It's all about Willie

When I first heard that Tim Burton was going to make a new film adaptation of Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", with Johnny Depp as Willie Wonka, I thought this I gotta see. Not only did I love all three previous collaborations between the two (Ed Wood especially), but Tim Burton's quirky imagination, sense of the gothic and affinity for outsides and weirdos seemed perfectly suited to the book, and aside from the fact that I'll see anything with Johnny Depp in it, I was interested in what he'd do with the character.

Somehow though, between reviews that complained his Willie Wonka was too much like Michael Jackson, others that called the movie just plain unsatisfying, and being in France at the time of its release, I managed not to see it. Until yesterday, that is, when I found out that sometimes you should just ignore reviews and go with your gut instinct, because this film is a near-perfect visualisation of the book.

I think what's different between me and say, MaryAnn Johanssen on this count, is that I had read the book about twenty times by the time I saw the 1971 version, and that, to be honest, I didn't really like that movie. Gene Wilder was pretty ok, alright, I'll admit, he was a good Willie Wonka, but the rest? It was just too different from the book, and I didn't see the point of what they added. To MaryAnn, however, the 1971 movie is the benchmark, and I can see why this movie could disappoint if you were expecting a retread of that film: it forgets that film ever existed, and goes back to the book. While watching, my family and I agreed that somehow it felt like we'd seen it before, and this has nothing to do with the 1971 film (I think I'm the only one who has seen it) but everything with how visual the book already was, and how closely the film sticks to it.

I think what makes Roald Dahl and Tim Burton fit so well together here is their sense of exaggeration. They know that sometimes things need to be over-the-top to be truthful. Dahl's bratty kids were so awful they could barely exist, and their punishments grotesque, but the conceit worked because of this. Like the chocolate factory in the title, everything was oversize, the imagination taking just one step further than you would have expected, and Burton understands this like no other. The house the Buckets live in is not just crooked, it's leaning over so far it's a wonder it hasn't falled over, and even the door is so slanted that the characters have to bend to enter. When a chocolate palace collapses, it does so completely and violently, giant columns of chocolate falling down. Burton undertands that it is necessary for everything to be so big, larger-than-life, he understands that the boat they use to travel down the chocolate river is made from candy and it looks it.

In fact, the only parts in which the film kind of fails are the ones that were added. Granted, the idea of Willie Wonka having a dentist father is a good one, and having the father played by Christopher Lee is a stroke of genius, but aside from this the backstory's just a little too neat psychologically. Dahl's Wonka didn't need a reason to be strange and arbitrary, didn't need a reason to have isolated himself from the world. He was just weird that way. Depp's Wonka however - and I blame this solely on the script - cannot say the word "parents", and a neat resolution of his complexes is in store for him at the end. The end doesn't work: Dahl knew the importance of a swift happy ending without much thought of the consequences, in fact, when he did write about the consequences, in his follow-up book "the Glass Elevator", he failed miserably, but Burton wanted more than just saying "and they all lived happily ever after" and leaving it at that, and it's too bad.

One last thing I would like to comment on is the Michael Jackson thing. I think that so many people saw Michael Jackson in Depp's performance has to do with how they viewed the film, with the trial at that point fresh in everybody's mind, because I looked for direct evidence and it just isn't there. Yes, Wonka is effeminate, and yes, he lives in his own fantasy world, but he hates children! Violet hugs him and he's horrified, just as Wonka in the book would have been. He is mean and he does not need a reason for it. He lures children into his Neverland not for his own purposes, but because he has no choice, and he has no trouble dispatching them one by one.
It might be that what confuses people is that they are used to looking for connections with reality. I often do it too, and often with reason: I'm almost sure the references to 9/11 in War of the Worlds was intentional, and it's not hard to find the criticism on forcefully bringing peace in Serenity. Tim Burton is a different creature from most directors, however, because he doesn't care much about reality. His mind is celluloid, and I don't think he intended any real world parallels with this film. With Tim Burton, it's all about the pretty pictures, it's about celebrating weirdo's, not about any contemporary allusions. Even other films do not interest him that much, because they are in reality. He only has one major reference to another film (well, films, but it revolves around one in particular) and it is, appropriately, in the Mike Teavee sequence.

If there is a message to this film, it is the same as the one in the book: it's a celebration of imagination. That's why Dahl opposes TV so much: not because there aren't worthwhile programs being made, but because it "makes the brain lazy". Mike Teavee is a smart kid, more so in the film than in the book, even, he figures out the "system" to find his bar (although I found the reference to the Nikkei index kind of ridiculous), he immediately sees why Wonka's idea to send a chocolate bar through the TV would not work, he is the voice of reality, in a way, seeing right through the "pointlessness" of Wonka's entreprise. Wonka's answer? Like in the book, he simply ignored this "voice of reality", tells Mike he's mumbling and that he can't understand a word he's saying. I believe both Dahl and Burton are trying to tell us this way that we shouldn't always restrict ourselves to reality, and that imagination is vital. I couldn't agree more, and I think the movie is worth seeing if only just for this: it shows just what is possible if you refuse to be restricted by reality.

There's only one other director who might fit Dahl just as well. It's Wes Anderson, of course, and he is currently working on an animated film based on... "The Fantastic Mr. Fox". I'm looking forward to it. Maybe these movies will be enough to make us forget the saccharine horror that was "Matilda".


Gay? Big deal. He's Dying.

Also from the Boomerang, but without the wretched first sentence.

The New York times probably put it most dramatically. “The Winner is…only acting gay” is the attention-claiming title of an article published not too long ago, an article that proclaimed a gay revolution. The Guardian, titling this year the “year of the Gay”, is not far behind. So what are these papers so in uproar about? What’s their big point?

Six, no fewer than six movies with gays in them are coming out this fall, count ‘em! No need to worry, though, both articles haste to comfort us, the actors playing them are very much straight. It’s Oscar time, people, and it seems playing gay is this year’s playing disabled, this year’s impressive weight loss or gain. Will the strategy work?

Include dramatic sigh.

Of the New York Times’ big invasion, only one film can be considered mainstream (the film adaptation of the musical Rent). Not only is the renowned newspaper clearly grasping to find a phenomenon to report on, but the angle they put on it is outrageous. Their main point? Playing gay is only accepted, nay, only possible, if the actor’s sexuality is decidedly “normal”.

Take Heath Ledger in what I confess to have called, like so many others, “the gay cowboy movie”, Brokeback Mountain. If we believe the New York times, the only way we can appreciate this love story between two men is because we know that Heath is a manly man in real life, who’s even knocked up his on- and offscreen wife/girlfriend, Michelle Williams. The Guardian goes so far as to suggest she’s been cast merely as a “sexual alibi”. And of course the fact that Peter Sarsgaard, who portrayed gay characters in several films, “appears in gossip columns linked with Maggie Gyllenhaal” is crucial. How ridiculous their point is, is best seen when using their own words: “Our awareness of these nonfiction roles makes it easier and maybe more acceptable for middle-class heterosexual viewers - a group that does, after all, include most of us in the audience - to embrace characters whose sexual preferences we don't share.”


It just makes you want to flee to France, where they – at least on film, and in film criticism- have a more relaxed way of dealing with the subject. Take François Ozon, for example, one of France’s most prolific and interesting directors at the moment. The main character in his new film, , “Le Temps qui Reste” (the time that remains) is gay, and dying. In any American film, his illness would have been Aids. In this film, he gets cancer. Admittedly, this is necessary for a later plot point, but still: it shows that to this director and writer, the sexual orientation of this character is not the only thing that’s important. Despite some rather graphic scenes (yes, this is what my mother and I do for quality time) the film might not have been all that different had the main character been straight.

