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The Eyes Have It

So there's work and well... enough of that. I've been watching scads of movies, and there's been a lot that I liked. Netflix has been on fire lately and I've found a few jewels amongst the streamed offerings. Its fun to play Movie Roulette and click on something and make a vow to watch 20 minutes before even considering moving on. I haven't moved on, yet. I also have DVDs delivered because there are some films I just want to own. And my trusty dubbing software lets me do that. I've seen some movies at the theater also. The last one was Spiderman, which was good, but bland. The best part was Andrew Garfield playing Spidey with just the right balance of teen angst and kick-assed righteousness. Also its always great to see Martin Sheen and Sally Field. The plot was long on the earnest dialogue and short on the action and when the action came it was so frenetically filmed and digitally doctored that it was rendered almost incomprehensible (see any of Michael Bay's Transformer films). As popcorn films go it was a step above "Green Lantern" but far below "The Avengers". By comparison, "Prometheus" was practically "Citizen Kane". It didn't help that I saw Spiderman in 3-D which just made it even more lame and painful to watch. I got the tix for free though so, uh, there you go.
On the Netflix front, I've been making my way through my own personal movie bucket list along with wallowing in one of my favorite genres - Japanese cinema. I ticked off two on the bucket list - I had never seen "The Grifters" or "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover". Both are brilliant films although "The Grifters" is mostly good because of its source material, the novel by the great noir fiction writer Jim Thompson. I'm a fan of John Cusack's movies of the 80's and 90's but have never seen the appeal of Annette Bening and "The Grifters" did nothing to change my view. Anjelica Huston is her usual imperious self in this film and its interesting to contrast her performance style with Helen Mirren's in "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover". Two really great actresses cut from the same cloth - I love them both but Dame Mirren is just dazzling in Peter Greenaway's masterpiece of debauchery. This film immediately made it onto my top five foodie films of all time list. I watched it twice in a row - it was so much fun. I want to work in the kitchen that Greenaway designed for the film. A great cavernous room designed like a set in an opera and populated with just the sort of characters you'd find in a Rossini epic, complete with a young castrati singing his heart out like a canary in a cage, which this kitchen very much is throughout most of the film. I could write pages and pages about "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover". Its just a great, stunningly unique piece of art and Helen Mirren along with her co-star Michael Gambon give career-capstone performances. A warning before you rush out and watch this one, though - there is some seriously weird violence, but it's the sort you'll hate yourself for liking. So its okay, right? And there's sex, but its fairly tasteful and I was delighted that Dame Mirren slinks around in the nude quite a bit. Delighted because it's her and she's being incredibly sexy even though she's a little wide in the beam and has a tummy and gravity is taking its toll elsewhere but she smolders things up anyway as if to say, "Fuck all you skinny, plastic Hollywood bitches - I'm all of you and more - watch me turn it on." And boy, does she.


I have also been going through the films of director Yosujiro Ozu and could ramble on for a few hours about them. I initially started going through his catalog after watching a delightful film called "Good Morning". This movie attracted me because it was released about the time i was living in Tokyo with my family in the late 50's. The film features the story of two young boy's efforts to get their parents to buy them a TV set. I related because I was about the same age as the younger brother portrayed when I lived in Japan. I also remember vividly going through a period in the mid 60's of desperately wanting not only a TV, but a color TV.

Here, the boys, after running away, are enjoying a stolen lunch of tea and rice but are soon discovered by the police.

Mr. Ozu is a director who likes to depict slices of life in post-war Japan with a particular eye towards the changing social landscape which came as a result of Japan working to become the industrial powerhouse which eventually dominated the world markets in the latter half of the twentieth century. His films travel at a leisurely pace and are filled with well-crafted dialogue that carries the morality tales with a crisp timelessness that still resonates today.

For me, Ozu's films are like home movies from my childhood. Home movies filmed by an extremely skilled auteur. Anyone remotely interested in learning about current Japanese culture would do well to go through Ozu's oevre as he documents a turning point in the nation's history and the solidifying of a culture that still holds today.

