Archive for the 'flicks' Category


Watched The Reader a couple of nights ago. I’m a bit haunted by it. I’d have to say that I loved it, but it’s not a romp in joy land. Though I liked the sex scenes alot. Have to admit that too. Sex and literature. In the bed! What a pair. Some would disagree with me, but Hannah is a fascinating character. Not easily likable, and not easy to sympathize with.

I think I can because watching Hannah was alot like watching my mother…though we’ll never catch Roz, it’s pretty safe to say, locked in passion (ok, I got that from Vicky Christina Barcelona, another flick I just loved) with a much younger man/boy. Roz much prefers older men. She and I disagree on that matter. But we both agree on keeping it legal. Just so you all don’t go wondering about me.

My mother appears simple, even naive and inspite of her age; innocent, even, but the more I’ve come to understand her (yes, I think of her alot, as faithful readers all know here), she’s incredibly complicated to my eyes.

Not long after she married…oh, maybe a month or two after the fact, my uncle Arthur observed to her sister as my mother waded in her swimsuit, that “Quack-Quack is pregnant.” My aunt disagreed. Even married, my mother seemed virginal and chaste, right down to her nurse’s whites. There is nothing remotely sexual about my mother, and that’s not just because she’s my mother. I chalk it up to her being a Virgo. However, she did go on to produce six children out of ten pregnancies. Go figure. But that’s  another story, perhaps. Crazy stories. I might tell you sometime, in someway, if I can figure out some way to actually say it. And then, I might not.

My mother’s been named Quack-Quack in her family since she was very little. Because she talks so much! All the time. Quickly, rapidly. Quack-Quack says a lot without actually saying much. I think she feels a need to expel her natural nervousness by filling the air with noise. There’s a lot of noise, both literal, and symbolic, in Quack-Quack’s world. Her house is a maize of narrow tunnels and passageways occupied and obstructed by  various treasures and duplicates of things she or anyone else just might need someday. There is probably more stuff than air, actually, by now. We, her children, fear for her safety in such a creation, but despair, after many lost battles, of ever changing it. I think of dealing with that house in the aftermath of…the inevitable…and I just want to cry.

Quack-Quack had done some pretty horrible things to us, her children, long, long ago. The specifics are unimportant details here. Through the years, with time and distance as a buffer, probably, Quack-Quack acknowledges by apologizing in a diffuse and non-specific ways, the damage. Like Hannah, it’s what Quack-Quack actually doesn’t say (for her, a miracle, really), that offers up the tiniest evidences of remorse. I know the tiny shreds betray beneath those meek offerings vast, perhaps bottomless, volumes of guilt and sorrow that are even larger, heavier, and more burdensome,  than the chaos she’s created in her house. My mother is sorry and I believe her. I never deny the facts, and can recall most of them, by rote, chronolgically, at will. Like most PTSD survivors, I can’t dial up the emotion. A shrink (actually one of the rare good ones I’ve met), once remarked that our sessions, no matter what dreadful recall I’d serve each time, had the demeanor, if not the character, of a very proper tea party. I know no other way of communicating it. We do politeness to a fault in my family. Big time.

Like Hannah, in spite of doing terrible, unmentionable things to others, my mother saves the very worst punishment for herself. My mother has not been a free woman, liberated and joyful, for a long, long time. I think she believes, deep down, that  she doesn’t deserve it.

I don’t know how to change that. But it’s my last wish for her. I want to take her by the shoulders, sometimes, and look squarely at her, and say, at least regarding to myself….to let herself finally, really, breathe and remember that people heal…where there’s scars, the skin becomes stronger, tougher. More resilient. She’s a nurse. She just might understand that.


Better than pizza. Better than spaghetti…

For me, Fellini is the finest of all Italian imports (oh, and then, thanks to him, there’s also Marcello Mastroianni). So, I hope Nine is good. The trailer looks fucking awesome. 8 1/2, which Nine is based upon, is my favorite among many Fellini flicks (I think La Strada would come in second). My only quibble with 8.5 is that Federico’s amazing wife, the great, great actress Giulietta Massina (pure poetry in motion), does not appear anywhere.

