Friday, May 26, 2017

The Color of Pomegranates

The Color of Pomegranates is a 1969 Soviet biographical film, which tells the story of the Armenian poet/singer Sayat-Nova in a poetical rather than literal style. It is directed by Sergei Parajanov. It was shot on location in Armenia. It is a visually striking film.

via Youtube:

TimeOut has it on their list of Top 100 Films, saying this:
Originally refused an export license, Paradjanov's extraordinary film traces the life of 18th century Armenian poet Sayat Nova ('The King of Song'), but with a series of painterly images strung together to form tableaux corresponding to moments of his life rather than any conventional biographic techniques. Pomegranates bleed their juice into the shape of a map of the old region of Armenia, the poet changes sex at least once in the course of his career, angels descend: the result is a stream of religious, poetic and local iconography which has an arcane and astonishing beauty. Much of its meaning must remain essentially specific to the culture from which the film springs, and no one could pretend that it's all readily accessible, but audiences accustomed to the work of Tarkovsky should have little problem.
It is 84th on the 2012 BFI list of Greatest Films of All Time. Senses of Cinema says, "This deliriously beautiful film is made up of autonomous, resonant images that – like lines of poetry –stay in the mind long after the film has run its course." The Guardian says, "the magnitude of Parajanov’s cinematic achievement is clear to see".

The New York Times says, "anything this purely mysterious has its magic" and closes with this:
Mr. Parandjanov made ''The Color of Pomegranates'' in 1969, and it was released in the Soviet Union three years later. Since then, the director was sent to prison camp for a five-year sentence at hard labor, and he has not made any subsequent films. He ''has been painting and living in harsh circumstances in Tbilisi,'' according to the program notes.
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 91%.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Shape Shifter

The Shape Shifter is the 18th book in the Chee/Leaphorn mystery series by Tony Hillerman. I only have one book left to read from these -an early one I don't have yet- and I'm sad to see the end of them. I can re-read, of course, but it's just not quite the same.

from the dust jacket:
Legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn
is back, in this latest tale of murder and mystery
from the renowned bestselling author.
Since his retirement from the Navajo Tribal Police, Joe Leaphorn has occasionally been enticed to return to work by former colleagues who seek his help when they need to solve a particularly puzzling crime. They ask because Leaphorn, aided by officers Jim Chee and Bernie Manuelito, always delivers.

But this time the problem is with an old case of Joe's -his "last case," unsolved, is one that continues to haunt him. And with Chee and Bernie just back from their honeymoon, Leaphorn is pretty much on his own.

The original case involved a priceless, one-of-a-kind Navajo rug supposedly destroyed in a fire. Suddenly, what looks like the same rug turns up in a magazine spread. And the man who brings the photo to Leaphorn's attention has gone missing. Leaphorn must pick up the threads of a crime he'd thought impossible to untangle. Not only has the passage of time obscured the details, but it also appears that there's a murderer still on the loose.
I've read these from this series:
1. The Blessing Way (1970)
2. Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)

4. People of Darkness (1980)
5. The Dark Wind (1982)
6. The Ghostway (1984)

7. Skinwalkers (1986)
8. Thief of Time (1988)
9. Talking God (1989)
10. Coyote Waits (1990)
11. Sacred Clowns (1993)
12. The Fallen Man (1996)
13. The First Eagle (1998)
14. Hunting Badger
15. The Wailing Wind
16. The Sinister Pig (2003)
17. Skeleton Man

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trouble Every Day

Trouble Every Day is a 2001 vampire movie directed by Claire Denis. Not your usual vampire movie, which is reason enough to give it a chance. It's slow, but I didn't mind that.

Village Voice calls it "a hypnotic, unsettling work by one of the most sensuous filmmakers of the past 25 years. Slant Magazine has a positive review. The New York Times has a mixed review and calls it "daring" and "intermittently beautiful".

Time Out says,
Denis shoots this grisly-erotic roundelay in her distinctively woozy and elliptical style. The deepest connections between characters emerge from silence as opposed to dialogue—Shane gazing hungrily at a hotel maid’s neck, Coré quietly enticing a fresh-faced neighbor boy into her boarded-up lair—while the groggy atmosphere, aided immeasurably by Agnès Godard’s grainy cinematography and the punch-drunk score of indie-rockers Tindersticks, keeps you constantly beguiled. describes it this way: "Steamy anonymous sex meets horrible crimes of violence in Claire Denis' languid, lurid new art movie." says it "is an eerie, visually attractive French horror film that isn’t afraid to take an old trope and tell a new story." Rolling Stone has it on their list of "20 Scariest Horror Movies You've Never Seen" and calls it a "gorgeous, shocking riff on the bloodsucker genre."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

One More Cup of Coffee

One More Cup of Coffee:

by Bob Dylan, who will turn 76 years old tomorrow.

Lyrics excerpt from the beginning of the song:
Your breath is sweet
Your eyes are like two jewels in the sky
Your back is straight your hair is smooth
On the pillow where you lie
But I don't sense affection
No gratitude or love
Your loyalty is not to me
But to the stars above

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee 'fore I go.
To the valley below.

