not in our stars, but in ourselves
“Hey, loser, when are you ever gonna write about movies again?”
Right here! Right now! I will give you a hodgepodge of links and observations and such and so on, and several are movie-centric, and I promise not to get bogged down in my unending despair at the dystopia into which we’re sliding. Honest!
1. First, a really fun thing. Well, sort of. The other day on Twitter, a #fav7films hashtag started to catch like wildfire, so I had a go. It’s hard to narrow it down to seven – but these are, I think, pretty reliably the kinds of movies I could watch any day of the week:
From film, it spun into literature…
…and finally, directors:
Again, it’s hard to keep my choices capped at seven (for instance, I can’t fathom cutting any of those directors, and yet it really does pain me not to include the Coen Brothers or Mel Brooks), but that’s the general idea in each category. Feel free to tell me your seven favorites in each category – it is genuine fun to see what everyone likes!
2. On the subject of film: Matt Christman (@cushbomb on Twitter, and also one of the three Chapo Trap House boys) and Amber A’Lee Frost (@AmberALeeFrost on Twitter, a great fucking writer there and on several other platforms) have a film-related podcast of their own: Frost/Christman. The first episode is up, and – aside from some audio problems, which they’ll have fixed by next time – it’s sterling stuff. They kicked off with a discussion of various ’70s paranoid thrillers, and they really hit the ground running. If I weren’t such a nobody, I’d try to con them into letting me guest on an episode about Weimar cinema or Pre-Code cinema or something. Alas. Well, give it a listen, won’t you?
3. To Nabokov, my beautiful boy: a former professor of mine (Christopher Miller, check him out) sent me a fascinating and often quite funny article, “Nabokov’s ‘great gay comic novel’” by Edmund White. It’s about Pale Fire, and…well, maybe it’s funny mostly because it quotes liberally from the book itself:
Kinbote’s mad “notes”, far from commenting on Shade’s poem, trace out a mini-biography of Kinbote. And that biography, real or delusional, is the picture of an unrepentant homosexual, sensual, guilt-free, tirelessly on the make. In the 1950s, gay men were portrayed in fiction and films as lonely phantoms – sad and colourless – or sometimes as instant villains (see Norman Mailer’s essay, “The Gay Villain”, 1954). Nabokov, by contrast, depicts Kinbote as lustful, entitled, screamingly absurd.
Kinbote is always drooling over some handsome lad and, as king (Charles the Beloved II), he usually has his way with them, even in a water closet: “the recent thrill of adventure had been superseded already by another sort of excitement. They locked themselves up. The tap ran unheeded. Both were in a manly state and moaning like doves”. What is perhaps the funniest scene involves a putative assassin, Gradus, and a lad named Gordon. Since this is a moment completely imagined by Kinbote (and, by any standard, not observed), the king’s imagination runs wild. He “dresses” the comely Gordon in one clichéd gay outfit after another. At first the tanned fifteen-year-old (“dyed a nectarine hue by the sun”) is in a “leopard-spotted loincloth”. Then he is “wreathed about the loins with ivy”. A second later he is fellating “a pipe of spring water” and wiping his hands “on his black bathing trunks”. Next, he’s magically “striking his flanks clothed in white tennis shorts” before that image dissolves into a “Tarzan brief” that is “cast aside”. Nabokov has plundered the full wardrobe of period gay porn.
Miller pointed out to me that it seems clear in the book that Kinbote isn’t merely a highkey gay, but is in fact a pedophile; White’s reading is therefore perhaps a bit more generous than Vseslav Botkin deserves – but it’s fun anyway.
4. This is NOT political, I promise. I’m just a big fan of Jeremy Corbyn, and I too think nationalizing (sorry: nationalising) train service is a good idea, and so I am (aside from the whole not-being-in-the-U.K. thing) exactly the target audience for this little video of him sitting on the floor of a crowded train. Sue me.
5. Well, as of earlier this week, this article from the Grey Lady included actual photos of athlete #fails at the Olympics – but apparently, the IOC complained or something, and the photos have all been replaced with drawings. Literally Chairman Lmao. Fuck you, IOC.
6. Something a bit more sobering from the NYT: all that heartbreaking flooding in the South is very likely a bad omen, in terms of climate change. To wit:
That increase in heavy rainfall and the resultant flooding “is consistent with what we expect to see in the future if you look at climate models,” said David Easterling, a director at the National Centers for Environmental Information, which is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Not just in the U.S. but in many other parts of the world as well.”
The flooding in Louisiana is the eighth event since May of last year in which the amount of rainfall in an area in a specified window of time matches or exceeds the NOAA predictions for an amount of precipitation that will occur once every five hundred years, or has a 0.2 percent chance of occurring in any given year.
In the last three months alone, floods in Maryland, West Virginia and Louisiana have combined to kill dozens of people and damage tens of thousands of homes and vehicles.
I’m not going to make this political, I swear, I swear, but I will say this: it’s very nearly too late. Time to take this seriously.
7. Despite the complete lack of reviews on here, I have been watching movies reasonably regularly; I’ve just hit a bit of a wall when it comes time to write about them. I always include at least a capsule review of whatever I watch on Letterboxd, so check that if you’re desperate to know (but why would you be). I will try to do better, but as usual: no promises.