For all the above, but also for the beautiful music by Arvo Pärt, for the astounding cinematography, for the chance to see Jeanne Moreau shine on screen again, for some scenes that really worked, I would love to proclaim this film a masterpiece. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

It’s a pity really. Some parts here work beautifully, other almost do, but as a whole the film is ultimately unsatisfying. It charts what happens to beautiful, arrogant and yes, gay, photographer Romain after he finds out he only has a month or two to live. He pushes everyone away, his family, his boyfriend, and tells only his grandmother (Moreau) what’s going on. He goes to a darkroom. He sees himself as a kid. He has a conversation with a waitress in a diner who thinks he’s beautiful. In the end, Ozon returns to his fascination with beaches and lets his story end.

As the summary above, the film feels to episodic, too aimless. There are some nice moments with the boyfriend, and the short segment with his grandmother is wonderfully worked out, but in the end we have no insight whatsoever into his relationship with his family, with his sister especially. We don’t know why he reacts the way he does, why he shuts everyone out. We spend a whole movie with this man, but while it would take me a long time to grow weary of watching the beautiful Melvil Poupaud, we ultimately get no insight into who he is. As an exploration of death and how people deal with it, Ozon’s own “Sous le Sable” is a much better film, and it’s a pity, because this one shows the potential to be just as great.

Do actors win Academy Awards just for morphing, for once not their appearance, but their sexuality? Is Philip Seymour Hoffman a contender for best Actor this year because despite their differences in statures and physique he managed to embody who and how Truman Capote was, or because Truman happened to be gay? Until the media starts growing up and out of its jitterish and exalted treatment of homosexuality, it will be hard for movies that feature homosexual protagonists to be judged on their own merits.

Art and Reality

My "editorial" for this month's Boomerang...So yes, real published work! Enjoy. More to come.

‘tis the season to be jolly…and the season of gold. The Academy Awards are coming up and in the US most films aiming for one or more little statuettes are being rolled out in December: early enough to still qualify and late enough that they will be fresh in the voter’s memory. Remarkable again this year is how many of the contenders have a basis in reality. Last year this trend was already visible – four out of the five nominees for best actor were portraying real people – and this year continues it: hopefuls include Good Night, and Good Luck, George Clooney’s second film as a director about the reporter Edward Murrow and his fight against McCarthyism, Capote, a film documenting the writing of “In Cold Blood”, Truman Capote’s famous non-fiction novel, and Walk the Line, a biopic about Johnny Cash. Steven Spieberg’s Munich, about the killing of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists in Munich in 1972 and the retribution that followed it, has yet to come out but is already rumored to be one of the front runners. The only film not based on reality that stands a chance to win Best Picture is Brokeback Mountain and this was enough for some ridiculous responses in the media, as you can read in the article on Le Temps qui reste.

It makes you wonder: do we need art to put reality in perspective? Can art only be considered to be “high art” if it takes reality as its basis and transforms it? And if the answer to these questions is yes, why is the non-documentary film rated highest on rottentomatoes.com King Kong, not exactly the most realistic film?

The question arises whether the films based on “true stories”, and for that matter all art that has a basis in reality, merely reflects it or transforms it in a subtle way, reinvents it so to speak. For example, the photographs by Rinke Dijkstra, an exhibition of which Floor reviews, come as close to objectivity as photography allows yet we look at them with more interest than at random snapshots because she chose these people, these children to photograph. Simply this makes them more important, more mysterious and more intriguing than they would otherwise have been. Rineke Dijkstra’s work was also on display at this year’s Museumnight in Amsterdam together with other works that can be seen in the context of their manipulation of and influence on reality and how we perceive it. Aansan reports especially on those by VJ Erwin Olaf, whose works according to her “[play] with reality on the edge of fantasy and dream”.

Then there’s Bob Dylan, about whom it’s always been almost impossible to distinguish fact from fiction. Scorsese made a documentary about him –also reviewed in this section- but didn’t even try to disentangle truths from falsehoods, the invented from the real, just observed. Still, why is it worth mentioning that Scorsese directed it if not because this influences the end product greatly? By leaving some things out and putting others in, by lingering on Dylan’s face sometimes a little longer than we’d expect, by superimposing specific comments over certain images, he molds reality to become art and as such he influences how we see it.

Umberto Eco recently wrote in the Telegraph that while ours should be a cynical age because we’ve mostly let go of God, we live instead in a world of endless credulity. It is understandable in a way that people nowadays blend fact and fiction, with reality shows that might or might not be scripted and truth often seeming stranger than fiction. The Da Vinci Code is not only a best-selling book but many follow it as some kind of evangelism while other books like the Da Vinci Code decoded attack is as if it were a history book, and not conspiracy theory escapism. Eco argues that it is the lack of religion that makes us turn to other “spiritual” avenues, books like “the Celestine Prophecy” for example, passionately defended by Orr Shomroni here.

Sometimes it would seem that we need art to understand reality, almost. That we need some kind of fiction as a comfort in our lives. How else to explain the popularity of astrology and similar things? Art might be as good a way as any a lens to see the world through. If God is dead, let’s hope it makes art live a long and healthy life.


Personal Heroes

"I'm gonna good a great big tree hear, I like big trees, but you can out it there if you want, or there, it's your painting. Hm, let's see, I think the light is coming from here, so we're just going to add a few shadows here, and here, just carefully put a few shadows on, not too much."

Do I even need to explain this one? Nothing on TV is more soothing than Bob Ross (who, unfortunately, died in 1995), not even curling tournaments.

I was amazed, a few days ago, to find the book "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", a collection of essays and reviews by Pauline Kael, just standing there in a small bookcase known grandly as the "college library". I'd been looking for it forever! And here it was, and the prize was even still on the inside cover: 20 eurocents.

They really are amazing essays. She destroys Blow-Up, in a way that doesn't make me want to agree with her right away, but that makes me want to watch the movie again and see if she has a point. She was the critic who "discovered" Bonnie and Clyde, at least, the one who first saw why it was great, and her essay on it is so full of details, so nuanced, and thoroughly fascinating to read.

Finally, Ricky Gervais. Some might know him from series such as "the Office" (the original, British version) and "Extras", but I have to admit I never caught more than a couple of episodes of both. Now, however, he has a podcast, and as you all know I love those. So, in that train this last Sunday, I listened to the first two episodes...And people must have thought I was crazy, laughing out loud, doubling over, from what was coming from my headphones. Totally weird, without structure or goal (though there is a lot about monkeys), but somehow incredibly funny.



Sampling Metafilter

Keep in mind, this is from only 5 days of posting.

In the spirit of Christmas
Or if, instead, you want to give your loved one something from the health and family planning section
In the "oh, yeah, that had to be invented, too..." category (more info here)
Disney made a bad decision (really, terrible) and people revolt
If you haven't had your daily dose of cute (seriously, you can find anything on the net...)

Research confirms what we already knew: Wikipedia rules
I hope my mind (and sense of humor) will still be this sharp at 83
'Cause I love Paris
Dutch Bathroom Tiles enter the internet age

Time Cover Art: how flash should be used.

Finally, some links from other sources:

Kong and Sexual Politics
I want this.
There are too many top-ten lists too mention, but this has to be one of the best designed ones
'Cause most other reviews made the point that Memoirs of a Geisha was boring boringly
Pitchfork reviews 29. 4 more days until it comes out.

To end up, the most beautiful commercial on TV these days is of course, a triumph in these days of CGI because it didn't use it. Those are real balls, hard as it may be to believe.

