Oct 21 – Nov 2, 2015

Nearly two weeks; in my defense I was sick for 8 of those days. Last Thursday we went & played games with friends at Atomic Fern, which was low-key and nice, except for the part where the nearly empty bar was invaded by someone who decided it would be cool to smoke inside. It’s so weird that we used to just put up with that. And so wonderful that we mostly don’t have to anymore. In any case, apart from that, it’s a solid place to go & nerd out with friends. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before it closes, given how empty it was on a Thursday.

Last Friday we visited friends who live on a farm between Durham & Chapel Hill. This included the petting of baby donkeys. It was already dark when we got there, which is why I don’t have any pictures of adorable baby donkeys with which to illustrate this entry. They had large flat heads & big eyes, and had been rolling in the dust all day long.

The next day we took in Pather Panchali, the first in Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy, at the Carolina. I had never seen any of them; now I feel like I need to seek out the other two. They were also at the Carolina, but I was laid low by a cold Saturday night, and didn’t really emerge into the light until the following Friday.

Pather Panchali reminded me equally of Italian neorealism, and of postwar Japanese cinema. I was taught bits & pieces of the latter two in college, but nobody mentioned the Indian film industry, at all. I wonder if that has changed in the 25 years since I was in school.

The cold that kicked in on Saturday night wasn’t totally debilitating, but it softened my brain considerably. I worked from home all week, but I was really only good for 3-4 hours at most. I did some reading — comic books (I love Spread), some noir, the new Carrie Brownstein. She has the intermittent tendency to string appositives together in groups of three, and after a while I really wanted to take a red pen to the thing.

Still, it’s interesting to read her formalization of a lot of what I consider to be conventional wisdom about smaller scenes like Olympia (or here) in the 90s — the politics, the anti-success emphases, etc. It all feels very familiar and it’s probably good to get it all down in print.

Wednesday night we watched Bone Tomahawk, the strange new western/horror film starring Kurt Russell (playing a crusty old sheriff, in a role that doesn’t look that far removed from his upcoming role in the new Tarantino movie). It’s basically a riff on the Searchers, but instead of run-of-the-mill Indians, they’re pursuing cannibalistic troglodytes. Shit gets really gnarly in the final 30 minutes, gore-wise. Ultimately it may be something of an esoteric taste, but it would make for an awesome double feature with Ravenous.

By Friday I was able to leave the house & go to the office, which promptly exhausted me. Saturday we went to the Carolina to watch The Assassin, whose trailer represents it as a Chinese martial arts/swordplay movie, but which is actually a remarkable (and remarkably slow-moving) art movie that has a few minutes of swordplay scattered through its 105-minute runtime. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it was “about.”

Also trying to figure out why it was shot almost entirely in 1.33:1, with the exception of around 5 minutes which were shot in 1.85:1. In a modern theater, whose screen & projection system are set up to accommodate widescreen, to get Academy Ratio you just wind up masking off huge chunks of the sides of the screen. Any compositional gain the director felt he was getting was offset, for me, by how dang tiny the image wound up being.

So: I’m not sure I’d recommend it, at least not to most people. Some of the scenery was flat out gorgeous, though. And the pacing was good for my still somewhat fuzzy brain.

Over the weekend we [finally] started watching Black Mirror. Yes, it’s very good. Yes, it’s very depressing. Question: Assuming we finish it before our free month of Netflix is up, are there other reasons to keep Netflix around, keeping in mind that we don’t watch any TV series with more than ~10 episodes per season? I suppose if even two movies per month are available on Netflix vs Amazon, we’ll wind up nearly breaking even. Last time we had it, it had gotten to the point where there was *nothing* left we wanted to watch, though.

Oct 21 – Nov 2, 2015