Three frames in one – dark crime with a twist

Anti-heroes. Twisted, extra-polished, underwhelmed, dominant, week and flaky.
The selected titles are what I would call unpleasant but not extremely violent or grand.
Ultra- violence scale: If Tarantino is an 8, and Guy Richie a 6, Noé is an 8 as well.
These films are a solid 5, a few raw scenes, mostly build-up, tension and pressure.

At first glance they look predictable, but these 3 films are delivering so much more density, depth and presence than the tag-lines may suggest:

“This is madness, I’ve had enough of this “Crime and Punishment” bollocks. I’m happy here.

‘ I won’t let you be happy, why should I?”

Sexy Beast

Ben Kingsley is sharp – and blown out of the water by Ray Winstone

Harry Brown

Michael Caine  – no need to explain

Full film

Kick-Ass

 

 

*Bonus: The Kill List 

Wild card (pun not intended):
Something Wild (with Ray Liotta, 1987) Worth watching the lame/softcore first half – for the turn – and a very charismatic Melanie Griffith!

PS. If you like these films – you’ll probably like:

Sightseers
The Double
Stoker
It’s All Gone Pete Tong
Fish Tank
London to Brighton
Hunger
Boy A
Hallam Foe

Where did you go

 

 

…when you went travelling?

The many ways we explore the newness of the world when we travel, and if we’re not considering why and how we perceive things the way we do – we tend to pass judgement, calibrate too pre-tuned, have this tinted – preserved and static – concept of how things are. We rarely challenge ourselves by touching the uncomfortable, exchanging references, approaching things from a different angle, changing perspectives. We are creatures of comfort.

Take a look at these images and try to describe the scene, then explain them in 3 different ways. Who is there? Who is missing? What are their names? What is happening now? What has happened before? What are you assuming when you interpret the image?

 

kids

 

 

 

street

 

shore

You have been to the desert and you came back the same?

I’ve been to the desert. You have been to the desert. Each desert is the only one.

This particular desert was The Sahara, and this picture was taken at the Chott el-Jerid, Tunisia –  the natural salt crater, where the evaporating water is leaving pale pink salt crystals, and the entire area is sterile, dry, dead and barren. The water would probably cause severe pain if you dared to drink it. I have a piece of salt – a palm sized chunk of glimmering salty crystals – in my drawer at home. I don’t want the air and the humidity to dissolve it (and writing this, of course, I realize it’s always the same air and the same humidity inside the drawer…)

Alien, anyone? My photo.

salt_desert_Tunisia

Here’s a satellite view of the location –  below image from here – all rights reserved by CNES
(The link in full: http://www.astrium-geo.com/en/5751-image-detail?img=950#.U_eGoEuWIZg)
(C) Copyright: CNES 2005, Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image

r950_39_satellite_image_spot5_2.5m_chott_el_djerid_tunisia_2005

(C) Copyright: CNES 2005, Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image
SPOT 5 Satellite Image – Chott el Djerid, Tunisia

PS. I’m going to update this post with a photo of the silky, powdery sand I keep in a bottle. And the piece of salt. The sand will stick in your ears, nose, to your skin and anywhere there’s a ridge, crease or pocket of a millimeter. For two days after you’ve left the desert – you will be washing out more sand, sand like crushed seashells, like vanilla, flour, but sharper to the touch. This is the gift of the desert – to remind you – you are breathing air, not sand.

Comparing notes – lyrics

angle copy

 

Some things are related – or at least they seem to be. Like these lines:

They tied me to this table right here in the tower of song
So you can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll
I’m very sorry, baby, doesn’t look like me at all
I’m standing by the window where the light is strong
Ah they don’t let a woman kill you not in the tower of song

Leonard Cohen – Tower of Song

and:

 

Then she says, “I know you’re an artist, draw a picture of me.”
I said, “I would if I could but I don’t do sketches from memory.”

 

Well, she then, she says, “I’m right here in front of you, or
haven’t you looked?”
I say, “All right, I know but I don’t have my drawing book.”
She gives me a napkin, she say, “You can do it on that.”
I say, “Yes I could but I don’t know where my pencil is at.”

She pulls one out from behind her ear
She says, “All right now go ahead, draw me, I’m stayin’ right here.”
I make a few lines and I show it for her to see
Well, she takes her napkin and throws it back and says, “That
don’t look a thing like me.”