I looked up the music that accompanies it. The song is Heartbeats "arranged" (whatever that means) by José González. It's a little flat without the accompanying images, but still quite beautiful.



My Year in Movies

Yes it is that time: the time of year-end lists. And who am I to decline participation in this joyous -though also oft-annoying - tradition?

So, below, find the films I've seen this year. Well, not all of them. First, only films I saw for the first time in 2005 count. Also, only those that came out in 2005...and in 2004. Let me explain: 2005 because that's traditional, and 2004 because, well, 16 films is not a whole lot. Thing is, I skip a lot of bad movies, and the good ones tend to come out near the end of the year - academy awards and all - meaning I usually don't see them until the year after.

Well, you ask, as soon as you're at it, why not do it about all films you've seen this year? Two good reasons for that: first, I don't remember all the films I've seen this year, there were so many, and I can't even guarantee this list is comprehensive. Most importantly, I took a film course this year, and while some beautiful films I've seen in that don't qualify as I'd seen them before (Citizen Kane, Casablance, the Godfather) I think this year's films would have had a hard time competing with the likes of Sunset Boulevard and Vertigo.

Enough talk. On with the list. An explanation for the thingies between brackets is below.

Top 4 (because I'm random that way. Also, in no particular order)

  • Serenity
  • A History of Violence [s] (the more I think about it, the more I like it. Read more.)
  • No Direction Home [t]
  • Sideways [2]

Admired, but did not love:

  • Hotel Rwanda [2]
  • Closer [2]

Flawed, but still worth seeing:

  • Le Temps Qui Reste (for cinematography, music, a gorgeous main character and mostly: Jeanne Moreau. The review I wrote for the Boomerang will be up soon)
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou[d] (for a near perfect first hour)
  • Lords of Dogtown [s] (for the exhilerated feeling, and Heath Ledger doing Val Kilmer. By which I mean doing his best impersonation of, of course.)
  • Un Long Dimanche de Fiancailles (for reminding us that WWII wasn't the only horrific war)
  • Sin City (for style if nothing else. Watch out for your balls)

Succesful Action Spectacles:

  • Batman Begins
  • The Incredibles [2]
  • Hellboy [d]

Unsuccesful Action Spectacles

  • Kingdom of Heaven
  • Sahara [s](alright, alright, that one was kinda fun. In the way that only bad films can be fun. And well, I maintain that it had much to do with the way William H. Macy delivered the line "They did a Panama". Also, Lambert Wilson can do no wrong in my book.)
  • Constantine[s](but Tilda was cool in it, I have to admit)

Action Spectacle with the lamest dialogue: Star Wars (you know which one)

Action Spectable with the worst acting: Star Wars (explain again, how can you have Ewan McGregor do a pitch perfect impersonation of Alec Guiness....acting badly?)

Action Spectable with the most cop-out ending: War of the Worlds (Spielberg sometimes really is too much of a sap)

Sleekerst Action Spectacle: Collateral [d]

Most Fun Brainless Action Spectacle: Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Most Fun Brainless Caper: Ocean's Twelve

Biopics (meaning taken loosely. From those I liked to those I liked less):

  • The Motorcycle Diaries [2] (made me want to pack up my bags and leave for South-America immediately. Definitely too positive about its subject, though)
  • Kinsey [2] (A lot of fun, maybe a little too positive)
  • The Aviator : (not that much fun, still maybe a little too positive)

Documentaries (same)

  • No Direction Home [t] (Home run by Scorsese. Among the best films of the year. Read more here)
  • Inside Deep Throat [s] (maybe not all that insightful, but boy did I laugh...Also, I now get why people went to see the movie. It's Linda Lovelace's "how the ... does she do that?!" factor)
  • Control Room [a] (Intriguing. Isn't that the best you can say abut a doc?)
  • Outfoxed [a] (way too polemic)

Mind-Fuck Movies (ditto)

  • Primer (shows time-travel movies are possible without Ah-nulds butt and/or eighties music. Or whirly effects, for that matter)
  • I {heart} Huckabees [d] (many interesting ideas, not always well exucuted, but some really cool moments)

Hilarious even if it shouldn't be: The Spongebob Squarepants Movie

Not as hilarious as it should be: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (although the song at the beginning deserves an award of its own. And "Bless you" was brilliant)

Movies randomly not assigned to a specific category for being neither bad nor really good:

  • Broken Flowers [s] (works really only when the amazing Jeffrey Wright is onscreen)
  • Garden state [d] (I probably should have liked this more than I did, but only the music and Peter Sarsgaard's performance really stood out)
  • Team America [c] (funny enough. Not a standout)
  • Mean Girls [d] (ditto. The bus moment was the only thing that stayed with me)
  • Napoleon Dynamite [c] (same, again)
  • Criminal [d] (It has Westwood! And Diego Luna! And I can't remember much else...)
  • Anchorman [d] (Ok, ok, I did laugh. Especially when the different teams showed up. Still...)

Classics I saw for the first time this year and wanted to mention:

  • La Dolce Vita [d] (Wow. I'll have to watch that about 5 times more, I think)
  • 8 1/2 [d] (ehm, yeah. Ditto. Also, I want to look like Anouk Aimée)
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (loved it. How could I not?)
  • Sunset Boulevard (ditto, of course)
  • Vertigo (not as convinced about this one, but definitely a film I'm glad I finally saw)
  • Singin' in the Rain (it's official, I'm not the musical type)
  • The Terminator (how could I not mention the naked gubernator?)
  • Many, many more. Film classes rock.

2005 films I'd like to see in 2006, and maybe even sooner

  • Brokeback Mountain
  • King Kong
  • Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
  • The Squid and the Whale
  • Match Point
  • The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
  • Last Days
  • Capote
  • Good Night, and Good Luck
  • Pride & Prejudice
  • Walk the Line
  • The Constant Gardener
  • Grizzly man
  • The Upside of Anger
  • Nine Lives
  • Caché

Needless to say, that's not going to happen, but a girl can dream. The plan, in any case, is to make a page on this blog, somewhere back-dated, where I'll keep a list of the movies I'll see from january 1st onwards.

Outraged at some of my picks? Something I blatantly left out? Can't believe I didn't see insert-film-here yet? Leave your comments!


[a]: seen in class
[c]: downloaded (isn't it admirable how few those are?)
[d]: seen on DVD
[s]: sneak preview
[2]: 2 dollar movie at UCLA
Nothing: seen in theatres.


"It was beauty killed the beast"

King Kong, Cooper & Shoedsack, 1933

I can understand why this film made Peter Jackson want to be a director.

I'd managed not to see it, somehow. I did see both the 1931 Dracula and the 1931 Frankenstein, but not this one. Of course, with Jackson's monumental (and surprisingly well-received) remake coming out tomorrow, I had to revisit the original. I never thought it would be so genuinely good.

Oh, maybe good isn't the first word that comes to mind if you just start anywhere in the middle. To modern eyes, Kong himself, and most of the other effects, seem clumsy, laughable even. Watching from the beginning, however, letting the atmosphere creepm up on you, discovering the crew together with a screaming Fay Wray, he is suprisingly believable. Oh, of course you see he is made of clay, of course his movements show that he was made with stop-motion, and yes, foreground and background don't match all that often, but still, what a spectacle. After all, isn't the most important quality that special effects should have that they draw you into the movie? Who cares about realism, as long as the effects make you care. And I cared. I held my breath during the wrestling match between Kong and the dinosaur, and I felt a pang when he fell.

