2nd - Cryptonomicon
A friend (Julie McBrien) whose taste in books are very similar to mine, gave me this book (highly reccommended) almost a year ago. It's huge, almost a thousand pages long...so I've held off on starting it.
Now that I have some free time on my hands I thought I'd give it a go. It's slow to start but she warned me of that. I have a feeling It's going to get pretty addicting here in a bit. I'll keep you posted.
25th - Faking IT
This is a fast read, normally the kind of book I'd avoid like the plauge but since it's heroine is a painter and the setting is an art gallery, I thought I'd give it a go. It is what you'd call a beach book, and ultimately was a pretty fun read.
March 5th - Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 - By Steve Coll
boy, this is a tough read with lots of minutia but well
worth working through; when you see it all laid out by a respected
journalist like Steve Coll, it's so easy to see why the attacks
of 9/11 were practically inevitable.
"This is just the book to give your sister if she's a loud, dirty, boozy girl!" Dylan Thomas
Need I say more?
This is a wickedly funny book about an American going to Trinity College in Dublin right after WWII.
This book should be required reading in every introduction to art history, or art appreciation class. It's full of examples of what women artists in each historical period had to go through in order to create, and many examples of how emphasis of what was considered "important" in the art world was repeatedly baised toward the work of men.
"From time immemorial in the West, the production of textiles has been pretty much the domain of women. Ancient Greece and Rome were no exception. Women of all classes participated in designing, weaving, and stitching domestic and ceremonial cloth. Their work was highly valued, treasured, and even used as currency.
So why do art historians care more about architectural ruins, fragments of vases, sculptures of naked bodies, and descriptions of destroyed paintings than they do about tapestries, tunics, togas, and banners? If men had done the sewing, would underwear be hanging in the Louvre?"
as well as quotes by artists such as August Renoir that illustrate the prejudices they faced:
"I consider women writers, lawyers, and politicians as monsters and nothing but five-legged calves. The woman artist is merely ridiculous, but I am in favor of the female singer and dancer."
Or, consider these quotes from the Bible:
"The head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man...for man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man made for woman, but woman for man." New Testament, 1 Corinthians 11:3-10
"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection but suffer not woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." New Testament, 1 Timothy 2:11-12
"If a woman does not go just as you want her to, chase her from your bed, give her a divorce, and let her go." Apocrypha, Ecclesiastes 25:13-26
As well as other interesting tid bits that give pause for thought such as: "In Rome, hermaphrodites posed a particular problem of inheritance, since men could inherit and women could not. So, their genitals were scrutinized during sexual arounsal to determine if they were primarily male or female. Eventually this became sucha burden that they were all thrown into the Tiber."
Perhaps the Bush administration will want to take the same approach for determining who may or may not get married?
15th - Bitches, Bimbos, and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls' Illustrated
Guide to Female Stereotypes
I love everything that the Guerilla Girls put out, I just wish the books were bigger and had more content. I read this book in a couple of hours. Still, it had a lot of interesting and often new ways of looking at how women have been historically portrayed.
The Oil We Eat - following the food chain back to Iraq - by Richard Manning published in Harper's Magazine, Feb. 2004
Do you ever feel like no matter what you do, you'll never get it right? I have tried my whole life to be socially responsible but it seems I always find out after the fact that whatever I was doing to try and help was somehow making things worse.
This article made me re-think my world view regarding food consumption and responsibility.
"Assesses the human consumption of the Earth's primary productivity or the total amount of plant mass created by Earth in a given year. Percentage of human consumption of the primary productivity every year; Reason that rice, wheat, and corn, aside from hydrocarbons, are the most concentrated form of true wealth; Efforts to maintain these concentration of wealth in different regions of the world."
I HIGHLY reccommend reading this article if you care about the distribution of energy on the planet or care about world hunger and impending ecological disaster.
Touched with Fire: Manic-depressive Illness and the artistic temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison
First off, my best girlfriend from high school who's mother had manic depression, suggested that I read this book as she thought it sounded like me as well. I didn't.
