Maiden's Voyage

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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by JediMoonShyne » Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:10 am

Trip wrote:I had a good tall av from Petra once.

membs this?

Image
My favourite!

Just found this, too:

Image
“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Epistemophobia » Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:14 am

Hehe. Memories.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by B-Side » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:29 am

JediMoonShyne wrote:Just found this, too:

Image
Haha, there mine is! Peeking up behind Jules' old avatar. :P
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by dreiser » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:26 pm

Shieldmaiden wrote:I loved it. It's the best of the lavish Chinese historical spectacles I've seen, I think. It was coherent, or, at least, it made me think so because it was anchored by all those good performances. And the colors, especially in that fight scene where he was drugged... so awesome!! Also, I just really love Andy Lau. :oops:
I liked this one as well. Will Detective Dee ever be able to leave the Underworld?
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:53 am

dreiser wrote:Will Detective Dee ever be able to leave the Underworld?
I don't know, but that title was made for sequels! I really liked the shot of Dee walking away from the empress, keeping to the shadows. That was a lot more evocative than the final scene showing him just hanging out in the Phantom Bazaar.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by dreiser » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:25 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:I really liked the shot of Dee walking away from the empress, keeping to the shadows. That was a lot more evocative than the final scene showing him just hanging out in the Phantom Bazaar.
Agreed.
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Maiden's Voyage: Satan's Brew

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:19 am

Image
Image

Circus Freak, I watched your favorite Fassbinder. :)

Satans's Brew is Fassbinder at his goofiest – a bit like Whity, only funny. Farce is never
more than a step or two away in his films (even in his melodramas), but here it's in its
purest form. Satan's Brew doesn't quite reach the sublime heights of The Third Generation,
but that one has so much more going on thematically; I'm pretty sure this isn't trying to be
anything but madly entertaining, and it succeeds. Somehow I stumbled into a Kurt Raab
double feature, watching this back-to-back with Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?, and I was
impressed. His antic, womanizing poet in this is every bit as good as his introverted and
repressed Herr R.


ImageImage
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Maiden's Voyage: Bad Guy

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:23 am

Image

Now for a film that overcame my fierce resistance and forced me to appreciate it. The first time I tried to
watch Bad Guy, I was put off by the porn fantasy aspect. Not that I can’t see the appeal of the fantasy–
but I was disturbed by the sadistic delight the film took in it, and confused by its conflicting signals. I hate
giving up on any film, though, so it was inevitable that I tried again, and this time I found myself swept up
in the intensity of the erotic voyeurism and the beauty of the images. Especially the latter, because this
movie is captivatingly pretty. The conflicting messages are all still there, but this time I took my cue from
the romantic soundtrack and the over-the-top magical realism. Of course, I still find the rape and Stockholm
Syndrome disturbing, but, ultimately, I don’t see the story in terms of either pornography or any kind of
serious discussion of crime and psychology. Instead, it’s a fairy tale with an unusual setting, a sort of Beauty
and the Beast
of pimps and prostitutes. Because, despite nods to gritty realism, this is a solipsistic world,
a fantastic place with almost no context, where guilt and desire are the absolute values, and life and death
are strangely interchangeable.

I would dearly love to hear other people’s thoughts on this one, since there’s probably not an opinion out
there that I wouldn’t find myself in sympathy with. :P
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Epistemophobia » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:31 am

So green.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:32 am

More colors:

Image Image
Image Image
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by ribbon » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:34 am

JediMoonShyne wrote:Image
This made me smile. Membs when I loved Amelie?
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Re: Maiden's Voyage: Bad Guy

Post by dreiser » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:15 am

Shieldmaiden wrote: I would dearly love to hear other people’s thoughts on this one, since there’s probably not an opinion out
there that I wouldn’t find myself in sympathy with. :P
I will check it out and get back.
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Trip » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:36 am

I've seen one scene from Satan's Brew. Armin Meier yuuuuuuum.
Please TRIP and Die
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Re: Maiden's Voyage: Bad Guy

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:58 am

dreiser wrote:I will check it out and get back.
:heart:

My riskiest recommendation ever? Maybe. :P
Trip wrote:I've seen one scene from Satan's Brew. Armin Meier yuuuuuuum.
One scene!? Well, I guess it's obvious which one you mean, haha.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Trip » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:00 am

I had to check it out after I was made aware of it. So hot. Fass should have made gay porn. And not some lurid philosophical shit like Querelle, which is neat.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:29 am

Trip wrote:Fass should have made gay porn.
It wouldn't be that surprising if some turned up some day!
And not some lurid philosophical shit like Querelle, which is neat.
Hard to tell if this is a recommendation...
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by JediMoonShyne » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:03 am

ribbon wrote: This made me smile. Membs when I loved Amelie?
Loved, past tense? :(
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Trip » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:09 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:It wouldn't be that surprising if some turned up some day!

