Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ernest Hemingway - A Moveable Feast
Hemingway's spare, to-the-point sentences occasionally read like bad writing and it sometimes takes some remembering (on my part) that this was a unique style, was something new in fiction, that his usage of journalist-like declarative sentences in fiction was innovative. This memoir published posthumously details his early writing career, his twenties in Paris with other ex-pats, providing catty profiles of Gertrude Stein, Ford Maddox Ford, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is a fun, quick read, but I am not sure that there is much more to it than that. It is interesting to hear about a writer's practice, at what time in the day they write, about how they impose a schedule upon themselves, and actually write each day - Hemingway doing so in the morning and stopping before he ran out of steam each day, so that he would never empty the well, so that the next day he would have a place to pick up at again. It is the profiles of the other big writers of that era that make this book so interesting - Stein, the rude bitch; Ford, also the rude bitch; and cute F. Scott, the totally neurotic mess who can't handle alcohol and whose life and writing were even then being ruined by Zelda. Hemingway's expedition on a car ride with Fitzgerald is my favorite part of this book, imagining the two of them driving through the countryside in a topless car (because Zelda had the roof ripped off) having to stop every so often because of the rain and Hemingway having to listen to Fitzgerald who was convinced he was dying. Oh man, I am giggling right now recalling that scene.

Wong Kar Wai - My Blueberry Nights
Maybe all of his movies are actually this bad, this cheesy, and maybe I had (as well as other English speakers) just been unaware of it due to the subtitles of his earlier movies, seduced by the beautiful images, the foreign images and foreign languages and we being none the wiser that those images and words may have been false. The early section of this movie with Norah Jones and Jude Law in a coffee shop in New York is quite terrible, the scene itself too claustrophobic, too what someone imagines a cafe to look like in New York, and the dialogue unbelievably bad and false sounding, it helping none that Norah Jones never varies her expressions and seems to be totally unable to act. It was a very disappointing start to this movie I had been eagerly anticipating. But because of that terrible opening, things only got better for me. As soon as Jones left New York and started her road trip the movie lost its claustrophobic feeling, other characters, more interesting ones, were introduced, as was the beautiful American landscape. The Nevada scenes are the best and I found myself wishing that this could have been the movie, that these characters in the casino and this sense of excitement could have been the movie, rather than Law and Jones. Despite generally feeling blah about the movie, I was however taken with the themes of the movie, that of love and loss, of loving someone who is not there, who does not want to be there, of what love means and why we have attachments to specific people, and of letting those attachments go, of letting doors close.

Julie Taymor - Across the Universe
Holy shit bad, terrible, fucking awful. For the first half hour I was into this movie, being into hearing all of these Beatles songs, but the plot was too messy, too unfocused for me to care about any of the various strands all being told at the same time. It was a cliche of every bad movie about the sixties ever. Taymor goes a little crazy with her puppets midway through and the movie turns into all these music videos basically, each song changing the tone of the movie's visual style and often incorporating some really terrible choreography. I was really stoned when I watched it and that should have and probably did make me much more forgiving and open to this movie, but even stoned, this movie is fucking terrible. Oh man, it is kind of amazing how bad it is, especially since had it been a little more focused rather than just throwing shit at the screen, it probably could have been really amazing.


Spring seems to be here. The sun is out, the weather is warm, and I wandered around town in a hoodie today. I had sex with a man in St. Mark's Hotel this afternoon, the scummy location cinematic, what someone might have imagined for the scene and what it rarely is, but is was fun and easy, and I left feeling great for a few reasons. I went to a few bookstores before ending up at the Strand, talked to some old co-workers and purchased a couple of books, books which I may start to read in these final hours of sunlight, this beautiful sunlight whispering to me about summer days that lie ahead.

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