Sunday, September 30, 2012

Define "Productivity" (I Watch Too Many TV Series)

This month I've finished watching two tv series, and I feel quite good about that. I have very low productivity standards, I know, I know. Underachiever, try harder etc. etc.

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One: The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I've been wanting to see this show ever since I saw the first episode of America in Primetime, "Independent Woman," in which The Mary Tyler Moore Show is cited as the show that paved the way for other women in television. It was around that same time that I saw Miss Representation as well. These two documentaries about representations of women in the media got me all excited about media criticism, especially at a time when I was doubting my own media criticism, my own writing on media representations from a feminist perspective. I actually haven't written anything that can qualify as media criticism since the end of last year, so... I guess that ship has sailed. Anyhow. So excited was I about media criticism after having watched these two docs that I completely forgot to watch them critically as well. It was this post at Masha Tupitsyn's Love Dog, back in July, that reminded me about America in Primetime's "Independent Woman" and opened my eyes about its shortcomings. Shortly before reading this I had seen The Hollywood Reporter Comedy Actresses roundtable and I was more disappointed than pissed off about how the conversation went when they finally got to talking about women in comedy, women on tv. Pretty much everything that upset me about this conversation is in MT's text. It's so sad to hear Julia Louis-Dreyfus say all she cares about is making a funny show. She's playing the American VP in Veep and she's not thought of the issue of women in politics before doing press for the show?! Seriously?! This roundtable just goes to prove why media criticism is necessary. If the actors haven't thought of the political implications of their shows, then it's the critic's job to make them think of that. I haven't seen the Drama Actresses roundtable, I guess I will at some point. But I don't have any high expectations. I'm pretty sure they play the same record: "I'm not a feminist." / "I only care about making a good show." etc.


At the time I saw America in Primetime, I couldn't find the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Then I sort of forgot about it. It was the Girls pilot that reminded me about it.

Lena Dunham: "The first scene that I thought of for the pilot was a shot that tracks up Hannah and Marnie's legs to their faces. I love the idea of a shot where you for a moment couldn't tell if these were lovers or friends. Hannah and Marnie are seeing guys but the true romance of the show to me is their relationship."

Girls (Pilot)

Marnie's boyfriend: "You guys fell asleep to The Mary Tyler Moore again, huh?" And: "It's a very odd show to hear through a wall."

Luckily for me, by the time I saw the Girls pilot, a kind stranger had posted the entire series on youtube. With the exception of a few episodes that were taken down before I got the chance to see them, I have seen all seven seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The show is rather uneven, but I guess that's to be expected. The writing got better during the 5th season, the jokes were better. Unfortunately, they were not able to keep up the good work until the end of the show. Won't give any spoilers, but there was a particular story line right towards the end that I was not interested in at all, and I doubt anyone else was. A few other things I did not like about this show: the constant emphasis on Rhoda's need to lose some weight (this really pissed me off), Rhoda's sudden disappearance (I get it, she got her own spin-off, but there should have been some sort of transition instead of this "new season, no Rhoda" thing), and sometimes I didn't like Mary that much. Although I don't plan on watching the spin-off, I definitely liked Rhoda more than I liked Mary. But the one who truly made the show funny was Ted. Ted Baxter, the greatest worst anchorman in the history of television. If you've paid attention to The Newsroom, you'll remember the episode in which Will is compared to Ted Baxter. (Just to be clear: I've watched the entire first season of The Newsroom, but I am not a fan, oh no!)

So: Girls, The Newsroom and now The New Normal is the latest tv show to mention The Mary Tyler Moore Show this year. What is going on?
Bryan: "A question for you: are you sure I don't look like Mary Tyler Moore in these?"
Shop assistant: "Do you want to look like Mary Tyler Moore?"
Bryan: "Well, not the hair, obviously, but yes. Yes, I do."
The New Normal (Pilot)

*****
Home Movies (season 4, episode 11: "Definite Possible Murder")

Two: Home Movies, about which I found out thanks to Lena Dunham. It took me a little while to get used to the oversimplified animation, but once I got past that I could not get enough of it. This show is sooo much fun. There's a ton of film references. Now that I think of it, the filmmaking process in Home Movies (especially during the 4th season) is a lot like the one in Be Kind Rewind. Basically, these 8-year-olds are (re)making hundreds of movies in Brendon Small's (the director) basement. It's a must-see for cinephiles. It would actually make a good pair with The Critic.