What I was most surprised by is not how much the film gripped me, but how violent it was. Many, many people get killed here, brutally, and somehow it shocked me more than, say, Sin City did (well, the Sin City deaths, at least, the whole ripped-off-balls things not taken into account). From the trailers and what I've heard, King Kong in the new version is a sweeter, more tender creature, and Ann Darrow loves him back in a way. Not in this version, but it's true that you almost blame here for it, because even this clay model has an amazing array of feelings on his face. I'm looking forward to see what Andy Serkis can do with that.

Many articles come out now asking what it is with our fascination for beautiful blondes in the paws of big black beasts. I don't know the answer, but whatever it is, it seems to work for Peter Jackson.



Trailer tales

Disclaimer: I will get back to a more regular posting schedule, I promise. Just a bit busy right now.

I am a big fan of Apple's trailer website, especially now with the incredibly gorgeous high-definition trailer coming out. I check it probably three times a week. And as deceptive as trailers can be, I do obviously form an opinion about them, and they do affect how much I want to see a movie.

Or how much I'll make sure to avoid a movie...Take the trailer for the upcoming Tristan and Isolde, probably greenlighted back when King Arthur still looked like a good idea. James Franco, I'm all for (I truly believe in his acting talent, though he hasn't exactly chosen films that display it lately), and the story I devoured as a kid, fascinated by the inevitable tragedy (and well, I thought the living clandestinely together in the woods thing was, ahem, interesting). But as soon as I heard the Evanescence music underscoring the trailer, I said to myself, nope, sorry, I'll pass. It's not that I don't like Evanescence, though I'm not a big fan, it's mostly that it reflects the way the filmmakers are going with this, and I won't be going along.

Other trailers have the faculty of making you interested in a film you might not have thought about much before. Case in point: Inside man, with Clive Owen and Denzel Washington. I'll watch anything with Clive in it, of course (although, come to think about it, nothing will convince me to see Guinevere in a leather bikini, maybe it's just the Arthurian thing I'd rather keep in books), but a hostage negotiating thing mixed with a bank robbery sounds like a rental. The trailer makes it look good though. Oh, and look next to Denzel? Yep, it's the Operative, aka. Chiwetel Ejiofor. I'm glad to see this guy getting more and more success, he truly is a great actor, his performance in Dirty Pretty Things was amazing. Back to the topic, Inside Man, from this trailer, looks tight and twisty, suspenseful, and worth a look.

Then there are of course the trailer for films you already want to see and that frustrate you because you want to see the film now, right away, and not " somewhere in 2006". I must have watched the trailer for The Fountain twenty times already. trying to get as many details as possible from those few images, and everytime it gets me excited all over again, and frustrated that there isn't even a US release date yet. Hugh Jackman, Darren Aronovski, and well, it just looks pretty damn cool, too.

Finally, there are the trailers that tell you absolutely nothing about the quality of the final product. Yes, the "announcement trailer" for X3 is cool, shown all the characters, offers glimpses of the story, Jean Grey is back (as Phoenix?) and kicking ass, but with Brett Ratner directing, it isn't enough to convince me it won't suck. Also, I'm not quite sure I agree with the backing music and the whole action angle: what made X1 and especially X2 great was that next to terrific action pieces, Bryan Singer infused these stories, these characters with a heart. I'm not quite sure Brett Ratner can do the same, seeing as I've seen no evidence of him actually having a heart yet.

How these movies will end up? How indicative the trailers were? I'll tell you if and when I see them.




Remember, my Jacksonville City Nights review? When I despaired, wondering if Ryan Adams would return to being the artist I loved him for being from time to time? How I hoped the third album he would put out this year would be truly glorious finally again?

It is.

29, Ryan's latest, doesn't officially come out until December 20th, but it's been leaked. It's streaming online, and downloadable if you're persistent (and really, nobody can convince me that's a crime, because I'll buy the CD the day it comes out), and I've listened to it about, oh, 3o times so far? It's just that beautiful.

The album's only nine songs, but they are wonderful little epics, beautiful and spare, relatively long (up to nine minutes), no Cardinals to be heard, just Ryan with his guitar, on the piano. According to Ryan himself, this is the album to conclude his twenties, and every song is one year in that decade. That seems to mean that at 2o, I'm not in my twenties yet, but I suppose that only makes it more interesting for me, this peak into the future.

In any case, while the first song ("29") has yet to grow on me, the second one is the wonderful "Strawberry wine", where Ryan flirts with singing off key but keeps it just sad, melancholic, gorgeous, and "Night Birds", which follows it, is similarly haunting, and would have fit perfectly on Love is Hell. Then, oh, just when you thought it couldn't get any better comes "Blue Skies Blues", the piano softly playing, and it takes your breath away, to use a cliched phrase. It is just that beautiful. It's over five minutes long, but it still ends too soon.

The delights don't end there. While "Carolina Rain" is not particularly remarkable, especially after just hearing "Blue Skies Blues", and seems to reflect a country phase in Ryan's life. "Starlite Dinner" is wonderful but a bit in the same vein as the other songs, though it's romantic atmosphere is hard to resist. Unfortunately, this also means this song features some of the weaker songwriting, inlcuding the lines "Is it possible to love someone too much? You bet", but weak songwriting in Ryan Adams terms is still pretty amazing.

Then comes "the Sadness", and it really makes me want to meet the 27-year-old Ryan Adams. it's a song that would fit perfectly in the soundtrack of a western, it is a western in fact, restless and breathless, talking of horses and trains and boxcars, storytelling at its best, and a song unlike any others I know by Ryan. I'm not sure if I like it yet as music, but it certainly intrigues me, invites you to listen to it again and again.

There are two more songs, and these are definitely more introspective, managing to convey such a richness of feeling with so few means: on "Elizabeth, you were born to play that part" is the melancholy tale of a girlfriend long gone but not forgotten, descending into a strange haunting instrumental part, while "Voices" is, according to Ryan himself, told from the grave, and accordingly chilling, a wonderful ending to a true return to form.

Thank you Ryan.


Oh, that I could by any chemic art
To sperm convert my spirit and my heart,
That at one thrust I might my soul translate
And in the womb myself regenerate!
There steeped in lust nine months I would remain,
Then boldly fuck my passage back again.
__________________________John Wilmot

It seems the movie The Libertine is quite bad, but the man its about is, in my humble opinion, brilliant to have written the above. And well, obviously dear Johnny can do no wrong.


And now, about my most-anticipated movie of next year...

The New York Observer has a very insightful piece not just about this film, but also about why it is becoming more normal for women to find the idea of two men together appealing. Read before it's gone!

And if this inspires you to read the original story (obviously, a spoiler for the film).


A History of Violence

I love when I can re-use a picture...

A warning: the following is not a review of A History of Violence, David Cronenberg's latest, but a rumination on certain aspects of it. There will be spoilers galore, so if you still want to see this movie, stop right here. I mean it. I read too much beforehand, and I think the film would have hit me in a more visceral way if I hadn't.

First, I liked it. A lot. I wasn't entirely sure as I walked out a theatre, I had to think about it a bit, but now that I have...It is a bit too constructed in places, too crafted. On the other hand, wow.

One aspect I want to linger on is the two sex scenes. A friend told me he'd felt really uncomfortable watching them. Granted, he was in that theatre with his -according to the guy himself- uptight father, while I saw it with my significantly not-uptight (untight? downtight?) dad. Still, the guy complained that the scenes were, to him, "unappealing", "unpleasant" and the characters (played by Viggo Mortensen- who, I believe, must be the ultimate man, painfully perfect almost. Did you know he writes wonderfully, too?- and Maria Bello) "came of as unsophisticated retards".

