Posts Tagged ‘Romance’

This was another trip to the movies, a Sunday matinee, this one related to questions of remembering and forgetting (see October 23 below) but with emphasis on the point of view of the person who might be telling the story.  Events may be altered — or at least the way one relates them — according to the teller’s agenda, purposely in the case of this film, but it also could be just a matter of interpretation.  One of a series labeled “The RASHOMON Effect,” the film was YING XIONG, translated as HERO, directed by Zhang Yimou, and is somewhat about an actual historical event, an attempted assassination in 227 B.C. of the king of Qin who subsequently united seven warring kingdoms to form the empire that became China.  But it is a “wire fu” fantasy too, a martial arts film where fighters fly through the air as they do their deeds, and a single assassin not being enough there are at least three here, not to mention at least two or three versions of what actually happened.

To let the Indiana University Cinema explain:  In pre-Imperial China, during the Warring States period, a nameless soldier with supernatural skill embarks on a mission of revenge against the fearsome army that massacred his people.  To achieve the justice he seeks, Nameless (Jet Li) must first take on the empire’s most ruthless assassins — Sky (Donnie Yen), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung), and Broken Sword (Tony Leung).  Once his mission is complete, he is granted an audience with the ruler of the most powerful of the seven warring kingdoms, and he relates to the King (Chen Daoming) the tales of how he defeated each of the three of the ruler’s adversaries.  Despite what Nameless has told him, the King presumes his score with the assassins was not all it seems to be and weaves his own tale of what he believed is at play.  In Mandarin with English subtitles.  Contains mature content, including violence.

The film has been criticized on somewhat political grounds, as placing emphasis on the idea of “state,” which brings up point of view again; it is at least a film to make one think, regardless of the action/adventure aspect.  And the fights themselves are more like dance sequences, the film being amazing in places in terms of beauty, my favorite being a battle between Flying Snow and another woman, both dressed in red, within an autumn forest of swirling leaves in bright yellows and oranges, deepening as the fight ends to its own red.  Other scenes are in blues or in greens, others in more natural colors, even a couple of brief dream sequences of sorts in black and white. . .

Or, story completely aside, YING XIONG is still stunning.

I had mentioned the film myself in a post on June 26 2014, five years ago, about ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE:  In some ways I’m reminded of ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, though that may just be my own eccentricity, but like that movie ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE is sweet and beautiful yet, at the same time, ruthless and sad.  So last night, Tuesday, courtesy of the Indiana University Cinema, I had the chance to see ETERNAL SUNSHINE again.
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IU Cinema blurb:  Joel is heartbroken when he discovers that ex-girlfriend Clementine has erased all memories of their time together.  As Joel undertakes the same treatment in revenge, his subconscious fights back in a surreal, dream-like journey through good times and bad, one that has Joel questioning whether he wants to lose his happy memories in order to forget the painful ones.  Michel Gondry’s direction and Charlie Kaufman’s acclaimed screenplay produced a film that is both intellectually complicated and deeply romantic. 
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And so both quotations, I think, are true.  But there’s also more to ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND at least at the IU end, the film being part of a fall “themester” — a themed grouping of courses and ancillary programs and events — on the concepts of “Remembering and Forgetting,” giving this mini-blurb:  In this unusually serious romantic comedy, heartbreak leads a couple to erase all memories of each other.  But, of course, can they really?  And how would that complicate life and possible pairings with others?  And, in the talk before the screening, how can this even be depicted at all in a movie?
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That is, films are great for showing things from the outside, but what of showing things that are internal — to get inside a character’s head as one might in a book?  In this case through a series of “fantasy dreamscapes” where techniques like colors or camera angles may gain extra importance.  Thus Joel can experience memories as dreams, and these sometimes then be manipulated, but not in a sense of reality changing but more perhaps as an exploration of what could be.  Or perhaps might have been.
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Confused?  I know I am, but that’s not the point.  My point is I think the film is worth seeing — very worth seeing — but also probably has to be watched more than once or even twice.  Or, if failing that, at least enjoyed once as a bittersweet romance with a rather neat, with the memory erasing technique as a subtheme, science fiction flavor.

A rather dim “starring” actually since I was not one of the featured readers at the Bloomington Writers Guild’s March “Last Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic” (cf. February 24, et al.) at the Monroe County Convention Center.  Of those that were, leading off was Alex Chambers who read five poems from his upcoming collection BINDINGS, to be released this summer by by Pickpocket Books, followed by LuAnne Holladay with “a number of pretty short poems” on such subjects as memories, dreams, birds, and prayer.  Then after the break I was second of just three readers this time with a pair of love poems to honor a coming spring (almost here by the end of last week, but shattered by a rainy, cold Saturday with a dusting of snow by Sunday morning; a sunnier but still cold Sunday afternoon), “Love Consummated” and, with a touch of the Frankenstein in it, “Can Monsters Not Love?”

