Saturday, June 30, 2007

The things I do for you people

The funniest five seconds on the internet:


Weekly Movies, June 10-16

Yeah, this is late. I saved this as a draft, then left on vacation the next day. So here for your enjoyment, and also for your lols, Weekly Movies June 10-16. I'm playing catch-up right now, but you try working in a liquor store come Canada Day.

Last Night: OMGWTFBBQ. This movie landed like a pop bottle full of marbles into my brain and refuses to leave.

Listen, I knew this was going to be a good movie. It's written, directed and starring Don McKellar, who to be fair I've seen very little of, but like what I've seen. Moreover, one of my closest friends in Ottawa (hi, Becky!) adores Don McKellar, and I trust her opinion. Furthermore, my friend Sam considers this movie his favourite Canadian movie of all time, and since my favourite Canadian movie is New Waterford Girl, possibly a perfect movie, I have to consider this as high praise indeed.

And I was still blown away.

Briefly, Last Night concerns the lives of a few different people living in Toronto, starting at 6:00 PM the day the world is going to end. (They never say why, but I think it's made pretty clear that the sun's going supernova.) The people have all chosen to spend their last precious hours in different ways. Craig (Callum Keith Rennie, oh that only sweetens the deal) is having sex in as many different ways with as many different people as possible. Patrick (McKellar) is spending a fake Christmas dinner with his family, then going to watch it all end by himself. Jenny (Sarah Polley, one of my heroes) is going to end it at a giant party with her boyfriend. Duncan (David effin' Cronenberg) is a workaholic. And Sandra (the perfect Sandra Oh) just wants to get home to her husband so they can kill each other before the world kills them.

All of these people are connected, but to relate how they are connected reduces them to a blank sheet of facts. The movie is honest, heart-breaking, really funny (listen to the newscast in the background in Duncan's house) and refreshing. I've just finished reading Katherine's Monk's astonishingly good book Weird Sex and Snowshoes, about Canadian film. I don't want to rehash what she's written about McKellar and Last Night, but I think having the background on why he made this film, in a time when movies like Armageddon and Deep Impact were being made across the border is interesting. It feels like more than anything what the end of the world would really be like. Once again, I don't want to reveal too many details of the plot, because I always find I enjoy films most the less I know of their stories. Just, see this movie.

Shadow of the Vampire: One of the reasons I appreciated Dead Again so much was that it took an interesting premise (discovery of past lives through the use of hypnosis) and made a good movie out of it. It only makes me more frustrated when movies like Shadow of the Vampire are made. After all, this movie had an amazing premise: what if the actor who played Nosferatu wasn't really acting? What if he really was a vampire?

And the reason I appreciate movies like Dead Again is because so few movies manage to live up to their premise. Shadow had good actors (Willem Dafoe, John Malkovich, Cary Elwes who will always be given slack no matter how much crap he does because of Westley, Eddie Izzard), a delightful design and some really goddamn scary scenes. But the story just meanders and wanders. I think it would have been nice to acknowledge that not many people know the map of Eastern Europe in the '20s by heart - would it have killed them to show us where everything was? And for heaven's sake, if you're making a movie about one of the most iconic movies in history, learn from it! One of the best scenes in Shadow is the first time we meet Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe), at night on a secluded lot, and he starts "acting" instantly. Everyone on the lot is captured by the feeling of fear as he lures the young man into his abode, and it's easily the scariest scene in the movie. That's because it was taken directly from Nosferatu, duh. Yet when Max starts to go wild and feed on people, he just jumps right on them and ties on the saddlebag. What's so scary about that, huh? And what happens to the first camera operator he nearly kills, the one who gets shipped back to Berlin? Why aren't there any consequences of that?

More than anything, Shadow of the Vampire frustrated me. Partly, it's doomed to failure because it can never be as scary as Nosferatu, and partly it just failed to live up to its possibilities.

[Afterthought: 99.99% of the people who see a picture of the real Max Schreck done up as Nosferatu have no idea what Max Schreck really looked like. I don't. When I looked at Max Schreck in this movie, I could clearly see Willem Dafoe, despite the good makeup job. Perhaps part of the success of the image of Nosferatu is the fact that we can't see anything else in him - certainly not the Green Goblin or a member of Steve Zissou's crew.]