Truth be told, I'd heard so much about these sex scenes beforehand that I was a bit let down. They weren't that explicit at all in terms of nudity (there is one shot of Maria Bello kind of nekkid that doesn't even technically occur in one of the sex scenes, and while we do get to see Viggo's buttocks, that's pretty much it) and while there was one sex scene, a pretty violent one at that, shown from beginning to end, it was to me fascinating rather than unsettling.

What also is uncommon about the film is that the first sex scene features oral sex, 69 to be presice, and many reviewers were boggled by this. I don't quite understand why. I mean, I both don't understand why it is so rare and why it was considered to be shocking in this one, especially because for once, this is not a gratuitous sex scene. It might not contribute to the plot, but it does work very well on both a personal and a symbolic level: it both illustrates the relationship between these two people and it creates a wondeful contract with the latter sex scene that really exemplifies the film's shift in tone, and the main character's shift in identity.

Let me expand a bit more on this latter thing. In the first scene Viggo is Tom Stall. He's not playing Tom Stall, he is Tom Stall. For example, as his wife gets changed in the bathroom, he is nervous, doesn't quite know what to do with himself. He straightens the covers, folds them open, grins at himself. He opens his shirt unsurely, starts undoing his belt, but it's clearly mostly because he doesn't know what else to do with his hands. When Edie comes out in the cheerleader outfid, he is honestly amazed. Another important characteristic of this scene is that it revolves around oral sex. This is not just for shock value at all, nor for titillation. It is because oral sex, no matter how much the giver might like or dislike doing it, is functionally a giving, unselfish act. Tom starts it to thank his wife, and she reciprocates. It shows that they love each other and are willing to sacrifice things for each other, and its innocence is further accentuated by their acting like teenagers. Mostly, it is in sharp contrast with the second scene.

In this second scene, the sex is all about taking. It starts out as a fight, kicking and grabbing throats, but all along there is sexual tension and this comes out soon enough. The sex is rough, with barely any words, and instead of the glowy aftermath of the first scene, it ends as abruptly as it started. Viggo is Joey in this scene, not the loving husband but the brutal, carnal killer. It's a scene that certainly unsettles, but for me, this was mostly because I found myself to be slightly turned on by it. I think this was probably Cronenberg's intention, just as it seems his intention with this entire film to confront us with how violence and sex appeal to us, turn us on.

What I admire about these sex scenes is the level of reality. I don't mean I think theses kinds of scenes happen everyday, but there's no soft focus, no underscoring music. Instead, there's clumsiness: in the first scene, Edie throws her husband's belt behind her and get startled by the sound it makes hitting the wall. In the second scene, we see her back later, covered with bruises: this sex is not without consequences, physical or mental.

Cronenberg seems like such an intelligent, fascinating man. I'd love to meet him and pick his mind, even if the thought of what I could find is a little unsettling. Or who am I kidding. It's because I think I might find something unsettling that I'm so interested, of course.



Anderson Cooper

I don't know this lovely man myself..But I thought it was interesting how he was appropriated by two different groups on blogs I visit. Just shows how our view of public personae changes depending on our perspective.


1 month of neglect

This blog, I'm afraid, will be be neglected during November. I'll be writing and hopefully managing to fit in my school work as well. I'll try to post a few nice links every couple of days, and I promise I'll return to full activity in December!

Until then, I'll leave you with this little gem of overanalysis...


Dream Job #251

I'd like to host a radio show. A late night radio show, preferably, airing around 11 or midnight.

So you ask, why not just make a podcast? Everyone's doing it. It's not that hard. But podcasting, to me, has two main obstacles. No, three. First of all, the best podcasts, in my opinion, are those hosted by two people, not just one. One person talking to themselves bores after a while, but two people discussing is interesting to listen to (take Adam and Sam from Cinecast for example). Second, music is an issue. Either you're being illegal or you play very obscure music by bands who'd love any kind of attention. Brian Ibbott manages it on Coverville, but it's tricky, and too much work if you just want the occasional song rather than having a whole podcast revolving around music. Third, I'd love to do interview. Like the one with Ranses Shaffy I'm listening to at the moment. But it's hard to find interesting people willing to be interviewed, especially for a PodCast.

So, what would my show look like, ideally? Well, it would start with 5 to 10 minutes of remarkable news and developments, links maybe to interesting things, but also a list of the concerts for which ticketsales are opening (I always miss this stuff. Like the Sufjan Stevens concert. And the Belle and Sebastian concert last year. And the Ryan Adams concert the year before that). Then the rest of the time an interview with, and I see this concept very broadly, "someone interesting". Not necessarily famous. Not necessarily people involved in the arts, although probably many of them would be. Most importantly, not someone who's been in the news lately.

All the interview shows, everyone has something to sell. A new book, production, CD, etc. And that thing dominates the conversation, when instead I'd often just like to get to know the interviewee. So, the idea would be, someone with no particular aim for the interview, just chilling on the couch, talking about no matter what. Oh, of course I'd do research in advance, prepare questions to jumpstart the conversation, but if the consersation turns to cow tipping, then why not? Hopefully this would lead to less predictable interviews. More like the interviews in Interview, in a way, but longer and therefore hopefully a little more insightful.

The show would of course be interspersed with interesting music, about 4 or 5 songs total I think, one old, one new, all relevant to the interviewee. By the interviewee if he/she is a musician? Maybe one song or two, but definitely not all. Enough to give a taste of what the person does, but I'm more interested in what music they'd listen to, or in how they'd react to music they didn't know yet.

So yeah, one of the many (251 is a broad guess, but probably not too far off the mark) dream jobs I'll never have but like to dream about.


N.B. The Picture is unrelated, but I've been working on an assignment about the Heisenberg uncertainty relation all day and this felt appropriate.


Blog Rolling

I finally joined the blogging community entirely: I have a blog roll now. These are the blogs I read. Here's why.

Geek Philosophy: The Flick Filosopher blogs. And she does it well. Many interesting links copied here, many insightful pieces on geekyness, and every week, a geek, a nerd and a dork. There is a bit too much emphasis, in my opinion, on how Gen-X is connected to geekdom, but then again, that might just be because I am not an Xer but I do consider myself a geek.

Nine by Six: my good friend Joost also blogs. Not updated often enough to my taste, but often interesting links when he does.

Aurgasm: a music blog with a very eclectic, interesting selection of songs, which can be downloaded free for evaluation purposes. Here's how I discovered Gabriel Mann's "Artichoke", and many other gems.

Mainly Movies: Tim also sometimes leaves me hungry for a new update, but his taste in movies is fascinating. He's currently working on a top 100, counted down, and any movie he selected I've either seen and loved or is on my to-see list now.

Nick's Flick Picks: Nick is also working on a countdown (I believe he started before tim, in fact). His picks are a bit less attuned to my taste, but he does elaborate on his choices a lot more, and always with enthusiasm and insight.

Queering the Apparatus: a surprising choice only for those who are unaware of my fascination with gay culture. Damion's posts range from Vintage images of men in various states of undress, to comments on gay culture and polls about gay icons. Funny, irreverent, and extremely readable.

Modern Fabulosity: it's almost impossible to talk about Queering the Apparatus without mentioning ModFab. Updating more often, with more naked men and more newsbits, but -in my opinion- just a little bit less charm, it makes the perfect companion to Damion's blog.