Later, I received it from a college friend as a gift and I kind of took it as an insult (this was before I got diagnosed with it myself). I guess it was a not so subtle hint. Still, I refused to read it out of stubbornness. Nobody wants to hear about their problems from outsiders no matter how well intentioned.
Recently I decided to give it a look and so dug it out of one of my dusty book cases. It's actually quite good. It talks about the relationship between mood disorders and the creative process. In some way, it has made me feel better about my own struggles with mood swings.
And, my family might like to deny it, but there's no doubt in my mind that my mother, who was an amazing singer, suffered from it as well.
One thing that worries me is that there are a high number of suicides amoung the cases studied. Anyway, I'm only half way through it so I'll give a more thorough report when I've finished.
Nerdrum - Paintings, Sketches, and Drawings- by Richard Vine
I've ordered a whole bunch of books through interlibrary loan on the process of painting like the masters. Odd Nerdrum is a contemporary Norwegian Painter who uses a lot of the same techniques as the masters. His paintings have a similar feel to them, but the subject matter is quite different, and at times downright bizzar. I'm really developing an admiration for his work.
Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer (book)
This book is about the history of the Mormon Church, Mormon Fundamentalism. It shows how under the guise of "religious freedom" fundamentalist Mormons use plural marriage and the ever changing teachings of a looney named "Joseph Smith" to oppress women and girls (who are forced to marry much older men when they are as young as 13 years old) by keeping them uneducated, perpetually pregnant, and in plural marriages where they are nothing more than glorified wombs. I HIGHLY recommend it but only if you don't mind getting really angry and worked up.
2nd - Shaun of the Dead
Hello, my name is Elise Tomlinson and I'm a zombie movie addict! There, I've admitted it...and it feels good. But not as good as this British spoof on zombie movies that is so frickin hilarious I nearly peed myself. It takes jabs at all the classics, including one of my new favs (28 Days Later) when you hear on the TV that the virus wasn't caused by "rage infected monkeys" as originally suspected.
I loved everything about this
film and think that even non-zombie aficionados would enjoy it. I give
it two torsos *way* up!
15th - Spirited Away
Well, what can I say about this movie? As an artist I'm pretty much blow away by the beauty of it. I've watched it several times already and let me say that I've historically not been a huge fan of anime...so for me to say this is one of the most visually stunning films I've seen in a long time, is really saying something.
It has made me want to see more films by Miyazaki who hand paints his cells rather than using computers for his animation. Great storytelling too! This is only the second film that has inspired me to buy copies for my neices, the first was Whale Rider. Young kids might not get all of it but they will be riveted by the images.
I remember reading about street kids being murdered in the slums of Rio back when I was in high school; it was unfathomable how that kind of violence could be allowed to happen with little or no interference from the police, and sometimes by the police.
This film is based on the true story of Alexandre Rodrigues (Rocket) one of those very same street kids who used photography to get out of the slums.I love the way the story is told through the eyes of three kids who grew up in the same neighborhood the “City of God”.
Fragments of each story are pieced together, segment by segment, all intersecting for the big finale ala Tarantino.
I read an interesting review of the film at imdb.com that discusses how the camera shots for each of the three main characters differed according to their personalities and the stories they had to tell. I loved the way the film was shot with quick cuts, lots of running cameras, sometimes frenetic, often beautiful.
Watching a film like this makes me want to not only pick up my camera again, but my camcorder as well. It also makes me want to read the book of the same name, that the screen play was based on; I’m just not sure if it has been translated into English, and I don’t speak Portuguese.
More than just being about violence, it's about how split second decisions can cause huge ripple effects. I *highly* reccommend this film (if you have a strong stomach).
Jim Sheridan is the director that did My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, and The Boxer (all films that I *loved*). This film was autobiographical and completely blew me away. I could never describe it in a way that could convey how special and dare I say "magical" it is. Every single actor in in it was dead on perfect.
I'd never heard or seen Paddy Considine or Samantha Morton before but I hope I see them again and again because they gave incredibly moving performances. I loved Djimon Hounsou in Amistad and he was just as powerful here. DAMN! Why can't all movies be this good?
I checked in the Internet Movie Database and Jim's daughter Kirsten (who directed Disco Pigs) has shared writing credits with Jim and her sister Naomi. I find it interesting that after directing such an interesting and original film like Disco Pigs in 2001 she currently has no movies in any stage of production.