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer: I'm going to largely repeat what I said over in the MRFH forum, so feel free to skip this if you're from there. But first, I have to say this: I liked the first Fantastic 4 movie, OK? I did. I was excited to see it because it had Ioan Gruffudd hitting it big and he's pretty and stuff. (I have a crush on Ioan Gruffudd that, while I am nearly over, was so strong before that I feel I may never escape.)

So, I saw the first movie just because it was Ioan, and was pleasantly surprised. It's kinda funny at times, it's not too unbelievable, and the locations are beautiful (BC, baby!). I know this sounds ike faint praise but trust me, I like it.
Now, a few random thoughts:

Is Marvel seriously making so many movies right now that they've run out of token bit parts for Stan Lee to play? Talk about breaking the fourth wall.

Hey, it's that guy from the 11:00 news! I get really, really excited when I recognize stuff from where I live in movies. Don't watch the original Fantastic 4 movie with me, because I point this stuff out all the time, much to the annoyance of my brother who was sitting next to me watching the movie. Also on the list: Final Destination 1, Sandlot 2, Muppet Wizard of Oz, Antitrust, Josie and the Pussycats, any episode of Battlestar Galactica . . . I just get distracted and start yelling stuff like "Hey, that's the main library building!" It's like you've waved something shiny in front of my face. I don't know how I would cope if I lived in California. (But it really is exciting, because I've been to the bar where Ben and Johnny play darts!)

I don't know what they did different with Jessica Alba's hair for this movie, but she looks really weird. I say this not in that petty girlfight way, but she quite truly looks odd. Phillip Stevens at Pajiba called it "irradiated mannequin," which only makes me wish I'd come up with it.

I can understand some leaps of logic - like, if the Silver Surfer's initial sweep knocked out the FAA's computers, why is there no repetition of that throughout the rest of the movie? Why do the Fantastic 4 travel the globe, yet we never see them traveling? But there's one thing I couldn't stand, and that was this: there is no Great Wall in south-east China. That's sort of the POINT of the Great Wall. Unless the Huns started attacking from the sea, south-east China was A-OK safe! Also, I know this gets into pedant territory, but those pictures of the Great Wall everyone sees? That's not what the majority of it looks like. The bits that tourists walk on, yes, does look like that, because the government restored them. But the rest? Imagine Roman ruins in Britain. It's about as useful as those.

Also, I realize this is an alternate universe and the world is about to end and people probably bond together in times like this, but I don't think China is exactly keen on Americans dropping into their country uninvited. They certainly wouldn't be cool for them to hang around and plan a wedding.

And oy, with the wedding! I think I missed the part of the second X chromosome where you enjoy weddings, because I wanted to SCREAM. I have been to 2 weddings - both my siblings' - and while I was happy for them and all, weddings are kinda boring. Ditto for Reed Richards and Sue Storm's. Get on with the clobberin'.

I won't even mention the Dodge. I won't I won't I won't OH GOD WHY!?!?!

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain: Wow! There's actually some sort of narrative thread to this particular issue of Weekly Movies!

See, back when I was really interested in Ioan Gruffudd (I ask that you not use the term "obsessed," plzkthnx) I began to be interested in Wales, because that's where he's from. Wales is really a very interesting place. Its people are fiercely independent, and they actually speak Welsh day-to-day. How neat is that?!?! It's a very beautiful landscape, and no shortage of interesting people came from there. Plus, if you listen to Cast-On, you can't help but be interested in Wales. Brenda describes it with a convert's passion.

I would love to go to Wales someday. Trust me, it's high on The List. And that's part of why I was drawn to The Movie With the Stupidly Long Title That Condemns it to Sound Twee. Also, because my dad said he really liked it, and he has thus far shown excellent taste in his choice of British movies featuring adorable little villages (though I doubt I'll ever convince him to see Hot Fuzz, more's the pity). And, true to form, it is a well-done movie featuring an adorable little village all pulling together with the help of a scoundrel. More than anything, it reminded me of The Commitments, even though the two films have almost nothing in common on the surface except for the casting of Colm Meaney.

Another reason some might turn up their noses at this movies is Hugh Grant as lead, in all his stammering, shy glory. Well, I'm firmly of the belief that Hugh Grant does far better work than he ever gets credit for, so there. And I don't have a crush on him either; I simply think he got typecast more than a decade ago and he has far wider range than that (Exhibit no. 1: About a Boy).

Sunday, June 17, 2007

FO: Monkey Socks

Oy. I've got a monkey on my back.

But thankfully not anymore!*

Details, yes?

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A., free at
Yarn: self-dyed KnitPicks Bare fingering weight. Colourway intended: Kaylee. Colourway achieved: Drunken Neon Ibis.
Needles: 2.5 mm . . . circular?!?!

This pattern really truly is as addicting as they say. It's a simple 11-row repeat which I had memorized by the second repeat, and it takes me forever to memorize these things. It's great for variegated yarn. I've never actually finished a pair of Jaywalkers (I find the fitting difficult), but I have no problem seeing these become the next Jaywalkers.

I doubt I'll order the yarn again. Although it has nylon already, I reinforced the heels and toes with sewing thread because I didn't feel confident this yarn would last. It's very soft and tends to split. It also doesn't feel like it has much of the natural elastic bounce inherent in wool, which would make me nervous about frogging.

I knit the socks on Magic Loop almost by accident, really. Near the top of the first sock, you can see where the yarn has begun to flash, where I was working with 2.25 mm dpns. I was also worried that the lack of bounce I was feeling was due to the needle size, and I couldn't find a set of 2.5 mm dpns. I knew roughly how to use Magic Loop because I'd reverted to it before on short pieces of work like the sleeves of my Glampyre boobholder, where I didn't have the right size dpns but was able to add cords to my Denise needles to make them long enough for Magic Loop. I'd never used it for a longer period, and I found I like the technique. It makes it feel like it's going faster, because naturally you work faster with less stopping at joints between needles. I'll never abandon dpns, but I like Magic Loop more than I expected.

It's already been established that Cookie A. is just a straight-out genius. The day I finished these socks, I started straight away on a new pair:

Yup, it's going to be Hedera! I've always thought these socks were a bit overlooked - unjustly since they're just plain gorgeous, and even easier than Monkeys! Plus, I'd imagine that these babies would fit more people than the Monkey pattern, since it's offered in two separate sizes and is super stretchy. I don't have any good pictures of the lace stretched out, so let's just pretend I'm drawing out the suspense until they're done.

Speaking of which, I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow (which is actually today, so I have to finish this up soon). I'll be gone on an Alaskan cruise until the 24th, and will be bringing my laptop but can't guarantee I'll have internet access. If I maintain radio silence for a while, you'll know that's why. I hope to finish off my Hederas, as well as an Unjustly Overdue Super Secret Project.

*Listen, I know you guys are quite possibly getting sick of all these photos I take in this lavender bush. But I'm just now trying to take photos according to the colour spectrum, and green and purple look good against a lot of stuff, like ^red and orange^. If you are getting sick of them, just bear in mind I'm trying to improve, and it could always be worse.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Now this is just getting embarassing

Listen, I know I watch a lot of movies. More than the average bear, to say the least. But this is only the second week I've done this and . . . well, I may have to start hiding the number of movies I watch when school picks up again. Granted, that Videomatica deal has something to do with it. I generally don't go this overboard. But I'm on vacation from the 17th to the 24th, so I'm trying to get as many movies as possible in before that time.

Double Indemnity: After seeing The Lady Eve last week, I was on a serious Barbara Stanwyck hunt. I also wanted to see it because it was directed (and co-written) by Billy Wilder, who made one of the most perfect movies ever, and I'm trying to see as many of his films as possible. (No, I still haven't seen Sunset Boulevard.) I don't know what it was about Billy Wilder films that made Fred MacMurray willing to play against type, but I like it. Can't you just imagine him as the William Holden character in Sabrina, too? And Stanwyck was, of course, perfect. The movie was co-written by Raymond Chandler so it has a ton of that "the dame was as hard-boiled as the egg I'd had for breakfast" talk, which is almost hilarious after reading one too many noir Calvin & Hobbes strips. Still, the murder plan is fascinating and I loved the way both characters were clearly faking their desire for each other. My only caveat is that I'm not sure how it would hold up to repeat viewing since I wanted to keep watching in part just because I wanted to see how it all fell apart.

: Beautiful, astonishing sets and special effects. I loved the scene where Freder is traveling across Metropolis and the movie takes time to pause and stare at every bit of scenery. Normally I am bored by this sort of thing and want to just GET ON WITH THE STORY ALREADY - that's part of why I love Children of Men so much- but the story kinda blows. I was bored halfway through and just wanted to explore this wonderful world. Why is is that a movie from 1927 holds me fascinated by its visual style far more than the millions of dollars George Lucas or Peter Jackson throws at the screen? (Except for the dinosaurs in King Kong. They were bitchin'.)

Wet Hot American Summer: Currently holds the "Most Embarassing Movie Title to Ever Bring Up in Conversation, No, it's Not Porn, I Swear" prize. I'd heard about this movie for a while - mostly while browsing Fametracker - and why has no one ever heard of it? It's hilarious! It takes place on the last day of summer camp in 1981, and has Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce and Paul Rudd and Christopher Meloni! It is rated R, but damn is it funny without being stupid / embarassing. There's a talking can of tomatoes, and much mocking of the "everything happens in one day" sub-genre, and part of SkyLab crashes to earth, and Christopher Meloni is a crazy Vietnam vet but manages to be original. It's great.

But I'm a Cheerleader: Meh. Clea DuVall was charming, but she always is. It just made me wish there was a documentary about these religious sexual reorientation camps, because this was so obviously over the top that it made me wonder what they're actually like.

An Inconvenient Truth: I put off seeing this for a very long time because I knew it would scare me . . . but it didn't, actually. It's funny and alarming and astonishingly personal, and yes it is shocking (American emission standards are lower than China's?!?!), but not at the expense of the sense of an intelligent dialogue. I expected "OMG the earth is dying kill your car," but found I wasn't being insulted or talked down to. Documentaries continue to surprise me with just how interesting they can be sometimes, like Who Killed the Electric Car?, even though cars don't interest me at all. And yes, I am a dirty Canadian hippie and even though I know if he'd been elected he'd still be too right-wing for me, it make me wish so hard that someday I'd wake up and find out Al Gore won the 2000 election. Sigh.

Waitress: I'd wanted to see this for a long time, as soon as I read Dustin Rowles's review. I mean, quirky indie featuring Captain Tightpants himself? Count me in! But going to Waitress because you want to see Malcom Reynolds is like going to see Brokeback Mountain because it would be totally hot to see Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal make out. This movie made me hurt. It made me hurt because it felt so, so real - a strange way to describe a semi-magical romantic comedy - but it's true. The sadness that goes beyond the melancoly moping most often seen on screen at the heart of Jenna's life hits you like a hammer.

And it's strange really, that a movie set in the South with magical food and quirky waitresses and grumpy old men and a surprise pregnancy can feel so original, but it did. I've never seen this movie before, in any way. I don't know what switch must have been flipped a few months ago regarding my crying at the movies, but it flipped hard. This movie had me crying more often than anything else - sometimes because I was sad, sometimes because I was happy, sometimes because this movie just hit me so hard. It stays with you, this feeling about this movie.
If you want to read another love letter to Waitress, check out Daniel Carlson's, another writer for Pajiba.

Sullivan's Travels: Another one of my "I loved The Lady Eve so much..." movies, this was also directed by Preston Sturges. It's got a neat idea behind it - director wants to make movie about how life is for the poor, so decides to go undercover with ten cents in his pocket because he's always been priveleged - but it doesn't stick to it. In the early part of his voyages, he keeps winding up back in Hollywood, which is funny and carries the theme of the movie well. Then he really does live amongst the poor in hardship - which would have been more effective if it had been covered in more than a two-minute-long montage. Finally, through a series of unfortunate events, he is considered dead by the world at large but really is in a hard labour camp and learns the importance of humour. I thought Veronica Lake was better than I expected (though to be fair, all I knew of her before was Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential); Joel McCrea was good in the comedic parts, not so much with the drama; and while I appreciate the message I think it would have been better served by a funnier movie - aka, The Lady Eve.

Oh, and the name of the dramatic movie Sullivan (McCrea) wants to make? O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The Thin Man: Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) are indeed better than I could ever have imagined. The rest of the movie? I could take it or leave it, except perhaps the Christmas party scene with all the sloppy drunks.

Jesus of Montreal: I'd already seen this, but it was even better than I'd remembered. The first time I saw it I didn't click that Robert Lepage was acting in it. I could go on and on about how awesome Lepage is and gush over The Andersen Project, but that would detract from Jesus. Anyway, great movie still, and the talent of Lothaire Bluteau makes me weep for English Canadian cinema. Why is it that we raise any Canadian so-and-so who makes it in Hollywood to near-mythical levels, yet ignore the talent within our own borders? Arrgh!

Jeffrey: Had also already seen this. Not as good as I remembered, sadly. The last scene does retain its charm, fortunately, but not much else does.

Dead Again: Holy CRAP was this movie good! Kenneth Branagh! Emma Thompson! Film noir in '40s Los Angeles! Unreliable narrators!!!

Ok, let's tone down the fangirl for a moment. All I really knew about this movie was that a) it was one of the movies Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson were in together, b) they each played two roles, parallel lovers across time, and c) it was really hard to find. BBC Canada played it a couple months ago, but they like playing all the best movies at 2 in the morning.

I can't ever give you a straight answer on whether or not I like Kenneth Branagh. He's very very smart and a good adaptor of Shakespeare, but he gives in to weird choices too often (casting Matthew Lillard in a '30s-set Love's Labour's Lost complete with song-and-dance numbers? casting a Desdemona with a thick accent? Keanu Reeves?!?!). He's really very cute sometimes, but looks like a complete moron with any sort of facial hair (which includes all five hours of Hamlet.) He married Emma Thompson, who I totally want to grow up to be, but then allegedly cheated on her. He played Hamlet and Henry V and Benedick and Iago, but isn't the best actor I've seen in any of those roles (except for Benedick).

Whether or not I like Kenneth Branagh is a question to which I clearly devote far too much energy. Nevertheless, I will still watch just about any movie he directs, especially from the early '90s - of which Dead Again definitely counts. I won't attempt to summarize the plot, because I think it's best the more of it which is left a surprise. Suffice it to say that it involves dual storylines about a murder in 1949 and current events of 1991, and uses reincarnation, hypnosis and past lives without being cheesy or stupid. Also, both Ken and Em are in American accents for most of the film, which was a bit of a surprise to say the least.

Sigh. Why couldn't those two crazy kids make it work?

It has its faults, to be sure, but I really enjoyed this movie it made me long for a parallel world where there were more twisty turny movies with excellent casts and scripts.

Bringing Up Baby: Not what I expected. Very, very silly. Other screwballs I've seen, like the muchly aforementioned The Lady Eve or the absolutely dreadful Twentieth Century, are at least grounded somewhat in realism. Even though Henry Fonda's falling all over couches, he can still be considered a straight man because he's not really in on the joke. In Bringing Up Baby, everyone is in on the joke.

This is really, really fun when it's just Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant bouncing off each other. He's all buttoned-up and bespectacled and looking like he's waiting for someone to back him into a corner and breathe on his glasses, to quote Professor Harold Hill; meanwhile, she's the original Manic Pixie Dream Girl but she's Katherine Hepburn so we still like her. It's not so much fun when we get to the police station about an hour into the film and no one can speak. It's stupid misunderstandings that have brought them here, and I refuse to believe that "someone else is talking, so I will open and shut my mouth futilely like a guppy" is an acceptable excuse for not getting the damn point across. See, the thing is, I loved the parts with just Grant and Hepburn so much that I hated getting to the jail because other people just kept stepping over their words and doing away with what made the previous hour so damn enjoyable.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Cheer up sleepy Jean

Followup from the last post: I'm not knitting anything from my completed successful Firefly colourways until they're all done. It would be neat to design a project for each, but that's a little wacka-wacka even for me. But what about the ones that bomb, like the Kaylee colourway?

Hey hey it's soon to be a pair of Monkeys!

Anyway, in the last post I mentioned that I was going to be ripping off Brenda at Moot Point. The thing is, she does a feature called Weekly Movies where she decribes the movies that she's seen every week.

Coincidentally, this week I found the MOST AMAZING VIDEO STORE EVAH. I'd known about Videomatica for a while because West 4th is one of my favourite haunts. But it was only recently that I discovered they have a Canadian movie section - that is, they carry any Can
adian movies at all! This is a HUGE deal! And once I started poking around so more, I was truly gobsmacked.

I don't consider myself knowledgeable enough to be called a cinephile. I know more than the average bear, I think, but not much. But I want to know more. Two of my favourite books are Roger Ebert's The Great Movies and The Great Movies II, essays on what he consider the 200 best movies of all time. No, I don't agree with him on a lot of them, especially his deep fondness for French New Wave (which, given his level of sway, may be part of the reason French New Wave is considered such a huge freaking deal as opposed to oh, say, German Expressionism or the Canadian documentary tradition and I'm way off topic). My point was, Ebert is not perfect. He's not a great writer (the last half of the Citizen Kane essay is bullet-pointed trivia) and he has an obvious bias towards the artsy without going balls-out for the experimental.



He does highlight a lot of movies that I have wanted to see forever and have never been able to find. Films like The Lady Eve and the Up documentaries by Michael Apted and silent movies and Don't Look Now and for god's sake, The Seventh Seal has only one of the most iconic images of all time, would it kill people to stock it?!?!? These were films I finally found at Videomatica. I signed up on Tuesday and have already designated this the Summer of Sarah's Self-Education. I'm going to see all those movies I thought sounded interesting - interesting being the operative word. Last Year at Marienbad sounds like it should be banned under the Geneva Convention. So I'm going to try to document the movies I watch this summer. I signed up for a 20 movies for $40 deal in June, so I'm forcing my self into this thing head-first.

The Lady Eve: One of three I rented on Tuesday. Ebert's description made this my first-choice pick. Like all comedies, it lost some of its sparkle because of jokes retold in the review, but the pratfalls were genuinely funny. Barbara Stanwyck is also in another one of the flicks I rented but have yet to watch, and I hope she's as good. Peter Fonda is the male lead and darn they're cute what with the sharply written dialogue and the Edith Head costumes and the conniving surrounding a traveling cardsharp falling in love. I'm leaving on a cruise in two weeks and I strongly suspect this movie will have given me unfair expectations about the sort of people one meets. This movie was also notable for me because of the fact that it's really, really sexual. The sort of movie where a man's been "up the Amazon" for a year and he has a "pet snake" and he will have "trouble sleeping" and it's all acknowledged on screen in this very cool way that only adds to the humour. I mean, The Philadelphia Story is sort of the apex of the romantic comedies of this time, and yet you could swear all the characters were neutered. Not to dis The Philadelphia Story, of course.

The Third Man: I took a history of Russia class this past year, and I hated it with a burning, self-loathing hatred that burrows deep in the stomach. I don't find the history of the eastern bloc particularly interesting either. But something about this movie's setting grabbed me by the collar and shook me. It's set in a divided Vienna after WWII, and it's in glorious black and white that shines the water off the cobblestones and makes tiny men's shadows forty feet tall. It's a twisting noir that I could keep track of, but didn't make me feel like an idiot. It made me want to know more about the collective psyche of that place at that time, even though it's an English movie.
Oh, and by the way: Orson Welles is technically the star of this movie, and he doesn't show up for more than an hour. It's worth it. It's so worth it. You know those moments where
a movie completely sweeps you away, like the reveal of Barbossa at the end of Pirates 2 or the first time the Imperial March plays in the Star Wars sequels, and you're left smiling like an idiot saying, "That. Was. So. Cool!" to your friends because you don't have any other words for it? I was always a little worried I was feeling that way purely because of cinematic bombast. Not so. I got the exact same feeling in the first shot of Orson Welles in The Third Man, watching it at night on my little 13" TV in my bedroom.
The last shot of the movie, by the way, is perfect.

The Seventh Seal
: C'mon, I had to rent it. It's Swedish! It's Ingmar Bergman! This is the "playing chess with Death" movie, but it's really about the silence of God and wondering why there's so much pain on Earth.

Antonius Block: I want knowledge! Not faith, not assumptions, but knowledge. I want God to stretch out His hand, uncover His face and speak to me.
Death: But He remains silent.
Antonius Block: I call out to Him in the darkness. But it's as if no one was there.
Death: Perhaps there isn't anyone.

The wondrous part is that Bergman also talks about why it's good to be alive.

I shall remember this moment: the silence, the twilight, the bowl of strawberries, the bowl of milk. Your faces in the evening light. Mikael asleep, Jof with his lyre. I shall try to remember our talk. I shall carry this memory carefully in my hands as if it were a bowl brimful of fresh milk. It will be a sign to me, and a great sufficiency. "

The thing is, I feel like none of the themes in the movie are really new. Yes, it's hard to believe, especially when everything is going to pieces and you feel like the world just might be ending. Yes, God is silent. Maybe this is because I'm an agnostic. Even though I can't be defined by an either/or equation - faith or lack of faith - my agnosticism is a part of me. Like it or not, it affects how I view things. This was a huge realization to me; actually, I think it was brought on by seeing Pan's Labyrinth. And coming to terms with the fact that I'm neither - well, I guess a Christian - nor an atheist meant that I was dealing with those questions. The Seventh Seal is a remarkably well-made and articulated piece of art exploring those questions, I will more than grant it that. And I like the fact that it isn't nihilistic either.