Hard to tell if this is a recommendation...
Oh, I forgot to say "softcore". Was pretending to be a philistine, but really, I like the film.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Circus Freak » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:02 am

I'm glad you appeared to find Satansbraten as wonderfully ridiculous as I did.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:27 pm

Circus Freak wrote:I'm glad you appeared to find Satansbraten as wonderfully ridiculous as I did.
It was crazy fun. The face paint, the police inspector, the paid disciples... I laughed out loud (sorry, Bandy) a bunch of times. Ernst has the clairvoyance of the early saints. Haha!
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by dreiser » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:32 am

Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? (Fassbinder, 1970)

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation..." --- Thoreau

I enjoyed the slow burn of this Fass. Herr Raab's demise is given away in the title, but it is still fascinating to watch the factors that snowball and overwhelm his sanity. Even at the beginning we don't yet know who the title character is but the protagonist sticks out as a non-participant amongst a group of colleagues telling stupid jokes. Scenes like Hanna's hair and the embarrassing drunken attempt at a speech during an office party serve to alienate the main character from the audience further.

All that said, there's part of me that can understand what happens. He's got a social-climbing wife who's never satisfied, a creative job where he's a poor fit, parents that don't know when to keep their mouths shut, no friends to speak of, and a lisping kid that sucks academically. Dude's a walking timebomb.
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:16 am

dreiser wrote:All that said, there's part of me that can understand what happens. He's got a social-climbing wife who's never satisfied, a creative job where he's a poor fit, parents that don't know when to keep their mouths shut, no friends to speak of, and a lisping kid that sucks academically. Dude's a walking timebomb.
I felt sort of the opposite. As I said in Blake's thread, this life would probably seem like a nightmare to someone living Fassbinder's lifestyle. But an awful lot of people have these same types of problems, even all at once. And, while I'm not saying they have happy endings (they probably end up depressed or divorced), they don't murder! The headaches (dismissed by the doctor) are the only clue that something else might be going on. Anyway, I enjoyed it, too. I was impressed that it was so interesting to watch. "Slow burn" is right. And I felt for the main character, even when he was being stupidly self-defeating. Kurt Raab was pretty great.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by dreiser » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:22 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:I felt sort of the opposite. As I said in Blake's thread, this life would probably seem like a nightmare to someone living Fassbinder's life. But an awful lot of people have these same types of problems, even all at once. And, while I'm not saying they have happy endings (they probably end up depressed or divorced), they don't murder! The headaches (dismissed by the doctor) are the only clue that something else might be going on. Anyway, I enjoyed it, too. I was impressed that it was so interesting to watch. "Slow burn" is right. And I felt for the main character, even when he was being stupidly self-defeating. Kurt Raab was pretty great.
Whoa. I'm not saying his circumstances justify homicide. Just that the meltdown had an element of inevitability the way things played out on screen.
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:27 am

dreiser wrote:Whoa. I'm not saying his circumstances justify homicide. Just that the meltdown had an element of inevitability the way things played out on screen.
I know you're not! And I agree it's set up to feel inevitable (and does). I'm really just arguing with Fassbinder/Fengler here.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by dreiser » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:33 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:I know you're not! And I agree it's set up to feel inevitable (and does). I'm really just arguing with Fassbinder/Fengler here.
Ah. Didn't you think it was funny that Raab talks about Hanna's hair. It's the first thing I thought of too when I saw her in the scene.

Schygulla <3.
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:06 am

dreiser wrote:Ah. Didn't you think it was funny that Raab talks about Hanna's hair. It's the first thing I thought of too when I saw her in the scene.
That was a good scene. :) I'm sure it struck them the same way it struck you; they must have been a very close-knit group. And, yes, Hanna is always fantastic!
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Re: Maiden's Voyage: Bad Guy

Post by dreiser » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:06 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:Now for a film that overcame my fierce resistance and forced me to appreciate it. The first time I tried to
watch Bad Guy, I was put off by the porn fantasy aspect.
I didn't really like it all that much.
Never bought the premise that this particular girl would steal a wallet instead of turning it in to lost and found. I know she takes that art book page, but c'mon. Also, the ending does not make sense to me, whether it's who is in the pictures or her resignation to a life of servitude and prostitution.
The photography is nice though.
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Maiden's Voyage: Bad Guy

Post by Shieldmaiden » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:02 am

dreiser wrote:I didn't really like it all that much.
I didn't think you would. And, as I said above, I can't blame you. The ending makes no sense. It's so over-the-top that I almost think it's his fantasy after the last stabbing. I don't need that to be true to like it though. In fact "magic" is practically the only way the Stockholm Syndrome aspect isn't offensive.