I love Fellini because  like Pedro Almodovar, Fellini loves women. He acknowledges and delights freely in their power over him, whether as his mother, lover, or wife. I admire the way he depicts conflicting desires and rationales (love/lust, flesh/spirit, innocence/sophistication, art/commerce…) without judgement. I like the way he embraces excess. Even his failures (due largely to excess), have density. Never tire of him.

I think a flick with Daniel Day Lewis and Marion Cotillard has a shot.


it’ll be strange to watch one of my all time favorite movies, Kill Bill 2, now that David Carradine is really gone. I have his tai chi workout video, too. I’d read that Warren Beatty was considered first for the part of Bill, but nixed the opportunity. I thought David was perfect. Slow, quiet; a bit understated.  Exacting. Spiritual, but with a dark, venomous side. Eastern zen, but with a smidgen of a Western cowboy’s reckoning. Spooky. He really sold the part. Hate to see him go the way he did.


things. First, I just found out that there’s a retrospective of Francis Bacon’s work at the Met through August 16. Yes!

And, Gael has a new flick out, Rudo y Cursi. With Diego Luna (don’t you just love that name? Actually, I love both their names. But how cool would it be to have Luna (the Moon) as your last name? Reminds me of silver) . I love these two together. It’s about another love of mine, soccer. Sounds good.

getting married

I don’t get out to the movies much, unless they’re rated G for the kiddo. So I saw Rachel Getting Married at home on the couch last night, where I prefer to watch, anyway (a shout out to Fee. Miss watching flicks with you, though I don’t know how you ever put up with me, especially in a theatre, back in the day. I should not have been taken out anywhere, I believe. We’re lucky we didn’t get crowned a good one. ).  I never want to see Rachel…again. For reasons I won’t get into here. I have to say that my favorite part in the movie was when Kym snapped about the constant music in an important scene, and thankfully, the music stopped.  Because I felt exactly the same way, during the entire movie. I felt other things, too. It did make me cry.

But more than that, it got me to thinking upon one of my least favorite things, weddings. I’ll try not to be too negative. I think I give the wrong impression when I talk about my anti-marriage views. But the thing is, I do think marriage is a wonderful thing. For some. It is many things, in many ways; different ways, for all kinds of different reasons,  for every couple, and I wish that our culture kept that in mind, in an open and nonjudgemental way. Good luck with that, right?

I still dislike weddings, and attending them in particular. Though I have enjoyed one or two. I find, as in Rachel’s wedding, that the rite in general is often too much. Too over the top. Too much of a stage. Which often loses the reality, or trueness of a particular love story’s origins and intent, I believe. I just don’t believe love and commitment need a stage. That stage.  Just what could ever, possibly, live up to the elaborate fantasies I’ve seen created at these things? Though I do love pageantry, and feel our culture doesn’t have enough pageantry that celebrates every day life and other rites of passage. Maybe that’s why we go all out at weddings. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just missing the bridal gene. My parents eloped. So would I.

a word…

It’s winter break and we’re chilling out; skating, playing board games, and watching flicks. We did see Coraline. It’s not a show for young children. Unless it’s the kiddo. It’s creepy in a sophisticated way, and visually beautiful and a tad crazy. It had a few boring (for me) moments, but otherwise, we both loved it. Fantastic animation, and Selick should just do animation for grownups. Seriously. There were many children as old as eleven around us, right, left, and in front…who announced to their parents their dislike and fright, and for that reason, I would not recommend it for the kiddie set. Oddly, I did not see one parent get up and leave with their kid, and I was sitting in the back row and would have noticed. Anyhoo, I poked the kiddo every few secs and would ask “are you ok?” …”yesssss, Mama”….she didn’t even take her eyes of the screen.

She also loves this short and can repeat Burton’s story/poem of Vincent by heart.