Poetry, sexy? Hell yeah

I guess Wednesday will become poetry day, as the poetry committee meeting are on that day. It was, once again, friendly, with a nice atmosphere, and inspiring. So many poets from so many nationalities, so many subjects and styles... But tonight, what got to me most was Pablo Neruda. Oh, I knew his name, had heard some of his poems. But Steef brought with him tonight "Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair" and well, I fell in love. Just for clarity's sake, with Pablo, not with Steef. Maybe it's because I was in a romantic mood because of Lanchka's wonderful problems. Anyhow, I didn't want to deprive you of this little nugget, the first paragraph to Love Poem #XIII entitled "He Ido Marcando" or "I have gone marking". First the original, then the translation.

He Ido Marcando con cruces de fuego
el atlas blanco de tu cuerpo.
Mi boca era una araña que cruzaba escondiéndose.
En ti, detrás de ti, temerosa, sedienta.
I have gone marking the atlas of your body
with crosses of fire.
My mouth went across: a spider, trying to hide.
In you, behind you, timid, driven by thirst.

So, yeah, hot much? Oh well, true, the guy himself isn't thát appealing, but still, a cute guy whispers these kinds of words in my ear and I'm a goner. As long as he doesn't call me honey sweet, that is.

Next week in the poetry entry, I'll treat you to some Leonard Cohen. Sexy too, but a little darker, kinkier, in a way. It all goes to show that poetry isn't as stuffy as people think it is. I mean, some of my attempts at poetry also were quite suggestive as well.



There was a Boomerang meeting/get-together/drink tonight, and obviously, the topic turned to our search for identity, to what we should want for the Boomerang.

I have no easy answer.

The thing is, making the ideal magazine is tough, maybe even impossible. There is no magazine right now that I read cover to cover every month. There used to be - Science & Vie Junior, a French Science Magazine - but I outgrew that years ago, and nothing has replaced it.

The problem is, I don't really know what would.

Maybe I'm spoiled by the internet, where you can easily pick and choose what you like. Maybe it's because I have odd tastes. I don't know. All I know is that while I like music magazines, I usually only read them at the train station ebcause the ten to fifteen minutes I have to spend there are usually enough to read all the parts I find interesting. Movie magazines are nice but ridiculously expensive, and don't really rival the internet-only stuff. There is one movie magazine online that I usually read entirely, Bright Light Film Journal. The drawback? It only comes out once every three months. As for the so-called "lifestyle" magazines, they bore. And the political ones usually have one or two interesting articles that really go in-depth about something, but they're terrible, well, unhip about a lot of things, articles about things like blogging or geeks or anything related to that always annoying me with their fragmentary, condescending nature.

There is one magazine I discovered in the US that I found particularly intriguing: Interview. All there is inside is interview of celebrities, actors and musicians mostly, by their colleagues and friends: people they've worked with, people they know, people who'll skip past the basic boring questions and ask unpredictable ones. The result isn't always great,but it never fails to be different.

I really have no reason for complaining about missing the one definitive magazine for me. After all, there's the internet, and it is my companion. I kind of assemble my own magazine in a way. Take an interview from the New York Magazine, a humor piece from the New Yorker, a billiant idea to make the iPod video succesful from a site called the SFGate, a philosophical article on postmodernism , the sex column from The Onion AV Club, and finally an article on Dada from the IHT. My own magazine, of sorts. The only prolem being that it takes some time to assemble.

Does the internet make magazines superfluous? I doubt it. The most interesting articles I find online usually come from a printed magazine. And despite my not having found the ideal magazine yet, I'd love a subscription to Interview, to McSweeney's, to The Believer, to The New Yorker, to Rolling Stone and many, many others.

I guess the dilemma is even bigger because I vaguely, in the back of my mind, still have the ambition to become a magazine writer, even seeing this blog partly as a training ground (keeping in mind that all the entires here, except for the Boomerang articles, are first drafts written down at high speed) for that. But the ultimate magazine will probably remain a dream.


Oh, and if you're interested in the ideal magazine cover? See this.


Giant Squid is tired of all the media attention

Or, alternate title, Why we're all unworthy to lick McSweeney's tentacles.

Seriously. This particular case of brilliance we can thank Greg Ruehlman for, but so many other pieces deserve to be lauded as well...

And let's not forget this one, maybe my favorite of all time.

I've been thinking a lot about what it is to be a geek lately, because the NRC, a Dutch newspaper, showed in an article this weekend that it clearly doesn't get it (as a whole, Dutch people don't seem to have much affinity for geekdom).

All I can come up with is examples. Links. McSweeney's, for example, is prototypically geeky. And after seeing this, the whole concept of what a geek is could not be more clear. But how to put it in words...I'll get back to you when I figure it out.


Phoenix again (how ironic...)

I saw this picture on calendarlive and I just couldn't not post it.

The interview is pretty interesting too. It makes me want to meet the guy, talk to him myself.


On Cash

Until not to long ago, I thought Into the Ring of Fire was a Kings of Convenience song. And it is. But I thought I'd mention this little fact to illustrate how little I know about Johnny Cash and his music.

Still, I really want to see the new biopic about him, with Joaquin Phoenix in the main role and Reese Witherspoon -as a brunette- playing June Carter Cash. Why? I don't know. From the reviews I've read it's pretty straight-forward, following the biopic formula, not very interesting cinematically. Also, the director, James Mangold, delivered the insult that is "Kate & Leopold". Yet I'm intrigued.

Partly it's because the trailer is good. But mostly it's because Joaquin Phoenix is one of the more interesting and most criminally underused actors out there. And I'm not just saying that because he's so dashing in that troubled bad boy way. I admit I don't know much about Johnny Cash and how he walked, talked, sang, spoke, but Phoenix certainly inhabits someone in the few glimpses the trailer offers.

Finally, and I'm almost ashamed to say this, the poster art intrigues me. It suggest something grittier, less polished, than most biopics. I know I shouldn't like a book just for its cover, and no movie just for its poster, because posters give an even more unreliable representation than trailers do. Still, the marketing guys & girls did a good job on this one.

I'm having one of those period where many careerd all of a sudden appeal to me. Because of the West Wing it's mostly speechwriter at the moment, but poster designer certainly ranks up there.

Daydreams are fun.



From the Bookmarks vault

How not to interview someone. Just when you think it's as bad as it could possibly be...it gets worse.

If I had 140 euro I didn't need, this is what I'd buy.

Who would you rather wipe your ass with?

If whisky makes you poetic, or if poetry makes you want to drink whisky.

Finally, if you like your news happy.


The Sweet Life

The last few days have been rather unusual for me in that I have been strangely aware of the fact that I'm a girl. And no, it's not that time of the month. I just think my sister's elegance offensive might have finally kicked in. And there were some contributing factors.

It started on Sunday when, after a frustrating day procrastinating unhappily (which is a very different thing than the happy procrastination I engaged in today) from the physics homework lying next to my laptop. Oh, I tried. I read through things three times, even made neat little cardboard sheets with all the definitions found in my hellish reader, but it wasn't until I decided to go wild and not to care about what my -male- classmates and my -male- professor would thing, i.e. to write my homework on pink paper this time, that the hoped-for breakthrough happened and the solution to (half of the) problems started pouring out.

Emboldened by my victory, I put on my most feminine shirt the next day, bright pink (though not baby pink, hell will have to cool down just a little bit more before I ever wear thát color) and with a bared shoulder, and watched the first episode of "Commander in Chief", a new series in the US featuring Geena Davis as a female president. It's not a great show, but it fit my mood, and made me feel even more convinced that being a girl was something I should advertise more, in a way. Something to take into account, maybe even to take advantage of.