Did you know the credits song is a Swedish hymn (sung in Swedish)? Nothing in this film makes sense! But I don't mind crazy, illogical things. :P

I've watched four Kim Ki-duk films now and I'm hardly a fan. Samaritan Girl was preposterous in an enjoyable sort of way; Spring, Summer... was pretty, but annoying; and I really hated 3-Iron.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage: Bad Guy

Post by dreiser » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:39 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:I didn't think you would. And, as I said above, I can't blame you. The ending makes no sense. It's so over-the-top that I almost think it's his fantasy after the last stabbing. I don't need that to be true to like it though. Because "magic" is practically the only way the Stockholm Syndrome aspect isn't offensive.
I was so busy looking logically at the film that the fantasy notion eluded me. Have you ever seen Lilya 4-Ever? Takes basically the same material and handles it beautifully. We get to know the title character very well and it makes for a much more impactful outcome.
Shieldmaiden wrote: Did you know the credits song is a Swedish hymn (sung in Swedish)? Nothing in this film makes sense! But I don't mind crazy, illogical things. :P
Not until I read that on Wiki.
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Maiden's Voyage: Bad Guy

Post by Shieldmaiden » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:29 am

dreiser wrote:Have you ever seen Lilya 4-Ever? Takes basically the same material and handles it beautifully. We get to know the title character very well and it makes for a much more impactful outcome.
I haven't. But the impact is different because the two films have absolutely different purposes. The degradation the girl suffers in Bad Guy is artifice, it punishes and transforms her; it has nothing to do with human trafficking in South Korea. Ugh, I'm not putting this well. If what I'm saying makes sense to any one, please help me out. :P
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Maiden's Voyage: A Casa

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:07 pm

Image Image

A Casa is a purely amazing evocation of mournful nostalgia, an almost crippling longing for lives (families, countries) lost forever. At times
it made me think of Visitor of a Museum, Colossal Youth, and nearly everything I've seen by Sokurov. And I had plenty of time to think
of other movies, haha. I've heard many films called "contemplative," but the word has never fit as well as it does here. In the first half
especially, without any context whatsoever I was left to speculate and even daydream about the images. Lucky for me, what goes on in
my head is interesting, so I was perfectly happy to wander through this puzzling house and think. And, although I didn't notice it at first
because it happened so gradually, there was a steady build in intensity. The images grew grander, stranger, more beautiful. Slowly, I
became convinced that what united the people in the house was despair, and I thought of the plague parties in Nosferatu the Vampyre.
By the end, I was strangely involved in a way I wouldn't have believed possible during the first half. I was perfectly primed for tragedy.

Image Image
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by B-Side » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:46 am

Good film. I can't say I was thoroughly engaged throughout, but it's nonetheless a daring exercise in silent despair.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:07 am

B-Side wrote:Good film. I can't say I was thoroughly engaged throughout, but it's nonetheless a daring exercise in silent despair.
I was engaged the whole time, but in a very different way than normal, as I hope I made clear above. The only difficulty I had was with some of the sound: did that guy swallow the mike or what? It was kind of disgusting. :P But overall, so fantastic!
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Re: Maiden's Voyage: A Casa

Post by JediMoonShyne » Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:31 pm

Shieldmaiden wrote:Lucky for me, what goes on in my head is interesting...
Is this a prerequisite for enjoying the film? :P
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Re: Maiden's Voyage: A Casa

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:48 pm

JediMoonShyne wrote:Is this a prerequisite for enjoying the film? :P
Haha, but, yes, probably! Have you seen it? You spend quite a bit of time with yourself, especially in the first half. I'm not trying to discourage anyone, though. It's phenomenal!
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Derninan » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:31 pm

So wonderfully said, Maiden, and I agree with you, the inner workings of your head is very interesting. I like to think the inner workings of mine is, as well, so I enjoyed A Casa for many of the same reasons, because it allows so much time for contemplation. It is very engrossing, in an unusual way.

And this should be the thread for me to mention that I've just returned home from a screening of Sokurov's latest. Have you seen it? It's mahhhvelous.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Epistemophobia » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:50 am

Damn near my favourite. :heart:
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:33 am

Derninan wrote:It is very engrossing, in an unusual way.
Yes. About the time that he comes to the room full of children, I realized I'd gotten swept up in whatever it was, and had to see it through. Also, accordions make great films even better. True statement.

I'm totally jealous that you got to see Faust. I'm glad it's good, but I'll have to wait for ages to see it. :(
Epistemophobia wrote:Damn near my favourite. :heart:
You have the best taste. :)
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Epistemophobia » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:43 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:You have the best taste. :)
Like warm milk with a hint of strawberry.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:47 am

Haha!