I said, “Oh, kind Miss, it most certainly does.”
She say, “You must be jokin’,” I say, “I wish I was.”

Bob Dylan – Highlands

Summer conquests

Presenting my reading list of this summer, what I’ve read, re-read and started to read but didn’t finish…

My selection process is kind of simple.. attraction, or recommendations, or selected by someone I know, or – if at a store or library – I open the book and I read a sentence, just any sentence. If it’s not interesting, captivating – encouraging – in some way, clever, well written, harsh, playful, new, enigmatic, open, terrific, old in a new way –  bye book.

I’m always trying to slow my reading down.. it’s like eating too fast. Average books, about 350 pages – an hour, an evening, two. Usually novels – fiction, nonfiction, biography. Sometimes a book will last a week, or two, and that’s nice. I’ll try to read (only) a chapter at a time, to imagine, process and absorb. Details, levels, undertones, invisible constructions, pauses, mirrors, double entendres, absence. Play. Hints, references, paraphrases, shadowplay. It’s magic, or reflections.

The list:

Summer of 2014 – my reading list ( June, July – 1st week of Aug.)

‘New’ reads

  • The Red Couch – Michèle Lesbre
  • Brother and Sister – Simona Vinci
  • An Untamed State – Roxanne Gay
  • Palace Walk/Between the Two Palaces – Naguib Mahfouz
  • Boy, Snow, Bird – Helen Oyeyemi
  • A Home at the End of the World – Michael Cunningham *
  • Mudbound – Hillary Jordan
  • Museums and Women – John Updike *
  • The Village Priest – Honoré de Balzac
  • Courrier Sud – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino
  • Novelle rusticane (Sicily) – Giovanni Verga
  • Teach Us to Outgrow our Madness – Kenzaburo Ōe
  • Still Waters – Jennifer Lauck (I loved Blackbird – these two sequels – nice, but too polished)
  • Show Me the Way – Jennifer Lauck *
  • From the Fifteenth District – Mavis Gallant
  • (The Unusual – Åke Mokvistphoto)
  • Baboon – Naja Marie Aidt
  • Early Prose – Hagar Olsson
  • Dear Alice – Sven Delblanc (letters)

Re-read books

  • A Hundred And One Days: A Baghdad Journal – Asne Seierstad
  • Saturday – Ian McEwan
  • Blue Nights – Joan Didion
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee *
  • The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury *
  • Absalom, Absalom – Faulkner
  • How to Cure a Fanatic – Amos Oz
  • Destroy, She Said – Marguerite Duras
  • The Trembling of a Leaf – W. Somerset Maugham

Started but never finished

  • Unholy Loves – Joyce Carol Oates
  • Works of Love – Kierkegaard
  • Either/Or – Kierkegaard
  • Jennifer Egan – A Visit from the Goon Squad (I know! I haven’t read it …. blushing)

Oh, and some links  ARTFL – french authors – women

Project Gutenberg – Free ebooks

Thesis on H. Olsson – Constructing the cult of new humanity in expressionism
– the case of Hagar Olsson

 

PS. I know I forgot a few titles…I’ll update, once my brain reboots…

PS II. No, I haven’t been bedridden  –  (go check my Insta)

PS III. (update – 24 hours later) I forgot Sorrow of an American – Siri Hustvedt, and The Innocent –  Ian McEwan – both re-reads.

PS IIII. I just realized this list is pretty useless unless I actually talk about the books. I’ll get to that. Maybe just a wrap-up or a quick comment on each title. I’d love it if anyone reading this (hellooo…are you out there…? I only have like 3 followers… this far..) would chime in, if you’ve read and found something interesting in any of these titles, let’s compare notes! Just ask me – I’d be happy to answer – if you’re looking for a recommendation or something.

 

* Anyone else feel that there’s a slight resemblance between Cunningham’s voice and Donna Tartt’s? Why is Atticus Finch such an altogether decent, straight up flawless and morally sound character? Why is Scouts personality so much like Pippi Longstockings? How come the most reasonable character of them all – (considering Atticus is too reasonable to be sane) – is Boo Radley, the recluse? Are we all just to accept that the world is mad?

Is anyone else (amused) annoyed by the supposed (actual) parallel between museums and women?

