We had some friends over tonight to watch a movie (more on that in a minute), which means I’m sitting down to write this relatively late in the evening Friday, which means we’re gonna get right to it. Like now.
I had seen a few Takashi Miike movies before Audition so I thought I was prepared for what was to come. I expected sadistic violence and perversion. I was not ready for a rather staid, emotional, romantic drama. Talk about your shocks. Then, of course, once you’ve settled in for a surprisingly normal movie from the masters of crazy cinema, things get weird and very violent. Arrow Video just put out a very nice edition, and I reviewed it here.
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
The very first Andrei Takovsky movie I saw was Solaris. I thought it had some interesting ideas, but was overlong and slow. I think I’d actually seen the Steven Soderburgh remake first and liked it pretty well, but did not love it. Now I’ve read the book both films are based off on. I mainly did so because I’ve become a huge fan of Takovsky and wanted to read the book before watching the film again.
It is very hard sci-fi that is very low on plot and very long on philosophical ideas. The basic story follows an astronaut who flies to a space station orbiting Solaris, a planet with a gigantic ocean that seems to be alive and very much sentient, though no one can actually communicate with it. Once aboard, he discovers the small crew acting a little crazy. Soon enough, he finds out why because he comes in contact with his wife who died of her own hand some years before. Either he’s hallucinating or the planet is somehow able to delve into his memory banks and create a life-like humanoid to talk to him. For what purpose is unknown.
Lem spends a lot of time pondering that question and many more. It isn’t an easy, nor a fast read, but an interesting one. I’m excited to watch the film again to see how things line up with the book.
Movie Night at the Brewsters
When we lived in Tennessee several years ago, we had a monthly movie night. I believe it was the second Saturday of every month. We’d make an announcement on Facebook, and then whoever could make it came and those who didn’t might come next time. It was very casual. We’d make some popcorn and try to watch something interesting. Afterwards, we’d sit around discussing what we watched. I loved it.
We’ve been meaning to start it up here in Oklahoma but just never quite got around to it. Our house is smaller for one thing, and our relationships different, plus our daughter is no longer a toddler (and our friends tend to have older kids as well), which changes the dynamics of who can come and what we can watch.
At any rate, we had our first movie night tonight and it was a huge success. Only a few could make it but that’s quite all right as, again, the space is limited. I picked out several possible movies including several choices that are kid friendly. Ultimately, we chose Picnic at Hanging Rock and sent the kids upstairs to play. It's a real joy of mine to share movies I love with others and enjoy their company while we watch. I hope we keep it up.
Picnic at Hanging Rock
I’d not seen this film in a very long time so I was pretty excited to revisit it on our first movie night. While the big kids were upstairs playing, there was a very small toddler that had to remain with us. Between the yelling and stomping upstairs, the constant need for attention from the toddler and the popcorn break, I’m not sure I took the film in as well as I had wanted, but it's still a masterpiece.
It's about an all-girl’s school in Australia in the year 1900. One day, the school takes a holiday to the famous Hanging Rock mountain and by day’s end, three girls and a teacher have gone missing without a trace. The film then chronicles the effect this has on the school and the townspeople. Famously, the mystery is never solved, but Weir’s film is more interested in the emotions of the mystery and creating a mood than actually telling us what happened. It's beautifully shot, eerily scored, and a masterpiece of cinema.
Lu Over the Wall
A really enjoyable take on The Little Mermaid story from Japan. A lonely, pessimistic boy in a small, coastal village joins a band accidentally and falls in love with a mermaid named Lu. She grows legs whenever she hears music and causes everyone within hearing distance to dance like characters in a Charlie Brown special. Complications arise when the town, who have long had a beef with the mer-people, even though no one has seen any in decades, realize what Lu is, but mostly, it's just a colorful, fun romp. I'll have a full review soon.
My daughter was born a little too late to have really jumped aboard the Frozen bandwagon, but she has seen it many times and she does have a Frozen pillow and a Frozen bedspread so you could say she’s a fan. But luckily, that lateness meant we were spared the absolute obsession with the film and thus we’ve managed to only watch it a few times. Which means I’m able to still enjoy it when we do watch it. It's not the best Disney film but it's a good one with some very nice animation and some good songs.
The teaser for the inevitable sequel dropped this week. It looks interesting, and really dark (why is Elsa trying to cross the ocean? Why is the music so somber? And why are swords drawn?). Obviously, it's a teaser so presumably in the actual film there are more jokes and sing-alongs. But I’m already intrigued.