Roger Ebert say in his review of Fellini's La Dolce Vita that it is a different film for him every time he sees it, depending on who he is at that point. This might explain why, when I finally saw this classic yesterday evening, what struck me most is what the film says about gender roles and views of feminity and masculinity. There might not be a harem scene as in Otto E Mezzo, but the main character (played by the gorgeous yet too sleazy Marcello Mastroianni) clearly has a problem with what he wants in a woman, with what he should be as a man. And the women in this film are, while stereotypical, very interesting.

Anita Ekberg as Sylvia is infantile and beautiful, but she's interesting, not because of her inpredictability, but because -while she lets Marcello chase after her and sweet talk her in Italian- their interactions always stay on her terms. And what to think of Anouk Aimée's character, a bored, rich nymphomaniac on the one hand, who proposes to Marcello, showing her vulnerability, only to discard him a few minutes later when she gets him to be vulnerable. There's the whole virgin/whore paradox in this film (literally even, with many whores and an appearance by the madonna), but the female characters are, while just as desperate and lost as Marcello, much more layered than you would expect.

My thoughts on the movie as a whole are still confused, I'll need to see it again. It fascinated even if it was almost three hours, but it still feels too much to me like a jumble of scenes, and I still need to figure out the connections, the thematics, basically the point of it all. Most films resemble novels or plays, on occasion history books, but Fellini writes poetry with his films, and like poems, they take time and contemplation to decypher. I remain convinced that there is more to them than empty imagery, and I think that's what makes his films great and not merely confusing.

Today, continuing my exploration, I decided to wear my new skirt for the second time, and a nice sweater offering ample decolleté. The skirt feels nice and swishy, and it makes for armfuls when I go to the bathroom, but I'm still not a fan of pantyhose. It felt nice though, feeling elegant and feminine (although everything needs its limits, I díd wear my "Fezza" underpants underneath the fancy skirt to compensate). I know I'm not the elegant, feminine type...but playing the role for a day was interesting.


P.S. Joyful announcement! If you now google "As cool as a fruit stand", you get this blog and my blogger profile. It's not that I actually expect people to google that exact phrase, but it does feel nice to have, in a way, conquered my own little corner of the web.


Maybe Dutch can be a poetic language after all...

Sometimes it takes a foreigner to make notice what's great about your culture.

No, I am not changing my opinion of Dutch films. But Orion, my neighbour's American friend, who's staying here at the moment, introduced me tonight not just to one but two great Acda & De Munnik songs.

The first one was "Als het vuur gedoofd is" (when the fire's gone out), the song "Het regent zonnestralen" (it's raining sunbeams), a fabulous song as well, is apparently a sequel to. It's about Herman, again, sitting in the park thinking about opportunities missed. Acda & De Munnik are at their best when telling stories, finding poetry in everyday life, without having to use "poetic" language.

The second song, "dag Esmee", is also of the narrative kind...About someone running into a high school friend. And that's all I'll say, because the story's probably best when unfolded by Acda & De Munnik.

Why is it that it takes a foreigner -with, admittedly, a surprising grasp of Dutch for someone who's only spent 6 months here-to notice these songs? Oh, sure, every Dutch person knows "Niet of Nooit Geweest"(not or never been is probably the best translation, but it's not great) by heart, and that's a great song too, but why don't we go looking for these hidden gems?

Yet another thing for my wish list then. I'd better be on the lookout for a very rich Sinterklaas.



Run for Cover

A lot of people look down on covers as being little more than rehashes of much better original material. That is, when they're aware they're listening to a cover at all: I am convinced the majority of teens who loved Limp Biskit's "Behind Blue Eyes" had no idea it was not an original. Not to mention, a little further back, Boyzone.

I am divided on the issue. There are just too many bad, or, even worse, pointless covers out there. But every once in a while someone gets it right. In my opinion, the great covers do more than just, well, either singing the song in a slightly different arrangement of increasing the beat. They reinterpret the songs. They give them new meaning. They make you appreciate the originals better. And they stand on their own as true works of art.

The reason this topic came up because there's a podcast I listen to called "Coverville", and today one of the covers in the latest show was so beautiful it gave me the shivers. Covers being so varied, in genre as well as in quality, listening to coverville is always a gamble: there will be some songs I won't like, some I think are ok, and every once in a while there will be a gem.

So then, my top 5 covers. Counting back, first the name of the song, then the original artist, then the cover artist.

Honorable mention: more an alternate version than a real cover, but it's great nonetheless: Anouk's Reggae version of her own Nobody's Wife

5. El Tango de Roxanne - Sting & The Police - the version from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack

4. Such Great Heights - Death Cab for Cutie - Iron & Wine

3. The Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel - Grayson and Wonfor (this is the song that gave me the shivers. A spare, slightly slower, acoustic guitar only version that is just amazing)

2. Smells like Teen Spirit - Nirvana - Tori Amos

1. Wonderwall - Oasis - Ryan Adams

And I left out so many... Rufus Wainwright's version of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah because it's a little too similar to the original, Tori Amos' Angie because I already had a cover by her, All of Seu Jorge's covers of David Bowie because they're a translation as well...

Know any covers I should know about? Please tell!



The Princess Bride

I think there's something about the Princess Bride that you either get or don't get. I watched the first half of it tonight with two of my unitmates, and while I had a shit-faced grin on my face the entire time, they didn't really see the joke, one of them even calling it annoying.


They don't see the mixture of adoration and gentle mockery towards all the old, filmed-on-set, swashbuckling adventure movies. They cringe at the costumes, music, backdrops, and while they understand it is intentional they just, well, don't get it.

Movies which inspire such a radical division usually also give rise to rabid fandom, and this movie is no exception. The Flick Filosopher (herself so much a fan she's writing a book about this movie) recently linked to a retelling of LOTR entirely in Princess Bride quotes, something perectly possible since every single line of this film is quotable.

Describing the charm of the Princess Bride is almost impossible. Suffice to say that it always maes me giddy, makes me want to be a kid again and experience the power of stories for the first time. It is ironic, but without feeling superior to the material, and that's something that's hard to find. Maybe that is ultimately what explains the 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Or maybe it's just the simple fact that this movie is as perfect as they get.

---You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." But, only slightly less well known is this: "Never go in against a Sicilian, when death is on the line!"---

Some administrative notes

As you might have noticed, my Sinterklaas Wish List has disappeared from the sidebar. It is now hidden in a post I've backdated to October 5th, two months before Sinterklaas. It has been replaced in the sidebar by a list of link to what I believe are some of my more interesting posts, or those at least that I think should be easily accessible from the main page, among them the Sinterklaas list.

Looking back through those posts I realise I've neglected one point of my declaration of principles, namely the point that I would included images. I'll try to be more consistent from now on, after all, it is definitely true that images lighten up the page and make the whole wall of words less inpenetrable (or so I hope). Incidentally, today's picture is approximately what I see when I hang back over my chair, seeing the back of my room upside down, something I do quite often.

One last point, you might have noticed that I have caved in and corrected the spelling of the name of my blog, my initiative being futile anyhow. Also, googling "As cool as a fruitstand" yields dozens of reminders of past blogs and cringe-worthy traces I left on the Internet. Googling "As cool as a fruit stand" does not yield anything as of yet, but hopefully my blog will show up there soon. If you like my blog, please link to it under the new name, and hopefully Google will pick up on it soon.

I promise a real post later today, now that I've gotten the practical notices out of the way.