In Bradbury’s T.I.M., some of the stories are almost ‘stuffing’, the quality of the writing is very much fluctuating. I found I only care for a few of the stories. (The Veldt, The Last Night of the World, The Fox and The Forest, Marionettes Inc.) 

Anyone who’s read Blackbird (Lauck) must have noticed the loss of depth in the two following books, Still Waters and Show Me the Way. It must be gruesome writing a close and personal (childhood) biography from a dark place, I get that. And I’m not longing for the misfortune, misery and drama of a suffering victim – no, just the connection and recognition of the unwanted aspects of humanity – being human is being out of control at some point, numb or hypersensitive, reckless and unbalanced or cold in some situations, unattractive and unreasonable in others. To have other qualities, not just the perky, shiny ones of an emotional storefront window display. Laucks writing is truly terrific, that’s why I’m so disappointed – because it could have been two such great books.

Well, what did you expect? Reading this week

 


Family matters.

I deleted all the excuses I made for making excuses (right here). Disclaimers? That’s writing under pressure, this is just a blog.

Anyway, here’s the stuff I wanted to share – my favorite reads of this moment:

Sunday Confessions of a Lapsed Priest – Science Blogs – Aardvarchaeology (I admit it, it was the name that pulled me in, how irresistible?)

“I don’t know where else to start than from the beginning. I was raised Roman Catholic and always felt drawn to do something to give back to humankind, to be great and benefit my fellow man in some way. Some might call that a “vocation” or a “calling” I suppose. As a Catholic boy the most obvious and highly encouraged manner of “ministry” is to enter the priesthood, especially in this day and age of priests’ shortage. It would be in my twenties that after reading Camus and Sartre and others that I realized even atheists want to “do good”, but when I was growing up I bought the demonizing portrayal of intellectuals and scientists promoted by some in my faith.”

This week:

“…If you just add the word or phrase you want, and don’t add an actual shortcut, it will stop autocorrecting the word you mean to type. NO MORE DUCXKING.”
How I Got My Iphone to Finally Let Me Swear   – The Awl

“The Sicilian boss Leonardo Messina told investigators in the early nineteen-nineties, “All men of honor consider ourselves Catholic; Cosa Nostra sees itself as descending from St. Peter.” Michele Greco, the head of the internal commission through which the Sicilian Mafia regulated itself during the late nineteen-seventies and early nineteen-eighties, was nicknamed Il Papa, the Pope, because he was known for saying prayers several times a day…”
THE POPE EXCOMMUNICATES THE MAFIA, FINALLY  – New Yorker

“What we’re capable of is often found at the heart of confession in creative nonfiction. Among the most common criticisms of the genre, nothing seems to fan the flames of controversy like the confessional. While I agree with practitioners like Vivian Gornick and Michael Steinberg that successful personal narrative must push past anecdote, as Schraffenberger’s does, I also believe the confessional is still important, and not because it’s brave or courageous to show our uglier selves to the world, not because those uglier selves require absolution. The term “confession” suggests something invalid about the action or urge confessed, but in cases like Schraffenberger’s, where the narrator’s actions are meant to be representative, confession becomes inclusive, offering a way out of isolation. It presents us with a mandate to sanction human experience.”
In Defense of the Confessional – Parenting, Inclusivity, and J.D. Schraffenberger’s “Dropping Babies”  –   Essay Daily

What did Carl Jung write in his letter to James Joyce?

“…But I must tell you that I’m profoundly grateful to yourself as well as to your gigantic opus, because I learned a great deal from it. I shall probably never be quite sure whether I did enjoy it, because it meant too much grinding of nerves and of grey matter. I also don’t know whether you will enjoy what I have written about Ulysses because I couldn’t help telling the world how much I was bored, how I grumbled, how I cursed and how I admired. The 40 pages of non stop run at the end is a string of veritable psychological peaches. I suppose the devil’s grandmother knows so much about the real psychology of a woman, I didn’t.”
A string of veritable psychological peaches – Letters of Note

“We might think that the phrase great expectations, tinted with a slightly tired irony, is the perfect translation of lost illusions. We lost them, what did we expect? Perhaps we lost them because our expectations were so high. Almost all of these great novels address the question of how and when we grow up. When we become wise, or when we are defeated. When we get married. When we stop making our favorite mistakes. The interest of the titles is that they suggest that readers have already come of age yet are longing to go back in time to watch another person go through the process. Any novel of disenchantment and maturity must conjure up the very magic and youth that will, happily or with regret, be left behind. The reader tracks the full story with sympathy and surprise but enjoys a kind of prudential advantage over the characters.”
The Long Goodbye – Lapham’s Quarterly (via Arts & Letters Daily)

SORRY – NOT SORRY!