It's tough for women directors, even when their father's are famous directors. We need more woman directors people. We need to have an equal share in shaping the hopes, dreams, fantasy, reality, etc. that directors form through the magic of movies. If the world is only reflected through the lens of men, we'll never have a truly representative perspective.
That said, Jim Sheridan is a genius. I'm convinced. And if you haven't seen this movie, you really need to. Bring tissue though, it's a tear jerker, but from beauty and subtlety, not sorrow.
Two hankies way way up!
This is the DVD box set that I got in the mail a couple days ago from my friends Sean and Jenni in Baltimore. I started watching the series at around 11am and couldn't stop. I watched all 6 episodes and then watched all of the special features. It is such a funny and unique program.
The lead character played by Ricky Gervais reminded me of a boss I had for 6 years. He was such a letch and as long as you were nice and acted like you were his friend he'd let you get away with murder. On the other hand, he was a real prick too.
My friend Jenni worked at the same place I did years and years ago and she said she thought of me when she watched this and knew I'd love it, and now I know why.
It's filmed documentary style, like This is Spinal Tap or Waiting for Guffman. The dialouge is so brittish, the DVD comes with a little dictionary that explains all the terms and personalities that they refer to that an American audience might not recognise.
I have a bit of a crush on one of the actors, the slacker Tim, who is witty as hell and has adorable little Laurel and Hardy mannerisms. I can't wait to order series 2! This is the best comedy I've seen in years, hands down.
9th - Van Helsing - Stephen Sommers
I really wanted to love this movie but in the end I can only say that is was so so. The special effects were great, except I have a problem with my ability to suspend disbelief when a lot of REALLY OBVIOUS CGI is used.
There's an opening sequence where Van Helsing is batteling Dr. Jeckle and it's just so fake looking. I don't think I could get past that. There were parts that were campy, like when his friar side-kick took him around the monastery basement to show him all the top secret weapons they've been developing ala 007, and I really liked the way the vampires looked, but I think I would have prefered they cut out the frankenstein and wolfman parts to focus just on Dracula, and to develop the characters a little more.
Anyway, I may not be a fair judge as my back was killing me and half way through I had to get up and stand in the back where an usher kept glaring accusingly at me (I think he thought I snuck in or something)...in the end I have to go by if I would want to buy the DVD and in this case, probably not.
April 15th - May - Lucky McKee
I love dark and twisted movies like this, although it had the same affect on my as Disco Pigs did, where you watch the whole thing with your stomach in knots because you know that tragedy lay ahead. Also, you feel a certain ammount of empathy for the character, but it will only take you so far. At some point they cross a line where you just can't follow.
Still, I found this film to be very interesting, especially the scene where the male lead shows May a film he made in school. I was laughing out loud!
April 10th - Whale Rider - Niki Caro
I don't know what was going on with me the night I watched this. I had already gone to bed but then couldn't get to sleep. It was around 2:00am by the time I started it.
But I felt very emotional through the whole thing. It probably has something to do with identifying with not being accepted for who you are, if you're a girl their are certain expectations of you, the same for boys. The ones who really suffer are the ones who fight to just be themselves.
I can't wait for my nieces to get a little older, because this will be the first movie I buy for them (I have 6 nieces so far!)
I was so touched
by the movies that afterward I went online to read some reviews (I
never read reviews or even watch trailers
BEFORE I see a film). The first review I read was by some guy who
called it a cliche story of a girl triumphing over boys. Wanker!
March 22nd - Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography - Arnold Glassman and Stuart Samuels
This is such an excellent documentary about the history of cinematography. I can't write about it in as much depth as I would like to because I have a ton of work to do at the moment, but if you are a fan of film even a little, this documentary will give you an entirely new appreciation for the medium. Two toes WAY up.
March 20th - Lost in Translation - Sophia Coppola
I think that it's too bad when a film gets super hyped by the press, because it builds up expectations that are unrealistic, especially for a quiet, moody piece like Lost in Translation.