(One other thing I love about Home Movies is the hilarious kids-adults dynamic. Wondering if the soccer coach (btw: soccer in an American series?! how amazing is that?) is slightly based on the football coach from Ken Loach's Kes.)

Here's "Definite Possible Murder," in which Rear Window is spoofed:

Attack the Kingdom

Earlier this month, I took V. to see Attack the Block for his birthday. It was playing at Casa TIFF as part of a Luna Plină retrospective - a film festival that a few years ago I would have gone to no matter what. Won't go again into what ruined my love for the horror genre. Suffice it to say that I'm still readjusting to horror. I'm definitely more selective when it comes to horror movies.


(Checking my memory records, i.e. Twitter, I see that my first encounter with Attack the Block was last September. Full half: nice little one-year anniversary, it makes this viewing a bit more special. Empty half: life's a carousel. Going in circles, going in circles.)

I would have liked to write smth about Attack the Block by now, maybe contrast and compare it to Super 8, maybe even see E.T. (yet another movie I've been avoiding) - also for the sake of contrasting and comparing. The thing is: Kartina Richardson has already written such a good text about Attack the Block. I just wouldn't have anything valuable to add to the conversation. It was thanks to this text that I watched Attack the Block in the first place. If it weren't for it, I would have probably ignored it. Alien movies? Not really my thing. Well, not till recently.

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Nice to see Attack the Block mentioned on one of my favorite blogs. I don't usually listen to Basement Jaxx, but I really liked their music on this soundtrack, so I just have to post "The Ends" as well.



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There's another one of Kartina Richardson's texts that I love, the one I've mentioned in my latest text published at Projectorhead, one that I appreciate even more now that I have seen the movie. Wes Anderson's Arrested Development. I was so looking forward to seeing Moonrise Kingdom that the first time I read this text I was convinced I would see it and absolutely love it despite being aware of Anderson's shortcomings. (Not that I wasn't already aware of his shortcomings prior to reading this text.)

So last Saturday I finally see the movie and surprise: it's a bit of a let down. I don't know if it's the kids' acting, or the cartoonish special effects, or the fact that it seems like a lesser version of The Royal Tenenbaums. Most of what I like about Moonrise Kingdom is connected to its aesthetic and its characters' quirks. In some cases, that may be enough. Thinking here of Les Amours imaginaires. Actually... in terms of diversity, for instance, Les Amours imaginaires is doing a lot better than Moonrise Kingdom. But the point is: Xavier Dolan is very young and Les Amours... is barely his second feature. Anderson, on the other hand, is at his seventh. I'd expect a little more substance from sm who's been around for that long.

Then again: I've only seen Moonrise Kingdom once, and with Anderson's films, it's mostly been love at second viewing, so who knows? Maybe I'll watch it again and end up loving it and embracing all its silliness. Till then, I guess I'll just listen to its soundtrack. I certainly don't have any objections regarding the soundtrack.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Be Kind Rewind {reprise}

This title was, of course, borrowed from Michel Gondry's filmography. What I hadn't noticed the day I bought those VHS tapes was that a Michel Gondry movie was sitting right there under Alien! Yep. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - right there in front of my eyes and I don't see it. And I keep bragging about my attention to details. Ha. Ha. What a good joke. Naturally, I'll have to go back to the tiny store and get it.

Meanwhile, I was reading last week's edition of Les Inrocks and found this sync:


It's been happening more and more. Synchronizations, that is. To the point where I'm starting to wonder whether or not I'm imagining things, or at least: making false associations. Maybe I shouldn't use this word, "synchronization" - it seems too big, too charged with meaning. So let's just say that my (pop) cultural consumption has been forming easily traceable patterns. Does that make any sense? For example: I finally start reading Dostoevsky. I start with The Idiot. Then: I finally see Bresson's Le Diable, probablement and I notice the similarities with The Idiot: similar theme (money), characters with similar worldviews (there are some dialogue / monologue lines that I'll have to go back to). Then: I find out that this fall, the Romanian theater in Cluj is premiering a play based on The Idiot. I don't have a ticket yet (btw, since when has it gotten so expensive to see a play from a good seat? ugh & grrr!) but will hopefully see it soon.