:heart:
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Das » Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:19 am

I think Few of Us is probably my overall favorite Bartas - but A Casa is really close.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:04 am

Das wrote:I think Few of Us is probably my overall favorite Bartas - but A Casa is really close.
I really want to see that one now. Yekaterina Golubeva. :(
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by charulata » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:06 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:Yekaterina Golubeva. :(
:heart:
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Das » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:15 am

Shieldmaiden wrote:I really want to see that one now. Yekaterina Golubeva. :(
She'll be quite missed.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by B-Side » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:16 am

Das wrote:I think Few of Us is probably my overall favorite Bartas
Same, so far.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:45 am

Das wrote:I think Few of Us is probably my overall favorite Bartas
B-Side wrote:Same, so far.
Hmm. Now I've seen Few of Us, and, while it's fascinating in its own way, I don't need to see it again. A Casa, on the other hand, I already want to revisit. It's so much richer – in colors and images and ideas. It feels like a place I've been or dreamed or imagined long ago.
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Maiden's Voyage: Red Beard

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:51 am

Image

I hesitated to write about Red Beard. What is there to say? It’s a beautiful, technically masterful, deeply humanistic
film without ambiguity, or incongruity, or mystery. There’s nothing to mull over or puzzle out. It doesn’t seem like my
type of film at all. I don’t have a good track record with cinematic humanism, to be honest; I’m too cynical about
actual humans, and have no patience for sentimentality. But Kurosawa slowly overwhelms my resistance. First, he
matches me, cynicism for cynicism, because the people he depicts are flawed, weak, stupid, evil. Then, he takes
story lines that could have been sentimental in other hands and tempers them with humor and a clear-eyed
pragmatism that completely disarms me. Best of all, he never panders to my emotions, but earns them, solidly,
painstakingly. Because he takes his time with the girl who can trust no one, and lets her defenses melt on screen
like the snow she brings in from the window sill, I believe in the change in her absolutely. I can’t help it! Then
he does the same with the young doctor. So much time and care go into his story, into the forces that act on
him and gradually erode his pride, that the last scene fills me with an irresistible joy. Every time!
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Shieldmaiden
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Maiden's Voyage: Roberto Bolaño

Post by Shieldmaiden » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:58 am

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Bolano
Thanks to Beau, I recently discovered the amazing 2666, and, ever since, I've been working my way through all the Bolaño I can get my hands on. I may have said this before, but he's the ideal author obsession for a movie board. Not only are his plots cinematic in a muscular, Antonioni-esque way; not only do his characters watch and talk about films (both actual and fictional); but, he also seems to think in the language of film, using fades and montage to convey mood and substance to our pop-art generation. What’s more, his own life has the makings of political thriller and melodrama, cruelly edited by disease, leaving us to brood and dream of a director’s cut that will never be found.

