Wednesday, February 25, 2009

duh. me no read so good.

as i mentioned, we saw 'the reader' on saturday. i had pulled it from a torrent. during the climactic trial scene, the disc kept freezing up and stopping. i couldn't skip forward, only back. this was LITERALLY at the apex of the movie (or so i thought.) the holocaust survivor is giving testimony about hanna schmitz (kate winslet's character) in the courtroom. she says something along the lines of: "hanna schmitz chose differently. we didn't know why. then, one day, we found out -" AND THE DISC STOPPED THERE. i was kind of beside myself and tried plying little bro chova's playstation 3 with all the weird, juju at my disposal, only to give up and accept that i would NEVER KNOW WHAT THEY FOUND OUT. ONLY I DO KNOW. BECAUSE I'M AN IDIOT AND THE FILE WAS SPLIT INTO TWO SEGMENTS. lol!

warning: the following review contains spoiler alerts, although if you're actually surprised by the "twist" i think you might want to reconsider your cognitive abilities

anyway, i thought this movie was (to use the outlaw bro's terminology) hokey. cheesy. kind of embarrassing with its' ham-fisted execution of high-minded, literary aspirations. the score was TERRIBLE. it was intrusive, obvious, and so trite. the same supposed-to-be-lilting/haunting piano would come slogging through the moment the scene hinted at "introspection" or "emotionally charged meaningful exchange between characters" or "tears welling" or "a character's distracted, faraway glance out of a train window that suggests all their sublimated emotions."

the film itself wasn't much better. listen: i'm all for a nuanced examination of the banality on behalf of the citizens of germany and europe and the world at large that allowed the holocaust to happen. i'm very much interested in a critical understanding of how people stood by, of the complexities that underlie people's complicity with the genocide, of the mass collusion with the nazis. i'm no german apologist, by any means, but i think there's room within the discourse for a meditation on the subject that doesn't cleave immediately into stark black and white, that embraces the shades of grey. this film is not making room for that discourse.

as a metaphor for the loss of reflexivity and self-awareness of the "everyday" german citizen that allowed the holocaust to happen, i think that hanna's illiteracy could have been an effective vehicle (probably more in text...the story doesn't lend itself to the visual drama of film.) unfortunately, the filmmaker doesn't give the viewer credit for having a modicum of intelligence and sense and decides to bludgeon you to distraction with "clues," lest the already poorly disguised symbolism be lost. in doing so, the filmmaker makes the tragic mistake of making it about hanna's illiteracy in the less evocative, literal sense of her inability to read. by leaving a breadcrumb trail consisting of entire loaves, dumped square in the middle of scenes, and in the stilted, overly mannered and stagy delivery of dialogue, the filmmaker strips away the metaphor and leaves you with the symbol, stripped of its symbolic power - a squat, homely trifle, unable to guide you to a more considered engagement with the material.

the first time the young boy michael returns to hanna's flat after a bout with scarlet fever, she's carefully ironing her undergarments, in a scene that could have been fraught with tense, illicit desire. instead, when he makes a remark about his weakness during his illness, and the he could "barely be bothered to read" - winslet literally FREEZES, and the scene could not have been more lacking in subtlety than if a giant air-horn AOOOOOOOOOGGGAAAA had gone off instead. when michael finally "realizes" that hanna is illiterate, in a climactic courtroom scene - the audience is robbed of the thrill of sharing his discovery because we've been led by a ring through the nose to that same conclusion, seemingly hours (and movie-years) before him. they then drove my outlaw bro crazy but not crediting the audience with being able to remember scenes that had just happened. so the director makes the novice decision to create a short montage of all the scenes of hanna basically going APES**T any time she was confronted with the written word, as if we COULDN'T BE CREDITED WITH PIECING (AND REMEMBERING) THE MOST OBVIOUS MESSAGE OF THE MOVIE TOGETHER.

it was pretty terrible and definitely not best picture worthy. i was kind of insulted at its inclusion. it was so PATENTLY trying to be "heavy," "serious" fare and yet it couldn't present any of the issues in a way befitting the intelligence of the general populace. pap.

bah. i'm going to have to do my book reviews tomorrow night or the night after. phew! so much to tell!!! i've totally been neglecting my rss feeds lately too, so not much to show you in the roll call of awesome (or bunk) department.

tonight i made spaghetti with clam sauce for dinner. i use only 1/4 c. of butter and a glug or two of olive oil, but that, in combination with the onions, garlic, clams, and in this case, chopped yellow tomatoes is enough to make the most aromatic, flavour-packed coating for the pasta. it's so quick and healthy! even though i made a baby spinach salad (with avocado, more yellow hothouse tomatoes, toasted salted pumpkin seeds, red wine vinaigrette) to go with, i ended up eating two bowls of pasta and foregoing salad.

the dotytron LOVED the dutch baby (it was the first time for us both.) he's pretty particular about his breakfast quick breads, so i was shocked. this morning, as he climbed the stairs to find me making my morning breakfast, i was met with the stinging accusation: "YOU DIDN'T EAT THE FAT BABY, DID YOU?????" (i didn't. i had a buttered, toasted bagel.) and this evening, the first words i heard once he had unloaded all the detritus of the day, was: "i love the fat baby"

roll call of awesome:

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

images from a 1958 USSR pavilion brochure (courtesy of grain edit)

illustrations from italian illustrator bombo!

mexican tissue paper flowers. you know how NOT to spend $200 on a bouquet (that's the price i was quoted to START)? you make your own!!! i'm super excited to make myself paper flowers...that way i can control the colours, size, everything! aren't they lovely?

ça c'est tout


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