In the midst of all this movie watching, I did a little decorating in my home office space. I ordered some movie stills and a lobby poster to put up on the walls. The poster is the first run edition of the poster for "2001:A Space Odyssey". I like the poster because the art is iconic, I'm a Kubrick fan and besides that, the film has some life significance for me. I wrote an essay about "2001" and my love for movies way back in college and I'll post it here once I scare it up off the hard drive of my PC. The poster is enormous and the Z-girl hasn't seen it yet, but I'm sure she'll take it as just another indication that the Old Man is slowly going balmy and that she'd better accelerate her efforts to get out of the house before she ends up having to spoon feed me and help dress the cats in little steampunk outfits. One of the film stills I bought depicts the scene in "The Shining" where Jack is sitting at the bar of the Overlook. I think it perfectly captures the point in an alcoholic's downward spiral when the booze starts calling the shots. So to speak. A little reminder to myself to not judge too harshly. And another reminder to always watch my back when it comes to the drink. In that picture, Lloyd the bartender is clearly not only the malevolent hotel, but he is also the malevolence of alcohol. And Jack is the poor bastard about to get fucked clean out of life.

Some of the reason I haven't been posting much on LJ the past few months is not only have I been busy with The Zoe and her Graduation/European tour, but I've been having trouble with my eyes. I'm only able to work on the computer for short stretches before I have to take a break. If I stare at the screen for an hour or more straight, I wind up with double vision for the rest of the day - I can barely read and I can't drive. I went to the eye doctor a month ago and she told me everything was nominal but that the double vision was the result of a slight change in my prescription and that my eyes seemed to be aging a little quicker than the rest of me. Essentially I'm an aging hipster with the eyes of a 75 year old. Terrific. So anyway, I got my new prescription, but not having much money to spend on glasses I started nosing around for cheap eye ware. Zoe's best friend and my unofficial adopted daughter, M, told me about an online store that had glasses for about $50 bucks a throw, which was great given that I wanted to buy two pair (one for work and one for home) and if possible I've always wanted some prescription sunglasses. So off I go, ordering glasses and about a week later they came in the mail. They looked great, but I couldn't see shit through any of them. At first, I thought something drastic had happened to my eyes but then I realized my old pair let me see reasonably clearly. I double checked the prescriptions on the new glasses and saw that I had plugged in minus signs where there should have been plus signs. Okay, so it's clear now that I'm my own worst eyeglass technician. I call the company and they are all good with a refund and exchange, but now I've got to go through the hassle of mailing the things back and waiting another couple weeks forthe red tape to clear and the new glasses to come. Just like in the old days when a new pair could take a month or more to get fabricated. So until the new specs come I'm relegated to 30 minute stretches on the computer with an hour or so in between sessions just to keep things clear. Not so bad. Could be worse....



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 11th, 2012 11:15 am (UTC)
Did yr doctor test you for macular degeneration? Macula is the part of the retina where the cone cells are thickest. It starts to break down among people in their 50s (I'm assuming you're that.) It's more of an opthalmologist diagnosis than an optometrist diagnosis. You might want to get that checked.

Good thing is that you can prevent further degeration by eating lots and lots of Vitamin A.

I love The Grifters. Part of it for me was the music and Houston's pronounciation of the City of Angels -- "Los Angle Ease." I know what you mean about Annette Bening but I loved her in this.
Jul. 11th, 2012 12:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah - my doc is an ophthalmologist and checked Macula first thing. She said the same thing about diet supplement. Gave me some exercises and such. I'm mid-fifties so it comes with the territory - pretty annoying. My doc is really pretty good so I trust her diagnosis. She really likes me as well and always chats me up quite a bit. Have you seen "Horrible Bosses"? Its a little like that with the crazy dialed down a notch. She hasn't shut the door during an exam, but here's hoping that'll happen sometime. I'm thinking of calling her up and making an exparte appointment. But I hate taking the risk of screwing up what's really been a pretty good professional relationship. She helped me dodge a few other eye concerns in the past with her sharp diagnostic skills. She's not really my type anyway, but I'm a guy so I don't care.

"Los Angle Ease" Ha! I need to scare up the novel and see if that's where that came from - it sounds like something Thompson would do. I liked how everything in the film was washed in that glancing California light that makes everything vibrate yellow. The music was cool and I liked the retro title sequences.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )