Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What I'm Reading

(from "Foes")

"Your man Barama, my friend, would not even be in the running if he wasn't black."

Now all appetite left him entirely. The food on his plate, whatever it was, splotches of taupe, dollops of orange, went abstract like a painting. His blood pressure flew up; he could feel the pulsing twitch in his temple. "You know, I never thought about it before but you're right! Being black really
is the fastest, easiest way to get to the White House!"

She said nothing, and so he added , "Unless you're going by cab, and then, well, it can slow you down a little."


The shaker appeared before him. He shook some salt around on his plate and stared at it.


"If you don't think I as a woman know a thing or two about prejudice, you would be sadly mistaken," Linda said.

"Hey, it's not that easy being a man either," said Bake. "There's all that cash you have to spend on porn? and believe me, that's money you never get back."

He then retreated, turned toward his left, toward Suzy, and leaned in. "Help me," he whispered in her ear.

"Are you charming the patrons?"

"I fear some object may be thrown."

"You're supposed to charm the patrons."

(from "Paper Losses")

In the chrome of the refrigerator she caught the reflection of her own face, part brunette Shelley Winters, part potato, the finely etched sharps and accidentals beneath her eyes a musical interlude amid the bloat. In every movie she had seen with Shelley Winters in it, Shelley Winters was the one who died.


And that's just the first two stories in the collection! How had I not discovered this woman before?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

LFF09: picking up the pace

I've been sluggish with the pre-festival press screenings, but now that this thing is in swing, I'm going for broke. Look to the sidebar for my undoubtedly over-ambitious viewing planner for the next two weeks -- I'll add in grades as and when each film is ticked off. Today's morning slot brought us John Hillcoat's The Road, which is a lot better than you may have heard, while stalling some way short of greatness -- I was impressed by all sorts of things, but certainly frustrated by its rather strained emotionalism. The best news so far is Claire Denis's White Material, which I only just sneaked into this afternoon, and left me nursing a crick in my neck from straining to read the subtitles past the head of the extremely tall man just in front. To anyone suffering a similar fate behind me, I apologise, but whoever designed Screen 9 of the Vue West End was either oblivious to the whole idea of foreign cinema or a seriously impressive polyglot. More to the point, the rest of the fest will have trouble trumping White Material: I think it's Denis's best movie since Beau Travail, which is saying quite a lot, though the juxtaposition of this scorching territorial tug-of-war with the recently released 35 Shots of Rum does actually back up my belief that the latter film, despite contaning one of her single most gorgeous sequences, was otherwise a teensy bit overpraised. Meanwhile, Huppert, with this, the excellent Home, and BenoƮt Jacquot's not-yet-screened Villa Amalia (she plays the piano and divests herself of all worldly possessions -- sold!) is clearly on a major roll. Looking forward to some proper cramming next week: do get down there in the comments with any tips or disagreements, or just to say hi.