Once you fucked it, it's yours

Before I start on the topic, a short note. Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature today. The press statement lauded him for "uncover[ing] the precipice under everyday prattle and forc[ing] entry into oppression's closed rooms,". The precipice under everyday prattle...gotta love it. I have actually never read or seen anything by Mr. Pinter, but I'm sure he'll be impossible to avoid in the next month or so.


Lani invited me along to a "Salon de mots" tonight. We had no clue as to what it was exactly, imagines slam poetry and whatnot, but after Spongebob Mac 'n Cheese and soesjes we biked towards the small café "De Leugen" (the Lie).

It was small, cramped, but the atmosphere was interesting, with people ranging in age from twenty to sixty. We met up with Anita, a friend of Lani's who apparently liked my blog (which means she múst be a fantastic person, dontcha think?) and the show began with a bang, or rather, with a guy playing some weird kind of, well, I believe the term is "mouth harp". Cute, too. And more importantly, he could sing. Very well even. It turns out he's the singer of the band Dial Prisko, a name I'll definitely remember. Even more so because apart from the mouth harp, he also played...the tea pot.

I won't give a list of all the poets and what I thought of them, because I find that on poetry nights all the words blend together anyhow, no matter how different the styles and the subject matter. Unfortunately, most of it was in Dutch, and for some reason, Dutch poetry doesn't get to me like English poetry can. The main poem went on for too long, getting interesting only near the end, and there was only one Dutch poem with rythm to it, with metre and flow.

The lone English poem was by an Australian woman, Prue Duggan. It was interesting, especially her vision of Anna Karenina, but I wasn't entirely convinced. Maybe it's because someone once told me that in truly great poetry, every word should feel irreplacable, like it's the one and only possible word in that particular place, and I did not get that idea from her poems. However, her poems were the most interesting to me of the entire night, and the title of this post is the closing line to one of her poems.

Far be it from me to say that writing poetry is easy. I had a poetry period in my first year at UC, and I got very frustrated with it because my poetry simply wasn't good. Poetry, good poetry? It's freaking hard.

I've been getting back into poetry, as you've maybe noticed from me mentioning Dylan Thomas records and leaving the text of an entire Kings of Convenience song here, but this (together with the poetry committee meeting yesterday) really kicked me back into. Biking back, words came rushing over me like they haven't in years, not enough yet to start letting them out, but enough to raise the hope that I might actually produce something again.

I looked through my old poems again tonight. Some made me cringe, most did, to be honest. But some...Oh, they're not good poems, but some that I forgot I wrote surprised me by not being as bad as I remembered my writing being.

In a way, reading back is like digging into my own past, worming myself into the mind of who I was two years ago. Scary, maybe even more so than reading old blogs. It's strange. It's me, I can remember me then, remember feeling and thinking the same but then, it's not really me any more. I can pinpoint exactly between which poems I got together with Joren, in between which poems we broke up...And yet, I don't remember it feeling very intense or important at all.
If I do start writing poetry again, I'll probably create a special blog for it, but until then, I just thought I'd leave you with this poem, written a year and a half ago...I don't think it's particularly good, even for me, but I think it gived a good impression of what I used to write.

Ticking Away

A bomb warning at the station:
in the train I think of ominous
ticking under my seat, imagine
a small round black warmth pulsing.

In my last split second
I’d wonder at how
when the sun shines
the world seems to unfold.

It will freeze tonight,
as the cold fragments
which once were me
will be sniffed at by
lonely patched dogs

Maybe I’d reincarnate
a tall elegant tower with three white wings.
And then another girl with morbid fantasies
would see me through the wagon window,
and smile, because not everything is rotten,
while her life slowly ticked away.

Over and Out.



Other people's words today, apparently

Kings of Convenience - Homesick

I lose some sales and my boss won't be happy
But I can't stop listening to the sound
Of two soft voices blended in perfection
From the reels of this record that I found

Everyday there's a boy in the mirror
Asking me what are you doing here
Finding all my previous motives
Growing increasingly unclear

I’ve travelled far and I’ve burned all the bridges
I believed as soon as I hit land
All the other options held before me
Will wither in the light of my plan

So I lose some sales and my boss won't be happy
But there’s only one thing on my mind
Searching boxes underneath the counter
On a chance that on a tape I’d find

A song for
Someone who needs somewhere
To long for

Cause I no longer know
What home is

This song started playing, and I was reminded of why I love the Kings of Convenience. They're music is gorgeously melodic and soothing, but aside from that their lyrics can be unexpectedly moving. I could go on and on about them, about the spare, quiet melancholy that exudes from their songs, about how no two voices have sounded so right together since Simon & Garfunkel, about how outrageous it is that in Europe all you can find by them are 30-euro imports... Instead, I thought the lyrics would speak for themselves.

A few lines

Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said, Let Newton be! and all was light

It did not last: the Devil howling "Ho!
Let Einstein be" restored the status quo

The first two lines are by Alexander Pope (I wanted to type Pope Alexander, but was afraid people wouldn't get the joke and just think I was stupid), the latter two by J.C.Squire.

I'd already seen them before, in one my dad's quote books, I think, but I found them again while studying for my Astrophysics mid-term (who says Physics can't be fun?) and thought I'd post them here


Ah, interesting people

First, it looks like the decision about the new Bond has finally (finally!) been made. I would have preferred Clive Owen or Sen Bean (who, after all, already played 006), but Daniel Craig is not a bad choice. I'm curious to see what he'll do with the part.

Now onto the real interesting people

First, Tilda Swinton, one of the most fascinating actresses around. She was the only good thing about Constantine as far as I'm concerned.

Second, Kurt Vonnegut. Still alive, not too happy about it. Still writing, which is the most amazing thing.

Last, definitely not least, Hans Bethe, no longer with us, unfortunately. Luckily, we can still listen to him explain quantum mechanics.


Alan Rickman

Ok, Sense and Sensibility was on TV tonight, and I basically just had it on in the background, turning my attention towards it (and the sound up) only when one particular character was on screen.

I think it's time to reveal my crush on Alan Rickman.

Now, a lot of people are going to think, Alan Rickwho? That's because this brilliant, charismatic, irresistible actor has mostly been stuck in supporting roles, more often than not in the role of the villain. Remember the British fiend who stole Die Hard from right under Bruce Willis' muscles? The Sheriff of Nottingham you loved to hate in Robin Hood? And last but not least, I-still-don't-believe-he's-truly-evil-damn-you Severus Snape (don't click on the link if you don't want Harry Potter 6 spoiled)?

He also plays good guys sometimes. He was hilarious in Galaxy Quest, heartbreaking in Sense and Sensibility, and he was well served by his masterful dry wit in Dogma, getting brilliant lines and delivering them, dare I say, better than any other in the cast of that great movie. And well, he didn't manage to make Rasputin bearable, but let's face it, that was nigh impossible.

It's mostly the voice, I think. I could listen to it, entranced, for hours. But then again, my post on Dylan Thomas probably already exposed my sensitivity to men's voices. I just...Alan Rickman's voice is so low and purry and dangerous and did I mention it's sexy?

The kinda disturbing this is he's almost three times as old as I am. The thing is, I don't think the age difference should mean that I can't find him handsome or attractive, even if it is a little weird that my mom feels the same (although we both like Siska -the Peter Kremer one- too, and that never felt odd). It does however mean that I don't spend a lot of time thinking about his butt, which I have been known to do with younger crushes.

Oh well. As I talked about with Laneshka yesterday, daydreams are fine, as long as you don't except or want them to become reality. One exception: the daydreams in which Alan Rickman gets leading parts in movies where he's not just a villain and I get to look at him on screen without having to tune out the other parts? That one I won't mind becoming real.