Sunday, February 18, 2018

In the Mood for Love

In the Mood for Love is a 2000 award-winning film directed by Wong Kar-wai. This makes it onto my Saddest Movies Ever list. Nobody is happy, nobody gets anything they want, no good comes of it, sadness prevails. This is a beautiful film, but be careful when you choose to watch it. It's deeply moving.

via Youtube:

This Guardian reviewer declares it his favorite film and says, "There are many reasons to adore the film, most obviously its almost unworldly, dream-like beauty." DVD Talk calls it "a phenomenal picture; a marvelously acted tale of longing that is moving and often stunning in appearance. It's definitely a must-see."

Senses of Cinema has a lengthy article that says,
Wong’s key elements –what older critics might call “atmosphere” and “characterizations”– are thus grounded in abstraction rather than plot, and it’s hard to think of a recent movie that offers just such abstract ingredients that are by themselves sufficient reasons to see the picture. But it is precisely this quality of aesthetic abstraction that makes up an ideal dreamtime of Hong Kong, which is Wong’s ode to the territory.
Roger Ebert calls it "a lush story of unrequited love that looks the way its songs sound." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 90%.

There's a segment of an online film criticism course devoted to this film:

from this video: "It was released in 2000 and hailed an instant classic, winning awards all over the globe". I'm glad I'd seen the movie before I watched this; but this offers a helpful exploration of the movie, including technical elements and the social and political context.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Naked Lunch 42

I can't see the entire number on the door, but it certainly looks like a 42. This is from the first scene of the film Naked Lunch.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Black Moon

image from Wikipedia

One of the definitions of Black Moon is a month without a full moon. This can only occur in a February and only occurs about every 20 years. This month will be the last time until 2037. So get out there and look at that -oh, wait, you can't actually see the absence of a full moon. But there'll be two full moons in March, the second half of a Double Blue Moon, so you can have twice the full moon joy next month to make up for it.

This short video demonstrates the moon phases:

I had never heard of this month-with-no-full-moon occurrence until this month when it's happened twice before during my lifetime. It truly is the case that I learn something new every day!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lost Hearts

Lost Hearts is a 1904 ghost story by M.R. James. It begins,
It was, as far as I can ascertain, in September of the year 1811 that a post-chaise drew up before the door of Aswarby Hall, in the heart of Lincolnshire. The little boy who was the only passenger in the chaise, and who jumped out as soon as it had stopped, looked about him with the keenest curiosity during the short interval that elapsed between the ringing of the bell and the opening of the hall door. He saw a tall, square, red-brick house, built in the reign of Anne; a stone-pillared porch had been added in the purer classical style of 1790; the windows of the house were many, tall and narrow, with small panes and thick white woodwork. A pediment, pierced with a round window, crowned the front. There were wings to right and left, connected by curious glazed galleries, supported by colonnades, with the central block. These wings plainly contained the stables and offices of the house. Each was surmounted by an ornamental cupola with a gilded vane.

An evening light shone on the building, making the window-panes glow like so many fires. Away from the Hall in front stretched a flat park studded with oaks and fringed with firs, which stood out against the sky. The clock in the church-tower, buried in trees on the edge of the park, only its golden weather-cock catching the light, was striking six, and the sound came gently beating down the wind. It was altogether a pleasant impression, though tinged with the sort of melancholy appropriate to an evening in early autumn, that was conveyed to the mind of the boy who was standing in the porch waiting for the door to open to him.

The post-chaise had brought him from Warwickshire, where, some six months before, he had been left an orphan. Now, owing to the generous offer of his elderly cousin, Mr Abney, he had come to live at Aswarby. The offer was unexpected, because all who knew anything of Mr Abney looked upon him as a somewhat austere recluse, into whose steady-going household the advent of a small boy would import a new and, it seemed, incongruous element. The truth is that very little was known of Mr Abney’s pursuits or temper.
It can be read online here. It was adapted for television in 1973:

Ghost stories have a long history in the English language, and I've found that the older ones can be much scarier than modern stories that depend on blood and gore.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Real Things Don't Change

Real Things Don't Change:

by Porcelan, a Memphis musician. Isn't this song beautiful?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a 2014 science fiction book, the debut novel of Becky Chambers. I enjoy space opera, and this is a good one. The world-building is believable, and the characters are fully-formed and sympathetic.

There's a passage on tea I'd like to share with the T Stand for Tuesday blogger gathering:
There were few things Dr. Chef enjoyed more than a cup of tea. He made tea for the crew every day at breakfast time, of course, but that involved an impersonal heap of leaves dumped into a clunky dispenser. A solitary cup of tea required more care, a blend carefully chosen to match his day. He found the ritual of it quite calming: heating the water, measuring the crisp leaves and curls of dried fruit into the tiny basket, gently brushing the excess away with his fingerpads, watching color rise through water like smoke as it brewed. Tea was a moody drink.

There had been no tea on his home planet.
from the back of the book:
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possibly want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy and some distance from her past. And nothing could be further from what she's known than the crew of the Wayfarer.

From Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the chaty engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble captain Ashby, life aboard is chaotic and crazy -exactly what Rosemary wants. That is, until the crew is offered the job of a lifetime: tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Sure, they'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years, but risking her life wasn't part of the job description.

