The Good German - first thoughts

Is Soderbergh somehow fundamentally incapable of making an uninteresting movie?

I don't think this is among his better films; it's too clinical, too calculated, perfectly in the style of 40's movies but not quite there in tone. I cared for Rick and Ilsa, and even for Holly and Valli, but Clooney and Blanchett? /they do their best, the co-operate, but they fail to inject enough feeling to make this more than just a genre exercise.

A very well executed style exercise, don't get me wrong.

But it does make you wonder: can you be brilliant and still have a heart?


Looking for a second hand bike in the Netherlands you land, well, not quite in the seedy underbelly of society but definitely in a different body part. I started out at the regular bike repair shops and supervised parking facilities, where the most notable thing is the slightly obsessed look in the eyes of the people at the former, and the lone bear attitude of those at the latter. Then I went down the canal.

I almost bought a bike from a transvestite I've been waving to from the ship forever, but his prices were on the high side, so I ended up buying one from the tall, nice (though kinda smelly), multiply pierced guy I'd visited before, and who'd gained my trust by telling me what was wrong with the bike I considered. Then I returned to crazy eyes, who convinced me to buy a huge lock in my suddenly overprotective mood.

Buying a second hand bike, you can't demand perfection, you cannot expect love at first sight. There is never a spark, but any bike you buy has to catch your eye at least. And this one caught mine (I'll post a picture tomorrow).

I've temporarily christened it Johan. It's a guy, that much is for sure; after the timidity of the saddle on my last bike, this one makes itself felt quite clearly between my thighs. And Johan seems to appropriately reflect it's second hand nature. I do plan on spray-painting him over purple and bright green, so I might want to change its name to something more flamboyant then. Hedwig seems an obvious choice, but I'm afraid people would miss the joke and think me incredibly self-centered. Frank-N maybe? Any suggestions are welcome.

It feels good to be mobile again.



Nothing is sadder than the sight of a bike lock, neatly cut through, lying on the side of the street on monday morning.
Oh well, it had to happen sometime.

I don't know why exactly, but I picked it up and carried it around with me, this reminder that I hadn't just forgotten where I parked, as I did my groceries on foot, trying to muster up some disappointment or anger. I couldn't find anything, not even a pang for the money I'd have to spend on a new one.

I guess that's what they mean with taking life as it comes.

Goodbye Girls

I finally watched the final Gilmore Girls episode. I just felt like until I'd seen the last episode ever, the show wasn't over yet. But you can't postpone a goodbye forever.

And let's face it, while Gilmore Girls is still a great show, it was time. I'm not saying the series ever really "jumped the shark", but everything after Rory (temporarily) dropped out from Yale was just not quite as good as what came before. The girls being apart meant there was less of the dialogue I always watched the show for, and shortly after that problem was resolved, Amy Sherman-Palladino left. I'm not as critical of David Rosenthal as many bloggers seem to be, but it's undeniable that the dialogue was a few beats more slow after he took over, and the references more obvious.

I have a hard time articulating how much I love (or should I say loved) this show. I identified with Rory: all through highschool I had at least one book in my bag, even if it was often bad science fiction instead of great literature. I had some journalistic ambitions, once upon a time. I was someone who dealt a lot better with schoolwork than with life. The one I wanted to be, though, was Lorelai: I wanted to speak so fast, flirt so easily, and most of all, I wanted to be so strong and independent and entirely, uncompromisingly, me.

I think that's why the finale, or actually the last two episodes, felt true to me: it was about the girls, their lives, their plans, and only a little about the men who revolved around then -- because it would have felt off to see their lives revolve around men. Logan's all-or-nothing proposal was strange, but Rory's reponse made sense: she may seem quiet and sweet, but she has ambitions, and it would have been unlike her to choose a guy over her career. As for Lorelai, some people seem disappointed there was no wedding at the end, but it's been established throughout the series that Lore is not the marrying kind -- which is why her wedding to Chris felt all wrong. When she proposed to Luke, it was a wonderful moment, but she didn't leave him because he was putting the wedding off, she left him because he wasn't including her in his life.

I know, it's a little strange obsessing about the motivations and feelings of fictional characters, but when you've watched a show faithfully every week for so long, it feels not only like you know the characters, but like they're a part of your life. Rory's dilemma's upon graduating were embarrasingly familiar, and I should probably get a WWRD T-shirt to remind myself that it'll all turn out all right, even if I wasn't raised by a village, or if I don't live in a world where my idol would show up and give me her card.

Byebye girls. Bye Paris, bye Emily and Richard, bye bye Taylor and Kirk. Bye Lane, bye Luke.

Sherry: Your uniform is darling. Really, I love the blue, 'course I'm sure you look good in anything.
Lorelai: Oh, yeah. You should see her in chaps.
Sherry: Really?
Rory: No. That was just my mom being funny.
Sherry: Oh...
Lorelai: It comes and goes, you'll learn to notice the signs.
Christopher: The waves get really still, the animals start to act funny...

Lorelai: My life stinks. Hey, let's look into each other's eyes and say "I wish I were you" at exactly the same time — maybe we'll pull a Freaky Friday.
Rory: Or we can just pretend that we did and you can go around acting really immature. Oh, wait…
Lorelai: I can't believe you won't switch bodies with me.
Rory: Forget it. Then I'd have to date Kirk.

Lorelai: [Phone rings and Lorelai answers] Independence Inn
Emily: You should really identify yourself when you answer the phone at work.
Lorelai: Sorry, Independence Inn, major disappointment speaking. Better?
Emily: Yes, thank you.

Lorelai: God, I’m starved.
Rory: Think about something else.
Lorelai: Like what?
Rory: Something disgusting that will take your appetite away.
Lorelai: Ari Fleischer?
Richard: Ari Fleischer is our nation’s mouthpiece, young lady.
Lorelai: Officially not hungry now.

Emily: I've called several times the past few weeks and you've skillfully avoided every call.
Lorelai: No, that's not true. I've left messages on your machine.
Emily: Yes, messages. And then if I happened to pick up, you'd hang up. Or if the maid picked up, you'd ask for me, then claim you were driving through a tunnel so you might get cut off, and then you'd make garbling noises and hang up


Atame: first thoughts (one day later)

I recently watched, at the recommendation of a friend, the MadTV mashup of Grey's Anatomy and House. The Greys' anatomy part of it was funny enough, but rather obvious (and let's face it, the show isn't exactly hard to mock) but there was a line that stuck. To paraphrase: Grey's Anatomy is a show written for women by women. House is a show written by men for women who like abusive men.

What does that make Atame? A movie written by a gay man for?

Not gay men exclusively, I'm fairly certain. Sure, the set design couldn't be more campy, but the central pairing couldn't be more heterosexual, and while I'm sure any gay men likes looking at Antoinio Banderas (so young here, so young...) as much as the next girl, I'm sure they're not the only target. But then, who is?

My dad liked it, but mostly for the style and photography: he thought the "message" (I highly doubt there is one intended) was too misogynist, as in his view the movie argued the way to make a woman love you was to hit her and tie me up. My mother (A "new conservative" according to some web test, though she vehemently denies it) liked it to, though she thought it was a little weird.

As for me? Well, what can I say, I have a huge crush on House.

I think that of the three early Almodovar films I've seen (the others being Matador and Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios), this might be my favorite. I like Mujeres a lot, but it does get so silly at the end that it kind of loses its heart, and in my eyes it is a little contemptuous of some of its characters. I loved Matador, but I'm not sure the conclusion worked. This film, while there are some clear weak spots to be found, enchanted me, maybe because it's so Hitchcockian, but at the same time so much more free and fun.

Hitchcock said something along the lines that our should film every love scene like a murder, and every murder like a love scene. In this film, likewise, it's never quite clear whether a scene will end in sex or death. In Matador, this was the point of the whole film, but in Atame, it's a little more subtle, and a lot more relatable.

The obvious Hitchcockian parralel to this film is of course another favorite of mine: Marnie. In both films, we have the damaged, fierce woman who a man with a violent streak tries to tame. Almodovar does Hitchcock one better here though: not only does the woman here get set free only to come back willingly, but it's even the case that when she finally gives in (and even somewhat before that) she's the one in control. Marnie is a very racy film, but it never dares to go that far, to transcend gender roles and expectations quite so much.

With Hitchcock films, I always get the feeling he must have been quite the kinky guy, but still repressed in a way (hey, he couldn't help it, he was british, after all). With Almodovar, I get the feeling he's not only fascinated by the kinky side of humanity, but that he also has a deep understanding of it.

As an aside: the tiny man, huge woman image he revisited in Hable Con Ella is also present here.

Whatever the case, I'm glad there are still more old films of his to discover (La ley del deseo, in particular, but also Tacones Lejanos (High Heels) and Carne Tremula), and that we can look forward to many of his more mature entries like Volver also.