Monday, May 22, 2017

My Name Is Lucy Barton

My Name Is Lucy Barton is a 2016 novel by Elizabeth Strout. I read Olive Kitteredge, and I will continue to pick up other books by this author as I come across them.

from the back of the book:
Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn't spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy's childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy's life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.
The New York Times concludes a positive review with this:
There is not a scintilla of sentimentality in this exquisite novel. Instead, in its careful words and vibrating silences, “My Name Is Lucy Barton” offers us a rare wealth of emotion, from darkest suffering to —“I was so happy. Oh, I was happy”— simple joy.
Washington Post opens with this:
“There was a time, and it was many years ago now,” Elizabeth Strout’s slim and spectacular new novel begins, “when I had to stay in a hospital for almost nine weeks.” And it feels like she is going to tell us a story, the old-fashioned, uncomplicated kind. But only for a little while. “My Name Is Lucy Barton” is smart and cagey in every way.
The Guardian closes by saying this: My Name Is Lucy Barton confirms Strout as a powerful storyteller immersed in the nuances of human relationships, weaving family tapestries with compassion, wisdom and insight. If she hadn’t already won the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge, this new novel would surely be a contender." The Chicago Tribune says, "Strout, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Olive Kitteridge" and other highly praised novels, has always awed us with her ability to put into words the mysterious and unfathomable ways in which people cherish each other." The book was the subject of one of Diane Rehm's programs. Kirkus Reviews says, "Fiction with the condensed power of poetry: Strout deepens her mastery with each new work, and her psychological acuity has never required improvement."

NPR concludes,
Some novels, regardless of their relationship to actual events, feel true. It's like something gentle has taken you to one side, where things you already half-knew but couldn't articulate are finally explained to you. You feel relief, you feel understood, you feel realer, even. You think, that's it. That's what life is like. My Name is Lucy Barton renders familiar universal tensions — family, sickness, money — quietly and aptly. It's a true novel.
I read it as part of my book challenge for this year. It's listed on the NPR site as one of the best books of 2016.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 classic, an award-winning epic masterpiece. It's directed by David Lean and stars Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, José Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, and Arthur Kennedy. If you haven't yet, you must see this film.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Masonic 42

This 42 is part of the street address for a local Masonic lodge.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Stalking Moon

Stalking Moon is a 1968 western starring Gregory Peck and Eva Marie Saint. It is a fine enough western but not something I'll watch again.

The NYT has a negative review that concludes with this: "The ads say that no one can escape "The Stalking Moon." You can if you stay home." DVD Talk has a lot of criticisms but says, "On its own limited terms The Stalking Moon gets an "A" for excellence." Roger Ebert says, "... the movie doesn't work as a thriller. It doesn't hold together as a Western, either".

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Dark Tower, book 1

The Gunslinger is the first book in the Stephen King Dark Tower series. I'm re-reading the first two books and completing the series in preparation for the upcoming film.

from the back of the book:
In the first book of this brilliant series, now expanded and revised by the author, Stephen King introduces readers to one of the most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, the last gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which frighteningly mirrors our own, Roland pursues the man in black, encounters an alluring woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the boy from New York named Jake. Both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike, The Gunslinger leaves readers eagerly awaiting the next chapter.
one of my favorite quotes:
Above, the stars were unwinking, also constant. Suns and worlds by the million. Dizzying constellations, cold fire in every primary hue. As he watched, the sky washed from violet to ebony. A meteor etched a brief, spectacular arc below Old Mother and winked out. The fire threw strange shadows as the devil-grass burned its slow way down into new patterns -not ideograms but a straightforward crisscross vaguely frightening in its own no-nonsense surety. He had lain his fuel in a pattern that was not artful but only workable. It spoke of blacks and whites. It spoke of a man who might straighten pictures in strange hotel rooms. The fire burned its steady, slow flame, and phantoms danced in its incandescent core. The gunslinger did not see. The two patterns, art and craft, were welded together as he slept. The wind moaned, a witch with cancer in her belly. Every now and then a perverse downdraft would make the smoke whirl and puff toward him and he breathed some of it in. It built dreams in the same way that a small irritant may build a pearl in an oyster. The gunslinger occasionally moaned with the wind. The stars were as indifferent to this as they were to wars, crucifixions, resurrections. This also would have pleased him.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Whip and the Body

The Whip and the Body is a 1963 Mario Bava gothic horror film starring Christopher Lee. Marriage, betrayal, jealousy, suicide, revenge, madness possession.... A ghost, perhaps. "You can't stop the hand of fate."


Images Journal calls it "the great director’s most romantic, overwrought, macabre, and sexually provocative film." Slant Magazine gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars. 1000 Misspent Hours gives it a positive review. Weird Wild Realm thinks it's hokey.

DVD Talk describes it as "a startlingly original scare show with an unexpectedly adult theme". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 71%.