I actually enjoyed it a lot, probably because it did such a nice job at conveying insomnia, that mind numbing condition when you can't sleep and you don't want to watch TV or read or listen to music...it can be so brutal.
I do have problems with so many films portraying leading males with leading women half their age. It's bad enough that we have to view film through a predominantly male gaze, but when a gifted director like Sophia Coppala writes and directs a film in the same vein part of me just goes, OH JESUS CHRIST GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK!
I've been following this underground group called the Guerrilla Girls that has gotten me thinking a lot about how lop-sided Hollywood is when it comes to women's roles in films as actors, as well as behind the camera.
We get so much of our cultural identiy from movies and TV and yet it is one of the last professions that has only a fraction of women in positions with any influence. The Guerrilla Girl's website sets out to at least draw attention to that fact. Education is the only way to stamp out cultural hegemony.
Now, I don't think that because she's a woman she should have to alter her artistic vision, I was just disappointed, that's all. On the other hand, I found myself smiling a lot during the film...I liked it stylistically, I liked the soundtrack.. That song, More Than This was a nice touch.
I wish in a way she would have won an Oscar for best director, a woman has never won before, or for best sound or cinematography...but honestly, i don't think it was the best direction. She shouldn't win just because she's a woman, or because she's Francis Ford Coppolas daughter either.
I guess the bottom line is that it was an enjoyable film to watch and left me with a kind of...ennui. However, it wasn't life altering or anything and I probably won't be watching it more than once though. (although I will watch it once more for the director's commentary).
Oh, by the way, I'm a HUGE Bill Murray fan and I thought Scarlett Johansson was fantastic. It was nice to see a female lead with a realistic looking figure and she was very good at conveying a lot without saying much.
Oh boy, what to say about this one? I feel really conflicted about it actually. The acting is sublime, this is the first time I've seen Elaine Cassidy in anything and she was amazing.
Cillian Murphy showed an entirely new range of emotions and subtle facial and body gestures...it's hard to believe it's the same actor as On the Edge and 28 Days Later. Both of their abilities are quite astounding.
However, I think for me the violence in it hits a little too close to home. Somehow it's easier to watch a zombie getting his arm hacked off, than to watch a dorky kid get punched in the nose, or a bar back get beat with an ashtray.
I have a hard time watching domestic violence and posessive love, I also have a problem with ugly drunks. It's so awful if you're out with one,to sit there hoping to god he won't get too wasted, hoping that another guy doesn't smile at you the wrong way or ask you to dance, and by doing so set him off into a violent tailspin, embarass or humiliate you, or get himself hurt...or worse yet, to threaten to kill themselves, or you.
The friend and roommate of my best friend, ended up shooting his girlfriend and the guy she went out on a date with after they broke up. (the date survived but his girlfriend didn't). Then, a friend of mine was murdered by her boyfriend (the father of her twins) after she tried to break up with him. He shot her and then himself. Her body fell on one of the babies, suffocating it.
And don't even get me started on the one's who've offed themselves. Love can be a sickness that eats away at your sanity. When you feel like you can't live without someone, that's the kind of shit that goes down.
The whole way through this movie I just knew it wasn't going to end well and felt sort of sick to my stomach the entire time.
The main theme of the movie is what happens when two people can't live without each other until one of them discovers that they can. Love is like that so often, it's almost never equal. One side always loves more and it basically is going to suck for the person on the other side of the equation.
In a way, the film strengthend my conviction that romantic love is more hardship than it's worth. Love like that is the only thing that can make a person truly crazy.
On a completely different note, I was inspired (and I'll admit it, out of my head with envy) to learn that the picture was directed by a 23 year old woman (Kirsten Sheridan). On one hand, I so desperately want to see more films by women directors and I've currently checked out several books from the library on the topic. Still, when I see one as accomplished, and young as Kirsten, I feel like maybe it's too late for me after all. Still, I'm thrilled as all get out that she's as fantastic as she is. I can't wait to see her next film.
In keeping with my Cillian Murphy odyssey, I bought a copy of this movie on eBay for 8 bucks (that was including shipping to Alaska). Best bargain ever. What a great little movie. It deals with a character's struggles in a psychiatric ward after a botched suicide attempt. It arrived rather timely tonight, after having a long conversation today with a friend regarding the pros and cons of suicide.