The journey through the galaxy is full of excitement, adventure and mishaps for the Wayfarer team. And along the way, Rosemary comes to realize that a crew is a family, and that family isn't necessarily the worst thing in the universe... as long as you actually like them.
A favorite passage:
The truth is, Rosemary, that you are capable of anything. Good or bad. You always have been, and you always will be. Given the right push, you, too, could do horrible things. That darkness exists within all of us. You think every soldier who picked up a cutter gun was a bad person? No. She was just doing what the soldier next to her was doing, who was doing what the soldier next to her was doing, and so on and so on. And I bet most of them -not all, but most- who made it through the war spent a long time after trying to understand what they'd done. Wondering how they ever could have done it in the first place. Wondering when killing became so comfortable.

All you can do, Rosemary -all any of us can do- is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It's up to you to decide what part you will play.
The Guardian calls it "a quietly profound, humane tour de force that tackles politics and gender issues with refreshing optimism." The Financial Times describes it as "a feel-good tale of non-conformity, gender fluidity, multiculturalism and unorthodox sexual relationships."

LocusMag says, "It’s like settling into a nice warm bath on a cold wet day, sort of like a cozy mystery, but with aliens and wormholes." io9 opens by calling it "probably the most fun that you’ll have with a space opera novel this year. It’s exciting, adventurous, and the cozy sort of space opera that seems to be in short supply lately." Tor says it's a "progressive piece de resistance" and "a delight".

Strange Horizons opens with this: "This wonderfully imaginative and quirky novel focuses on the crew of a small working spaceship, the Wayfarer, and their everyday life, relationships, incidents, and conflicts."

Monday, February 12, 2018

High Lonesome

High Lonesome is a 1950 western starring John Drew Barrymore (John Barrymore's son and Drew Barrymore's father), Chill Wills, and Jack Elam. It's the only directing credit of Alan Le May, better known as a writer for The Searchers and The Unforgiven.

via Youtube:

The New York Times describes it as "A Mixture of Mystery and the West".

TCM has information.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Some Buried Caesar

Some Buried Caesar is the sixth in the series of Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout, first published in book form in 1939. Lily Rowan, Archie Goodwin's long-time love interest, is introduced early in this book. It's on the list of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. I'm working my way through the books in this series that The Younger Son owns. They are fun, easy reads.

This one is a rare example of Nero Wolfe venturing outside his home city and solving a case that comes up there. He has gone to a large exhibition (a regional fair-type environment) to enter his orchids in competition. I got a kick out of the many scenes that take place in the Methodist food tent. Wolfe knows who has the best cooking available.

from the back of the book:
An automobile breakdown strands Nero Wolfe and Archie in the middle of a private pasture -and a family feud over a prize bull. A restaurateur's plan to buy the stud and barbecue it as a publicity stunt may be in poor taste, but it isn't a crime...
until Hickory Caesar Grindon, the soon-to-be-beefsteak bull, is found pawing the remains of a family scion. Wolfe is sure the idea that Caesar is the murderer is, well, pure bull. Now the great detective is on the horns of a dilemma as a veritable stampede of suspects -including a young ady Archie has his eye on- conceals a special breed of killer who wins a blue ribbon for sheer audacity.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Ellen Price Wood

Ellen Wood, English author, died on this date of complications from bronchitis at the age of 73. Mostly forgotten now it seems, she was a popular novelist in her day. She wrote from 1851 to 1899 and supported her family after her husband's business failure. More biographical information is available at VictorianWeb,, and the University of Adelaide.

Her novel East Lynne (1861) is her best-known work. It can be read online here and listened to here at Librivox. It was adapted for film in 1931 directed by Frank Lloyd. That film received a nomination for the Best Picture Oscar but lost to Cimarron. Another adaptation in 1982 starring Martin Shaw can be viewed via Youtube:

The Channings was published in 1862 and can be read online here. It was adapted for film in 1920. You can read more of her work here.

As I come across authors like this, popular and well-known in their day but whose names are not generally recognized today, I wonder which of our current crop of best-selling authors will still be read 100 years from now.

Friday, February 09, 2018

The Slender Thread

The Slender Thread is a 1965 drama film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Sidney Poitier, Anne Bancroft, Telly Savalas, Edward Asner, and Dabney Coleman. Interesting. The relationships are well-developed. from Wikipedia:
Poitier portrays Alan, a college student who is volunteering at Seattle's then-new Crisis Clinic, a crisis call center. Shortly after beginning his night shift, Alan receives a call from a woman named Inga (Bancroft) who says she has just taken a lethal dose of pills and wants to talk to someone before she dies. The story line follows the efforts of Alan, a psychiatrist (Telly Savalas) and a detective (Ed Asner) to locate Inga and her husband (Steven Hill). Various flashback scenes depict the events that led Inga to make the attempt on her life.
part 1:

part 2:

The New York Times calls it a "dark tale". Slant Magazine has a review. Variety says, "As a showy vehicle for talents of Sidney Poitier adn Anne Bancroft, the production offers mounting tension".

DVD Talk calls it "excellent". Rotten Tomatoes has an audience rating of 76%.