Ever since reading the "Love Me, Love My Books" article...
I’ve been thinking about what my deal-breaker books would be. And not really just books, but pretty much everything. My deal-breakers include Jane Eyre, The Little Prince, any affluent jazz artist, Psycho, and (almost, seeing as I haven’t seen everything he’s made) anything by Stanley Kubrick because I feel like if you can’t appreciate them, then you can’t appreciate much of anything. I also have deal-breakers that one may like that I can’t support. Those includes citing pretty much anyone played on the radio as a favorite band/singer or citing any blockbuster as a favorite movie.
What kind of deal-breakers do you, my lovely followers have? Or do you have any experiences with being rejected because of a movie, music, or book deal-breaker?
“However, I do believe in the dealbreaker book. This book so deeply resonates with your soul that if a potential partner finds it risible, any meeting of minds (or body) is all but impossible. Most of us have one or two books that encapsulate all we believe to be skilful and admirable in art and in life. And while we don’t necessarily expect everyone to enjoy them, we do expect our soulmate to. Or at least respect them.”—Molly Flat, "Love Me, Love My Books"
Light came and went and came again, the booming strokes of three o’clock beat out across the town in thronging bronze from the courthouse bell, light winds of April blew the fountain out in rainbow sheets, until the plume returned and pulsed, as Grover turned into the Square. He was a child, dark-eyed and grave, birthmarked upon his neck— a berry of warm brown-and with a gentle face, too quiet and too listening for his years. The scuffed boy’s shoes, the thick-ribbed stockings gartered at the knees, the short knee pants cut straight with three small useless buttons at the side, the sailor blouse, the old cap battered out of shape, perched sideways up on top of the raven head, the old soiled canvas bag slung from the shoulder, empty now, but waiting for the crisp sheets of the afternoon-these friendly, shabby garments, shaped by Grover, uttered him. He turned and passed along the north side of the Square and in that moment saw the union of Forever and of Now.
Light came and went and came again, the great plume of the fountain pulsed and winds of April sheeted it across the Square in a rainbow gossamer of spray. The fire department horses drummed on the floors with wooden stomp, most casually, and with dry whiskings of their clean, coarse tails. The street cars ground into the Square from every portion of the compass and halted briefly like wound toys in their familiar quarter-hourly formula. A dray, hauled by a boneyard nag, rattled across the cobbles on the other side before his father’s shop. The courthouse bell boomed out its solemn warning of immediate three, and everything was just the same as it had always been.
Luc Besson’s Leon the Professional is wonderful; it is so much more than the “crime drama” genre it has been placed in. Leon is a professional hitman who lives by himself. His best friend is a plant and he has very few interactions with other people (aside from the one’s he kills of course). When his neighbors are killed by a vengeful drug lord, he adopts their only surviving daughter, 12 year-old Mathilda, who wants him to teach her his trade so she can get revenge for her brother.
Leon the Professional earned, with every scene and moment of the film, it’s 8.6/10 rating on IMDB. It is comedic and endearing, tragic and depressing, and above all, completely believable despite having very little basis in reality. When thinking about the film apart from watching it, I feel there is very little that makes sense: Leon is too caring, meticulous and awkward to be a hitman; he seems more like a man with Asperger syndrome than one who could kill innumerable people. It seems to me that one as meticulous and obsessive as Leon, who had a very difficult time even touching Mathilda to begin with, would have been able to comfortably get as close to the man in the opening scene as he did. I can imagine him being a sniper, sure -but a hitman seems far-fetched. However, it really didn’t matter: my willing suspension of disbelief was kind of through the roof in this movie. I didn’t care that the characters didn’t seem the way expected; they were just those characters and they were so intriguing and emotional and I loved them!
Jean Reno, who played Leon, reminded me of Dany Boon’s character Bazil from Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The Micmacs (2009). There was a quirkiness and a comicality to his character that made him incredibly personable. Gary Oldman, who played the Stansfield the drug lord and corrupt cop, also did a really fantastic job, although there were some scenes in which I felt he over-acted. One of the highlights of the movie was the scene in which Oldman destroy’s the family’s apartment looking for drugs while pretending to conduct Beethoven. He was so creepy and psychotic in that scene that it was one of the most memorable moments in the film and stands as a testament to the talent of Gary Oldman. Natlie Portman, who played Mathilda, was also really great, especially as an 11 year-old playing a mature character. I was surprised and impressed that she was so successful in creating the sexual tension that was present throughout the whole film.
And what sexual tension! It was so well crafted: the desires of Mathilda matched with the innocence and sexual reservedness of Leon. It was such a well done relationship because, despite Mathilda’s desires to be an adult, Leon would never have let it happen and that made it a remarkable, believable and interesting relationship. I loved this movie and it shot right to the top of my list.