It had a nice opening shot of Jonathan (Cillian Murphy) leaving the church with some leaves swirling around him. Then he gets on his bike and starts riding down the street. I'm not sure if it was intentional, but the cars on the street seemed as though they were slowly following him on his bike, kindof like a funeral procession.
Anyway, this film had me smiling and crying and also thinking to myself "DEAR GOD HOW CAN A HUMAN LOOK THAT FUCKING BEAUTIFUL!????
I think I'm just a sucker for all things Irish - movies, books, music and everything else. Plus the accent kills me. While I was living in Anchorage I met some guys visiting from Dublin at a party. This one guy and I drank a whole bunch of whiskey, then decided to take a cab downtown with some friends to go dancing.
He and I ended up royally making out in the cab ride downtown (in front of about 4 other people including the cabbie), then he picked a fight with an Alaskan Native guy I started dancing with and ended up punching him in the nose. We were in a bar full of Alaskan Natives and that was NOT the thing to do. We had to high tale it out of there, and all kinds of madness insued.
I've had this facination most of my life. I grew up in the "Irish Capital of Nebraska" I used to think it was the "Irish Capital of the World" when I was a little girl. All the families in my town had Irish ancestry and the majority were Roman Catholic as well. I grew up attending St. Mary's Academy and singing Irish folk songs like "Oh Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eye's Are Smiling"...I was always so proud of my heritage.
I think Americans are a little lost in some ways, we don't have the same kind of heritage going back thousands of years like people in other countries do. We're all just a mish mash of different races and so, if we have any collective identity at all we cling to it for dear life.
My idea of "being Irish" was so rediculous looking back, eating Mouligan stew and corned beef and cabbage. When someone told me that St. Patrick's Day wasn't a big deal in Ireland it was hearesy to me. In my town, it is THE holiday of the year. Every year we paint this huge green shamrock in the center of town for the Irish dancers, and Pete paints his horse green and we all drink green beer and play games like the slipper kick and arm wrestling. It was always the most fun day of the year. Now, looking back, it seems a little, well, sad actually.
However, when I hitchhiked around Ireland awhile back with a girlfriend, I noticed a real resemblance between myself and many of the people there. I remember this old man who bought us passes to go have a tour and drink in the Bushmill's distillery and we all went out for pints afterwards (he and his buddies who regaled us with stories of their hip replacement surgeries) we were supposed to have half pints since we were "ladies" but Sue and I told them we weren't at all ladies so they bought us pints.
I have this great picture of me with them. All of our faces are round and red and I look like I could be their daughter. (or granddaugher more like). They were loads of fun, and in fact, every single person we met in Ireland were the nicest and most generous we'd ever met anywhere, and we'd both done a lot of traveling so that was saying something.
When Sue and I hitchhiked back to Dublin from Belfast we stayed overnight in Dundock with this guy who picked us up. He and his friends were major heroin addicts but nice people and they took us to a rave in the country that ended up being a lot of fun.
Back to the movie, some things I liked was the way his decent off the cliff looked, kind of floaty and day dreamy. I also liked the scene in the end in front of the ice cream truck. They finally get their ice creams, and the orange against the blue truck is very striking. Also, in the bowling alley, same scene as the fight, I like the camera shot of the balls all rolling down the alley at about the same speed. Now, I'm a pretty good bowler from way back but I still have no idea how they were able to do the little rim shot strike off the gutter. I also like that the Jonathan character refers to his "baby finger", not "pinky finger" as we say here in the states. What does "pinky" mean anyway? One last thing, sometimes I had a hard time understanding the heavy accents. Toby's accent sounded strange somehow and more difficult to understand...especially at the New Years Eve party where he want's to tell Jonathan something important and I listened to that about 5 times but I still had no idea what he was saying and it might have been important to the plot.
Still, after watching this film I'm interested in seeing more put out by Jim Sheridan's Irish movie production company Hell's Kitchen, such as "In America" which I really can't wait to see but hasn't come to town yet.