As more of his books are translated, I'll add thoughts and excerpts to this post, as a (very brief) chronological guide to my experience with his work.
  • 2666
    What a beautiful, rich, entertaining, thought-provoking book! While it’s true that I found the notorious fourth section depressing, it’s obviously necessary and worth the struggle. And the book as a whole feels uplifting, despite encompassing the terrible Mexican serial killings and the horrors of WWII. It’s full of beauty and glimpses of hope and decency, and plenty of humor, as well. The second section is my favorite. It’s a baffling brew of geometry, telepathy, and Boris Yeltsin – but Amalfitano is a wonderful character and the writing is lovely:
    He saw the vacuum cleaner parked between two rows of desks, saw the floor waxer like a cross between a mantiff and a pig sitting next to a plant, he saw an enormous window through which the lights of Paris blinked, he saw Lola in the cleaning company’s smock, a worn blue smock, sitting writing the letter and maybe taking slow drags on a cigarette, he saw Lola’s fingers, Lola’s wrists, Lola’s blank eyes, he saw another Lola reflected in the quicksilver of the window, floating weightless in the skies of Paris, like a trick photograph that isn’t a trick, floating, floating pensively in the skies of Paris, weary, sending messages from the coldest, iciest realm of passion.
  • By Night in Chile
    This is a darkly funny tale by an unreliable narrator, a dying priest/critic, who doesn’t want to face the fact that he was on the wrong side of history. It’s a poetic fever dream of memory and guilt and twisted philosophy:
    He talked and smiled, but I couldn’t hear a thing he was saying because the voices of the assistant-deputy-whatnots were making such a racket, they were so thick in the air that not a cranny was left for even one more voice. I could have leant forward, I could have put my ear to the lips of my interlocutor as the rest of the clients were doing, but I preferred not to do so. I pretended to understand and let my gaze wander about that chairless space. A few men returned my gaze. In some of those countenances I felt I could read signs of an immense pain. Pigs suffer too, I said to myself. And immediately I regretted that thought. Pigs suffer, it is true, and their pain purifies and ennobles them. A lantern came alight inside my head or perhaps inside my piety: pigs too are a hymn to the glory of the Lord, or if not a hymn, for that is perhaps an exaggeration, a carol, a ballad, a round in celebration of all living things.
  • The Savage Detectives
    I love this collective tale of a group of poets in the Mexico who search their entire lives for something that may never have existed in the first place. I consider it better than 2666, if only because it feels like it was written specifically for me, with its dozens of intertwined tales of loss and acute nostalgia. More on that here. The writing is absolutely gorgeous – exuberant, poetic, perfect – so I have two excerpts from this one:
    And I looked at their fresh, attentive faces and I watched their hands turn those old pages and then I peered into their faces again and they looked at me too and they said: we aren’t losing you, are we, Amadeo? do you feel all right, Amadeo? do you want us to make you some coffee, Amadeo? And I thought oh, hell, I must be drunker than I thought, and I got up and walked unsteadily over to the front room mirror and looked myself in the face. I was still myself. Not the self I’d gotten used to, for better or for worse, but myself. And then I said, boys, what I need isn’t coffee but a little more tequila, and when they’d brought me my cup and filled it and I’d drunk, I could separate myself from the confounded quicksilver of the mirror I was leaning against, or what I mean is, I could peel my hands off the glass of that old mirror (noticing, all the same, how my fingerprints lingered like ten tiny faces speaking in unison and so quickly that I couldn’t make out their words).
    And then I saw my old ’74 Impala go by looking worse for the wear, its paint peeling and with dents on the fender and doors, moving very slowly, at a crawl, as if it were looking for me along the night streets of Mexico City, and it had such an effect on me that then I did start to shake, grabbing the rails of the gate so I wouldn’t fall, and sure enough, I didn’t fall, but my glasses fell off, my glasses slipped off my nose and dropped onto a shrub or a plant or a rosebush, I don’t know, I just heard the noise and I knew they hadn’t broken, and then I thought that if I bent down to get them, by the time I got up the Impala would be gone, but if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to see who was driving that ghost car, the car I’d lost in the final hours of 1975, the early hours of 1976. And if I couldn’t see who was driving it, what good would it do to have seen it? And then something even more surprising occurred to me. I thought: my glasses have fallen off. I thought: until a moment ago I didn’t know I wore glasses. I thought: now I can perceive change. And knowing that now I knew I needed glasses to see, I was afraid, and I bent down and found my glasses (what a difference between having them on and not having them on!) and I stood up and the Impala was still there, which makes me think that I must have moved as fast as only certain madmen can, and I saw the Impala, and with my glasses, the glasses that until just then I hadn’t known I possessed, I peered into the darkness, searching for the driver’s face, half eager and half afraid, because I thought that I would see Cesarea Tinajero, the lost poet, at the wheel of my lost Impala, I thought that Cesarea Tinajero was emerging from the past to bring me back the car I’d loved most in my life, the car that had meant the most to me and that I’d had the least time to enjoy. But it wasn’t Cesarea who was driving it. In fact, no one was driving my ghost Impala! Or so I thought. But then I realized that cars don’t drive themselves and that some poor, short, severely depressed little man was probably driving that beat-up Impala, and I returned to the party bowed down by an enormous weight.
  • The Skating Rink
    This one's an almost conventional murder mystery, but the story is told by the three main suspects. I like it quite a bit. It's sneaky; it starts out as plain and ordinary as the men telling the story, steadily shifts up in intensity, and ends in a high gear of bittersweet poetry:
