The Week in Consumption, 10/12

Here’s a brief list of the things I’ve consumed in the past week, with notes.

The Children Are Watching Us -Vittorio de Sica’s breakthrough, not quite neorealist yet. A married woman continues an on-and-off affair, but we experience it through the eyes of her child. Very short, cameras obsessed with tracking directional movement–all pays off when the kid runs away, buy a train ticket, and almost gets hit by a train.

The Virgin Spring – Ingmar Bergman returns to the 13th century and displays the clash of teutonic and christian value systems. When a man’s daughter is raped and murdered while traveling to the church for Matins, he discovers the killers staying as guests in his own home and enacts vengeance.

Katamari Forever – The fourth game in the series is a greatest hits collection. Rules are the same: you roll a sticky ball around, picking up objects as you go. Sometimes the camera can be aggravating. The new levels can’t hold a candle to the old ones, but speaking as someone who doesn’t own the old ones, it’s nice to have them packaged together like this. I’ve found all the cousins and presents; still striving to reach 100% of the collection.

The Burmese Harp –  A fairy tale version of Japanese involvement on the Asian mainland in WWII, but a gentle, enjoyable one. A japanese company is captured in Burma as the war draws to a close. One member is sent on one last errand before joining them at a prison camp. As he heads south, the death toll weighs on him, and he goes from impersonating a buddhist monk to becoming one.

(fake) Sausage & Spinach Pie – Mom made this for me last night. It’s pretty good, except the spinach overwhelmed the other ingredients. Mom says this wouldn’t be the case if we used real sausage, but I won’t fall for tricks like that.

Badlands – Terence Malick’s first film, starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Somehow even trash is made to look beautiful in this. Two young folks go on a killing spree across the West. This movie also unleashed Carl Orff’s orchestral piece “Gassenhauer” on an unsuspecting public, who would later hear it in films such as True RomanceRatcatcher, and Finding Forrester.

The Lovers – probably my least favorite from Louis Malle, who’s becoming one of my most favorite directors. Jeanne Moreau plays a young mother living in provincial France, who dreams of Paris, excitement, and other men besides her husband. Movie picks up considerably when her car breaks down and she accepts a ride from a young archeologist. Of course, they fall in love. I was very surprised by the ending!

Mon Oncle – the second of Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot series. Hulot finds employment at his brother-in-law’s rubber tube processing plant, and spends time at his sister’s Corbusier-on-steroids house. Great sight gags, and the film really builds suspense by showing you how every piece of the house works, and then making you wait for Hulot to break them all.

General Idi Amin Dada – incredible documentary about the Ugandan dictator. It’s kind of like The Office, if David Brent had also been a mass-murderer. The most incredible scene, for me, is the cabinet meeting in which Idi Amin runs through his seven extremely basic principles for doing the job, and mentions, oh by the way, don’t do what the foreign minister did. The foreign minister is sitting right there, like a frightened woodland creature, and the narrator informs us he was found dead two weeks later.

Embryonic – My expectations are low again, so it’s time for the Flaming Lips to exceed them! I’m only one listen in, and it’s hard to digest, even if the songs are of a piece. This is a return to the pessimistic lyrics and sunless fuzz of their early 90s work. I don’t really have much of a foothold in it yet, but I want to.

Berlin: City of Stones – the first collection of Jason Lutes’ comic book about Berlin’s political, social, and cultural upheavals in the late 1920s. He excels at big things, like making you recognize the potential paths that history did not take, and he also excels at small things, like illustrating eyebrows. I’m not super-involved in his characters’ lives, but that’s not so important.

Repulsion – 90% of the chilling, creepy stuff in this movie is the suffocating camera angles. Catherine Denevue plays a London denizen who cracks up when her sister leaves town on holiday. It’s hard to feel all that involved in Catherine Denevue’s character, who remains a cipher. I just wish she had more of an imagination when it comes to fevered visions. My favorite trick was seeing the rooms of the apartment expand and contract. Obligatory current events note: how is it that a director who’s dealt thematically with rape in so many movies, with a lot of detail and sympathy to the victims, become a rapist himself?

Christmas in the Heart – This one comes down to, no surprise, how you’re feeling about Bob Dylan’s voice. The musicianship is impressive–but it’s not like we’re lacking top-notch recordings of the Xmas standards. He’s also not fussing much with the words. So how much pleasure do you get when hearing an gruff crone attempt to be cheery? It’s not much for me, but I’m betting it increases with company.


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