“I teach college English part-time. Mostly Lit, not Composition. But I am so pathologically obsessed with usage that every semester the same thing happens: once I’ve had to read my students’ first set of papers, we immediately abandon the regular Lit syllabus and have a thee-week Emergency Remedial and Grammar Unit, during which my demeanor is basically that of somebody teaching HIV prevention to intravenous-drug users. When it emerges (as it does, every term) that 95 percent of these intelligent upscale college students have never been taught, e.g., what a clause is or why a misplaced only can make a sentence confusing or why you don’t just automatically stick in a comma after a long noun phrase, I all but pound my head on the blackboard; I get angry and self-righteous; I tell them they should sue their hometown school boards, and mean it. The kids end up scared, both of me and for me. Every August I vow silently to chill about usage this year, and then by Labor Day there’s foam on my chin. I can’t seem to help it. The truth is that I’m not even an especially good or dedicated teacher; I don’t have this kind of fervor in class about anything else, and I know it’s not a very productive fervor, nor a healthy one—it’s got elements of fanaticism and rage to it, plus a snobbishness that I know I’d be mortified to display about anything else.”—David Foster Wallace’s “Authority and American Usage”
I’ve got a neurobiology test on Wednesday so I can’t really focus on this right now. Wednesday night I’ll get things back up and running though, including a review of Leon The Professional and Saw! Wish me luck.
For those of you interested in something a little more illicit, Immersion: Porn includes interviews with several people discussing their relationship and history with porn interspersed with videos of their faces while they masturbate.
“We were both in the fugue-state that exhaustionthrough repetition brings on, a fugue-state I’ve decided that my whole time playing tennis was spent chasing, a fugue-state I associated too with plowing and seeding and detasseling and spreading herbecides back and forth in sentry duty along perfect lines, up and back, or military marching on flat blacktop, bypnotic, a mental state at once flat and lush, numbing and yet exquisitely felt. We were young, we didn’t know when to stop. Maybe I was mad at my body and wanted to hurt it, wear it down.”—David Foster Wallace, Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley
Audio of David Foster Wallace’s Kinyon graduation speech. I love how realistic and down to earth he tries to be. He’s so clearly cynical, and yet he’s trying to be optimistic. I love his advice because I feel like it’s applicable. It’s especially interesting to listen to knowing that he killed himself.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011) is one of those movies that’s best to go into not knowing what’s going to happen. If that happens, then you spend the first third of the movie trying to figure out what kind of movie it is and the last two thirds having your mind blown. Because of this, I won’t include a synopsis beyond the movie is about Driver and anyone who hasn’t seen the movie yet should not read all of this review. I’ll let you know when to stop.
Ryan gosling is phenomenal in this film. He doesn’t talk much; in fact, he spends a lot of the movie just chewing on a tooth pick and standing there. But he probably does that better than any other actor on the planet. I read on IMDB that he was chosen to replace Hugh Jackman for the role, which was probably a godsend because the movie would have been completely different (and much worse) had Hugh Jackman been chosen to play Driver. Carey Mulligan, who plays Driver’s neighbor and minor love interest Irene, and Gosling have wonderful chemistry. There is very little on screen interaction; as I said before, even when he interacts with Irene he’s mostly just standing there chewing on a toothpick and not saying anything, but the sexual tension between the two of them is so tangible as to almost be another character entirely. The filming style of the movie is also really interesting, with many swooping over-head shots of the city, as well as a lot of shots of Gosling from below as if the audience is looking up at him. The use of lighting is likewise impressive, with the movie ofttimes over- or underlit to create fractured looking or dream-like scenes that border on surrealism. Finally, the score is great. There are several instances in the film where the music just sneaks up on you and you realize that you’re having an emotional response to something you didn’t realize was happening.
There were several… odd parts in the movie though. The font and color (the pink lettering seen in the poster above) of the title sequence was bizarre. It seemed like a Dirty Dancing/Miami Vice throwback which didn’t seem necessary. The soundtrack that was chosen to accompany the score was also really strange. I didn’t necessarily dislike the choice of songs, just disliked how or when they decided to use them. See * below for examples of what I mean. Finally, I understand their choice in making Driver a backgroundless character, but I just wish there had been one more line, just one single sentence spoken somewhere in the movie, that gave us some implication of who Driver was. I didn’t want a lot because I think him being backgroundless was part of the character, but something that would have tied what was happening in the movie to something that happened in his past, even if it was a vague line, would have done a lot for the character I think. An example of what I mean is the scene in Harold and Maude where Harold sees the Holocaust tattoo on Maude’s arm; the scene was almost inconsequential to the film, but that little brief moment where he notices that added so much more to her as a character.
But the movie is excellent so you should go see it and if you haven’t seen it, you should stop reading now.
This movie went so far beyond what I was expecting, I think because of the decisions made about the first third of the movie. They gave it the potential to be just about every genre of movie ever. It could have gone the rom-com route; it could have gone the rags-to-riches athlete route (with the racing); it could have gone the I’m-a-criminal-leading-a-double-life route. And instead it went the I’m-out-to-avenge-someone route. I really didn’t see that coming at all. Which was great! I love it when movies surprise me (like From Dusk til Dawn). The best way to classify this movie I think would be half way between A History of Violence and Man On Fire. One thing that really surprised me about this film was how well the director went back and forth from the sexual tension between Irene and Driver and just pure violence. My favorite scene in the movie was the elevator murder because it was so impassioned. It was phenomenal! (I also read on IMDB that that scene was originally longer but they cut it to secure a decent rating.) *and as far as what I mentioned above with the music, the best (worst?) example is the scene where Driver finds Shannon in the garage, and the music starts up as he’s looking at him. It made it really cheesy, but I loved the music over the following scene as Driver was spying on Nino and Nino was laughing. I thought that was a wonderful dichotomy. Anyway, sorry for the disjointed review, but i think this is a really good movie to go into not knowing what’s going to happen so I tried my best to keep all the spoilers out of it.