Well, it’s on THE-LINE-UP.COM and it’s actually titled “10 Romantic Horror Movies To Watch on Valentine’s Day,” by MacKenzie Stuart, but I didn’t run across it until today.  And anyway, really, ten movies on one day?  To quote the author:  Does the word rom-com send chills down your spine?  If you’re a true horror flick aficionado, you’re likely to dread md_e4939c90cafa-auditionventuring outside of your comfort zone of zombies and psychopaths.  However, horror and romance don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  You can enjoy the best of both worlds with a romantic horror movie that seamlessly weaves touching love stories into your favorite gory films.

And indeed, what films are being suggested, something for everyone starting with SWEENY TODD:  THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET all the way down to ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (these two movies, by the way, with a strong musical interest too).  With, in between, WARM BODIES, HELLRAISER, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES . . . and five in addition, all to be checked out by pressing here.  So break out the amaretto along with the popcorn, snuggle up with your significant other (and/or the family cat — yes, Triana, you’re invited too) and enjoy, enjoy!

The Goth cat Triana, herself a lover of seafood, was given the choice of a short poem of mine to share for the occasion.  Her selection, as it happens, might be dedicated especially to southern hemisphere readers who, in places like Australia where 100 degree plus temperatures appear to be common for this February, might plan to spend Valentine’s Day at the beach.

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WET WORK

mermaid vampiress
scarlet billows greet her kiss
a sea of love

 

“Wet Work” was originally published in the Fall 2017 STAR*LINE.

On a pleasant near-summer’s night, the Bloomington Writers Guild co-sponsored “Second Thursday Players Pub Spoken Word Series” (cf. May 12, et al.) started off comparatively noisily with a trumpet performance by local musician Kyle Quass, followed by two poets and one fiction writer.  The fiction was by Tom Bitters with a quiet romantic tale of himself, his wife, and a local benefit performance by John Mellencamp; with Nashville Indiana full-time poet Andrew Hubbard next with four or five self-described “cross[es] between character studies and short-short stories”; and, after a musical interlude by Kyle Quass again, a group of more conventional poems by local writer Antonia Matthew.  These were followed by seven open mike readers of which I was fourth — square in the middle — with a fairy tale variant originally published in RAPUNZEL’S DAUGHTERS (Pink Narcissus Press, 2011) called “The Glass Shoe,” or, translated to modern political terms, alternative facts meet Cinderella.

Already crummy weather plus a report of an even worse thunderstorm in the offing depressed attendance at April’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic,” co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and the Monroe County Convention Center (cf. February 26 — all right, so I had to miss the March one — et al.).  The eight of us who showed up, however, enjoyed some very good out of the ordinary work by local writers Samuel T. Franklin, whose first poetry book, THE GOD OF HAPPINESS, came out last November from Main Street Rag Publishing, and retired astronomy professor Richard H. Durison with publications in SPACE AND TIME, ILLUMEN, DISTURBED DIGEST, FROSTFIRE WORLDS, and others.  After the break, though, with only MC Patsy Rahn and me with poems to offer, plus (remember?) the threat of storms coming, we decided to skip the open readings for this time in favor of a little more conversation (a small enough group to not have to break off into segments) and snacking, then early adjournment.

Afterward, home and dry, I completed and sent in my own weekend project, a third TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH-related guest post for Heidi Angell, who we may remember from her January 9 interview of me (see January 10), or my two previous guest-essays on “What Is a Novel-In-Stories?” and “It Began With a Map” (for links to both of these as well as the interview, cf. March 30).  This weekend’s article, probably to be published (assuming it’s accepted) this side of mid-May, is titled “The Ghoul-Poet” and notes, among other things, the “Five Act Dramatic Structure” and its relation to TOMBS (or, Why Does the Book’s Contents Page Look Like a Playbill?).

Quoting the Indiana University Cinema blurb for February 24:  Set in a dystopian Texas of the future, THE BAD BATCH is a “post-apocalyptic cannibal love story,” as writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour describes it, “ROAD WARRIOR meets PRETTY IN PINK with a dope soundtrack.”  This genre-breaking thrill ride won the Special Jury Prize at the 2016 Venice Film Festival and features a dream-ensemble cast of Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Jim Carrey, and Diego Luna.  The film opens later in 2017.  Director Ana Lily Amirpour is scheduled to be present.  Asked herself afterward about PRETTY IN PINK, Ms. Amirpour allowed that was something she’d said in one interview and she’d never do it again, but she smiled when she said that.  As for ROAD WARRIOR, there is a Mad Maxish ambience to THE BAD BATCH with scavenger societies, makeshift cities (one making use of an aircraft graveyard), and never-mind-where-the-gasoline-comes-from automobiles, though in this case more the speed of Vespas and golf carts.

