December 12th, 2007

Margot at the Wedding

I've been buying DVD transfers from this guy Damon Packard in LA, who has an interesting list of 70s stuff (mostly). He has, for instance, a lot of Jerzy Skolimowski films, including his polish scifi flick Recce de Gory. Skolimowski directed the Lightship, the terrific Jeremy Irons movie Moonlighting, etc. A really quality director who's star is in eclipse. Packard also has lots of fun trash like Spielbergs scifi Name of the Game episode and Spectre, a British horror film with Robert Culp as an occult detective that was intended to be a TV series.
His prices are good and his quality is as good as you can expect from a transfer. Here's a partial list. If there's something you don't see, ask--he probably has it.

I saw Margot at the Wedding, which--surprisingly--I liked. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Nicole Kidman were outstanding as sisters who've been estranged and one (Kidman) comes to attend the other's wedding. It reminded me of one of those old Woody Allen Bergmanesque movies a la Interiors, only done right. The director, Noah Baumbaugh (The Squid and the Whale), really has that fucked-up family dynamic thing down. Jack Black as Leigh's fiancee is better than all right but not as stellar as the women. By turns, funny and horrifying, it's well-crafted, great dialogue. It won't rock your world, but it's worth a look.
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Sixties Novels, Part 45

AGENT OF ENTROPY, Martin Siegel, Lancer, 1969

THE UNREAL PEOPLE, Martin Siegel, Lancer, 1973

The Sixties were often all about youth. Young doers, young ideas. Not always, of course, as such seminal Sixties figures as Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg, both born 1926 and in their forties by then, remind us.

Martin Siegel, unremembered today, with few biographical tidbits extant, would have been 27 years old when his first novel came out. Hardly a prodigy of the Delany mold, but still part of the current happening generation. He died in 1972, aged 31, of leukemia, as the CLUTEPEDIA tells us, so his second and last book came out posthumously.

I think you can see from the blurbs on the backcovers that this was not your father's SF. Besides hardcore New Wave stuff, the genre experienced a trickle-down effect of grooviness even in its mainline offerings.

Give a passing thought to Martin Siegel and his unfulfilled career.

Posted by Paul DiFi.

I am (sorta, kinda) legend

I went to a screening of I Am Legend tonight and for about a hour, hour and fifteen minutes, I was really into it. I liked Francis Lawrence's first film, Constantine--considering he was stuck with Keanu Reeves as a star, I thought he did a pretty good job of capturing the feel of the comic--and I had hopes for this one. But after a terrific set-up, accompanied by a splendidly realized mise-en-scene, the movie dissolved into a bunch of bad CGI and a dopey climax and just fucking ended. This is the second film I've seen recently (Michael Clayton being the first) that didn't have a third act, and this one had barely a sliver of a second act. It's as if the screenwriters ran out of paper and just said, hey, we'll go with what we've got. Really disappointing. I hope that this doesn't become a trend, the Hollywood half-movie. Anyway, i'm probably going to do a longer review of this, so I'll save the rest for later. One thing, though. I can't figure out how come they used CGI instead of prosthetics for the vampires. All they did was bite and scamper about. Whatever, it looked cheesy.

The theater where I saw the movie is in downtown Vancouver (WA), kind of a seedy area. Pawn shops, bars, usually a few derelicts hanging around and a hooker or three. On cold nights like this, they usually wear down jackets over their mini-skirts. Tonight there was a hooker waiting for the bus at the stop where I catch it. She was a peroxide blonde, thin, sort of pretty in a hardbitten way, acne scarring on her cheeks--she wore a red skirt and a red fake fur. Her arms folded, all her flaws revealed by the streetlight overhead. She stood there, I stood there. We both looked down the street, avoiding eye contact. It was like a little play witout dialogue. I lit a cigarette and she asked for one. She asked for a light and cupped her cold hands around mine to shield the flame. We smoked and watched for the bus. She mentioned the weather, that it was freezing out. Yeah, I said. Might snow. After a pause she asked if I wanted a date. Not tonight, I said, and felt bad for having turned her down, because she was shivering and looked like a damaged waif dressed in a Halloween costume. I have to go to work early, I said. Her face hardened and she half-turned away, exhaling a plume of smoke. I felt like a dumbass for having been solicitous toward her. When the bus came, empty of passengers, she flashed her pass and went right to the back and sprawled out on the seat. I sat behind the door at the middle of the bus. She got off at a stop next to a pizza joint and stationed herself out front. The light turned red and the bus idled at the corner. I glanced at the hooker. She gave back what I assumed was a hateful look, her head poking up from that funky scarlet ruff like a weird blond lizard. Then, as the light turned green and the bus pulled away, she flutttered her fingers at me in a wave. All the way home I puzzled over that wave. Had it been disdainful? Had it marked her recognition of our brief interaction? I assumed that after I rejected her, she thought I had been treating her as a hooker not an individual--which had been the case to a certain extent. That she had approached me as a pro and that she could resent the fact that I had reacted the way I did was typical of hooker logic. Maybe the wave was a kind of apology, a human acknowledgement. I was overanalyzing, but still it occured to me that I no longer knew where I was, and perhaps I had never known. Fucking America, Land of Mystery.
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