They produced two of my favorite films "My Left Foot" and "in the Name of the Father" (which made me want to join the IRA until I actually visited Belfast and saw the devastation that real violence brings, it was completely depressing).
Still I went through this whole phase where I read every book I could get my hands on by contemporary Irish writers, my favorites being Edna O'Brien (House of Splendid Isolation) and anything by Patric McCabe. I don't know if my obsession with the Irish will ever diminish. One of my best friend's Sean Hannigan, is getting a PHD in Irish studies. Every time I visit him, he has more tales for me about how the Irish saved civilization and makes more reccomendations of books for me to read.
And, back to the movie On the Edge...it made me realize one thing- no matter how clever your camera angles, or wonderful the script, or fantastic the score is, if you don't have actors who can really act, you're screwed. This movie not only has Cillian Murphy, who did an astonishing job, particularly in the scene where he almost get's stuck with a broken bottle in the bowling alley, but it also has Steven Rae, who I fell in love with in The Crying Game. The female lead, Tricia Vessey, also does a fantastically moving job in this film.
In some way, I think I realized tonight how screwed I really am because the screenplay that I've written and want to direct as a feature film with DV (ironically dealing with suicide) can not be done with amature actors. And with no budget, I don't see any way around that.
Bottom line, I LOVED this film and I'm sure I'll be watching in again and again in the future. two toes up. (I'm looking forward to Disco Pigs which should be arriving any day now).
Night of the Comet - Thom Eberhardt
Well speak of the Devil, right after going on about the similarities between 28 Days Later and Night of the Comet (a film I hadn't seen since the 7th grade)...it was on cable tonight. It was just as fun as I remembered it.
Then this afternoon I found out the Romero remake Dawn of the Dead is coming to Juneau this weekend. I can't wait. I've got zombies on the brain.
March 12th - Once Upon a Time in Mexico - Robert Rodriguez
I feel like I should have enjoyed this film more than I did. The stylized violence was fun, I always love Johnny Depp, and as a director, Robert Rodriguez is one of my idols...
Also, this film was shot on digital video, which makes it twice as interesting for me. In the end though, the best parts of the DVD were the 10 minute film school flick (about shooting on digital video) and a lecture that Rodriguez gives on why "Film is Dead"...which I found incredibly inspirational.
On a down note, at the film school where he was lecturing, every face in the crowd was male. It's so depressing to see the stats on women directors...it ain't pretty. But, in some ways it makes me even more determined than ever to go for it.
As for the film itself, It just didn't do that much for me...and I really liked the first two films in the trilogy, but who knows, maybe I just wasn't in the right mood?
March 11th - School of Rock, Richard Linklater
This was a cute story about a man who doesn't want to give up his dream of playing rock n roll for a living. I've always like Jack Black and he puts on another great performance in this movie.
The end performance by the kids he trains as his accompanying rock band, is worth the wait. It made me want to learn more about the history of rock n roll music and how different movements informed each other.
Ultimately though, I judge a movie on a simple scale of "do I want to buy this movie" or "do I want to listen to the director's commentary for this movie". In this case, the answer to both was, no.
I've had this movie lying around for a long time and I kept meaning to watch it. I didn't really know what it was about. Turns out it's about a virus that gets out in England and turns everyone into zombies. I have always had a facination with Armegedon type movies. Probably because of all the nightmares I had as a child, and maybe due to the fact that my parents were really religious and my mom was always going to these tent revivals where some old guy would be saying that the end of the world was coming and it would be within his life time. All that fire and brimstone stuff can be terrifying to a child.
Anyway, I loved movies like "Day of the Comet" and "The Morning After" as well as all the natural disaster movies like Inferno, Volcanoe, Earthquake, Twister, etc. etc.
28 Days Later has one of the most ethereally beautiful men I have ever seen in my life. He's an Irish actor name Cillian Murphy (pronounced Killian). In the beginning, his hair is fucked up and he has a beard, but after he gets his hair cut and shaved so you can see him clearly, OH MAMMA! He has these blue eyes that are so expressive and a peaches and cream complextion. I normally only paint women but I've been sketching and painting him all weekend.
This movie is very violent and probably not for everyone, but I highly reccommend it for those who like scary "end of the world" zombie movies.