Actually, she’s informed me that there’s a Vincent finch in our future should her favorite finch (that would be Kisa, a very pretty grey and white pied male), reproduce with his lovely mate. Train ’em young, I always say.

what the water gave me

So I picked up Atonement at the library for the weekend. And watched it last night. I knew it would be beautiful and lush; I’d read the raves regarding its cinematography so prettily capturing what was beautiful of the ’30’s era, one which I love. And I knew it was some sort of tragedy; a four hanky weeper. So I steeled myself up. I would not, would NOT cry. I would not be manipulated by a fiction. Nuh-uh.

It delivered the goods. All of them. I sat in the darkness, melting under my resolve. Anticipating the moment when my heart would be broken beneath the weight of the tragedy of it all. Oh no…. here it is. Here it comes. NO. I will not! Not. Drat, here I go. Buggar!!!

But it’s not a love story, in soul. And I’m not sure that I was reacting entirely to it as such. Behind the flourishes of romance, it’s actually a religious story, in the manner that the best of Graham Greene’s novels are. Thus its title. “Well duh“, I told myself; “for what other reason would a love story be called Atonement?”

And though when I hear the word atonement Judaism actually comes to mind, I felt myself unearthing buried emotions of my Catholic upbringing, which I’ve resented and railed against privately (Roz, Dear Mom, would be so deflated. Only one of us stuck to the faith. It wasn’t me. We’ve never really spoken about it directly. I don’t have the heart to throw her into the fits of the exasperation she gets into when confronted by this issue. But that’s another story.).

I don’t resent my Catholic religion entirely. I like Jesus very much. I miss my saints; the ones I’d arranged and rearranged on my stand in a tiny bedroom and spoke to in private every day at a certain elementary age. I’d reasoned that they knew what it was to suffer excruciating, terrible torture. I did too. I told only them.

But beyond the nostalgia and comfort of this certain past, I recognized, as I took in the imagery of water and its symbolic properties of birth, renewal, purification, and destruction; as I recognized the figures of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Judas and their experiences, that there were remnants of the old religion that perhaps contributed to, or supported, my nature. That gave me something. I was not prepared for that little revelation.

Briony/Judas taught me the most; the main characters are your straight forward versions of Christ and Magdalene (I adore her too. What amazing characters and stories the Bible has.). Though I’d felt a savage desire to reach through the tube and brutally strangle her after I’d clawed her face to a pulp; though I’d hoped she’d endure a terrible, disfiguring disease or meet her doom in a freak accident, it was her voluntary atonement among all the other atonements in the story, and her character development that shed the most light.

Although a pampered member of the upper class, armed with a freakishly precocious imagination, and clearly a writing talent, she forgoes Cambridge to become a nurse, like her betrayed sister Cee. Of course. There it is. Cleansing wounds, cleansing, over and over again; the unrelenting evidence of cruelty and its senseless acts (here, the war; before, her betrayal), that soil the world, repeatedly, inevitably. Perhaps healing. Mightily attempting, above all, to salvage what is precious, even if in the end, we cannot (think Christ). What better can we do?

I have quibbles with atonement. Too much guilt glued to it. What is called sin I see as lessons. Do better when you know better, as my sister says. I’ve felt through experience that the church of my childhood focused too much upon the dirt of sin, but I can now understand, on a personal level (don’t get me started on the early “washing” of a notorious scandal that the church was responsible for), the impulse, even need, to wash what hurts too much; what doesn’t make sense, in the world or inside of our natures. To set to right. White. Clean. The way my family does, figuratively and literally, when we experience such things. For better or worse.

Above all, I wished fervently as I stared at the huge, grotesque crucifixion placed reverently in the center of the church, that they’d take Jesus off of the damned cross. Even if he died for the sins of us all. Since when, ever, did blood solve neatly, the problems and weaknesses of existence? He had a life (quite similar to Buddha’s, heh), that though short, was thick with inspiration. So much to love. But where was the love? Or, for that matter, the light? I never did find that.

So I took him off the cross and I’ve kept him with me, and, in closing here, probably I have kept much more of my early spiritual experience than I realize.

In a good way.

May 2018
« Sep