Saturday yard sales were okay. I got myself one of those cast iron reproduction animated piggy banks (I have two others); this one is a sail boat that launches a penny into a lighthouse. Nice! A year or so ago, I bumped into my friend Jane from church at a rummage sale; she snagged a coffee table book I wanted, Cameron's Above London (I have several in this series dealing with major cities - the books are collections of captioned photos taken from a helicopter, compared with historical images). Had I gotten to that particular table just seconds ahead of Jane the book would have been mine! Anyway, I found it on Saturday, so all's well that ends well.
I spent the afternoon at the Manassas Battlefield. Video here. And, if you have the appropriate red-blue 3-D glasses, you can check out this 3-D park service video of scenes from the locale. The red-blue information is viable enough on my video to make the images appear multi-planar on your PC. It's eye-popping in person; these 150 year old stereoscopic images look really good!
I watched - or tried to watch - a bunch of films over my bachelor weekend:
Ne Change Rien (2005) - A moody black and white film about a French singer recording torch songs. Normally this sort of thing would be right up my alley, but this film was so dull and listless I gave up on it.
Liverpool (2008) - About a merchant sailor returning to his home in Tierra del Fuego. Even duller than the film above! Excruciatingly slow-paced. Does it really require more than a minute of recording time to see a guy put on coveralls and smoke a cigarette?
R (2010) - A Danish prison flick and, as Danish prison flicks go, a pretty good one. It sucks to be behind bars in any nation, I guess. Tattoos a-plenty; that seems to be a commonality among inmates the world over. I once saw a documentary about Russian prisoners carefully describing what each tattoo symbolized. Interesting.
Born in East L.A. (1987) - Cheech Marin, a Los Angelino, gets deported to Mexico as an illegal alien and must make his way back home to the title locale. Ayyyyy... vato! Wasappinin? This comedy had possibilities and a funny moment or two, but mostly it was pretty bad. I gave up on it as well. I'm convinced that a lot of the humor is this a lot funnier if you're doing the reefer.
Almost Famous (2000) - This one - Cameron Crowe's story of a struggling rock band and a very young Rolling Stone journalist in 1973 - was a lot of fun! Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Lester Bangs, the influential Creem magazine rock critic, whose work I used to read during the Seventies. Bangs was what we would now call over the top: I dimly recall one hallucinogenic essay where he opens the stomach of Elvis Presley's corpse, finds sleeping pills and takes them. (Did I really read that?) Anyway, a superior rock and roll movie.
Amarcord (1973) - A highly regarded Fellini film, but, for me, not an especially engrossing one. I tuned out at the halfway point, which is about where I once gave up on 8 1/2. I have come to the conclusion that I like 1950's Fellini a lot more than I like 1960's and on Fellini. I tried.
The best, as it turned out, was last.
The Mill and the Cross (2011) - A fascinating movie! Try this on for a premise: A painting of Pieter Bruegel, brought to life. Wow. (In fact, I said "Wow" twice in this film. That doesn't happen very often.) The painting in question is The Procession to Calvary from 1564. Rutger Hauer portrays Pieter Bruegel, and this film powerfully invokes the world of the late medieval Low Countries. Visually engrossing, most of the interior shots are lit like paintings by Flemish masters. There is one scene, before the titles, which shows the painter and his friend standing before a live action canvas of the work that is just jaw-dropping.
Netflix reviewers seem to be split between giving this one star and five stars. Many feel it hasn't much of a plot and is slow moving, with very little dialogue, which is true. Fair enough. But it's hard to quibble about this when nearly every scene looks like a compositional masterpiece - which is why viewers like me rate it so highly.
This trailer tells you all you need to know. Simply put, I have never seen a film quite like this one and I'll probably never view a Bruegel painting the same way after seeing this.
See, Hollywood? You needn't resort to making films about comic books, theme park rides, Saturday Night Live skits, 1960's television shows and board games. Just use some originality and creativity.
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