“…Or, well … not apologizing. But also not not-apologizing? Sorrynotsorry? Sorry for notbeing sorry? Sorry for not saying sorry? Something like that. It is incredibly confusing. (Sorry.) What we we have come to, the shampoo brand has helpfully reminded us, is an apologia for apologies for apologias for … I don’t even know: a weird whirligig of contrition that spins along indefinitely, fueled by the forces of power dynamics and gendered behavior and probably The Patriarchy, because always The Patriarchy, and everything blurs, and then everyone feels bad about the blurring, and then everyone feels bad about feeling bad about the blurring, and we whirl and we whirl and it’s a whole sorry mess.”
The Sociology of Sorry – The Atlantic

“…But here’s the thing about the domestication and evolution of dogs: we also evolved to live with them. They changed us, as well. They became part of the human ecosystem. There’s evidence that dogs and humans co-evolved brain processes and chemicals such as serotonin. Given enough time, algorithms might have such an impact on us as well, changing how we think. And while (unlike dogs) algorithms might not change us at a genetic level, they are changing our behavior.”
Why We Need to Tame Our Algorithms Like Dogs  – Wired

 

 

 

 

The bull who refused to die – or My First Day in Barcelona: leaving Monumental

The crowd was sparse, more like the audience of a smaller venue – a second-rate circus, a blues club, a fairly unloved play. Families were lined up, branding white linen handkerchiefs, waving goodbye to the soul of the soaked, torn and speared animal – wide-eyed, panting, collapsing, muscles straining to the breaking point – and then compulsions to the last breath, only dust, no sound, no bellowing. The upper rows of the snail-shell-shaped auditorium was mostly empty, only the seats of the bottom rows were full, the ones closest to the circular fence and the arena dust floor itself. It was the kind of action you would have to watch up close, within blood splatter proximity, I guess.

Nigel and me had chosen our seats, the weather-torn and static plastic of one of the upper rows, where we could watch but not get to close. He ordered a beer and some crisps from a tired looking man with a tray and a cooler, and I was starting to realize what a terrible, terrible idea this had been. It was my first day in Barcelona, and I was watching a bullfight at The Monumental arena. One bull, the third, refused to die. There was stampeding, turning, chasing, pecking, stabbing and screaming, voices hollering and dark, deep vibrations of caustic pain, wild despair. I looked at Nigel – he was looking unsettled, nauseous, like he’d been holding back visiting the bathroom for an hour, now in a cold sweat. ‘We’re leaving, right? I asked. He nodded and we got up.

Nigel was a nervous and very talkative redhead, with milk-blue skin, freckles sprinkled in abundance, unevenly lowlighting his distinctive, chiseled and unmistakable British features. His eyes were wide, round, slightly bloodshot, and he reminded me of a nocturnal, skittish, sly, curious. He had a passion for music (and Marmite), I would learn – walls paper thin – the constant trumpets, racketing, growling and howling of Tom Waits at all hours. (This was way before I’d ever managed to listen to Tom Waits, when he was still something of a pain and a crazy storyteller to me, this in the setting of a murky, dark and lonely house – painful).

It was my first day in Barcelona, I’d arrived at the cramped, dark three-and-a half-bedroom flat the previous evening, street lights softened by a light mist, people and cars moving in a blurry dimension, wrapped in grey. The neighborhood was quiet, the dark hallways cave-like in the dim light of the night closing in. The faces of the buildings were all drawn in shadows and dust, deep and ashy brown, metal grey, dark and gothic. Every building another shade of brown, charcoal grey, rust and bone. In the bright daylight and humid heat I am thinking of sandcastles, slate and petrified wood.

 

***

This is my contribution to ‘The Daily Prompt‘  over at The Daily Post – and the theme today was ‘Offside Memories‘  My zine: Sassafras Literary Magazine