Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beret Time - Celebration/Festen

This review comes literally seconds after watching the film The Celebration/Festen by director Thomas Vinterberg. . . . WOW! What a film! While watching more films to expand my eccentric horizons, I come across a film every so often that lingers in my mind hours and days after I have watched it. The Celebration/Festen is one of those films. Helge is turning 60 and everyone has been invited to the birthday celebration: his eldest son, Christian, who currently lives in France; his daughter, Helene, a worldly anthropologist and Michael, a rowdy, loud and arrogant son who is a horrible father and husband. The places have been set, the food has been prepared and yet a party can't be a party unless fireworks are involved. Thanks to Christian and his dead twin Linda, the birthday celebration will be anything but a "celebration". The acting was superb and well done while the camera's jerky movements gave the viewer an up close and very personal look at what happens when family lies are brought out to the light of day. This film is in Danish and some English with English subtitles yet hopefully that will not deter anyone from watching this raw film. Thumbs way up!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Biblio Love - The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch

Being a fan of Iris Murdoch's work, I knew that I would enjoy The Unicorn. However, I did not plan to read the book in one sitting and want more once I read the final paragraph twice. This novel goes beyond the normal criteria for Gothic storytelling, as only Iris Murdoch can do. The tale is this: Sweet and naive Marian travels to Gaze Castle to act as a governess/ educator for Hannah, the young occupant of Gaze. Yet, all is not what it appears to be, for the inhabitants of Gaze are trapped in the dark "magick" that holds them as prisoners. If you like a good British Gothic novel, read The Unicorn. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beret Time - Last Year at Marienbad

Last Year at Marienbad is the epitome of French New Wave Cinema as well as one of the most confusing and enigmatic movies I have ever watched. And that's a good thing. The core story is this: a young man sees a woman at a luxurious hotel and tells her that he remembers her from last year, in which they were involved in a passionate love affair. She does not recognize the man nor does she remember any affair taking place. However, as the movies progresses, the viewers are left to wonder: did the affair actually take place, or was it all an illusion? As the man continues to tell the woman of what they did last year, the scenes travel in a loop, to which the possible future is displayed or perhaps it is the past or perhaps it never even happened. Is the woman denying what happened, or does she not remember? Each scene unfolds into dreamlike visions that are left open to interpretation; no one is right or wrong but simply IS. As I watched the film, I was rooted to my couch, waiting to see what would happen next while the organ music that played throughout the film added a level of creepiness that I found quite disturbing. Long hallways covered in shadows, ornate designed walls with mirrors to reflect the soul or perhaps remove it. Trees in the garden cast no reflection; are they part of the dream? Secrets are disclosed when everyone stops moving to wait for the next lie to be told. When the film "ended", I knew I had to have this movie in my collection. This film deserves to be watched over and over with a fresh and open mind. I will state, however, that this film is not for just anyone. The watcher must not arrive with any preconceived notions, nor must they expect for something to "happen" quickly. This film is one to remember from "last year". Quite the surreal experience.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Biblio Love - Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Lucky Jim is a hilarious tale of a young man and his exploits to keep his job in the History Department at a university in Great Britain while juggling several women and their relationships to him and engaging in verbal spars with arrogant artist Bertrand Welch, son of eccentric Professor Welch. This is a classic that deserves to be read over and over again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Jim Buchman: Amazing Sculptor at Dixon

During my lunch break today, I decided to attend Dixon Gallery and Gardens' Munch and Learn and listen to sculptor Jim Buchman. Not only did I learn about the art of sculpting but also the mind of quite a creative soul. During his presentation, he showed photos of his tools, machinery and various sources of inspiration. As I listened to his presentation, I thought about my own creativity and how imagination is quite powerful. Thanks to Mr. Buchman's experiences in life and his exposure to the world, we are able to see the results in stone and concrete.
As I walked around the silent entities after the presentation, I enjoyed staring at the textures displayed, the colours exposed and hidden messages that were left to us to decipher. What made him create circles in one and swirls in another? What could Buchman see in his tower of concrete and stone that we could not?
At one point, the sun sent beams down on the statues, giving them a glow that seemed to go deep within and bring out every fleck and grain that demanded to be seen and revealed.
I especially liked the above photo because it looks to be unfinished or that perhaps Buchman did not feel like completing it, yet it was accidentally on purpose (he ran out of concrete). To me, however, it felt right that it was left unfinished with pipe exposed. Art was never supposed to be "clean" or "sanitized". Jim Buchman's enigmatic sculptures will be at the Dixon until the 2nd of December. If you find yourself in the Memphis area soon, do yourself a favour and visit! One last thing: Jim Buchman is an awesome person - I actually got his autograph in my journal!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy - Middlemarch for the 21st Century

When I had heard that J.K. Rowling would have a new book out for adults, I actually drooled. The Creator of Harry Potter would be giving us a new book and world to play around in, only that there would be no magick involved. Once copies of The Casual Vacancy arrived at the library, I grabbed a copy and began my journey to the small British town of Pagford. What a ride! Barry Fairbrother has died, leaving quite a hole, a la It's a Wonderful Life, in Pagford. Yet more importantly, his death creates a casual vacancy (a deliberate vacancy of a position due to death or other situations) in the Parish Council. Now the fun begins: all is not what it appears to be in Pagford; lies are told, truths are revealed, knives are stabbed in many a back and secrets unfold through websites, whispers and outbursts. Everyone in the town is connected to one another in some form or fashion and when one link disintegrates (Fairbrother's death), then nothing is sacred or the same ever again. J.K. Rowling has done it again with The Casual Vacancy; she tells a story like no one else and will keep you guessing and turning pages until the very end. As I read the hefty novel, I found myself comparing it to another British novel that revolved around a fictional town and its inhabitants: Middlemarch by George Eliot. As Middlemarch is the background for British way of way during the 1800s, so is The Casual Vacancy for the 21st century. Instead of Dr. Lydgate handling the fever epidemic, we have social worker Kay handling the rising population of heroin users in "the Fields". As we watch Fred Vincy express his love for sensible Mary Garth in Middlemarch, we watch Andrew Price, or Pizza Face as called by his mean tempered and abusive father Simon, come to grips with his "crush" for Gaia, daughter of Kay in The Casual Vacancy. So many other similarities and yet each novel holds their own weight and merit within the realms of literature. So many characters and yet only J.K. Rowling could handle them with not only her usual flourish of writing but also with a wide range of emotions that make you WANT to give a damn about them. If you liked/loved Harry Potter, you will simply adore The Casual Vacancy.