Then another question:  What was the significance of the bunny?  Let us go back in time for a moment to Amirpour’s earlier movie A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT* and Masuka the cat (cf. January 19, 11 2015).  Masuka acts there as a sort of marking figure, passed in ownership between people who become important; in this a bunny (unnamed in the credits unless I missed it) becomes the pet of a little

“Do you want to hang out or something?”

girl who in turn becomes the bond between principle characters Arlen and Miami Man.  But beyond that, well, animals in some way may represent innocence and purity, Amirpour allowed, but (harking to another question too) this might not be a film to put too much stock in one-on-one symbolism.

What it is, though, she said is a “personal story of a girl who feels cut down, ripped apart by life,” as well as, as she was writing it originally, her “love letter to America.”  She hastened to add, this was before current times with a President Trump.  Yet a pervading image is that of a Texas desert divided by a wall, behind which are thrust the “bad batch,” the non-productive, the terminally ill, illegal immigrants (Miami Man was, originally, “a Cubano”), the homeless. . . .   They then are further divided into two “cities,” The Bridge (so named from homeless who, in US cities, often take shelter under expressway bridges and the like), a machismo culture and also . . . cannibalistic, and Find Comfort, a more benign hippie-like civilization whose diet tends more toward pasta.**  Needless to say, they hate each other.

So what is a girl to do — who’s already lost an arm and a leg (literally) to the dinner table?  Or a doting father who’s lost his daughter, but wouldn’t turn his nose up at a human filet.

Might there be a third way?

But also beware, there’s a quality of dream, of fairytale about the thing too, of don’t always take too literally what you see.  Be content instead to see beautiful images, though often enough combined with the grotesque — this is not a film for the faint of stomach!  Enjoy the soundtrack, and worry not too much about details like where gas or electricity come from in the desert (or pasta, for that matter, or how many humanburgers it takes to sustain a weight-lifter physique).  Or if the ending is, as we say in the romance biz, “happily ever after” or even, realistically, “happily for now.”  Sneak previews aside (Friday’s screening was presumably the first outside the film festival circuit), THE BAD BATCH is set for a June 23 release by NEON according to IMDb and, when the time comes, just sit back and enjoy it!

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*The night before, in fact, we got to see seven short films by Amirpour including the original A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, on which the feature-length version was based (although, in the short, without any cats).

**And, surely this is just my personal eccentricity, I couldn’t help seeing a parallel to this, and especially the ending, in the 1974 Sean Connery film ZARDOZ (see October 15, 2016).  Or maybe I am nuts.

And why not, a little freebie for Valentine’s Day, in this case a portrait of Gloria Holden as DRACULA’S DAUGHTER, combined with a brief poem describing a scene that’s not in the movie.  Or in any vampire movie I’ve seen, come to think of it.

draculasdaughter

THE VAMPIRESS’S EMBARRASSMENT

she loved blood
but she hated the clots, when she laughed
and they came out her nose

As Editor Kathie Giorgio puts it (from the “Introduction”),  Think of all the words we have for time, phrases that many of us use and hear every day:

Time to go.  Time’s running out.  All the time in the world.  Time and tide waits for no man.  It’s singularirreghigh time.  A question of time, a race against time.  All in good time.  Ahead of your time.  The right place at the right time.  Better luck next time.  

Time dominates us and directs us.  We are ourselves timepieces, our hearts are our pendulums, beating out the seconds we have on this earth.

What time is it for you today?

Well, you get the idea:  IT’S ABOUT TIME.  Yes, that’s the anthology’s name, and yesterday, Friday, it made its appearance in ye olde mailbox to kick off the Veterans Day Holiday Weekend (yes, technically a postal holiday, but packages get special treatment).  And as might be inferred, quite the eclectic collection it is, with scads and scads of mostly short stories and poems of all aspects of time, so that even my story, a science fiction/romance including time travel, seems mundane and routine.  A reprint titled “Curious Eyes” (cf. September 20, et al.), it has been around, though, with four prior appearances starting with THE FICTION PRIMER way back in December 1988.

But to see more for yourself, press here.

Then speaking of re-appearances, today’s email also brought a confirmation from Marge Simon, editor of the “Blood & Spades” poetry column in the Horror Writers Association’s monthly NEWSLETTER.  We had been talking about reprint rights for my “It Begins With the Sound” essay (currently in the Autumn ILLUMEN, see November 5), and it is now officially set for the January 2017 issue.




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