Fall and Winter

Fall came and went. My TIFF outings were very few compared to other years. I saw a couple of all right but not great movies not worth mentioning and Jim Jarmusch latest: “Paterson” and “Gimme Danger”. Both good, but probably only appealing to a smaller audience. “Paterson” is about a bus driver poet who lives in Paterson, New Jersey.  The film depicts Paterson’s weekly routine and his relationship with his off-beat wife Laura and mean-spirited dog Marvin. Paterson frequents the local bar, listens to the conversations of people on his bus route and writes his poetry in his notebook during breaks. He has an encounter with a Japanese man who is reading the poetry of William Carlos Williams. Nothing much happens. Paterson’s love for Laura is unwavering despite her eccentricities.

From the slow pace of  “Paterson” to the noisy fandom of “Gimme Danger”. In fact the two films have a nice connection: the bar that Paterson goes to has a photo of Iggy Pop on the wall among the many famous people who passed through Paterson.

“Gimme Danger” is a very straightforward documentary. It’s mostly Iggy Pop talking about the Stooges with interviews with the other band members woven in. It’s enormously entertaining for those who love Iggy and the Stooges and interesting if you want to hear about MC5 and other bands of that time. Iggy is great at reconstructing the past and maybe embellishing it a bit. The clips of live performances show why the Stooges were necessary for rock, punk, metal and everything else.

I went to a talk with Sonia Braga who was a ball of fire. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see her newest film “Aquarius”.

In the past few months I tried to see some of the movies I didn’t get to see at TIFF. “Manchester by the Sea” was the best one.  Moving, funny (the plumbing scenes were so true to life) and beautifully acted – you forget the actors and believe in the characters they portray.

“Moonlight” was also very good, but it took me a little longer to be drawn in by the story. I liked the way music was used to reflect the emotions of Chiron. It’s a very lyrical film.

“The Edge of Seventeen” is a miss in my opinion (despite good performances). Nowhere close to the best of high school movie genre. Stick to “Dazed and Confused”, “Clueless” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”.

I loved “Neruda” (especially when Neruda is asked to read in his “poet’s voice”), but disliked “Jackie”. Not sure why, maybe because “Neruda” reminds me of film of Raul Ruiz, or because it’s poetic and funny and feels right. “Jackie” is stylized and Natalie Portman doesn’t feel like Jackie, more like Natalie Portman playing Jackie.

I really liked “La La Land” at first, but then thought it was too gimmicky and the dancing and singing was very second-rate compared to Fred and Ginger, or Gene and Cyd (although it may have been intentional). The opening scene was great. The cinematography was beautiful. Like me, Ryan Gosling wore the same pair of shoes most of the time. The 1980’s nods were cute. I wince remembering some of the music and clothes.

“Things to Come” was disappointing. The combination of Mia Hansen Love and Isabelle Huppert didn’t work. Too dry and slow moving. But if you have to be abandoned by your husband and publisher, much better in France then elsewhere.  Food, wine, conversation, scenery take away some of the bitterness of aging and loneliness.

Only in movies. I’ve been hanging in a rehabilitation hospital with my mom. The hospital is attached to an old age home. There is an atrium and other public spaces, concerts formal and impromptu to lift the spirits and stimulate the mind.  Old age is not kind. Mostly caught up in the law of diminishing returns. My mom is experiencing these firsthand. Nowadays we talk in Polish. My English is getting rusty – between doing nothing but PowerPoint presentations at work (no written reports), speaking Polish and having no patience to read, I’m reverting to basic existence.

The one book that I read this fall (in two days!) was Andre Alexis’ “The Hidden Keys”. A love letter to friendship, loyalty, honour and TO, funny and sad and even hopeful, it’s a ride that you don’t want to end. Look for the reference to Angst Hair…”and an establishment called Angst whose sign was in a silvery , gothic script that made it seem like the kind of place Europeans went to be punished.”

There is a mystery (or a typo) on the second last page of “The Hidden Keys”. Tancred wants to take the letters he found to one of Willow’s sisters – Simone Azarian-Grau. But it is Gretchen who is Azarian-Grau, not Simone.  It’s a tiny flaw in otherwise perfect novel.







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