    I told them again to go to bed, this time in English. The Germans, however, weren’t looking at me, but at something behind my back. For a moment I thought it might be a trap: if I turned around, that pair of brutes would fall on me howling war cries. Curiosity, however, overcame me: I looked over my shoulder. I was so surprised by what I saw that I dropped the flashlight; it broke open on the cement and the batteries (how could there be so many?) went rolling across the terrace and disappeared into the dark. Caridad was behind me, holding a broad kitchen knife, whose blade seemed to be concentrating the sepia glow of the clouds, filtered through the branches above her. Luckily, she gave me a wink; otherwise I would have thought she was intending to plant that knife in me. She looked for all the world like a ghost. With chilling delicacy, she displayed the knife as if displaying one of her breasts. The Germans must have seen, because now their gazes seemed to be saying, We don’t want to die, we don’t want to be wounded, we were joking, we don’t want anything to do with this. Go to bed I said, and they did.
  • Monsieur Pain
    My least favorite Bolaño, this is a baldly Kafka-esque comedy of conspiracy and failure, set in France just before World War II:
    I went to the public telephone in the first café I could find and dialed Madame Reynaud’s number. There was no answer. While drinking a glass of wine, I reflected that there were two possibilities: either the old lady was in the habit of not answering the telephone, or Madame Reynaud had given me a different number. For some reason I found myself accepting the second hypothesis unreservedly (opening it, in other words, to the wildest conjectures). There was no telephone in Madame Reynaud’s apartment, therefore the number she had given me and which I had called on numerous occasions, reaching Madame Reynaud herself each time, didn’t belong to her telephone. And yet she called it “my home number.” For anyone else this problem would have been a triviality, or at most a kind of riddle, but for me it was like a nail hammered into my patience…
  • Distant Star
    This one's lovely, an amazing story steeped in sadness, horror, and history. Like every Bolaño, it’s the story of a search, the passage of time, of evil and its repercussions. I think it’s the best of the shorter novels, and deserves to be mentioned along with The Savage Detectives and 2666 for the beauty of its prose alone:
    Amalia Maluenda, the Mapuche maid, made a surprise appearance in the witness box and her presence kept the journalists busy for a week. Over the years her Spanish had dwindled. When she spoke in court, every second word was in Mapuche, and the two young Catholic priests who escorted her like bodyguards, never leaving her alone for a moment, had to serve as interpreters. In her memory, the night of the crime was one episode in a long history of killing and injustice. Her account of the events was swept up in a cyclical, epic poem, which, as her dumbfounded listeners came to realize, was partly her story, the story of the Chilean citizen Amalia Maluenda, who used to work for the Garmendias, and partly the story of the Chilean nation. A story of terror. When she spoke of Wieder, she seemed to be talking about several different people: an invader, a lover, a warrior, a demon. When she spoke of the Garmendia sisters, she likened them to the air, or garden plants or puppies. Remembering the black night of the crime, she said she had heard the music of the Spanish. When asked to clarify what she meant by “the music of the Spanish,” she replied: "Rage, sir, sheer futile rage."
  • Antwerp
    Crazy and beautiful, Antwerp is like a film made up entirely of 30-second takes, featuring nameless characters with constantly changing facial features; like a disturbing dream you're not sure you want to wake up from. I reread it immediately, and, while a story never quite materializes out of the fragments, the images do become more solid and the repetitions more meaningful. It's about writers, but also movies. Everything is being read, or remembered, or watched on screen. It's lovely. Two passages from this one as well, for the poetry:
    The place in his memory that's labeled immediate past is furnished with mattresses scarcely touched by light. Gray mattresses with red and blue stripes in something that looks like a hallway or an overly long waiting room. In any case, his memory is frozen in immediate past like a faceless man in a dentist's chair. There are houses and streets that run down to the sea, dirty windows and shadows on staircase landings. We hear someone say "a long time ago it was noon," the light bounces off the center of immediate past, something that's neither a screen nor attempts to offer images. Memory slowly dictates soundless sentences. We imagine that all of this has been done to avoid confusion, a layer of white paint covers the film on the floor. Fleeing together long ago became living together and thus the integrity of the gesture was lost; the shine of immediate past. Are there really shadows on the landings?
    Now his attention comes to rest on a pale object. After a while he realizes that it's a square that's beginning to disintegrate. What he at first imagined was a screen becomes a white tide, white words, panes whose transparency is replaced by a blind and permanent whiteness. Suddenly a shout focuses his attention. The brief sound is like a color swallowed by a crack. But what color?
  • The Third Reich
    The first half of Reich is an entertaining comic novel about a German war-game champion vacationing in Spain. It’s light and silly, with occasional hints of the narrator’s unreliability. Halfway through, the plot comes to a virtual halt, and the rest is all vaguely menacing atmosphere, nightmarish inaction, and slipping sanity, right out of Kafka. Two different brands of comedy – I laughed at the first half, squirmed at the second, and enjoyed the whole thing. A sample:
    When it got dark I called the reception desk asking for Clarita. The clerk said she wasn’t there. I thought I caught a hint of disgust in her reply. To whom am I speaking? The suspicion that it was Frau Else disguising her voice again lodged in my breast like a horror movie with swimming pools full of blood. This is Nuria, the receptionist, said the voice. How are you, Nuria? I asked in German. Fine, thank you, and you? she answered, also in German. Fine, fine, very well. It wasn’t Frau Else. Convulsing with happiness, I rolled to the edge of the bed and fell off, hurting myself. With my face buried in the rug, I let out all the tears that had built up over the course of the afternoon. Then I showered, shaved, and kept waiting.