ZONA

"It could be that the photographers' aesthetic - their tacit sense of what they were looking for - was partly formed by Stalker, so that the film has helped generate and shape the observed reality that succeeded it."

- Geoff Dyer, ZONA: A Book about a Film about a Journey to a Room

Things that have given me a ZONA-feeling lately:

The Tunnel of Love, Ukraine
(1) source / (2) source

Revolution (season 1, episode 2: "Chained Heart")

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Broken Friendships

Ginger and Rosa (Sally Potter, 2012)
source: The Playlist

"I've loved you, Rosa. But we are different."

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In desperate need of a film like Ginger and Rosa. Friendships you thought were going to last forever but died exactly when you needed them to become stronger. One of my to-be-written essays. And now that I've merely mentioned it, I'll probably never write it.

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I've said this before (when I had just seen Phoebe in Wonderland) and I'll say it again: it's scary how good Elle Fanning is. Scary as in "I'm in awe, but also: it's depressing the hell out of me." Misspent youth, wasted hours, and all that.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Résiste

Sade is punk as fuck! I could not stress enough how much I've enjoyed this text. What a wonderful, fresh perspective!

For the past couple of years or so I have often found myself in the mood to listen to Sade, but instead of going through all her discography, I keep going back to the same old songs. So to discover "When Am I Going to Make a Living" now, when I need it so much, almost brings tears to my eyes. Actually, I'm pretty sure I'll be listening to it on repeat while doing some serious crying. Not right now because right now I'm bursting with resistance-excitement. But soon.



Speaking of résistance:


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mouse Rat

Speaking of rats, Parks and Rec is back!

Parks and Recreation (season 5, episode 1: "Ms. Knope Goes to Washington")

Glued to the Shadows

Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg, 2012)

"I like that bookshop. Do you know why? It's semi-underground."

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Elise: "When are we going to the lake?"

Eric: "Fuck the lake!"

Elise: "I thought we liked it there."

That "we!"

"We" is "you." I like it because you like it. If you don't like it anymore, I won't like it anymore. This "we liked" says Elise is open to the idea of love. But she's met by Eric's complete disinterest in loving her. In loving.

(Shane would hate that "we.")

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Wish I could one day say: "I deal in theory."

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I need to read the book. I have the feeling I'll like the book more. And I want to know more about Elise. If there is more to know about her. Also: White Noise. I've been postponing reading Don DeLillo for years. Ever since I got my bright-eyed obsession.

It was Don DeLillo, whiskey neat and a blinking midnight clock. Speakers on a TV stand just a turntable to watch. Only smoke came out our mouths on all those hooded-sweatshirt walks. We were a stroke of luck. We were a gold mine that gutted us.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Be Kind Rewind

I hate this place. No. I hate it that I live here. I hate it that I had to come back here after Cluj. Wonderful, exciting Cluj. I hate it that living here makes me sound like a whiny teenager. Though that's what I am (like).

Then: there are days like today and I think: why would I wanna leave a place where you can still find movies on VHS tape? This is no Stars Hollow. No. Definitely not. But for a tiny second, it sure felt like Stars Hollow.



I already have enough junk in my room, but I just could not help myself when a saw those stacks of VHS tapes. And ALIEN! I kept postponing watching this one and now, with the release of Prometheus, watching Alien became inevitable.

Watching a 1979 movie on VHS tape in 2012 lends this viewing experience a time-traveling dimension that I find irresistible.

Can't wait to spend Saturday night with all these four movies (I'm wild like that). Like in high school, when I would rent four movies over the weekend and watch them all on Saturday night.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

She Was My Memory

"She was my memory. There was no one else to remember." (Jeanette Winterson, The Daylight Gate)

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Ukigumo/ Floating Clouds (Mikio Naruse, 1955)