About two-thirds of the way through the movie, the knight comes across a woman who's due to be burned alive. The people think she's a witch, responsible for bringing the Plague to them. The knight begs her what it is like to know the Devil, because at least the Devil knows God. But, as convinced as she is that the Devil is beside her always, she comes across as just another person searching for any guarantee that there's a greater world than us.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

First, thank you thank you thank you for all the lovely comments everyone left on my previous post, here and on Craftster and on the Knittyboard. I'm so close to this thing that I'm really proud of it, but it will take a while (perhaps never, who knows) before I can step back and see it as a whole. Right now I see it in pieces: the afternoon I spent on my bedroom floor frantically knitting and reknitting the soldier while listening to AccuRadio Broadway, and the hours spent watching Elizabeth while I worked out the short rows, and my frantic visits to different archives to try to find the archival materials.

Meanwhile, I've been working on my Firefly yarn project! The first one I tried was Book, and I think I can say he is a success:

This is how I originally described my idea for the Book colourway: Perhaps tawny deerskin with very small splashes of red, like confetti or tweed.

The first picture has - at least on my monitor - the most accurate colours; the second is just a tad washed-out.

I love, love, love this colourway. It's KnitPicks Bare sockweight, 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon. It was dyed over a long period of time for me, dyeing-wise: 2 or 3 episodes of Gilmore Girls. I've dyed yarn before lots of times, but always in the microwave with KoolAid, using the directions from Stitch n Bitch. But when I was ramping up for this dyeing adventure I decided I might as well as least try some of the other methods, especially considering the handpainted, more subtle variations I wanted in these yarns. Working from this Knitty article, I've so far dyed all the yarns this time on the stovetop. And I have to say, it's much preferable. You get way, way more control this way.

I'm not going to be cataloguing the exact recipe I used for these colourways, mostly because I myself don't keep track and don't really care so much. But I do like thinking about different ingredients for different colours, mostly because it's incredibly freeing to break out of the KoolAid box (or rather, tiny paper envelope). The shades of brown I made with tea. I used a lot of teabags - probably around 16 to 2o, just tea we had lying around and were never going to drink. As an aside, ginger tea sounds delicious, but is actually pretty disgusting.

The red is - well, I'm growing to appreciate the red. I kept the brown around for a week or so, appreciating its beautiosity and appropriatosity for a character named Book, with its tanned tones like old pages. I just KNEW I was going to screw up the red somehow. When it came time, I was worried that dipping the yarn into red dye would allow it to spread too far and become more than tweed or confetti. So I put the yarn on a cookie tray in the sink and put red food dye on it in spots. After waiting patiently for a whole 30 seconds or so, I washed it out. OOOOOPS.

Things to remember: heat sets dye, which is of course one of the cardinal rules of the damn Knitty article. The dye ran. Just a little bit, a controllable amount. It's not tweed, but then it also kinda loooks like someone bled on it - which also works. Like I said, growing to appreciate it.

Next came Kaylee. Sweet little Kaylee. Kaylee conjures up engines and space, but she also makes people think of cupcake frosting and parasols and pink dresses. (Man, Kaylee is one of my favourite characters ever in a world filled with amazing characters.)

This was how I originally described the Kaylee colourway: different shades of pink for her tiered dress in "Shindig," with shades of beige and pale brown blending in for her connection to Serenity.

And this is what I actually made:

OK, it isn't actually that fluorescent. But I like this picture because it shouts SHAME! SHAME! This isn't Kaylee! This actually reminds me of these birds they have at the Vancouver Aquarium:

I think it might be some sort of emu? I forget. Anyway, not cute! Not Kaylee!

Fine, you want a more accurate depiction of colour? Here:

And finally, Simon. This was the yarn I said I was going to do first, so of course I did it third. I chose Simon because I had only ordered 3 skeins of yarn from KnitPicks. I'd never worked with it, and who knows if I'd gotten bored or whatever partway through. Plus, I'm not made of money. So I wanted to pick a colourway that would be easier, so I wouldn't screw the pooch quite so royally as I did with Kaylee, and so I could at least partly restore my faith in my dyeing abilities.

This was how I originally described Simon's colourway: cold and clinical. Two by two, hands of blue. Like the hospital in "Ariel" . . . ice, ice blue and white.

Consider mojo restored.

Coming soon: monkey addiction, I rip off Moot Point, and you get to endure my further blathers about movies no one's ever seen.