  • Nazi Literature in the Americas
    Here we have a a strange catalog of mostly unlikeable, often pathetic, occasionally horrifying writers, all of whom are completely fictional. The humor is extremely dry, and I’m sure it’s funnier (and darker) the more you know about the turbulent history of South America. But it’s quite a feat to create this almost plausible universe of interrelated writers spanning two continents and several generations. And I have to admit I kind of wish I could read the series that features the telepathic Nazi dog named Flip. The tone and style changes from chapter to chapter, from hagiographic to academic to lunatic. The chapter called “Rory Long” is in the latter vein:
    At twenty, he became a preacher in the Church of the True Martyrs of America, and published a book of poetry that no one read, not even his father, who, being a true son of the Enlightenment, was ashamed to see his son crawling with the other crawlers in the shadow of the great Nomadic Book. But no failure could daunt Rory Long, who was already tearing through New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and back to New Mexico, on a whirlwind, counter-clockwise tour. And that was more or less how Rory Long felt: in a whirl, inside out, guts and bones on display; disillusioned with Olson (but not with projective and non-projective verse), whose poems, when he finally read them (which he was slow to do—dazzled by the theory and his own ignorance), seemed almost fraudulent (after reading The Maximus Poems, he vomited for three hours); disillusioned with the Church of the True Martyrs of America, whose members could see the plains of the Book, but not its centrifugal force, not the volcanoes and underground rivers; disillusioned with the times—the seventies, full of sad hippies and sad whores.
  • Woes of the True Policeman
    I have to be honest, this was something of a disappointment. I constantly struggled to match up the Amalfitano here with his character in 2666, who obsessed over old books and mourned for his lost lover named Lola. I admit that's probably the wrong approach. But I also think it's clear this is Bolaño's most incomplete manuscript. Who knows what it would have been had he lived longer? Still, there are glimpses of his trademark poetry:
    He really should stop smiling, thought Amalfitano as he gazed fixedly, spellbound, at Padilla’s face, finding it haggard, paler, almost translucent, as if lately the sun never shone on it. Then, when he felt Padilla’s lips on his cheek, brushing the corner of his own lips, he experienced a feeling for his former student that—the few times he stopped to think about it—disturbed him. A mixture of desire, paternal affection, and sadness, as if Padilla were the embodiment of an impossible trinity: love, son, and ideal reflection of Amalfitano himself. He felt sorry for Padilla, for Padilla and his father, for the deaths in his life and his lost loves, which cast him in a lonely light; there, on that sad backdrop, Padilla was too young and too fragile and there was nothing Amalfitano could do about it. And while at the same time he knew with certainty—and most of the time this perplexed him—that there existed an invulnerable Padilla, arrogant as a Mediterranean god and strong as a Cuban boxer, the pity lingered, the sense of loss and impotence.
  • Last Evenings on Earth
    As you might expect, Bolaño's short stories are full of restless wandering and regret. No epiphanies here, but I enjoyed them all, especially "Dance Card," and "Mauricio 'The Eye' Silva." This excerpt is from the most humorous one, "A Literary Adventure":
    B spends the rest of the day wandering around like a vagabond or a lunatic. He doesn't visit a single gallery, of course, although he does go into a couple of bookshops, in one of which he buys A's latest book. He finds a spot in a park and sits down to read it. The book is fascinating although every page is steeped in sadness. He is such a good writer, thinks B. He considers his own work, blemished by satire and rage, and compares it unfavorably to A's. Then he falls asleep in the sun, and when he wakes up the park is full of beggars and junkies, who seem at first glance to be moving around, but are not, in fact, although to say they are still would also be inaccurate.
  • Amulet
    I think I'd rank this one with Distant Star as the best of his shorter novels. Closely related to The Savage Detectives, it's set among the poets of Mexico during the turbulent '60s and '70s. Auxilio, the self-appointed mother of Mexican poetry, has an energetic yet wistful voice. (Is she Bolaño's only female narrator?) And her vivid tale, though seemingly rambling and episodic, folds together on itself like origami, adding real depth and beauty to her simple persistence. The mournful nostalgia here is over-the-top, almost comic:
    Once I told them a story I had heard José Emilio tell: if Rubén Darío hadn’t died so young, before reaching the age of fifty, Huidobro would certainly have got to know him, much as Ezra Pound got to know W. B. Yeats. Imagine it: Huidobro working as Darío’s secretary. But the young poets were too young to be able to grasp how important the encounter between the old Yeats and the young Pound had been for poetry in English (and, in fact, for poetry all around the world), so they didn’t realized how important the hypothetical encounter and the potential friendship between Darío and Hidobro might have been; they had no sense of the range of missed opportunities for poetry in our language. Because Darío, I dare say, would have taught Huidobro a great deal, but Huidobro would also have taught Darío a thing or two. That’s how the relationship between master and disciple works: it is not only the disciple who learns. And since we’re speculating, I believe, and so did Pacheco (with an innocent enthusiasm that is one of his great qualities), that, of the two, Darío would have learned more; he would have been able to bring Hispanic modernism to a close and begin something new, not the avant-garde as such, but an island, say, between modernism and the avant-garde, what we might now call the non-existent island, an island of words that never were, and could only have come into being (granted that this were even possible) after the imaginary encounter between Darío and Huidobro; and Huidobro himself, after his fruitful encounter with Darío, would have been able to found an even more vigorous avant-garde, what we might name the non-existent avant-garde, which, had it existed, would have transformed us and changed our lives.
