too cloying nor too precocious, more that the girl has a certain intuitive empathy for her mother. I would love to watch it again (I guess when it comes to video/streaming), but I thought it was an interesting and moving short story on seeing one's parents in a different light.

Finally, watched another Agnes Varda film Le Bonheur, a story of a married man who falls in love with another woman and tries to... love both. Besides a fairly surprising ending (one, that, I think, is supposed to punctuate how selfish the man is), the most interesting aspect (to me) was the way Varda fades in and out to these highly saturated single colors. So a scene fades out not to black, but to the bright red of a flag, then fades back in to the next scene. She goes through a number of colors (at first I thought they were going to be just the French flag colors like in a Godard, but then orange and green enter the palette). I'm not sure what to make of it... did they have some significance? But I found it intriguing.

Rewatched Hamaguchi's Asako I & II even though when I first watched it back in 2020 I even said I didn't feel the need to rewatch. After appreciating his other films so much, I thought I'd give it another try, but... I can't say my opinion of it has changed since what I wrote back then. I don't think I gleaned anything new from it.

Back in January 2021 I watch Mia Hansen-Løve's Things to Come (geez, this post is all about references to previous ones), oddly I don't remember anything about it. My post doesn't say a lot, except that I liked it and planned to watch more of her films. I didn't until this week when I watched her latest on Hulu, Bergman Island. I went into it unsure, as I had totally forgotten I had liked her other movie, and, I think, had her confused with a contemporary German director whose one film I watched I didn't finish (blanking on her name right now). This one takes place on Faro, the island where Ingmar Bergman lived and worked for much of his life. A couple are there for some kind of retreat/Bergman festival. They are both movie directors/writers. The movie is mostly focalized through the woman, I don't think we ever see anything outside her experience or imagination. At one point the story becomes the movie she is writing, first as she is telling it to the man, then later... maybe she imagines herself into it... I became a little unsure at the end, whether the people in her imagined movie were also people that were at the Island for real, as there is one scene where she interacts with the two "leads" in her movie story, but I don't think we've seen then in the film outside of the story in the story... Might need to watch this one again to get a better sense of it, but I did enjoy it.

Rewatched Christian Petzold's Undine again (Hulu it turns out has a lot of good movies on it, as the latter was also on there). Don't have anything to say about it. Enjoyable, but not my favorite of Petzold's.

Ended up giving up about 200 pages in The Books of Jacob. I just wasn't feeling interesting/engaged in it, and felt distant from the time, place, milieu, and content (religious specifics). And though it's not fitting with my "giant novels" plan (turns out it's shorter than I remembered) I picked up Lowry's Under the Volcano to reread. I enjoyed it well enough over the past week, but it drags at times and feels... distant to me. Quite Joycean in its stream of consciousness style, referential, at times hallucinatory, a toppling descent for the drunkard protagonist. But what I never got a sense of is... why.

Yesterday morning while watching Undine, the fox appeared on our porch again. I've seen him briefly appear there at night, and suspected he was looking for the bird seed I've been sprinkling back there (originally for the juncos that would show up, but now it's the doves and cardinals and such). The one time I clearly saw him go right to that spot, to a quick look/sniff and then run off. This time he went to the same place. I guess foxes like peanuts?