  • The Insufferable Gaucho
    This is a very entertaining (and often surprisingly funny) collection of short stories and essays. The title story, about an urban lawyer determined to survive on the pampas, includes the best rabbits in fiction since Cortázar’s "Letter to a Young Lady in Paris." "Police Rat" is pretty neat as well. But, the real treasure here is the essay, “Literature + Illness = Illness.” Such a beautiful rumination on poetry, sex, and life – acutely honest and just amazing! I want to quote the whole thing, but here's a small taste:
    Not long ago, as I was leaving the consulting rooms of my specialist Victor Vargas, among the patients waiting to go in I found a woman waiting for me to come out. She was a small woman, by which I mean short; her head barely came up to my chest—the top of it would have been about an inch above my nipples—even though, as I soon realized, she was wearing spectacularly high heels. Needless to say, the consultation had not been reassuring, at all; the news my doctor had for me was unequivocally bad. I felt—I don’t know—not exactly dizzy, which would have been understandable after all, but more as if everyone else had been stricken with dizziness, while I was the only one keeping reasonably calm and standing up straight, more or less. I had the impression that they were crawling on all fours, while I was upright or seated with my legs crossed, which to all intents and purposes is as good as standing or walking or maintaining a vertical position. I wouldn’t, however, go so far as to say that I felt well, because it’s one thing to remain upright while everyone else is on their hands and knees, and another thing entirely to watch, with a feeling I shall, for want of a better word, call tenderness or curiosity or morbid curiosity, while those around you are suddenly reduced, one and all, to crawling. Tenderness, melancholy, nostalgia: feelings befitting the sentimental lover, but hardly appropriate in the outpatients’ ward of a Barcelona hospital.
  • The Return
    I found this one a little disappointing. I prefer his short stories leavened with humor, as the endless female conquests all begin to look alike. This volume was largely humorless, though "Joanna Sylvestri" and "Buba" were enjoyable, and the last half of "Detectives" is poetry of horror and loss. The best is the very last one, "Meeting with Enrique Lihn," which is filled with the nightmarish melancholy that is his specialty:
    In 1999, after returning from Venezuela, I dreamed that I was being taken to Enrique Lihn’s apartment, in a county that could well have been Chile, in a city that could well have been Santiago, bearing in mind that Chile and Santiago once resembled Hell, a resemblance that, in some subterranean layer of the real city and the imaginary city, will forever remain. Of course I knew that Lihn was dead, but when they offered to take me to meet him I accepted without hesitation. Maybe I thought that the people I was with were playing a joke, or that a miracle might be possible. But probably I just wasn’t thinking or had misunderstood the invitation. In any case we came to a seven-story building, with a façade painted a faded yellow and a bar on the ground floor, a bar of considerable dimensions, with a long counter and several booths, and my friends (although it seems odd to describe them like that; let’s just say the enthusiasts who had offered to take me to meet the poet) led me to a booth, and there was Lihn.
  • The Secret of Evil
    Knowing this one was a collection of stories and fragments of stories that were found on Bolaño’s computer after he died set me up for a pleasant surprise, because I enjoyed this volume much more than The Return. There’s definitely an incomplete feeling to some of them, some are fragments outright, and I can’t quite buy the editor’s spin that this is simply more of Bolaño’s usual technique, “the poetics of inconlusiveness.” Still, there’s plenty of humor here, and, several are among my favorite short pieces by Bolano, including "Scholars of Sodom," "Labyrinth," "The Colonel’s Son," and "Literature of Doom." The following passage is from the first of those:
    So there he is, Naipaul, and it seems that all he can notice are outward movements, but in fact he’s noticing inward movements too, although he interprets them in his own way, sometimes arbitrarily, and he’s moving through Buenos Aires in the year 1972 and writing as he moves or perhaps only wanting to write as his legs move through that strange city, and he’s still young, forty years old, but he already has a considerable body of work behind him, a body of work that doesn’t weigh him down or prevent him from moving briskly through Buenos Aires when he has an appointment to keep—the weight of the work, that’s something to which we shall have to return, the weight and the pride that he takes in this work, the weight and the responsibility, which don’t prevent his legs from moving nimbly or his hand from rising to hail a taxi, as he acts in character, like the man he is, a man who keeps his appointments punctually—but he is weighed down by the work when he goes strolling through Buenos Aires without appointments to exercise his British punctuality, without any pressing obligations, just walking along those strange avenues and streets, through that city in the southern hemisphere, so like the cities of the northern hemisphere, and yet nothing like them at all, a hole, a void that someone has suddenly inflated, a show that is strictly for local consumption; that’s when he feels the weight of the work, and it’s tiring to carry that weight as he walks, it exhausts him, it’s irritating and shameful.
    Coming soon:

    Tres
    Between Parentheses
    The Romantic Dogs
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Trip
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Trip » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:04 am

That Red Beard piece is kinda great.
Please TRIP and Die
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MrCarmady
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by MrCarmady » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:06 am

As a Kurosawa fan, I'm always glad to see you supporting this one, since no-one else seems to. Another one I must see. I also have The Savage Detectives lined up for the ethereal time when I'll start reading non-academic literature again...
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